Game 8 Preview: Flyers get 1st look at Eichel, Sabres

The spectrum shifts for the Flyers as they head into their eighth game of the season. Coming off another telling win against the New York Rangers — in a shootout, no less — the Flyers get their first chance to correct another area that palgued them for much of last season.

The Buffalo Sabres are in town on Tuesday night and bring a 2-6-0 record with them. There are only five other NHL teams with four points or fewer in the standings to this point in the season.

After facing the likes of the Rangers, the Chicago Blackhawks, the Tampa Bay Lightning and competing in all of those games, the Flyers get their first chance to avoid a letdown against one of the NHL's lesser teams.

The opening face-off from Wells Fargo Center is set for 7 p.m.

The Flyers come into Tuesday's game averaging just over two goals per game. But they should have a great chance to raise that average.

Buffalo has allowed 26 goals in eight games, an average of 3.25 per game. Only the Boston Bruins, Columbus Blue Jackets and Calgary Flames have allowed more goals this season.

In Saturday's win, the Flyers had two players get their first goals of the season. Mark Streit scored in the first period and Scott Laughton struck in the second.

Steve Mason was masterful against the Rangers, making 37 saves in regulation and overtime and another two to preserve a shootout win. He will be between the pipes for the Orange and Black on Tuesday.

Some good news coming out of Saturday's game was the health of Michael Raffl. After leaving the game in a scary scene on Saturday, Raffl has passed all concussion protocol tests and will be right back in the lineup alongside Claude Giroux and Jake Voracek on Tuesday.

The Flyers will still be without Sean Couturier, who continues to recover from what he confirmed is a concussion suffered last Wednesday on a hit by Zac Rinaldo in Boston. Couturier could be back in the lineup as soon as Thursday and did participate in the team's morning skate.

The Sabres find themselves in a similar position to the Flyers. They had the second overall pick in the Draft, hired a new coach in the offseason and are trying to return to playoff form. That hasn't translated over in the early going.

Headlining the Buffalo offense is rookie Jack Eichel. The Boston University product has three goals in his first eight games.

Ryan O'Reilly leads the team's offense with three goals and four assists. Matt Moulson, Tyler Ennis and Sam Reinhart have been solid in the early going this season as well. Those five players have accounted for 11 of Buffalo's 16 goals this season.

The injury bug bit the Sabres on Monday when new head coach Dan Bylsma announced that Evander Kane would miss four-to-six weeks with an MCL injury. Kane was playing on the top line with Ennis and O'Reilly and had three points on the season.

Chad Johnson will get the start in goal for Buffalo. Johnson is 2-5-0 on the season with a 3.06 GAA and .879 save percentage.

Game Notes

  • Power Play: Flyers (20th, T-26th at home), Sabres (7th, T-22nd on road) 
  • Penalty Kill: Flyers (17th, 4th at home), Sabres (30th, 28th on road)
  • The Flyers were 2-0-1 against the Sabres in the 2014-15 season. The Flyers claimed two wins in Buffalo, winning 4-3 on Jan. 17 and 2-1 on Feb. 15. They lost, 3-2, in a shootout at home on Feb. 19.
  • Flyers leaders vs. Sabres
    • Claude Giroux – 24 games, 4 goals, 19 assists, 23 points
    • Matt Read – 12 games, 6 goals, 4 assists, 10 points
    • Mark Streit – 40 games, 5 goals, 25 assists, 30 points 
    • Steve Mason – 6 games, 3-3-0, 2.53 GAA, .895 Sv%
  • Milestone Watch: Wayne Simmonds needs four points to reach 200 as a Flyer.

Flyers Projected Lineup

Line 1: Michael Raffl-Claude Giroux-Jake Voracek
Line 2: Matt Read-Sam Gagner-R.J. Umberger
Line 3: Brayden Schenn-Scott Laughton-Wayne Simmonds
Line 4: Chris VandeVelde-Pierre-Edouard Bellemare-Ryan White

D-Pair 1: Nick Schultz-Mark Streit
D-Pair 2: Michael Del Zotto-Evgeny Medvedev
D-Pair 3: Luke Schenn-Radko Gudas
Goalie: Steve Mason

Scratches: Brandon Manning, Vincent Lecavalier, Sean Couturier

Where to Watch
Radio: 97.5 The Fanatic

Kevin Durso is managing editor for Flyerdelphia. Follow him on Twitter @Kevin_Durso.

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