The Philadelphia Flyers look to do some damage as they begin a two-game set on Sunday with the Buffalo Sabres, who have not looked good. Having the chance to play two games against a struggling team can always help with picking up momentum.
Statistically speaking, the Flyers have been middle of the road, ranking 16th in goals for and 15th in goals against, right in between the best and worst in the league in each category.
Buffalo is 6-8-3 and had to play for a short stretch without Jack Eichel. You would have thought that when the Sabres were able to bring in Taylor Hall to pair with him that they could do more damage. Though each player has been racking up assists, each has managed just one goal.
Eichel is the franchise cornerstone, and he’s not performing as needed. It’s also still clear that the team, as it does every season, needs to upgrade the goalie position.
If you’re going to bet online on this matchup, the moneyline for the Flyers is set at -165, while it is +145 for the underdog Sabres. The over/under is set at 5½.
Giroux Leads the Way
A record of 9-4-3 is not a bad start to the year for the Flyers. You hate to see the three overtime losses, but points are points at the end of the day.
The team has made NHL news by coming away with some form of scoring in 12 of its 16 games thus far. That’s a telltale sign that playoff hockey might be on the horizon for it, even if a slump period were to take place.
Claude Giroux has done a tremendous job of setting up teammates with 13 assists, while James van Riemsdyk has scored nine goals with 13 assists, leading the team with 22 points. Right behind him with seven goals and nine assists is Kevin Hayes.
The Flyers have as much talent on the wing as any other team in the league. It’s really just a question of if they can be consistent.
Brian Elliott has picked up wins in four of his five starts, with Carter Hart going 5-3-3 in his 11. Hart has averaged nearly four goals per start in net, something that will need to be fixed.
Elliott is averaging just 2.38, so perhaps they need to flip the depth chart if Hart doesn’t step up.
Sabres Seek Resurgence
As mentioned, this season has not been kind to the Sabres. They don’t seem to be on their way to the playoffs.
The losses have continued to pile as Eichel recently sat out with a lower-body injury. The team is hopeful to have him play, but it wouldn’t make a difference at this point as it’s hard to see them beating the NHL odds and making a run.
Eichel and Hall have been doing well to set up their teammates, but the fact is they each have one goal. Victor Olofsson and Sam Reinhart have each scored seven, and that’s great. But the team needs to get more from their top guys on the first line.
Linus Ullmark has gone 5-4 with a 2.44 GAA, while Carter Hutton is 1-4 with a 3.24 GAA. The team certainly needs an upgrade at the backup spot, and Ullmark needs to be just a little better himself.
Sabres Take Another Loss
Philadelphia is just too strong for the Sabres at this point. In the opener of this series, the Flyers will come away with a victory.
When making your NHL picks, make sure to take the Flyers in this one.