Flyers/Sabres 3 Storylines: Time to go bottom feeding

That is what winning tastes like – the Flyers pulled off a much-needed victory over the Rangers on Wednesday to get back into the win column for the first time since February 7th.

Both teams shorthanded, who cares… a win is a win at this point; check out the PSB Postgame for the full recap.

Now the fun begins, and the grind of the season takes hold, starting with back-to-back matinees; here are Flyers (9-4-3) and Sabres (6-8-3) 3 Storylines to watch.

Flyers vs. Sabres: Three Storylines

Nolan, the Winger, goes into Phase 2 Trials

Coach Alain Vigneault saw the need to shake up Nolan Patrick’s (2G, 3A) game and did so on Wednesday night against the Rangers by shifting him from third-line center to wing with linemates Claude Giroux and Kevin Hayes. 

The results…

Hayes had a beauty and Giroux played a hell of a game stacking three assists and several great scoring opportunities.

Patrick had zero goals – zero assists – zero shots on goal. The PSB data department crunched the numbers:

It seems that isn’t good.

However, Patrick was involved, which was the main purpose of AV making a move to begin with.  He was hard on the forecheck, and he was involved in scoring plays even if not translated to the stat sheet. He was actually noticeable. 

This experiment should last through the weekend until Travis Konecny is ready to come off the Covid list.  Look for Patrick to continue to grow confidence in his game – even if it doesn’t translate to the score sheet immediately. 

It is not time to fold the tents up on this former #2 overall pick, but Patrick needs to show improvement in his game over the weekend before the call for that starts to grow louder.

Bottom Feeding in Buffalo

These are the games the Flyers must win to keep pace with Boston and Washington.  Buffalo is holding tight onto the last place position in the Mass Mutual East (ugh, that is brutal) and are 3-5-2 in the last ten games. 

This should be a win on paper, but on paper, the Flyers should never have been shelled 6-1 by this team in January.  It was widely viewed that Buffalo going into the season would have an uphill climb to compete with for a playoff spot – that is now amplified due to personnel issues. 

  • Superstar Captain Jack Eichel – injured during warmups on Thursday and is day-to-day
  • $9MM/Year Winger Jeff Skinner – healthy scratched for the past three games due to issues with coach Ralph Krueger, could return this weekend
  • Starting Goalie Linus Ullmark – injured on Thursday against the Devils and will be out against the Flyers
  • Brutish Defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen – missed the past several games due to Covid, could return this weekend

Tough for Flyers to have sympathy, but the effect of four solid cornerstones of a questionable team cannot be understated; Eichel, in particular, is the game-changer that will be the game-time decision to watch.

Healthy and on the Prowl

Don’t look now, the Flyers roster is back at NHL caliber. 

Jake Voracek is back and “chomping at the bit,” according to coach AV.

He will be joined on a line by fellow quarantines Scott Laughton and Oskar Lindblom, providing a full line influx of talent.  Justin Braun is also likely to make his return on defense – paired with Sanheim in Friday’s practice. 

Captain G made a fantastic return against the Rangers in part due to his short-shift discipline.  The returning players, and that full Covid forward line, in particular, should take that cue to keep it short and avoid getting pinned into their zone with limited lung capacity and conditioning.

Game one of matinee double-header vs. Buffalo – Saturday at 1EST

Photo by Gerry Angus/Icon Sportswire

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