Spying on the Saboteur: Philadelphia Flyers at Buffalo Sabres; Part Three

As the Philadelphia Flyers near full recovery, they’ll look to climb up the Mass Mutual Eastern Division standings versus the Buffalo Sabres.

Previously, the Philadelphia Flyers bounced back from a five-goal trouncing with a shutout victory during their first series against the Buffalo Sabres. Holding a 1-1-0 record versus the Sabres, the Flyers have a golden opportunity to climb up the Mass Mutual Eastern Division standings today. Brian Elliott, who notched a shutout the second time Philadelphia faced Buffalo, will start today. Fresh off of a victory on Wednesday night against another New York team, Elliott hopes to double his luck on the road. Can “Moose” add to his stellar 2020-2021 campaign?

Four more Flyers players return to the lineup today. Justin Braun returns to help bail out a struggling powerplay. Jakub Voracek will join Claude Giroux to boost a middling powerplay. Oskar Lindblom and Scott Laughton improve the forecheck in the bottom-six. As Philadelphia nears full recovery, the Sabres enter today wounded.

Buffalo could be without Jack Eichel and Linus Ullmark. Eichel is “day-to-day” with a lower-body injury, while Ullmark undergoes further evaluation regarding the severity of his lower-body injury. The Flyers understand what it’s like to lose key players. Will the Sabres find a way to keep afloat, or do they free fall without Eichel?

Buffalo Sabres – Forward Spotlight

Casey Mittelstadt stepped up in an overtime loss to the New Jersey Devils. He was responsible for a powerplay goal in the second period, putting Buffalo ahead by one goal. Mittelstadt has only started five games this season. In five games, he’s tallied three points with an even plus-minus rating. His efficiency brings quality to the Sabres bottom-six.

Mittelstadt played against Philadelphia three times in his four-year career. All three of those games took place in the 2018-2019 season. Against the Flyers, Mittelstadt has one goal and a minus-two rating. Featured on the second powerplay unit for Buffalo, he could add to his total.

Buffalo Sabres – Defenseman Spotlight

Colin Miller notched an assist on Mittelstadt’s powerplay goal. As long as Philadelphia is struggling on the penalty kill, players on an opposing powerplay ought to receive the spotlight. Miller is arguably the best Sabres defenseman to play on the right side. On the second pair, he takes the lead. In 2020-2021, Miller contributed five points with a minus-ten rating.

Miller has never finished a season with a positive plus-minus rating. His performance against the Flyers in 2020-2021 left a plus-one impression thus far. Philadelphia has a favorable matchup against Miller and the rest of the defensive unit. The Flyers must play with discipline versus Buffalo to keep the powerplay unit off of the ice.

Buffalo Sabres – Goaltender Spotlight

Carter Hutton will likely start versus Philadelphia. Ullmark left after the first period versus the Devils. Ralph Krueger replaced Ullmark with Hutton to finish the game. Hutton received the overtime loss decision while surrendering every goal.

Hutton left early when the Flyers blanked the Sabres, 3-0. Krueger was hot following the loss. He wanted Ivan Provorov suspended after he collided with Hutton. Nothing came of that, considering Brandon Montour shoved him into Hutton. On the season, Hutton is 1-1-0 against Philadelphia.

Flyers Prediction

Team discipline makes up for player personnel. If the Flyers can match their performance from Wednesday night, they’ll be a formidable opponent. Buffalo would need to outcoach Philadelphia to make up for their injury report. To that, Vigneault has more weapons at his disposal. The Flyers have every advantage to build a winning streak.

Flyers 4, Sabres 1

Photo Credit: Alex McIntyre

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