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NHL on NBCSN: Flyers look to rebound vs Sabres

Jan 14, 2014, 8:47 AM EDT

Buffalo Sabres' Ryan Miller (30) blocks a shot by Philadelphia Flyers' Claude Giroux (28) as Jakub Voracek (93), of Czech Republic, Brayden McNabb (44) and Mikhail Grigorenko (25), of Russia, stand by during the second period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum) AP

NBCSN continues its coverage of the 2013-14 campaign tonight when the Buffalo Sabres host the Philadelphia Flyers at First Niagara Center at 7:30 p.m. ET. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game online.

Even with 38 games left in their schedule, it’s not controversial or shocking to say that the Sabres won’t make the playoffs. Lately though, they have been decent. That’s thanks in no small part to Ryan Miller‘s efforts.

Americans have to be excited when they see what Miller has managed to do under difficult circumstances in Buffalo as we head towards the 2014 Winter Olympics. He has a 1.77 GAA and .946 save percentage since the start of December.

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The Flyers bombarded him with 45 shots on goal in their previous meeting to best Buffalo, but even then Miller still came up with 42 saves. In fact, you would need to go back to Nov. 19 to find the last time the Sabres goaltender stopped fewer than 90% of the shots he faced.

Between his overall abilities and his capacity to make some truly stunning saves, it’s no wonder that Buffalo wants to re-sign him even if he’s 33 years old and the team’s firmly in a rebuilding mode. Although backup netminder Jhonas Enroth has often held his own this season despite his 1-8-4 record, Miller has been the team’s MVP by a huge margin.

For the Sabres, goaltending has to remain their strength because they’re typically not capable of matching a team like Philadelphia in a high-scoring game. Buffalo has averaged just 1.61 goals per contest and has only managed to score more than two goals in a game once over its last nine matches.

The Sabres simply haven’t had any noteworthy scoring threats since they traded Thomas Vanek to the New York Islanders. Even Matt Moulson, who was part of their return in that deal, has just 18 points in 31 games with Buffalo.

Meanwhile, the Flyers have no shortage of skilled forwards or, for that matter, motivation. Unlike Buffalo, every point matters to them as they fight for a postseason spot. Philadelphia’s recent surge was stunted with back-to-back losses to Tampa Bay and the New York Rangers over the weekend, but this is an ideal opportunity for the Flyers to get back on track.

  1. goodolejr - Jan 14, 2014 at 9:18 AM

    I’m afraid for this game tonight. Maybe playing a team like the Sabres is what the Flyers need but even if they win, it’ll still feel like just another win against a so-so team. This team has to fix the defense or else it’s going to be a looooooong 2nd half of the season and an early playoff exit (if they even make it).

    • ibieiniid - Jan 14, 2014 at 10:40 AM

      I think the defense is a little bit better than they’re given credit for. Sure, they allow a lot of shots some games, but they’ve gotten good at keeping the play to the outside. Coburn and Streit HAVE TO watch the turnovers, especially Coburn, but I really don’t think they’re playing that poorly. I’ve actually been pleasantly surprised by how well Meszaros has played this time around. I’m assuming Berube sees it too, since Gustafsson was activated on Friday, and played neither game this weekend over Mesz. They may not be the BEST, but at least they’re somewhat deep and are seeming to fit into Berube’s system.

      • goodolejr - Jan 14, 2014 at 11:17 AM

        I should have chosen my words a little more carefully. They’re definitely better since Berube took over and better than they’re sometimes credited, but they’re nowhere near a contender-caliber defense. Good enough to get the team into the playoffs, absolutely. I just don’t see this defense being good enough to get them deep into the playoffs. The one glaring weakness (aside from their penchant for turnovers) is their speed. Grossmann, Schenn and Timonen are like molasses. I wouldn’t mind seeing Timonen sit in favor of Gus once in awhile. Not only to give the old guy some rest but also see what Gus & Coburn could do together. Coburn’s fast for his size and having another guy who can keep up could be ideal.

        Also when Meszaros is healthy and playing with confidence, you remember why he was given $4M per a few years ago. I wouldn’t mind them signing him to a 1 year deal around the same or a little less, provided he shows he can stay consistent in both his play and health.

    • imleftcoast - Jan 14, 2014 at 1:54 PM

      I’m sure this will be more intense than the Kings/Canucks game last night. Bravo to the NBC employee who picks games based solely on US population. This is another scintillating matchup.

  2. toiletclown - Jan 14, 2014 at 11:06 AM

    A surging buffalo team will beat the flyers tonight

  3. buddysguys - Jan 14, 2014 at 11:18 AM

    Miller will make 165 saves en route to a 2-1 win.

    • goodolejr - Jan 14, 2014 at 11:49 AM

      Looks like it’ll be Enroth making 165 saves.

      • buddysguys - Jan 14, 2014 at 12:31 PM

        yep that means miller will save his 165 for the Leaves

    • goodolejr - Jan 14, 2014 at 12:45 PM

      Haha hopefully Enroth will only make 164 saves and the Flyers can win this thing 1-0.

      • buddysguys - Jan 14, 2014 at 1:44 PM

        i’d be pissed

  4. westinpat - Jan 14, 2014 at 11:32 AM

    The only thing I’m not looking forward to tonight is hearing Doc Emrick and Pierre McGuire ramble on about nothing.

    • ibieiniid - Jan 14, 2014 at 12:04 PM

      by “nothing,” you mean the Penguins/Blackhawks?

      • toiletclown - Jan 14, 2014 at 12:13 PM

        blue collar, thats “everything”

      • ibieiniid - Jan 14, 2014 at 12:17 PM

        can you please just put your brothers’ d***s back in your hands and stop typing? you’d be saying just as much as you normally do without typing anything.

      • toiletclown - Jan 14, 2014 at 3:14 PM

        stop it blue collar, no one wants to hear that language on here

  5. President Charles Logan - Jan 14, 2014 at 12:29 PM

    Buffalo seem like the worst team the NHL has seen in a century, guess the flyers BETTER win this game huh …

    • buddysguys - Jan 14, 2014 at 12:32 PM

      you must have never heard of the Edmonton Oilers

      • President Charles Logan - Jan 14, 2014 at 12:58 PM

        wasnt thinking of them , good call… you’re right

      • ibieiniid - Jan 14, 2014 at 1:08 PM

        wow, the two worst teams in a century exist inside one season. EXPLAIN THAT BETTMAN!

        I suppose we’re giving the 1975 Capitals (8-67-5) a break since it was their first year?

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