Well they pulled it off. The Buffalo Sabres pulled off an amazing second half of the NHL Season to vault themselves into the race for Lord Stanley’s Cup. The Sabres locked up a post season appearance with a win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Friday night at the HSBC Arena in front of a frenzied crowd and in front of many Sabres alumni who were being honored that night for 40 years of Sabres hockey. Now the fun really begins on Thursday Night in Philly for game 1.
This series will be a tough go for both teams. The Sabres will have a hard time getting by a very solid Flyers defense, while the Flyers offense should have a very hard time getting pucks by a rested Ryan Miller. It should be a very tight series with most games going to overtime or settled by one goal. Here is how the series will break down.
FORWARDS: Edge Flyers
Mike Richards, Jeff Carter, Danny Briere and Claude Giroux. Ok now we just scratched the surface up front for the Flyers. Add Nikolai Zherdev, Dan Carcillo, Scottie Hartnell and Stanley Cup Champion Kris Versteeg and the Flyers may have the most solid 3 lines in hockey. Their centres are second to none and their size and speed can create alot of room for Briere and Zherdev to become creative. The forecheck on some nights can wear a team down by the end of the 2nd period and add to the fact they love to crash the crease, Ryan Miller could be in for bumps and bruises before its all said and done.
The addition of Brad Boyes was needed for Buffalo up front at the deadline. It did add some much needed scoring but the forwards will be in tough to get by a talented Philadelphia defense. Vanek, and Stafford will have to bring their “A Game” every night if the Sabres intend to win this series. Nathan Gerbe and Tyler Ennis will have some tough times finding open spaces with the big Philly Defense around them. Scoring from all four lines will be needed for Buffalo to be successful.
DEFENSE: Edge Flyers
If and when Chris Pronger comes back the edge gets bigger. Pronger is a playoff warrior to say the least and the Sabres faithful will be booing him by game 3 if he plays in one of the first two games. He takes no prisoners. Pronger will come back and anchor a very good defense core with the likes of Kimmo Timonen, Matt Carle, Andrej Mezaros and Braydon Coburn. Waiting and lurking for ice time is Nick Boynton, Danny Syvret and Sean O’Donnell. The Flyers defense is just plain nasty on some nights and will make getting to the net hell for the Sabres forwards.
With Jordan Leopold out of the lineup since March 25 the Sabres defense will have to rally around Tyler Myers and SteveMontador. Montador is a great playoff performer who should thrive in this situation. Myers has been Buffalo’ best defenseman the second half of the year and a reason they have been so successful. Andrej Sekera and Shaone Morrision will have to be ready for the Philly attack at all times and try to stay healthy.
GOALTENDING: Edge Sabres
I have said it before and I will say it again, Ryan Miller is one of, if not the best goalie on this planet. Miller and the Sabres have the clear edge in goaltending in this series. Miller could be the single biggest difference maker and could take the Sabres on his shoulders and upset the Flyers.
The Flyers goaltending is their achilles heel. After reaching the Cup Final last year with Michael Leighton and a slew of other goalies, they still do not have a consensus number one between the pipes. My guess is Bobrovsky will be the starter in Game 1 and if he plays bad it could be musical chairs with Leighton and Brian Boucher maybe seeing starts this series. If the Flyers get any sort of decent goaltending in this series it will be a quick series win for them.
Special teams will once again be the deciding factor with the Sabres Powerplay not coming through in the clutch and the very aggressive Philadelphia Penalty kill getting some big goals to swing momentum in this series. The Flyers Powerplay will cause fits for the Sabres and this will ultimately be the difference in the series.
VERDICT: Flyers in 6
About the Author
Written by George Kouvalis
A huge fan of sports who loves to travel for major events. I've seen my fair share of major games and events including three Olympics, Wimbledon, The Masters etc.... Always up for a road trip or a drink to talk over sports or pro wrestling, in any city I am in or online. Favorite Teams: Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto FC, Toronto Blue Jays, Chicago Bulls, San Francisco 49ers, Toronto Argonauts, Manchester United, and of course the teams I blog for, the Texas Rangers and Buffalo Sabres. Follow me on twitter at the handle georgekouvalis