Buffalo Sabres vs. Philadelphia Flyers, 03/07/17 – Expert Prediction
Written by: Alex Alarcon
Philadelphia Flyers (30-26-4-4) vs Buffalo Sabres (27-27-6-6)
Game Time: 7:00 PM ET, Tuesday, March 7, 2017, KeyBank Center in Buffalo, New York
Lines: Buffalo -118/ Philadelphia +107
Philadelphia and Buffalo are both out of the playoff picture this season, but each has a promising stable of star forwards to build around, though at different stages of their respective developmental cycles.
Both teams will need to add some depth scoring and to their bluelines to compete next season, and Philadelphia will need to take a serious look at their goaltending.
Time To Rebuild?
In an effort to add depth to their forward corps, GM Ron Hextall dealt blueline, Mark Streit, who was on an expiring contract to Tampa Bay in return for Valterri Filppula, and his $5-million salary for next season.
Filppula has 35 points on the year, and the Flyers are hoping he can develop chemistry with star winger, Jakob Voracek, and regain his offensive form that landed him the $5-million AAV salary that Tampa handed him as a UFA in 2013, when he was coming off of a 66 point season.
Claude Giroux and Wayne Simmonds, along with Voracek, round out the star power up front. The deal allows Giroux to pair with Simmonds and Brayden Schenn on the top-line, and gives the second line some balance with Filppula and Voracek.
A big area of need in Philly is the goaltender position, as they’ve been running with Steve Mason and Michal Neuvirth and neither have been good this year.
Neuvirth was handed a new two-year deal at the trade deadline, but it is expected he will be exposed in the expansion draft and the Flyers will protect youngster, Anthony Stolarz.
Busted Trade Deadline
The Sabres were considered losers at the trade deadline, considering they didn’t deal pending free agent defenseman Cody Franson or Dimitry Kulikov.
Evander Kane, often rumored to be on the block, also stayed put despite a strong season in the goals column and only having one year remaining on his deal.
The Sabres sit 21st overall in goals per game at 2.5, even though their powerplay is scoring at the second-best clip at 22.9%. Jack Eichel is the franchise centerman to build this team around, which GM Tim Murray has tried to do with Kane, Kyle Okposo and Ryan O’Reilly.
O’Reilly has been the team’s MVP, leading the Sabres’ scoring with 44 points in 56 games played and averaging 21:43 of ice time per game.
O’Reilly is an excellent two-way player that can produce in any situation. Jack Eichel has 42 points in 45 games played, and Okposo is between the two at 43 points.
Anders Nilsson also wasn’t dealt, despite a strong season where he’s registered a .920 SV% and a 2.75 GAA and the looming expansion draft where he’ll be exposed.
Number-one goalie, Robin Lehner, owns a .922 XV% and a 2.59 GAA on the year.
- Under is 8-1-2 in Flyers last 11 vs. a team with a losing record.
- Under is 5-1-2 in Flyers last 8 Tuesday games.
- Under is 12-3-4 in Flyers last 19 overall.
- Under is 6-1 in Sabres last 7 vs. Eastern Conference.
- Over is 5-1 in Sabres last 6 Tuesday games.
Neither team will be competing for a playoff spot this season, so each are playing for contracts and lineup spots next year.
Buffalo have scored three or more goals in five or their last eight games, while Philly has only reach that mark twice in their last 12. I like the under.
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