NHL on NBCSN: Flyers, Sabres continue battle for final Wild Card spot
NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2016-17 campaign tonight when the Buffalo Sabres host the Philadelphia Flyers at 7:30 p.m. ET. If you want to watch the game online, you can do so here.
Even though everyone seems to be counting out the Flyers and Sabres, there’s still a slim chance that one of these two teams could sneak into the postseason.
Philadelphia finds themselves three points back of the Islanders, but they also trail by five regulation/overtime victories, which is a key tiebreaker.
If the Flyers are going to go on a serious run between now and the end of the season, they’ll have to have a ton of success away from home, as eight of their next 11 contests will be played on the road.
Winning in someone else’s building is relatively tough for any team, but the Flyers have been especially bad at it. They’re coming off a 2-1 OT loss in Washington on Saturday night, and they’ll head into this game with an 11-16-4 road record.
The next three games will be crucial for Philadelphia. They’ll get a crack at the Sabres tonight, the Leafs on Thursday and the Bruins on Saturday. Each one of those teams could be in contention for the final Wild Card spot the Flyers are chasing.
“It’s going to be a great test,” said goalie Steve Mason, per the Courier-Post. “You got Buffalo and Toronto with a lot of young talent and then Boston just a veteran team that has a ton of experience. Yeah, this is extremely important for us and we have to be ready from the first puck drop (Tuesday) night.”
As for the Sabres, they’re five points back of the final Wild Card spot, but they’ve played two games more than both the Isles and Flyers.
As tough as Philadelphia’s upcoming schedule might be, Buffalo’s won’t leave much margin for error either. After tonight’s game, they’ll play a home-and-home series against the Columbus Blue Jackets before taking off on a four-game road trip that will see them travel to San Jose, Los Angeles, Anaheim and Detroit.
Buffalo is coming off a heartbreaking loss to the Penguins. There’s no shame in losing to Pittsburgh, but there is a sense of embarrassment when you built a 3-0 lead in the first period only to blow it over the last 40 minutes.
“This is the time of year when every game is critical,” said head coach Dan Bylsma, per the Buffalo News. “Playing the Pittsburgh Penguins, they’re fighting for points, too. Yes, they’re in a spot and yes, they’re where they’re at, but they’re fighting for their points that they want and they need. That’s what the game had a feel of. Those are games and situations we have to learn how to win in and learn how to play in.”
One thing the Sabres have going for them, is the play of star center Jack Eichel. Since making his regular season debut in late November, he’s been one of the top 10 scorers in the NHL. He comes into tonight’s contest riding a 10-game point streak.