Buffalo Sabres

Flyers 5, Sabres 2: Life without Wayne Simmonds starts with big win in wild-card push

Flyers 5, Sabres 2: Life without Wayne Simmonds starts with big win in wild-card push

BOX SCORE

The Flyers passed another team as they continued their climb up the Eastern Conference standings.

Wearing their Stadium Series sweaters one more time Tuesday, the Flyers buried the Sabres, 5-2, to leap over them for 10th place in the East, while Ryan Hartman made quite the first impression.

Here are my observations from the Wells Fargo Center:

 Sometimes it’s just a matter of inches that determine the outcome. Jack Eichel’s cross-ice pass appeared to have hopped over the stick of Brandon Montour, who had a wide-open net to shoot at. The Flyers quickly capitalized, coming back the other way as Travis Sanheim filled the slot as the trailer. What could have been a tied game turned into a 4-2 Flyers lead.

• There had to be some concern of a letdown coming off that huge overtime thriller at Lincoln Financial Field combined with the departure of Wayne Simmonds, but that wasn’t the case at all. Aside from a couple careless penalties, the Flyers dominated the opening 20 minutes, outshooting the Sabres 19-6 to start the game.

• It also helps that they received an emotional spark from the newcomer Hartman. On his first shift of the game, Hartman gave Flyers fans a nice introduction of what he’s all about, as he leveled rookie defenseman Rasmus Dahlin with a legal open-ice check (see story). Former general manager Ron Hextall said during his exit press conference that he thought this team needed more sandpaper, and it’s clear that Hartman has that element in his game.

• It was interesting to see how interim head coach Scott Gordon was going to divide up the minutes, electing to play 11 forwards and seven defensemen, like he did during Philippe Myers' NHL debut in Detroit. In that game, Myers played just 9:53, but you can see how much trust he built with his coach and how much trust he has earned. After two periods, Myers had logged nearly nine minutes and two-and-a-half minutes more than Andrew MacDonald.  

• There were a lot of rumors swirling around defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere at the trade deadline and I still think his name could be in play during the offseason. What I’ve noticed from "Ghost" recently is how he’s stepped up his physical play. At one point in the Stadium Series game, he was actually leading the Flyers in hits and he had another big one against the Sabres.

However, his positional play is what frustrates coaches. Gostisbehere stepped up and made a very poor decision that led to Casey Mittelstadt’s 3-2 goal.

• Oskar Lindblom has truly turned into a complete forward with his commitment to doing all the little things, constantly pressuring the puck. Rarely does he cheat himself on any shift. Not only did he score with a nice touch around the net, but he should have drawn a cross-checking penalty in the process. He had a couple of whacks from close range in the third period. Lindblom is coming on strong down the backstretch wth 13 points (eight goals, five assists) in his last 17 games.

• The Flyers were looking to match a franchise record by going three straight games without giving their opponent a power-play opportunity. However, that dissipated quickly with Scott Laughton’s tripping penalty that gave Buffalo a power play. Eichel capitalized with his 22nd goal of the season.

• The Flyers topped 40 shots for the ninth time this season. While they’re just 8-19-2 in games in which they outshoot an opponent, they’re now 6-2-1 when putting up 40 or more shots.

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Ryan Hartman introduces himself to Flyers fans with big hit on Rasmus Dahlin

Ryan Hartman introduces himself to Flyers fans with big hit on Rasmus Dahlin

Welcome to Philly, Ryan Hartman.

The new guy took little time introducing himself to Flyers fans, many of whom are still getting over Monday's trade of Wayne Simmonds.

How do you win over those fans?

Hit somebody.

On his very first shift Tuesday, Hartman, acquired in the Simmonds deal, received a standing ovation at the Wells Fargo Center after delivering a monstrous (and clean) hit on 2018 No. 1 pick Rasmus Dahlin, which you can watch in the video above.

Hartman wasn't kidding Tuesday when he described his style after morning skate.

I play a hard style. I like to hit and get into the dirty areas, get in the corners. I remember a picture playing in Nashville when we were playing the Flyers. I think it was five guys laying out in front of the net trying to block a shot. When I picture the Flyers uniform, I always picture that photo, so that’s the type of hockey I like — dedication to blocking shots and doing the little things right and playing the hard-nosed game like Flyers hockey is.

Buffalo did not take kindly to its 18-year-old star defenseman getting laid out. As a result, the Flyers were awarded a power play.

Talk about a productive first shift for the 24-year-old forward tasked with replacing Simmonds.

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Flyers vs. Sabres: Live stream, storylines, game time and more

Flyers vs. Sabres: Live stream, storylines, game time and more

It’s the first game of the post-Wayne Simmonds era Tuesday night as the Flyers (29-26-7, 65 points) host the Buffalo Sabres (29-25-8, 66 points) for the first time this season. 

The Flyers can leap the Sabres in the standings tonight with a win on home ice.

This is the third and final meeting between the teams this season — they split the previous two games in Buffalo.

Let's take a look at tonight's essentials:

• When: 7 p.m. ET with Flyers Pregame Live at 6:30 p.m.
• Where: Wells Fargo Center
• Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia 
• Live stream: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the NBC Sports MyTeams app

• Ryan Hartman arrived in Philadelphia late Monday morning and was on the ice for Tuesday’s morning skate. He will make his Flyers debut wearing No. 38.

I play a hard style. I like to hit and get into the dirty areas, get in the corners. I remember a picture playing in Nashville when we were playing the Flyers. I think it was five guys laying out in front of the net trying to block a shot. When I picture the Flyers uniform, I always picture that photo, so that’s the type of hockey I like — dedication to blocking shots and doing the little things right and playing the hard-nosed game like Flyers hockey is.

- Hartman

Here’s Hartman looking on at the end of the Flyers' 2-1 victory over the Predators on Dec. 30 during a furious finish to preserve the victory. 


(Image credit: Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images)

• The Flyers will be wearing their dark orange Stadium Series sweaters along with the helmets for tonight’s game against the Sabres.  

Saturday’s 4-3 victory at Lincoln Financial Field was just the third time in franchise history that the Flyers won a game after erasing a deficit of two goals or more in the final four minutes of regulation.

The last time that took place was Oct. 25, 2016, against the Buffalo Sabres at the Wells Fargo Center. 

 For the second time this season, interim head coach Scott Gordon will elect to dress 11 forwards and seven defensemen for tonight’s game against the Sabres — the same combination he used for the Flyers' 3-1 win in Detroit on Dec. 17. 

• The Flyers have not allowed a power-play opportunity to their opponent in back-to-back games for the first time this season. They can match a franchise record set last season (Feb. 16-20), when they went three games without giving their opponent a power-play opportunity. 

 Buffalo’s Jack Eichel has scored in 11 of the 12 games he has played in the month of February. Eichel has five goals and 10 assists since Feb. 1.

The Sabres were also busy leading up to the deadline as they acquired defenseman Brandon Montour from the Anaheim Ducks. Montour is expected to make his Sabres debut.

Projected lineup

Forwards
Claude Giroux-Nolan Patrick-Travis Konecny
Oskar Lindblom-Sean Couturier-Jakub Voracek
James van Riemsdyk-Nolan Patrick-Michael Raffl
Philippe Myers-Phil Varone-Ryan Hartman

Defensemen
Ivan Provorov-Travis Sanheim
Shayne Gostisbehere-Radko Gudas
Robert Hagg-Andrew MacDonald 

Goalies
Brian Elliott
Cam Talbot

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