FIVE THINGS TO KNOW SABRES (24-26-6--54pts) at FLYERS (31-18-7--69pts)
1. SO FAR...
This is the third of four meetings on the year between the Flyers and Sabres, and the first at the Wells Fargo Center… The Flyers won both games in Buffalo, both of which were close contests, having been decided by one goal including their last meeting, a 5-4 win in overtime.
2. THE FIRST TIME SINCE...
Not only is it the first meeting of the year against the Sabres at home, it is the first time Buffalo has been back to Philadelphia since Game Seven of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals last season in which the Flyers earned a 5-2 win on Apr. 26… It is also the first time ex-Flyer Ville Leino returns to Philadelphia… Leino posted 21 goals and 36 assists for 57 points in 94 games.
3. WE'RE NOT THE ONLY ROAD WARRIORS
Buffalo will be looking for their fourth straight win on the road… They have won their last three road games… Overall, the Sabres have won five of their last eight games, going 5-2-1 in that span.
4. Player to watch SABRES: Jason Pominville
Pominville is currently riding a five-game point streak in which he has four goals and six points… Pominville also averages nearly a point-per-game in his career against the Flyers, posting 23 points (10G-13A) in 24 contests.
5. Player to watch FLYERS: Claude Giroux
In two games of the season series vs. Sabres, Giroux has five points (1G-4A)… Giroux also remains tied for the 2nd overall in the NHL in points (62) and has posted at least a point in five of his last seven games recording four goals and seven points in that span.
TV: MSG-B, CSN-PH
Last 10: Buffalo 5-4-1; Philadelphia 3-4-3
Season series: This is the third of four meetings between the teams, with the Flyers taking the first two games in Buffalo, each by one goal. Philadelphia won 3-2 on Nov. 2, and then Claude Giroux scored in overtime to give the Flyers a 5-4 win on Dec. 7.
Big Story: Can the Flyers reverse a slide that has seen them win just once in their last six games?
Sabres: Less, apparently, is more for defenseman Mike Weber.
In a 13-game span from Dec. 28 to Jan. 21, Weber played at least 20 minutes 11 times, and had 1 goal and a minus-8 rating. In eight games since then, however, he's averaged about 16:30 per game, and has 2 assists and a plus-2 rating.
More importantly, the Sabres went 2-9-2 in those 13 games with Weber playing extended minutes, and 5-2-1 since he had his ice time cut back.
"That's been the biggest, to get back to playing the minutes he seems suited to, that he's not trying to do too much, that when he gets out there he's fresh," coach Lindy Ruff told the Tonawanda News. "His game is a lot of times energy. It's playing hard in a short period of time, and I think when we've overplayed him he's just tried too much. He's over-handled some situations. He tried to make plays into areas he doesn't need to make plays. I think that part of his game has really cleaned up."
Flyers: James van Riemsdyk took another step in his recovery from a concussion Wednesday, skating in a regular-colored jersey, rather than a non-contact one.
Van Riemsdyk hasn't played since Jan. 12. He practiced in Jaromir Jagr's regular spot on the top line alongside Claude Giroux and Scott Hartnell, but refused to speak to reporters afterward, saying through a team spokesman said he "felt the same as last week."
Teammates, however, thought van Riemsdyk looked good.
"It seemed like he had lots of pop, so hopefully he keeps moving in the right direction," center Danny Briere told the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Who's Hot: Sabres captain Jason Pominville has points in five straight games. He has 4 goals and 2 assists in his streak. … In seven February games, Flyers center Claude Giroux has 4 goals and 3 assists.
Injury Report: Sabres forward Cody McCormick didn't practice Wednesday and is doubtful for Thursday's game with an upper-body injury. Forward Brad Boyes and defenseman Robyn Regeher also sat out the practice, but the Buffalo News is reporting both will play Thursday. … Jagr is questionable due to the flu. Goalie Ilya Bryzgalov, who sat out the last three games with the flu, should be healthy enough to play. Van Riemsdyk, forward Jakub Voracek (upper body) and defenseman Andrej Meszaros (upper body) are questionable.
Stat Pack: The Sabres have allowed just three power-play goals in their last nine games, which comes after a span of four games where they allowed six extra-man goals.
Puck Drop: When it was reported Jochen Hecht had suffered another head injury, during a game in New Jersey on Jan. 24, Ruff said Hecht was "a mess" and the team was worried about him.
Wednesday, however, a smiling Hecht met with reporters for the first time since his injury.
"I feel good," Hecht said in his first meeting with reporters since being hurt. "I rode the bike the last couple days. Now I’m at that point where I can start working out again and pump the intensity up slowly."
Hecht said he had a non-surgical procedure performed recently, which included the use of needles in his back.
"It was pins and needles they put in the back, and medicine, and it took away some of those sensations I had," he said.
Hecht said he's hoping he can recover enough to play again this season.
"That's why I'm working out and doing all the rehab again," he said. "I still have to go through the bike rides where they monitor my heart rate and look that I'm symptom-free, and I'm just going to go from there."