Tuesday the Buffalo Sabres end their four-game road trip with a 7:30 p.m. matchup against the Philadelphia Flyers. Sabres starting goaltender Robin Lehner is sick, so Anders Nilsson will make his Sabres regular season debut against the Flyers. Buffalo hasn’t won in regulation at Philadelphia since 2011 (0-6-2) but the Sabres are well-rested compared to the Flyers, who took on the Canadiens Monday night.
Some players to watch during Tuesday’s game:
During the preseason and training camp, Nilsson was phenomenal. He hasn’t seen game action in weeks, but will look to pick up where he left off. Nilsson, like Lehner, is a big goaltender at 6-foot-6 and 217-pounds, covering a lot of the net. Even though Nilsson looked solid in the preseason, his biggest problem has always been consistency. In the 2015-2016 campaign, Nilsson finished the season with a 10-13-2 record, playing for both the Edmonton Oilers and St. Louis Blues. He said before the season started that he needs to be better when he gets in net, and believes he can – especially if he gets more starts.
Anders Nilsson was a stud in the preseason. Let's see if he can handle the saucy mitts of Claude Giroux https://t.co/i4yKidVBkB
— Matthew Bové (@Matt_Bove) October 24, 2016
Tuesday, Sabres head coach Dan Byslma told WGR 550 that Lehner would likely get around 60 starts this season if he remains healthy, leaving 22 (approximately) for Nilsson. Whether or not that will be enough time for Nilsson to get in a grove remains to be seen, but if the preseason is any indication of what we can expect, I don’t think there’s a huge drop off from Lehner to Nilsson.
Expect to see Sam Reinhart where we thought he would be when he was initially drafted – playing down the middle. Tuesday, Reinhart will center the second line with Tyler Ennis and Zemgus Girgensons – a move Bylsma believes will pay dividends. “I like the way he skated today (Monday) playing center, skating up and down the ice skating with speed and I think that's something he's going to have to bring making that line effective.”
Sick toe drag move from Sam Reinhart last night pic.twitter.com/jsQbaAPTiT
— Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) October 21, 2016
Bylsma also said Reinhart’s best hockey has come in the past when he was playing center – but with so much depth down the middle before the season, Reinhart at center didn’t make much sense. When Eichel gets back I expect the two to be paired up again, but in the meantime, this should be a nice move for Reinhart, but an even nicer move for Ennis and Girgensons. The two haven’t been able to contribute much of anything early on so this should help – with Ennis especially.
In six games, Giroux has seven assists but still hasn’t found the back of the net. Eventually, that will change – and with a backup goalie in net for the Sabres, I think tonight may be the night. Giroux is riding a five-game point streak and you have to figure he’ll score sooner rather than later. Regardless, Giroux is one of the best players in the NHL and is always an exciting guy to watch. He, and Jakub Voracek, who leads the Flyers in points (3G, 5A), could prove to be a headache for the Sabres all night.