What to Watch for Tonight: Buffalo

Ray Emery has been a big part of the Flyers' five-game winning streak. (AP Photo/Michael Perez)

Can you name the last time the Flyers won six games in a row? It’s actually closer than you may remember. The Flyers last won six contests in succession in Nov. 2008, a little more than a year ago.

They rattled off six games in a row after an 0-3-3 start to the season just a month prior. We all know how that turned out in April.

The Flyers are in a similar boat this year, but it isn’t because of a sluggish start. They are trying to gain ground in the Atlantic division but are hindered by their crazy schedule with 4-and-5-day gaps in between games.

Consider this:

The Islanders won again on Friday night. They topped lowly Carolina, 4-3, in OT. Despite the 6-game win streak, the Flyers have been able to earn any separation between themselves and the Islanders – who are just 1 point back of the Orange and Black.

In their defense, the Flyers have 4 games in hand on the Islanders, Penguins and Rangers.

But as Dan Carcillo said last week in Buffalo, those games in hand only count if you win.

The Flyers can add to their point total tonight at the Wachovia Center, when they take on Buffalo for the second time in 8 days. Here is what to watch (7:00 p.m., Comcast SportsNet) for tonight:

-Can the Flyers wear down the Sabres? Buffalo played on Friday night at home against Calgary, and battled it out with a gritty 2-1 shootout win. They will be tired – playing overtime gets you into town even later than scheduled. How can the Flyers do that? By continuing to get minutes from their third and fourth line. Last week in Buffalo, the Flyers’ fourth line played a part in 3 of the Flyers’ 5 goals. Plus, this is just the second game this week for the Flyers, who should be well rested.

-Speaking of rest, Ryan Parent should have plenty of jump in his legs when he takes the ice. Parent last played a full game back on Oct. 10 against Anaheim. That’s more than a month ago. He has been hindered by a nagging groin injury. He is expected to be in the lineup, which would mean that Oskars Bartulis (healthy) and Ole-Kristian Tollefsen (concussion) will probably not be in the lineup.

-Can Ray Emery continue his hot streak? As Emery has gone, so have the Flyers. He has given up just 7 goals in the last 5 games, which is damn impressive. That included just one goal against his former team in Ottawa on Thursday.

Here are the expected lines for tonight:

Hartnell – Richards – Giroux
Briere – Carter – Van Riemsdyk
Pyorala – Powe – Asham
Carcillo – Betts – Laperriere

Emery will start in net. There was some discussion as to whether backup Brian Boucher would make his second start of the season tonight, but Flyers coach John Stevens made it clear that he will stick with the hot hand. He knows how important the points are right now.

According to the Buffalo News, it seems like the Sabres could be without high-energy forward Mike Grier for the second game in a row. Toni Lydman (groin) is also doubtful.

Perpetual pest Patrick Kaleta had 6 hits in Friday night’s game against Calgary for the Sabres. He was a thorn in the Flyers’ side last week in Buffalo but refused to drop the gloves, despite repeated requests from some of the Flyers’ enforcers.

If the schedule isn’t weird enough… the Sabres are back in Philly again in less than two weeks, for a Black Friday matinee matchup. Is there really a need to play one team three times in a month?

ALSO, if you’re going to the game tonight: be sure to bring a frozen turkey or a coupon for a frozen turkey. I know it’s a pain to bring such a thing to a game but it benefits a great cause in the CityTeam Ministries – to get those less fortunate fed on Thanksgiving – and you can also get 10-percent off at the team store for being so kind.

For the latest updates, follow Frank Seravalli on Twitter at http://twitter.com/DNFlyers.