Flyers-Sabres preview: Surging Philly aims for 5th straight win

FLYRGLANCE14
Flyers right winger Jake Voracek is the NHL’s co-leader with 30 assists and he is tied for seventh in the league with 37 points.

Sabres (8-17-6) at Flyers (12-11-7)

WHEN: 7 p.m. Thursday.

WHERE: Wells Fargo Center.

BROADCAST & STREAMING: TV — NBCSP; radio — 97.5 FM.

SOCIAL MEDIA COVERAGE: Twitter, @BroadStBull@samdonnellon.

KEY PLAYERS: The Sabres have the Eastern Conference’s worst record and have a minus-37 goal differential. And, so, yes, the surging Flyers, winners of four in a row, should be a heavy favorite.

Until you remember what lowly Arizona did when it came to the Wells Fargo Center on Oct. 30.

The Coyotes, you’ll recall, lost their first 11 games before knocking off the Flyers in overtime, 4-3.

With that as a lesson, perhaps the Flyers won’t look past the Sabres, who are on a 2-0-2 run.

Buffalo goalie Robin Lehner, 26, who could be on the Flyers’ radar if Michal Neuvirth continues to have injury problems in the second half of the season, has been formidable with a 2.87 goals-against average and a .911 save percentage with a shaky defense in front of him.

But the Sabres’ offense has been offensive — last in the NHL with an average of 2.16 goals per game.

Evander Kane (14 goals, 28 points), Jack Eichel (24 points), and Ryan O’Reilly (20 points) have been the Sabres’ top producers, but they are a combined minus-32.

For the Flyers, Jake Voracek is tied for seventh in the NHL with 37 points, and he is tied for the league lead with 30 assists.  The Flyers are 4-0 since Voracek was dropped to the second line to give the units more scoring balance.

The win streak has pushed the Flyers to within four points of a wild-card spot.

Claude Giroux (13 goals, 34 points), Sean Couturier (15 goals, 30 points), and Shayne Gostisbehere (22 points) are the Flyers’ other scoring leaders.

Rookie Robert Hagg leads the Flyers with a plus-14 rating.

THINGS TO KNOW: Brian Elliott, the NHL’s No. 3 star of the week, will make his sixth straight start for the Flyers…..Despite a four-game points streak, the Sabres have lost 13 of their last 16 games; they are coming off Tuesday’s 3-2 win over Ottawa…..Buffalo is ranked 30th (out of 31 teams) on the power play and 15th on the penalty kill. The Flyers’ PP is 16th and their PK is 29th….The Sabres are 7-0-1 when Benoit Pouliot scores at least a point.

HEAD TO HEAD: This is the first of three meetings between the team this season — and they will be played within 24 days.  The Flyers have an 86-60-20-7 advantage in the all-time series. The teams will also meet Dec. 22 in Buffalo and Jan. 7 at the Wells Fargo Center.

COMING FLYERS GAMES:

Saturday: 7 p.m. vs. Dallas.

Monday: 7 p.m. vs. Los Angeles.

Wednesday: 8 p.m. vs. Detroit.