Flyers remember last game in Buffalo; hope to jumpstart season Saturday
by Kevin Kurz, philadelphiaflyers.com
(November 11) – It goes without saying that the Flyers remember what happened when they played Buffalo earlier this season.
"You could say they started this mess," said Derian Hatcher, referring to a 9-1 loss on October 17 at HSBC Arena in the team's sixth game of the season.
Today at the Wachovia Center, the Sabres and Flyers will meet for the first time since that contest (7:00 p.m., Comcast SportsNet, 610 WIP). Buffalo is in first place in the Northeast Division with 27 points, while Philadelphia will be trying to end a four-game losing streak and improve on its 3-11-1 record.
While the matchup doesn't look favorable on paper for Philadelphia, the game could be a huge opportunity for the Flyers to turn things around. A victory against Buffalo may be just what they need to right their season, according to several players who spoke after the team practiced on Friday at the Virtua Health Flyers Skate Zone.
"It will be awesome if we turn it around against Buffalo since they are one of the best teams in the league," said Simon Gagne. "It would be something very good for us to build on.
"It's going to be a long 60 minutes and we'll have to be ready since they will come hard. They don't care what's going on in here and they are going to try and kill us like they did the past game."
Hatcher said that just because of what happened the last game doesn't mean the Flyers have no chance at winning this time around.
"I don't think it is unrealistic," he said. "It's a matter of stringing three good periods together. We're fighting ourselves right now. Everyone has heard it, but we just need to go out there and focus."
John Stevens, who was still as assistant coach at the time of the first meeting with Buffalo, spent the day trying to instill some competitiveness into his team. That, said Stevens, will be the key not only to the Buffalo game, but all games moving forward.
"Our whole concern today was with how we compete. Obviously, there is a good team coming in here, but right now that has been the focus," said Stevens. "If we don't compete with the puck against Buffalo, they can embarrass you. To me, playing without the puck is the willingness and not the ability. I've always said that and still believe it. That was the message today."
Regardless of the opponent, the Flyers have to take care of what they can control, first and foremost.
"We have to focus on ourselves and just go out there and play three periods, go out in the first period and play the way we do in the third period, or the way we did in the second period against Toronto," said Hatcher.
"For me, just another hockey game that we have to win," said Antero Niittymaki. "I don't think it's any different than playing the Islanders, or Washington, or whoever. Right now it doesn't matter who we play, we have to find a way to win games. That's the bottom line."
FLYERS NOTES Peter Forsberg missed practice with the flu. … Denis Gauthier also missed practice and is questionable for Saturday. … Randy Robitaille is questionable for Saturday. Robitaille has been out since November 3 with a left knee and ankle sprain. … Mike Knuble will not play on Saturday. … The Flyers recalled Triston Grant and Alexandre Picard on Friday, while Mark Cullen and Martin Grenier were reassigned to the Phantoms.