Already struggling through a miserable stretch, the Philadelphia Flyers must now also try to overcome an injury to their leading scorer.
Playing without Mike Richards for the first time, the Flyers hope to avoid a franchise-record 11th consecutive loss as they visit the Buffalo Sabres on Monday.
Richards is having the best season of his three-year career, leading Philadelphia (30-25-7) with 23 goals, 43 assists and 66 points in 62 games. The All-Star center, though, suffered a torn left hamstring in Saturday's 2-1 overtime loss to Florida - the Flyers' sixth straight defeat at home and is expected to miss at least three weeks.
"The doctors told me to take my time and to rest it up and see how it goes from there," Richards told the Flyers' official Web site. "It is disappointing. Everybody hates being out of the line-up. At this time you want to be out there helping your teammates going down the stretch."
|Add leading scorer Mike Richards to the continually growing list of injured Flyers.
Losing Richards is another devastating blow to the Flyers, who are already without two-time 40-goal scorer Simon Gagne (concussion), and Joffrey Lupul (high ankle sprain), who has 18 goals and 39 points in 2007-08.
Gagne is sidelined the rest of the season, while Lupul is sidelined at least another two weeks.
"We are in a tight spot," Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren said. "There is no use waiving a white flag right now. Everybody is going to have to pick it up and deal with it."
The timing of this latest injury couldn't be worse for Philadelphia, which dropped to 0-8-2 in its last 10 games to match the franchise-worst winless mark they endured last season - going 0-9-1 from Dec. 2-27, 2006 - when they finished last in the NHL.
The Flyers are hoping to end this tailspin, as well as a four-game road losing streak - their longest since they went 0-5-2 from March 4-April 3. First, they must bounce back from Saturday's loss in which Daniel Briere scored his 22nd goal to end a five-game points drought.
"It's amazing right now how everything is happening," said Briere, who has two goals and one assist in his last nine appearances. "It's important that we keep sticking together. We can't start blaming each other."
Briere has 22 goals and 55 points for the Flyers, who signed him to an eight-year, $52 million contract in July after he had spent the previous three seasons with Buffalo (30-24-8).
But the center has just one point in Philadelphia's two losses to Buffalo, an assist in a 6-5 shootout loss to the Sabres in Philadelphia on Dec. 22 in the most recent matchup.
The Sabres are coming off a 4-3 home loss to the New York Rangers on Saturday - their third loss in five games. Ales Kotalik scored two goals and Derek Roy had two assists for Buffalo, which dropped to eighth place in the crowded Eastern Conference.
"We gave up two points against a team right next to us in the standings. It's unacceptable," defenseman Jaroslav Spacek said.
Spacek looks to give the Sabres a couple of points back. While he has just nine goals and 28 points, he has two goals and four assists during a five-game points streak against the Flyers.
Jason Pominville, who leads the Sabres with 55 points, has a goal and three assists during a four-game points streak. His best game of the season occurred came against the Flyers, against whom he netted a goal and three assists for a career-high four points in that shootout victory.
Pominville has five goals and 11 points in nine all-time meetings against the Flyers.