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Sabres, Flyers need points to cling to playoff hopes

by Adam Kimelman

FLYERS (17-20-3) at SABRES (16-19-6)


Last 10: Philadelphia 4-4-2; Buffalo 4-4-2

Season series: This is the third and final meeting between the teams this season. They split the first two, with the Sabres winning 5-2 in Buffalo on Jan. 20, and the Flyers winning 3-2 in Philadelphia on March 10.

Big story: With both teams staring at gaping deficits to qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, this one could be more about playing for pride.

Team Scope:

Flyers: In his first season with the Flyers, Danny Briere and the team were slumping badly when they arrived in Buffalo for a game on Feb. 25, 2008. Briere scored in a shootout against his former team, helping the Flyers snap a 10-game losing streak and sparking a run that would carry the Flyers to the Eastern Conference Finals.

Briere and the Flyers are slumping again as the team arrives in Buffalo for a game Saturday. Briere, stuck in the worst season of his career -- he has five goals in 26 games, and none in the past 13 -- will return to the lineup after missing nearly a month of games due to a concussion.

"I feel I'm ready to go. I have no worries," Briere told reporters. "I'm not going to hold back. I haven't played in a couple weeks, and hopefully it won't be too much of a challenge getting my game back. But as far as the head goes, there's no worries there."

Sabres: The Sabres started the season with a surplus of blueliners, but after the announcement Friday that ice-time leader Tyler Myers would miss the remainder of the season with broken bone in his right leg, the Sabres suddenly are starting at a defense deficit.

With Myers' injury, plus the trade-deadline departures of Robyn Regehr and Jordan Leopold, the Sabres had just five blueliners on the roster. John Scott, who played defense part-time in previous stops with the New York Rangers and Chicago Blackhawks, could move back to the blue line to replace Myers, but he has not played defense this season. Or the Sabres could call up a player from the American Hockey League team.

"That's why a lot of teams did what they did at the trade deadline with guys like Robyn and [Leopold], stock up on defensemen," Rolston said Friday. "This time of year, going into the playoffs, you can't have too many."

Regardless of who is in the lineup, Rolston said he expects more from his players than he got Thursday in a 5-1 loss to the Montreal Canadiens.

"You have to play hard and play together, two things we didn't do [Thursday]," he said. "You have to be much more detailed and [show] a lot more effort than we had."

Who's hot: Flyers forward Simon Gagne has five points in his past five games, and after totaling just five points in 11 games with the Kings at the start of the season, he has four goals and eight points in 19 games since being traded to Philadelphia.

Injury report: The Flyers are missing forwards Zac Rinaldo (ankle), Jody Shelley (hip) and Maxime Talbot (leg), and defensemen Nicklas Grossmann (concussion), Braydon Coburn (shoulder) and Andrej Meszaros (shoulder). … The Sabres are missing defensemen Myers (leg) and Alexander Sulzer (knee), as well as forward Ville Leino (upper body).

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