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Sabres open their season by hosting Flyers

by John Kreiser

FLYERS (0-1-0) at SABRES (0-0-0)


Season series: It's the first of three meetings this season. The Flyers swept the season series in 2011-12 after eliminating the Sabres from the playoffs in the spring of 2011.

Big story: It's opening day in Buffalo, where the Sabres are eager to put last season's 10th-place finish behind them and return to the playoffs. The Flyers already have a game under their belts -- they lost 3-1 at home to Pittsburgh on Saturday and need a win to avoid a lost weekend.

Team Scope:

Flyers: Philadelphia doesn't have much time to ponder Saturday's season-opening 3-1 home loss to Pittsburgh, a game in which they dominated for long stretches but paid the price for a slow start that saw them fall behind 2-0 before half the first period was over.

"You never want to sit on a loss too long, so we made sure of that with the 12:30 p.m. start," coach Peter Laviolette said. "So we'll be back out, ready to play. We rolled lines pretty good tonight. Nobody really got taxed. I think Simmer Wayne Simmonds was maybe our highest-minute forward and that is because he got caught out there a couple times on the power play. Other than that, I think we will be fine."

Sabres: It's been 25 seasons since the Sabres started the season with an 18-year-old on their roster. But they'll have one on Sunday when Mikhail Grigorenko, their first pick in last spring's NHL Draft, earned a spot.

The Russian teenager found out on Friday that he had made the team.

"Hopefully after warmup, I'll be good," he said when asked if he'll be nervous. "I don't think nerves will last more than 1-2 shifts. ... I don't care about other teams. I just want to prove to the Sabres they made the right choice in drafting me."

The Sabres were the only Eastern Conference team that didn't open its season on Saturday. The extra day off gave coach Lindy Ruff a chance to do a little scouting -- both of the Flyers and the referees, to see how the games are being called.

"I like the fact we're going to get to watch what's in the League one night," Ruff told the Buffalo News. "I'm anxious to play. There's a little bit of nervousness and you might find that hard to believe after all these years but I'm ready to get going."

Injury report: The Flyers are without top-six forward Danny Briere (wrist) and defenseman Chris Pronger (concussion), who's not likely to play this season. … Sabres forward Ville Leino (lower body) didn't practice Saturday. Forwards Nathan Gerbe (back) and Cody McCormick (finger) are starting the season on the injured list.

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