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Sabres stand in way as Flyers go for sweep of trip

by Adam Kimelman /
FLYERS (15-7-3) at SABRES (14-11-1)


Last 10:
Philadelphia 7-3-0; Buffalo 4-5-1

Season series: This is the second of four meetings between the teams this season. On Nov. 2 in Buffalo, the Flyers scored three times in the first 6:23 of the game to chase Sabres goalie Ryan Miller, then held on for a 3-2 victory.

Big Story: The Flyers try to sweep their three-game road trip, while the Sabres look to open a five-game homestand on the right foot.

Team Scope:

Flyers: While so much attention has been paid recently to the important veteran defenseman Philadelphia is missing, many are overlooking the one still in the lineup.

At age 36, Kimmo Timonen has played all 25 games, averages nearly 22 minutes a game of ice time, is tied for the team lead with 17 assists and leads the team's blueliners with a plus-8 rating.

"For me, he is quietly one of the best defensemen in the League," coach Peter Laviolette told the Philadelphia Inquirer. "Positionally, he plays against the top players in all situations, but yet he goes about his business and never gets a lot of fanfare."

Laviolette said what stands out the most about Timonen is his durability. Timonen has played 210 straight games, last sitting out March 1, 2009.

"I have told him he's like the mail," Laviolette said. "He shows up every day. It's in your box. You don't think about how it gets there."

Sabres: Some teams get stung by the injury bug. It seems like the Sabres have been enveloped by a swarming hive.

"You'd almost say that it becomes humorous, but it's something that obviously we don't take lightly," coach Lindy Ruff told reporters on Monday. "You go through some of the injuries, and some of them have been in really tough incidents for us."

The latest were upper-body injuries suffered by forwards Paul Gaustad and Jochen Hecht in Saturday's game against Nashville. Gaustad was injured in the scrum that followed Predators forward Jordin Tootoo hitting Sabres goalie Ryan Miller. Hecht was hurt on the last shift of Saturday's game, but Ruff said this latest injury has nothing to do with the concussion that Hecht suffered last season and which sidelined him until Nov. 23.

Defensemen Mike Weber and Tyler Myers and forward Brad Boyes are on injured reserve.

"We’ve had some incidents that really haven't happened to us before," Ruff said. "I think once we get by that and get healthy, we'll be OK."

Who's Hot: Flyers forward Jaromir Jagr has 2 goals and 4 points in his last two games. He has 654 career goals, two behind Brendan Shanahan for 11th all-time. … Hecht had a three-game goal-scoring streak snapped Saturday against Nashville.

Injury Report:
The Flyers expect to have forward James van Riemsdyk back in the lineup. He's missed the last four games with an upper-body injury. Defensemen Chris Pronger (knee), Andreas Lilja (ankle) and Erik Gustafsson (wrist) are out. Defenseman Andrej Meszaros, who has missed the last two days of practice, is questionable with an upper-body injury. … Besides Gaustad and Hecht, the Sabres will be without defenseman Jordan Leopold, who will miss about a week with an upper-body injury. Forward Nathan Gerbe, who suffered facial lacerations Saturday, is expected to play. Forward Cody McCormick, out since Nov. 14 due to a concussion, also is expected to be cleared to play Wednesday.

Stat Pack:
The Flyers are 9-2-1 when Claude Giroux scores a goal. They're 6-5-2 when he doesn't.

Puck Drop: One of the bigger reasons the Flyers have started December with a pair of victories has been their rejuvenated power play. After going 7-for-54 (12.9 percent) in 12 November games, they're 5-for-12 (41.7 percent) in two December games.

The Flyers missed Pronger and his skill from the point for most of the month due to an eye injury, they also were without Jagr for about two weeks. He returned in time to start December. The Flyers' hot power play is no coincidence.

"There's no question, he is one of the elite players to ever play the game offensively," Laviolette told "When you bring someone back into the mix 5-on-5 and the power-play mix, you're going to be able to reap the benefits of that. He thinks the game at a different level offensively. Putting him on your power play only makes it better."

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