PHILADELPHIA - The Buffalo Sabres know they have a tough task at hand tonight when they take on the red-hot Philadelphia Flyers on the road.
The Flyers have won eight games in a row and are currently one point behind the Washington Capitals for the top seed in the Metropolitan Division with 87 points and a game in hand. Washington defeated Pittsburgh this afternoon.
"They're playing a really confident team game. We took a deep look at them and they're playing very simple. They're working hard in both in directions and the depth of their lineup certainly helps them," Sabres head coach Ralph Krueger said before the game at Wells Fargo Center.
Wayne Simmonds has a lot of familiarity with this Flyers team, having played 584 of his 907 NHL games with Philadelphia from October 2011 until last year's trade deadline. The newly acquired Sabres forward has one goal in three games against Philadelphia this season (when he was with New Jersey) and thinks that success tonight will start with making smart decisions with the puck.
He also sees first-year Flyers coach Alain Vigneault as a big reason for Philadelphia's success.
"With the coaching change, they've been pretty structured. Everyone's bought in," Simmonds said. "So it's going to take a complete effort - it's not going to be one guy and we've got to make sure we have a good team game."
The Flyers are led in scoring by Travis Konecny, who has 61 points, which is tied for 28th in the NHL. He's part of a balanced offensive attack - six players on their roster with at least 40 points.
Video: PREGAME: Ralph Krueger
"[Vigneault] balances out the energy as much as anybody in the league and that is tough to play against. But it's going to be a good challenge. We're hungry for this," Krueger said. "We're hungry. Guys are in a good place here and we're expecting a real tight game tonight."
Carter Hutton will start in net for Buffalo. At forward, Zemgus Girgensons is available after being given a maintenance day yesterday. Buffalo will take pregame warmups with 13 forwards.
Defenseman Lawrence Pilut will not be able to play due to an illness. John Gilmour was recalled from Rochester this morning and will serve as a healthy scratch. Colin Miller will return to the lineup for his 300th NHL game.
Pregame coverage on MSG will begin at 6:30. Dan Dunleavy and Rob Ray will call the action just after 7 on MSG and WGR 550.