If the Philadelphia Flyers have any hopes of defeating the Buffalo Sabres and continuing on in their pursuit of Lord Stanley’s cup, they will almost certainly need to improve on their struggling power play. The Flyers and Sabres stand at one win apiece as the series shifts back to Buffalo tonight.
The Flyers, despite being a woeful 1-for-15 on the power play (including three 5-on-3 advantages) in this series, were able to tie the series up on Saturday night as they found a way to beat Sabres’ goalie Ryan Miller five times. Ville Leino put the Flyers up for good at 4-3 when he scored the only power play goal of the series for the Flyers.
Part of the Flyers’ continuing struggles on the power play can be attributed to the loss of assistant captain and power play point man Chris Pronger. Pronger (broken right hand, day-to-day) has been skating and practicing in an effort to return at some point in this series. However, he has still not been able to grip his stick well and has not attempted to practice shooting the puck. Pronger made the trip with his team to Buffalo, but the Flyers remain quiet about when he could return.
Another contributing factor could be having big strong left winger James van Riemsdyk back at the point instead of clogging up the front of the net and looking to deflect and pounce on pucks. Van Riemsdyk has been a big force in the two games of this series for the Flyers. He scored a huge game tying goal last night as well as making some big checks. In game one he put six shots on net, a game the Flyers dropped 1-0.
The Flyers will certainly get a lot more chances to improve their power play if they continue to get under the skin of the Sabres and force them into taking bad penalties, as they did in Game Two.
Meanwhile, the Sabres are looking forward to returning to play in front of their home crowd. Forward Thomas Vanek scored two power play goals in game two, and when asked about gaining the home ice advantage back he said, “I think home ice is nice, hopefully we get a boost from it. We know Philly is a good road team and we expect tight games again.”