After going 0-2-2 in the four games following a 10-game winning streak, the Buffalo Sabres have had a chance to take a break from games the past three days
It also meant they could get in a couple practices, which were limited during their recent cramped schedule.
In their first-game since an overtime loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday, which followed a loss to the Predators in Nashville the night before, the Sabres will play host to the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday afternoon.
The Tuesday game marked the completion of a stretch of 11 games in 19 days for Buffalo.
“A lot of times you lose practice time and we understand that,” Sabres left winger Conor Sheary told the Buffalo News Friday after the Sabres completed their first back-to-back practice days since mid-November. “So, when you get these kind of days here, you want to take advantage of them, really work on your special teams and your five-on-five play and get better at them. It’s definitely good for us.”
“It’s been refreshing,” Buffalo defenseman Zach Bogosian said. “It’s good to see a little slowdown of pace in the schedule. It doesn’t mean the games are going to be any less intense but it’s nice to get a few days between games and throw a day off in there too.”
The Sabres defeated the Flyers 5-2 Nov. 21 at home.
Buffalo (17-8-4) will be without goaltender Carter Hutton for the game Saturday. He is out with an upper-body injury.
The injury apparently came during the 2-1 loss in Nashville.
Scott Wedgewood has been called up from Rochester of the American Hockey League to serve as Linus Ullmark’s backup on Saturday.
“We’re just being cautious with it, giving him a maintenance day yesterday,” Housley said. “He’s still day to day and he hasn’t really skated. We want to get him a practice or some ice before (he returns to the lineup).”
The Flyers will be starting a five-game road trip in Buffalo.
They recalled forward Phil Varone from Lehigh Valley of the AHL for the opener of the trip. He is leading the Phantoms with 17 assists and has 11 goals in 22 games. The 28 points rank him second in the AHL. Varone has scored seven goals and added five assists in his past nine games.
The Flyers (11-12-3) are coming off a 4-3 overtime loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets Thursday at the Wells Fargo Center after Travis Sanheim scored twice in the third period for Philadelphia to tie the game. The Flyers are 2-5-2 in their past nine games.
“It’s disappointing the way it ended,” Philadelphia coach Dave Hakstol said. “That’s a hard way to lose the extra point.”
The Flyers hope to change their fortunes on their trip. They are 6-5-1 on the road this season, compared to 5-7-2 at home.
“What the exact science is, I don’t know,” Hakstol said. “But for the most part, everybody’s rink is pretty similar. And for a team on the road your live is pretty simplified. It’s about your teammates and hockey.”
“It’s nice to play on the road,” Flyers center Scott Laughton said. “You just play hockey. You don’t have any other worries. It’s good for team building, too. It brings you closer. Lots of dinners and stuff like that. Lots of hanging out.”
The Flyers are hoping that the upcoming trip works out as well as a similar one did last December. It turned their season around and they had the fifth-best record in the NHL from that point and made the playoffs.
“You ask any team, they love getting out on the road together,” Hakstol said. “It simplifies life a little bit. It’s always a good chance for the team to be around each other, to hang out and you always get a little bit tighter when you go through some of the challenges on the road. It’s about your teammates and hockey.”