Having played the fewest games in the NHL certainly hasn’t hindered the Philadelphia Flyers. A much busier upcoming schedule should provide a stiffer challenge for one of the league’s hottest teams.
Starting a stretch of nine games in 15 days, the Flyers seek their sixth straight victory overall and sixth in row against the Buffalo Sabres when the teams meet Saturday night at Wachovia Center.
While three teams have played 20 games, Philadelphia (10-4-1) has played a league-low 15 with two five-day breaks between games, one four-day rest and two more three-day layoffs already this season.
The Flyers have made the relatively light schedule work to their advantage, ranking second in the league with 3.67 goals per game while allowing 38 - a total bettered by only New Jersey (35) and Buffalo (35).
After hosting the Devils on Monday, Philadelphia opens a five-game road trip two days later against Los Angeles.
“I think it’s a good thing,” Flyers defenseman Kimmo Timonen(notes) told the team’s official Web site of the busy schedule. “(I) would rather play games than practice, personally. It’s going to be a tough stretch down the road, but I think we’re ready for that. There’s been a lot of breaks, and that’s actually tough.”
Emery spent his first five years with the Senators after playing last season in Russia.
“These are fun ones to play. Definitely nerves are going,” Emery said. “It’s a little bit special, a different situation but it’s two good teams and a little personal story for myself. I’m just happy that we won.”
Since allowing five goals in back-to-back games Oct. 6 and 8, Emery is 7-2-1 with a 1.86 goals-against average in 10 starts. He stopped 28 shots in a 5-2 victory at Buffalo on Nov. 6 - the Flyers’ fifth straight win in the series.
Briere’s presence makes the league’s top-ranked power play even stronger. The Flyers have outscored opponents 23-7 during their five-game streak, going 6 for 19 with the man advantage in that span.
Buffalo (11-4-1) extended its lead in the Northeast Division with a 2-1 shootout win over Calgary on Friday night. Jason Pominville(notes) scored in the fourth round of the tiebreaker, and Ryan Miller(notes) was outstanding again with 25 saves.
Miller is the biggest reason why the Sabres rank among the league’s best teams. He is tied for the NHL lead with 11 wins and ranks first with a 1.75 GAA, but he has allowed 10 goals during a personal three-game losing streak to the Flyers.
“I think any goalie in the league, if he’s playing good hockey, it’s probably because his team is playing with a strong sense of awareness,” Miller said. “It’s not just that I feel good in the net, it’s because the guys are giving me the opportunity to make smart reads.”
Buffalo’s Derek Roy(notes) has picked up his play considerably, scoring four goals in his last five games after failing to find the back of the net in his first 11 contests this season. Roy has five goals and two assists in his past seven games against Philadelphia.