In Part 1 of GetFlyerdUp.com’s Flyers/Sabres playoff preview, we’ll take a look at each teams forwards.
Having a good rotation of 4 lines is crucial for any team hoping to be successful in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Of course scoring is important, but without solid 3rd and 4th lines, the most talented teams will have trouble navigating their way through 4 tough rounds of the playoffs. In short, the Philadelphia Flyers have tremendous depth, along with many scoring threats, and the ability to match up practically any of their four lines with any line in the NHL. The Buffalo Sabres on the other hand thrive on speed from their forwards. While they have some depth, especially at the Center position, they rely mainly on Drew Stafford and Thomas Vanek for their scoring punch.
Lets take a look at the Forwards for the Buffalo Sabres:
Thomas Vanek led the Sabres with 32 goals, followed up by Drew Stafford’s 31. Rookies Tyler Ennis and Nathan Gerbe combined for 36 goals in the regular season. Twelve Sabres scored 10 goals or more, ten of those twelve were forwards.
The Sabres added Brad Boyes from the St. Louis Blues at the NHL Trade Deadline. Boyes not only adds 17 goals and 55 points, Boyes adds a lot of depth and also allows the Sabres to be more versatile.
While the Sabres have their fair share of veterans leaders at the forward position, they mainly lean on their young talent.
Buffalo finished 9th in the NHL in Power Play Percentage, and 14th on the Penalty Kill.
Now, the Flyers:
You don’t have to search far to find out that the most common opinion of NHL pundits is that the Flyers have some of the best depth at the Forward position in the NHL. And none of said pundits would be wrong.
The Flyers have 7 players who finished with 20 goals or more, and 10 players who finished with 10 goals or more. Unlike the Sabres, all of their 10+ goal scorers are Forwards. Jeff Carter led the Flyers with 36 goals, followed by Danny Briere who finished with 34 goals.
The line of Danny Briere, Scott Hartnell and Ville Leino was put together during last years Stanley Cup Finals run. They have been one of the NHL’s most dangerous lines ever since. Combining to score 77 goals, they’re a line that has the ability to dominate a game.
The addition of Kris Versteeg increased the Flyers depth, though, they’re still waiting for Versteeg to deliver what they’ve expected. Still getting adjusted to Peter Laviolette’s system, along with the Flyers late season struggles, have made it difficult for Versteeg to fit in.
The Flyers Power Play has dropped during their recent struggles, falling to 19th overall in the NHL. They finish just behind the Sabres on the Penalty Kill, finishing 15th.
Forwards Edge: FLYERS
You’d be hard pressed to find another team in the NHL that has the kind of depth at the Forward position that the Flyers do. While Buffalo has some dangerous Forwards, the Flyers have the ability to dictate the match-ups however they like. While the Sabres lean heavily on Thomas Vanek, the Flyers have multiple players with the ability to carry the scoring load.
Next Up: Part 2- GetFlyerdUp.com we’ll take a look at how the Defenses match-up