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Live from Philly: Sabres-Flyers Game Two

PHILADELPHIA -- Greetings again from the rain-drenched City of Brotherly Love, where the Phillies-Marlins game scheduled for 7 p.m. has already been banged, giving us a traffic opening on the drive back to Baltimore for tomorrow morning's flight home. But we're not going anywhere until Game Two of the Sabres-Flyers series is in the books here at the Wells Fargo Center.

How huge is this one? When the Sabres take a 2-0 lead in a playoff series, they are 14-1 in their history. The only loss was in 1976, when they won the first two games at the Aud against the New York Islanders and dropped the next four. When they've won the first two on the road, the Sabres are 4-0.

Of course, as the Bruins found out last year, you can never count the Flyers out. This series would be far from over with a Buffalo win today, but the Sabres would certainly be well on their way.

If you missed it, be sure to check out the archive of our pregame live chat. We're doing one every game night, beginning 30 minutes prior to faceoff. I don't have a lot of literate thoughts today for some reason. Only one game in. Game on.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington) 

Lineup update: Sekera is in. Morrisonn and Persson are scratches.

Sabres starters: Gerbe-Gaustad-Kaleta-Butler-Myers. Goal: Miller
Flyers starters: Van Riemsdyk-Carter-Giroux-Meszaros-O'Donnell. Goal: Bobrovsky 

First Period

5:10 p.m: After another sensational Lauren Hart-Kate Smith duo on God Bless America, the puck is dropped.

18:00 left: Love the Sabres' physicality so far. Gerbe pushed Van Riemsdyk on the opening draw. Kaleta pushed Carter to the ice after 40 seconds and Grier drilled Coburn behind the net at 18:36.

UPDATE: The live blog has been disrupted by Internet connection problems in Philadelphia. At the end of one period, the game is tied, 3-3. Get real-time scoring updates here.

Laughing with Lindy and getting little info

PHILADELPHIA -- It's that time of year when talking to Lindy Ruff evokes international intrigue and sometimes requires a linguistics degree. Every word Ruff utters is measured and you better ask exactly what you mean to get an answer. And even then, you probably won't get a straight answer.

Ruff's pregame meeting with the media today was pretty comical. He answered a couple cursory questions about Dennis Persson's recall, so then I asked him if the presence of Persson means Andrej Sekera simply isn't getting any better. The conversation then went like this as everyone around us laughed. And hey, Ruff and I had a chuckle too. We all know the deal once the playoffs start.

Ruff: Who said Andrej wasn't better? 
Me: Is he better?
Ruff: Andrej's better.
Me:  So is Andrej out or in?
Me: I'm not telling you. He's just better. 

Ruff did reveal that Shaone Morrisonn is in fact out but Ruff said he's day to day. So we'll have to watch the warmup to see about Sekera-Persson. Bucky Gleason and John Vogl will be live chatting at 4:30 and we'll have the latest.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington) 

Sabres stats: The true tough guys

The Broad Street Bullies teams of the Philadelphia Flyers get most of the publicity for being the toughest team of the post-expansion (1967) era. Yet, the Flyers teams' of the Seventies don't crack the top 10 when it comes to average penalty minutes per game.

Who is on top? That's right, the Buffalo Sabres.

The 1991-92 Sabres averaged 33.9 penalty minutes per game. Rob Ray led the way with 354 PIM that season, which is more than four per game personally. Brad May was at 309, and Gord Donnelly was at 305. Four other players had more than 100 penalty minutes.

Here's the top 10 (1967-2011):

Team – Year – Average
Buffalo Sabres – 1991-92 – 33.9
Pittsburgh Penguins – 1988-89 – 33.4
Chicago Blackhawks – 1991-92 – 33.3
Calgary Flames – 1991-92 – 33.0
Philadelphia Flyers – 1980-81 – 32.8
New Jersey Devils – 1988-89 – 31.2
Chicago Blackhawks – 1988-89 – 31.2
Philadelphia Flyers – 1981-82 – 31.2
Calgary Flames – 1988-89 – 30.6
Boston Bruins – 1987-88 – 30.5
Calgary Flames – 1987-88 – 30.4

For the list of the 10 least penaltized teams, click here.

--- Budd Bailey

Always sunny in Philadelphia?

PHILADELPHIA -- In case any of you are fans of a certain television comedy, I'm here to give you proof: It's not always sunny in Philadelphia.

---John Vogl

 Philadelphia Weather

Updated: Apr 16, 2011, 2:25pm EDT

Right Now
Right Now Rain      
     
Rain      
51°F      
       
 

Sabres make Persson an emergency recall

PHILADELPHIA --  It's a little too early to be channeling your thoughts of 2006 but the Sabres are getting injury-riddled on defense again and have called up defenseman Dennis Persson from Portland. He would be in line to make his NHL debut today in Game Two against the Flyers. 

The Maine Hockey Journal is reporting the callup and the Sabres just confirmed it. Lindy Ruff will be meeting with the media at 3 p.m.

Andrej Sekera (upper-body strain) and Shaone Morrisonn are certainly questionable for today, with Morrisonn possible suffering a concussion in Game One. It's unknown if there's another injury on defense necessitating an emergency recall like Persson or if it's simply a case of Morrisonn being unable to go and Sekera being unable to replace him. Morrisonn did not practice yesterday while Sekera did.

Persson was a first-round pick of the Sabres in 2006 but the Swede has struggled at times in his career in the minors and has been passed by several players on the organization depth chart. He had four goals, 13 assists and a plus-5 rating in 64 games for Portland this year.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington) 

News hockey reporters conduct pregame chat at 4:30 p.m. today

Harrington guest on Talk Radio AM 640 in Toronto

The News' Mike Harrington was a guest on Talk Radio AM 640 in Toronto Friday night. He discussed the Sabres' Game One victory and looked ahead at the rest of the series with the Flyers.


Click here to download the audio and take it with you

Follow The News' Sabres coverage via social media

Sabres Edge at BuffaloNews.com is a one-stop source for up-to-the-minute news and in-depth reporting about the Sabres provided by The Buffalo News' award-winning writers. You can access the blog and all its information via social media:

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Whichever social platform you use, The News delivers its Sabres playoff coverage there.

Ruff: 'We really have to get after this one'

VOORHEES, N.J. -- The Sabres have a prime opportunity to put Philadelphia in a 2-0 series hole Saturday. To do so, they're going to need more offense than they showed during Thursday's 1-0 victory.

"We know we can be better," coach Lindy Ruff said today after practice in Flyers Skate Zone. "We played a strong game, but I think we can play a better game, Offensively, we didn’t spend the time in the offensive zone we wanted, and I think we really have to get after this one."

To hear Ruff's news conference -- which includes comments on Chris Butler, Mike Grier and Marc-Andre Gragnani -- click the audio file below.

---John Vogl

Morrisonn misses Sabres' practice

VOORHEES, N.J. --- Buffalo defenseman Shaone Morrisonn missed practice today, likely the result of a crushing check delivered by Philadelphia's Braydon Coburn during the third period of Thursday's 1-0 win by the Sabres.

"He wasn't available to practice," said coach Lindy Ruff, who declined to say if it was an injury-related absence. "I'm not commenting."

Morrisonn, who has a concussion history, took a high hit by Coburn with 15:50 left and crashed to the ice. He then retreated to the dressing room with athletic trainer Tim Macre.

---John Vogl

Poll: Make your Game Two pick

Leopold, unlike Pronger, skating with team

VOORHEES, N.J. -- Both the Sabres and Flyers have a key defenseman trying to return from a broken hand. Buffalo has the early edge.

While Chris Pronger skated alone today and barely tested his injury, Sabres blue-liner Jordan Leopold is skating with his teamates during practice in Flyers Skate Zone. Leopold, who broke his hand March 25, is handling the puck and passing. His recovery return date is next Friday, but he seems ahead of pace.

Unlike Pronger, who had surgery in mid-March, Leopold's broken hand was allowed to heal on its own.

---John Vogl

Pronger likely out for Game Two

VORHEES, N.J. -- We've already got an early verdict on perhaps the key reason the media has all piled across the Walt Whitman Bridge to the Flyers' Skate Zone: Chris Pronger is not going to play in Game Two.

The Flyers defenseman just completed a 50-minute skate here but did only one stickhandling drill about halfway through the session. He had extremely limited puck work, taking it one time and pushing it against the boards before skating away and not touching it again.

The Sabres are set to practice in the 11:30 range and the Flyers will go at noon.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington) 

Game One audio slideshow

PHILADELPHIA -- Mike Harrington and Bucky Gleason review the Sabres' 1-0 win in Game One over the Flyers in this audio slideshow:

Game One: Postgame audio

Here's some audio from postgame interviews with the Sabres:

Head coach Lindy Ruff:

Goalie Ryan Miller:

Defenseman Chris Butler:

Vote for your three stars

Live from Philly: Sabres-Flyers Game One

PHILADELPHIA -- It's that time of year. Sunshine. Tailgaters. Crazy fans. Sabres-Flyers Game One. Frankly, I don't have much to say from a hockey angle that hasn't already been said the last four days.

One item to note: Be sure to give a look and a like to our new Sabres Edge Facebook page. 

As for food, John Vogl and I get plenty of inquiries over the course of the season about road trips. So I raise my stick to last night's fare at Tony Luke's Beer and Beef Bar,  and to today's choice, the Philadelphia institution of Chickie's and Pete's featuring tremendous crabfries. I was all over the chicken cutlet parm while Vogl gives the thumbs-up to the cheesesteak topped with lobster.

If you missed our live chat, be sure to go back on the blog for the archive. And be sure to join us each game night for 30 minutes prior to the game.

Finally. Too much talking going on and not enough hockey to gab about. Game on.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington) 

Sabres starters: Gerbe-Gaustad-Kaleta-Myers-Butler. Goal: Miller
Flyers starters: Van Riemsdyk-Carter-Giroux-O'Donnell-Meszaros. Goal: Bobrovsky 

The anthem: The Flyers pulled out the Lauren Hart-Kate Smith "God Bless America" duo live and on the jumbtron, circa 1974. The place is deafening.

Third Period

Of note: The Sabres have been credited for 11 blocked shots, the Flyers with just three. Philly leads in hits, 31-26, and faceoffs, 20-19 (good job by Sabres there). Timmonen has five shots on goal. Carter and Stafford have four.

14:04 left: I'm playing desperate blogging with terrible internet but the Sabres take a 1-0 lead on a goal by Kaleta. Point shot from Gragnani and stuffs home the rebound. Great crossice pass from Gauatad too.

13:08 left: Earlier in the period, Morrisonn took a hard hit in the corner from Coburn and went to the locker room.

11:16 left: Miller makes his 30th save of the night. Routine shot there. 

9:51 left: Flyers unhappy with Myers for firing just after the whistle on an offside. You have to like how he pushed two Flyers away too. Crowd back in it when they roll the "Rocky" music here with the noise meter on the jumbotron.

8:57 left: Myers goes for tripping as Leino gets inside him. Hold on to your hats.

6:55 left: Super job. No shots. Crowd booing vociferously. Like they did to Santa Claus at the Eagles game back in the day. Or maybe to Mike Schmidt.

2:30 left: Timeout, Lindy after an icing with faceoff coming in Sabres zone. Shots are 32-25 for Flyers.

1:23 left: Unscreened save on Briere.  No. 33.

O-VER: 1-0 win. 1-0 lead in the series.

Second Period

8:35 p.m: The puck is dropped

16:41 left: More Internet problems here. Keeps dropping off. Great play by Syvret to get back on Gaustad, who nearly had a breakaway. 

14:17 left:  Good glove grab by Bobrovsky on a Gerbe slapper. Shots are 13-12 for Buffalo.

13:56 left: The Sabres have nine blocks so far, the Flyers just two. They've also been charged with fivegiveaways to just one for Philly.

11:40 left: Montador for tripping, a few seconds after van Riemsdyk failed to convert a 2-on-1 pass from Giroux. Montador, who was Buffalo's best defenseman in the first half, has been so brutal lately that it's hard to imagine the Sabres re-sign him now.

10:18 left: Slashing call on Morrisonn, who was engaged with Richards for several seconds. A 5-on-3 for 38 seconds. 

9:24 left: Miller strong with three saves on point shots. No rebounds. Defense has cleared the lanes and he's had perfect views. 

8:09 left: Sabres survive. But now shots are 22-14 for the Flyers. 

2:56 left: Back after another Internet outage. Shots 24-19. Very, very tense in the building as you can imagine. Sabres have gotten almost nothing inside in this game. Few good chances. Flyers with far more close calls on Miller.

End-2nd: Still zip-zip. Shots are 26-19 for Philly through two, 16-9 in that period. Miller with two solid saves on Carter in the last minute. Like the work of the Gaustad line and Grier in this game. Briere has been tough too. He had a game-high four hits in the first period

First Period

7:40 p.m.: The puck is dropped. Series on.

16:43 left: Sabres holding on against the early momentum of the Flyers and the crowd. Buffalo has a 2-1 edge in shots with Gaustad's wraparound stopped and our first scrum developing. Of course, Kaleta was in there. 

15:59 left: Weber and Richards go for roughing after a scrum that included a good forearm by Miller to Richards too.

14:50 left: Van Riemsdyk leaks one through Miller but it dribbles off the post. Terrible giveaway in the zone by Montador. Can't have those at all.

13:26 left: MCcormick goes for interference. First power play of the series. Shots are 3-3 but momentum is an issue for the Sabres right now. The Flyers have some. They can get a lot more if they convert. 

11:50 left: Sabres have a 6-4 edge on faceoffs so far. Key. Flyers had a 15-3 edge in the first period last Friday.

11:00 left: No shots on the Philly power play, which ended the season on a 3-for-22 slide.

8:55 left: Tight, tight hockey. Shots are 4-4. You have to like how the Sabres have held off the early surge you would expect from a home team in Game One.

7:07 left: Shots are 5-5. Sabres have won eight of 12 faceoffs. Flyers have 15 hits to 10. Tough, tough play out there. Not much room.

6:13 left: Hartnell limps off to Flyers bench (right leg).

5:15 left: Ennis and Stafford get a steal and nearly turn it into a goal but Weber's foolish back pass ends that chance. Matt Carle with an horrendous Montador-like giveaway.

4:57 left: Bobrovsky stops a Vanek tip at the goalmouth. Great Connolly pass. Shots are 8-7 for Buffalo. 

4:47 left: Sabres to the power play as Versteeg goes for interference.

2:45 left: One shot on goal. Neither team has been very good on the PP.

2:10 left: Miller's best save came right in front of Syvret after another giveaway by Montador, who has been terrible.

1:21 left: And now Montador is going after foolishly hauling down Briere along the boards.

End-1st: No score and shots are 10-10. Flyers had huge pressure but Gaustad, playing without a stick, made a key block to get the Sabres out of the period.

Live pregame chat with News hockey reporters begins at 7 p.m.

Sabres Stats: Playoff percentages

When I'm following a playoff series, I like to see what the odds are when a team has a particular advantage during the course of the season. In other words, I ask questions like, "How many times does the team with the extra home game win a series?" and "What is the home team's record in Game Sevens?".

So I did some counting, from the 2004 to 2010 playoffs. The chart below shows the results.

A series "favorite" is the one that has the extra home game. Let's take the Flyers-Sabres matchup as an example. Entering the series, favorites have won 61.1 percent of the series since 2004. That might be a little less than you'd think.

If the Flyers win tonight, they'd be comforted by the fact that 71.0 percent of favorites that win the first game go on to win the series. However, if the Sabres win tonight, the Flyers' chances would drop all the way down to 39.3 percent. If Buffalo comes home after Game Two with a split, its chances of advancing, historically speaking, are 50-50.

The biggest surprise here might be that a visiting team has won the majority of Game Sevens over the time span. Road teams went 4-0 in Games Sevens in 2010.

Series – Favorite Wins
0 – 0: 55-35 - .611
1 – 0 F: 44 – 18 - .710
1 – 0 U: 11 – 17 - .393
1 – 1: 19 – 19 - .500
2 – 0 F: 34 - 5 – .872
2 – 0 U: 2 –11 - .154
2 – 1 F: 28 – 13 - .683
2 – 1 U: 11 – 14 - .440
2 – 2: 20 – 14 - .588
3 – 0 F: 16 – 1 – .941
3 – 0 U: 0 – 7 - .000
3 – 1 F: 25 – 4 - .862
3 – 1 U: 1- 15 - .063
3 – 2 F: 28 – 7 – .800
3 – 2 U: 2 – 16 - .111
3 – 3: 9 - 12– .429

--- Budd Bailey

Gerbe shrugs off Carcillo's head pat

PHILADELPHIA -- Nathan Gerbe is short. He always has been. It's likely the 5-foot-5 Buffalo forward hears cracks about his size on the ice all the time, but Philadelphia's Daniel Carcillo took it to another level during the teams' last meeting. The Flyers' agitator patted Gerbe on top of the head, a move that aggravated Sabres coach Lindy Ruff.

Gerbe insisted today it didn't bother him.

"No, not at all," Gerbe said after preparing for Game One of the teams' playoff series tonight. "I’ve heard it since Day One of my life, so it’s something I’ve lived with, I’ve rolled with, and other players I know in this league have, too. It’s something you have to go through.

"It doesn’t bug me. I’m a small player, you can’t be surprised."

Gerbe got the last word in Friday's game, scoring a dynamic spin-o-rama goal midway through the third period to tie a game the Sabres won in overtime, 4-3.

"I don’t how me patting somebody on their head sparks a team," Carcillo said today. "But, you know, the kid made a pretty nice move and got lucky with it going off [defenseman Danny] Syvret’s stick. It is what it is. I don’t really have much to say about that.

"That’s your guys’ job is to magnify everything, you know? Ours is to try and keep it as even-keel as we can."

Gerbe says he won't have much to say to Carcillo, but it's certainly a matchup worth watching.

"You have to take a lot of hits, maybe some whacks and stuff after the play, but you’re going to have to suck it up and keep going," Gerbe said. "You’ve got to remember that the team is bigger than any individual player. I don’t care about getting Carcillo back. I’d rather win a game for this team. That’s the biggest thing. We know what kind of player he is, so I’ll just have to stay away from him and let him be."

---John Vogl

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John Vogl

John Vogl

John Vogl has been covering the Sabres since 2002-03, an era that has included playoff runs, last-place finishes and three ownership changes. The award-winning writer is the Buffalo chapter chairman for the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association.

@BuffNewsVogl | jvogl@buffnews.com

About Sabres Edge


Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington, a Canisius College graduate who began his career as a News reporter in 1987, has been covering the Buffalo Sabres since 2007. He is a member of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association and can vouch that exposed flesh freezes instantly when walking in downtown Winnipeg in January.

@BNHarrington | mharrington@buffnews.com


Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz, a native of Lockport, has a bachelor’s degree in journalism/mass communication from St. Bonaventure University and a master’s degree in humanities from the University at Buffalo. An endurance athlete, she has completed several triathlons, half marathons and marathons.

@amymoritz | amoritz@buffnews.com

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