Not much to report from HSBC Arena this morning as the Sabres went through an optional morning skate. Expect the forward lines to be the same as were unveiled in practice on Thursday. Meanwhile, a cryptic Lindy Ruff wouldn't say what he's going to do with his defense pairings although Chris Butler was minus-2 Wednesday against Washington and is a team-worst minus-12. Steve Montador played wing Wednesday and could move back to the blueline now that Raffi Torres is in the lineup, which might push Butler to the press box.
Said Ruff on Butler: "I think his numbers speak for themselves. I think he can play better."
It will be interesting, of course, to see how Torres plays with Derek Roy and Jason Pominville. And Ruff has plenty of hope for the line of Tim Kennedy, Jochen Hecht and Mike Grier, which was a solid two-way unit for the first 20 or so games this season.
"We had some chemistry the first half of the season," Kennedy said today. "Maybe it takes a few shifts in the game but we were together again all day in practice so that really helped. Those guys helped me a ton at the start of the season. I'm not going to say my first games in this league were easy but with those two guys, they know what they're doing.
"They've played in this league for a while and do their jobs. I didn't have much to worry about because I knew they would be taking care of so much and I could just worry about the first few things I had to.
Ryan Miller will be in goal against upstart Flyers netminder Michael Leighton, who is 13-3-1 with a 2.18 GAA and .926 save percentage since being claimed off waivers Dec. 15 from Carolina. He's now reunited with former Canes coach Peter Laviolette and is the Flyers' hope between the pipes the rest of the way with Ray Emery sidelined by hip surgery and no trade made for, say, Dwayne Roloson at the deadline.
The Flyers enter tonight's game in sixth place in the Eastern Conference with 69 points, six behind the Sabres. They've split two games after the Olympic break, posting a 7-2 win Tuesday in Tampa Bay and a 7-4 loss Wednesday in Florida. They won their final four games before the break.
Jeff Carter, who nearly played for Team Canada in the Olympics until Ryan Getzlaf's ankle was deemed healthy, leads the team in scoring with 29 goals and 55 points. Ex-Sabre Daniel Briere has 22 goals and 19 assists.