NHL Playoffs 2011: 5 Reasons to Watch Philadelphia Flyers vs. Buffalo Sabres
The series has almost been more entertaining off the ice than on the ice so far. That could change tonight though.
Tempers have been flaring following Game Four and the controversial major penalty to Flyers' captain Mike Richards for elbowing.
Here are the reasons that tonight's game could get very interesting.
Danny Briere Versus Ryan Miller
Since the Philadelphia Flyers and Buffalo Sabres were announced as opponents, a lot was made of Flyers' forward Danny Briere facing his former team in the playoffs.
Before the series had begun, Sabres' goaltender and former Briere teammate, Ryan Miller mentioned how much sweeter it would be to beat Philadelphia because of the way Briere left Buffalo.
Briere didn't have much of a response to Miller, at least to the media.
However, according to Miller, Briere has been more talkative on the ice. Briere denies Miller's claims though.
I don't know about you, but I will be closely watching the interaction between Briere and Miller on the ice from now on.
Patrick Kaleta Versus Mike Richards
At the end of the second period of Game Four, Flyer Mike Richards and Sabre Patrick Kaleta were involved in an incident.
Kaleta was going in for a hit and Richards put his arm up to shield himself.
His elbow made contact with Kaleta and Richards was given a five-minute major for elbowing.
Richards obviously did not care for the call, judging by his reaction of slamming his stick against the glass.
Mike Richards Versus the Officials
If Mike Richards' on-ice reaction to the five-minute major wasn't indicative of his displeasure at the call, Richards verbalized his frustration after the game as well.
Richards was frustrated because he believed that the penalty should have only been a minor, since he was defending himself rather than initiating the hit.
The Flyers' captain was also unhappy that Dan Carcillo was penalized and Buffalo Sabres were not, following another incident in the game.
Richards alluded to perhaps a "personal" issue that the officials may have had with the Flyers.
If they didn't before, surely they will now that Richards brought it up to the press.
The Flyers Versus the Officials
Mike Richards wasn't the only Flyer frustrated with the officiating in Game Four.
Kris Versteeg was confused about that major call because he too felt that Richards was merely defending himself.
Head Coach Peter Laviolette disagreed with the five-minute penalty as well, citing lack of intent by Richards.
Finally, Danny Briere voiced his frustration in written form.
Lindy Ruff Versus the Flyers
Following all the Flyers' comments on Game Four's officiating, Sabres' Head Coach Lindy Ruff responded in his press conference on Thursday.
Ruff said that he thought the Flyers were doing a lot of whining.
Ruff cited Mike Richards' quote about the Sabres "getting away with murder" as false because the penalties in the series haven't been unbalanced.
It will be interesting to see how both teams, as well as the officials, react tonight, following all the off-ice chirping.