Buffalo Sabres Pregame Versus Arizona Coyotes

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Tonight is undoubtedly one of the most important games to date in the Buffalo Sabres season. Tonight they face the 29th place Arizona Coyotes who the Sabres only have a 5 point lead on for 30th place in the league. The Sabres also have one game in hand, and that keeps this game very interesting. Don’t get me wrong now, I would never be rooting for any team except for the Sabres. Every night I find myself engaged in the game and hoping for something good to happen. Tonight is no different.

Yes the Sabres are looking ahead towards getting Connor McDavid in the draft, but just because they win tonight, the doesn’t mean they lose that chance.

Sabres Scope

Back in the lineup tonight against the Coyotes will be Zach Bogogian and Patrick Kaleta. The bruising pair will be a punishing force to deal with for a speedy Arizona team. Having Bogosian back on his top spot on the Buffalo Sabres blue line will be a much needed spark in the play of the defense. His aggression and skill will keep the Arizona forwards from picking on the Sabres goaltender tonight.

The man in goal will be none other than Matt Hackett. Hackett has seen very limited playing time in Buffalo this season, and has shown to be very inconsistent in his past few games. He did put up a fantastic effort against the Beast of the West Nashville Predators, but fell short due to a lack of offense coming from his forwards.

In his morning press conference, coach Ted Nolan denied the media’s reasoning for playing Hackett tonight. The media assumed that he was playing Hackett due to his lower skill level and experience than Lindback. Nolan assured the press that he felt the play of Hackett was strong and he was impressed with him. It will be an interesting night to see if Nolan was correct in his goaltending choice. Personally, I think Lindback and Hackett are of a similar skill level, and both have equal abilities. Granted they are not the best goaltenders in the league, but they are both capable.

Coyotes Scope

The Arizona Coyotes are in their race for last place as well, but they are coming off of a win against the Detroit Red Wings. That’s quite an accomplishment to have at this point in the season. They are being led this year, not so much by their longtime captain Shane Doan, but by their young defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson.

The 23 year old defenseman has posted a career high 20 goals so far this season, and has been a catalyst for  most of the Arizona wins this year (7 game winning goals out of 22 wins). He is the player that Buffalo needs to keep closest tabs on tonight if they hope to stand a chance.

Prediction

I see Arizona having the slight edge tonight due to the momentum that they are riding from their big win against the Red Wings. That momentum, alongside a motivated Ekman-Larsson may spell the downfall for the Buffalo Sabres tonight.

I predict a close score of 3-2 tonight as Buffalo may have a solid offensive showing against a weaker Arizona defense.

Next: Sabres vs. Coyotes Draft Battle

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