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Sabres vs. Coyotes Preview: The game where everyone called in sick

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One quarter of the Sabres team stayed home today with the flu. And you thought you were the only one who faked being sick to stay home from work.

Jen Fuller

The Buffalo Sabres will take on the Phoenix Coyotes tonight for the first time in over two years (11/19/11 was their last game) in their final game before a three-day Christmas break.

The Sabres were supposed to hold a regular practice today after giving the team off yesterday following their 4-1 loss to the Bruins. Those plans turned into an optional skate when 25% of the team called in sick with the flu. Four or five guys were home, according to Ted Nolan, though he wouldn't confirm names beyond that of newly acquired forward Linus Omark - the man who could use a team practice more than anyone. According to WGR, Henrik Tallinder, Ville Leino, Mike Weber and Alex Sulzer were also not seen at practice.

The Sabres did call up Mark Pysyk and Johan Larsson from Rochester, and the team has confirmed they will play tonight, but with the Amerks currently flying to Switzerland to compete in the Spengler Cup, and with both Kevin Porter put on IR today and Chad Ruhwedel being sent back to Rochester, it will put the Sabres in a tough spot if all five of those flu-stricken players can't go tonight. John Scott will likely find his way back in, and Ryan Miller gets the nod in net.

For their part, the Coyotes come in to tonight's game in ninth place in the West, and won't be looking to give any points away against what is still the league's worst team. They're finishing up a four game road trip tonight, and are coming off of an OT win against the Senators on Saturday.

Game #37

Buffalo Sabres (9-24-3) vs. Phoenix Coyotes (19-10-6)

Puck Drop - 7:00pm EST - First Niagara Center - Buffalo, NY
TV
- MSG, Bell, FS-A Plus | Radio - WGR 550-AM
SBNation Coyotes Blog
- Five For Howling

Three Questions

1. Who the heck will even play tonight?
With possibly up to five players sick, and with extremely limited substitute options thanks to the Amerks international tour and the World Junior teams stealing some prospects, the Sabres could be in dire straits tonight, especially on defense, where Alex Sulzer, Henrik Tallinder, and Mike Weber could all be out. Might tonight be the night we see the highly-anticipated (from a comedy standpoint) John Scott on defense plan?

2. Can Ryan Miller continue to absolutely dominate the Coyotes?
Ryan Miller is 4-0-0 against Phoenix in his career, with a 0.99 GAA and a .964 save percentage. He'll get the go again tonight, and will hopefully continue his stellar numbers which I have no almost certainly jinxed.

3. Will Sabres fans head in to the holiday break full of Christmas cheer, or will they feel more like pre-ghost Scrooge?
Happy holidays, folks.

Projected BUF Lines

???????????

We have no idea who will actually play tonight thanks to the flu bug, but we do know Pysyk, Larsson, and Scott will be back in the lineup, and Miller will be in net.

Goal: Ryan Miller

Scratches/Injuries: Porter, McCormick, sick people