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A Stoppable Force Meets an Unmoving Object

Sabres visit Coyotes while dealing with a Covid outbreak

NHL: Arizona Coyotes at Buffalo Sabres Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

Game 43

Buffalo Sabres (13-22-7) vs. Arizona Coyotes (10-28-4)

Puck Drop: 9:00 PM | Gila River Arena | Glendale, AZ

TV: MSG-B

Radio: WGR 550

SB Nation Coyotes Blog: Five For Howling

Know Your Opponent

Arizona Coyotes Record: 10-28-4| 24 PTS

Division Ranking: 8th in Central Division

PP: 32nd (12.4%)

PK: 31st (72.0%)

What to Watch

1. Anderson’s Return

Proving once again the Sabres injury timelines must be taken with a grain of salt, Craig Anderson is back between the pipes for Buffalo after being listed as “Month to Month” as recently as last Thursday. This will be his first game since an upper body injury shut him down on November 2nd. He may not be in mid-season form but look for the veteran goaltender to stabilize a position decimated by injuries, illness, and a rare suspension. This young Sabres roster needs some stability and Anderson is just what the doctor order. Speaking of doctors…

2. Lineup Roulette

Sabres fans thought the worst news of the week was once again losing two goaltenders simultaneously (Dell suspended/Houser in Covid Protocol). This idea was snuffed out during the morning skate as four Sabres were notably absent, and two coaches were pulled from practice after positive Covid tests. Dahlin, Olofsson, Asplund, and Jokiharju were not on the ice. Assistant coaches Matt Ellis and Marty Wilford left during practice. The situation is ongoing, and coach Granato said, “I can’t rule anybody out, and, unfortunately, I can’t rule anybody in.” The players and coaches who tested positive are now waiting for the results of their second tests. If someone in the organization wakes up everyday and says, “what could possibly go wrong?” Please stop. The hockey gods are clearly listening.

3. Pain for Shane

Even with all the turmoil in Buffalo, they still must be favored against the Coyotes. Arizona is 31st in the league and are on a 4-game losing streak. Former Amerks goaltender Scott Wedgewood has the team’s best goals against average at a whopping 3.30 goals per game with Vejmelka not far behind (3.40). The team’s goal differential is at a league worst -67. That is nearly double Buffalo’s differential (-36). They are a team that struggles to score and struggles to stop others from scoring. Tonight’s battle of two bottom five teams will be an interesting case study of what happens when an unmoving object meets a stoppable force.

Projected Lineups

Buffalo Sabres (subject to change)

Forwards

Skinner - Thompson - Tuch

Krebs - Mittelstadt - Bjork

Jankowski - Cozens - Okposo

Eakin – Hayden

Defense

Samuelsson - Bryson

Hagg - Pysyk

Butcher - Fitzgerald

Starter: Anderson

Coyotes

Forwards

Keller - Boyd - Schmaltz

Ladd - Dzingel - Kessel

Roussel- Nash - Fischer

Crouse - Galchenyuk –Eriksson

Defense

Chychrun - Lyubushkin

Capobianco - Gostisbehere

Moser – Stralman

Starter: Vejmelka