At the risk of hyperbole, the next two games between the Arizona Coyotes and Buffalo Sabres may be the single most meaningful regular season games either franchise has ever played. The eyes of the hockey world will look upon the First Niagara Center tonight for the first of these contests.
Matchup at a Glance
|Arizona Coyotes||Buffalo Sabres|
|Points||52 (7th Pacific)||47 (8th Atlantic)|
|Goals For||2.01 (29th)||1.78 (30th)|
|Goals Against||3.26 (28th)||3.29 (29th)|
|Power Play||20.6% (7th)||12.0% (30th)|
|Penalty Kill||78.2% (26th)||74.1% (30th)|
|5v5 SAT||48.9% (22nd)||37.0% (30th)|
|SpSV%||96.9 (30th)||98.4 (27th)|
View from Arizona
It's difficult to call a win in which the Coyotes surrendered four goals "impressive", but the offense came alive in a manner fans haven't seen for a long time onTuesday night versus Detroit. The power play connected twice, the Coyotes scored 5 on 5 twice, and they even netted the overtime winner 4 on 4. It was an offensive bonanza.
The test will be how well they can follow up on that performance versus the only team in the league with a worst goals for number than Arizona has. Buffalo's defense is equally porous, so there should be plenty of opportunities to score.
View from Buffalo
Keys to the Game
- Shoot - If the Detroit game taught the Coyotes any lessons, it's that it is never a bad idea to shoot the puck. They should have ample opportunity to do so versus this Sabres team.
- Net-front Presence - David Moss scored twice by being in the right place at the right time, and John Moore scored his first goal as a Coyote by staying close to Jimmy Howard. That's how Arizona scores most of its goals.
- Don't Let the Flukes Decide It - This is Arizona's first return to Buffalo since Mike Smith's infamous butt goal. Even if something weird happens in tonight's game, if the Coyotes play well, it shouldn't decide the outcome.
Mark Arcobello scored twice against the Red Wings, and has seven goals in 19 games with Arizona. He should get a nice payday wherever he ends up this summer.
Matt Moulson returned to Buffalo after being traded to the Wild midway through last season. He has two goals and two assists in his last five games.
Apart from Mikkel Boedker and Martin Hanzal, who are both done for the season after surgical procedures, Lauri Korpikoski is considered questionable tonight after taking a nasty high-stick to the face against Detroit.
The Sabres will be without Evander Kane, Josh Gorges, Zemgus Girgensons, and Cody McCormick, who are all on injured reserve. Chad Johnson is out indefinitely, while Zach Bogosian and Patrick Kaleta are both considered questionable for tonight's game.
Duck out of work early, as you're going to want to see this one. Puck drop is at 4 PM Arizona time. You can watch the game on Fox Sports Arizona or listen on ESPN 620 AM.