The Arizona Coyotes were looking to finish their five game home-stand with a win against the Calgary Flames and their former goaltender Mike Smith this past Monday. After losing 3-2 to the Nashville Predators and 3-1 against the Minnesota Wild the Coyotes’ opponent was a team that was deep in the hunt for a wild card spot and should have proved to be one of their toughest games of the new year.
The Coyotes scored first early in the second period with a goal from Richard Panik, however Calgary was able to tie the game and gain the lead with goals from Dougie Hamilton and Sean Monahan. Just over two minutes after Monahan gave the Flames the lead though Max Domi was able to tie the game with his first goal in eleven games. Oliver Ekman-Larsson scored late in the third period, and then OEL and Domi were both able to score again on an empty net to give the Desert Dogs a 5-2 win.
Ever since 2018 began the Coyotes have gained the reputation as being the team with one of the worst records that plays like nothing like that. While that is admittedly a pretty low bar and although there are some rocky moments that reputation is largely earned; in March they are 6-3-1, and their losses have been against fairly decent teams like the Nashville Predators and Minnesota Wild. While the Coyotes are finally officially eliminated from the playoffs, if the team plays as they are now into next season there is at least reason for excitement.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but the Buffalo Sabres and the Arizona Coyotes are both near the bottom of the league. Unlike the last time though there isn’t as big of a prize as Connor McDavid for the team that gets to draft first overall, and Sabres fans are probably less excited for this one.
Very much like the Coyotes the Buffalo Sabres are last in their division but they somehow managed to have fewer points compared to a team whose start was so bad it will be in the history books. With a 23-37-12 record the Sabres not only have fewer wins and points compared to the Yotes, they also have a -64 goal differential compared to Arizona’s -55. The Sabres have three wins this month, a 5-3 win against the Toronto Maple Leafs, a 4-3 shootout win against the Ottawa Senators and a 5-3 win against the Chicago Blackhawks.
Despite the terrible record the Sabres still have some offensive threats. Ryan O’Reilly recently passed 20 goals for the fourth time in his career and Sam Reinhart is one goal away from reaching that plateau for the second time in his career. Jack Eichel is back from what could have been a career ending injury and by far is the Sabres best player. In net the Sabres have former Coyote Chad Johnson and Linus Ullmark as Robin Lehner is injured and is questionable for tonight. Johnson has a 3.27 goals against average and a .897 save percentage, but that may have more to do with the team in front of him.