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Coyotes Game 43 Preview: Coyotes look to stop the skid against the Sabres

The Arizona Coyotes are back in action tonight in the second game of a back-to-back.

Arizona Coyotes v Buffalo Sabres Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images

Game Preview

The Arizona Coyotes don’t have the luxury of dwelling on last night’s loss to the Boston Bruins. Instead, they will be back in action tonight as they host the Buffalo Sabres.

After dropping last night’s game, the Coyotes have dropped their last four games. Last night’s loss may have been the closest of that losing streak, but they also showed clear signs of improvement.

There are a lot of positives you can take away from last night’s game. First, the Coyotes did a much better job playing a full sixty minutes and looked engaged from start to finish. Arizona also did a much better job holding off an implosion in the latter half, which has doomed the Coyotes in the past.

Since the beginning of the season, the implosions always seem to come after giving up a goal. However, whether that is a lack of confidence in themselves or the system is unclear, but either way, a goal in the second half can snowball into way more goals.

But that didn’t happen against the Bruins. The Coyotes gave up a poorly timed power play goal, special teams continue to be an issue, but the Bruins only got the one goal. So hopefully, the Yotes are done exploding for the foreseeable future.

Luckily, the Coyotes will hopefully have an easier matchup tonight against the Buffalo Sabres. Unlike their last four opponents, the Sabres are nowhere near a playoff spot and probably won’t be anytime soon.

It’s crazy to think about how much has changed since the Coyotes and Sabres were engaged in a tank battle and how much hasn’t. Both teams are back in the same position is a pretty clear indication that both rebuilds failed, but not for lack of trying.

The Sabres come into tonight’s game as part of a four-game road trip and the first game of a back-to-back. While the Coyotes are free to empty the tank tonight, the Sabres play the Colorado Avalanche tomorrow.

Buffalo started their road trip with a 5-0 loss to the Ottawa Senators, their second time being shut out this month. Things went from bad to worse with the announcement that goaltender Michael Houser has been placed in COVID-19 protocol, meaning we might see an emergency backup goaltender tonight.

https://twitter.com/CompleteHkyNews/status/1487124421290741760

The goaltending situation definitely gives the Coyotes the edge tonight. Both teams are terrible, and if they were both healthy, we could expect a pretty even matchup. But tonight, with Craig Morgan tweeting out that Karel Vejmelka will get the start, the Coyotes definitely have a significant advantage.

Players to Watch

Arizona: Nick Schmaltz - Schmaltz had the Coyotes’ lone goal last night and comes into tonight’s game riding a three-game win streak that has seen him notch five points. Schmaltz tends to be very streaky, but the Coyotes will hopefully benefit from his upswing.

Buffalo: Tage Thompson - Tage had two goals an assist the last time the Sabres scored in a game and leads the Sabres with 14 goals and 28 points. The 24-year-old native of Phoenix, AZ, is already having a career season and is on pace to have his first 20 goal season.

Injuries

Arizona: Johan Larsson (lower body), Dysin Mayo (COVID-19 protocol), Barrett Hayton (hand), Jay Beagle (lower body), Dmitrij Jaškin (lower body), Carter Hutton (lower body), Conor Timmins (knee)

Buffalo: Will Butcher (questionable, upper body), Zemgus Girgensons (undisclosed), Aaron Dell (suspension), Malcolm Subban (upper body), Michael Houser (COVID-19 protocol), Jack Quinn (lower body), Kyle Okposo (upper body), Vinnie Hinostroza (lower body), Colin Miller (lower body), Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen (lower body), Drake Caggiula (lower body), Craig Anderson (questionable, upper body)

Puck Drop

Tonight’s game will be at Gila River Arena at 7:00 pm Arizona time and will air on Bally Sports Arizona and 620 AM.