Two candidates for early breakout team of the year honours will meet on Monday night at the KeyBank Center in Buffalo. There is a lot of hockey to play, as we’re just getting warmed up in October. However, the Coyotes and Sabres have played like teams with something to prove this season. There are usually one or two teams who have a coming out party every year.
The Vegas Golden Knights were the clear winners two seasons ago, and the Carolina Hurricanes emerged as that team in 2018-19. Buffalo looked like they were going to be that team for a minute last season. The Sabres went on a ten-game win streak in November of last season, but the wheels quickly fell off after that and they were unable to put them back on at any point.
The Sabres are off to a 9-2-1 start, so they decided to get things going earlier than last season. Whether that translates to more success down the road remains to be seen. As we watched last season, a good run can turn to puke pretty quickly in the NHL. With their younger talent getting more experience, notably Jack Eichel, the Sabres are expected to do something, though.
Eichel is a dynamic player who is one of the most fun players to watch in the league. He has the talent to take over games with his stick. Victor Olofsson, Sam Reinhart, and Rasmus Dahlin also are talented guys who are only getting better. All four are younger than 25 years old. In the case of Dahlin, he’s only 19 and has racked up 10 points already. All four have recorded double-digit points, so the near future should be bright for the Sabres.
It’s the same case with the Coyotes, who have a roster loaded with young talent. However, Nick Schmaltz is the only player with 10 points or more on the team. Schmaltz, Clayton Keller, and Conor Garland all come in at under 25 years old. In a league that continues to get faster, the Coyotes and Sabres should benefit. Whereas teams like the Blackhawks and Kings are going to suffer with older legs on their blue lines. There are only two games on the docket tonight. This matchup between the Coyotes and Sabres should be a good one, though. Head below for our free Coyotes vs. Sabres pick.
Arizona Coyotes vs. Buffalo Sabres Pick
This has been a long road trip for the Coyotes. It feels like they’ve been out east forever. The Sabres will be their fourth straight opponent on the road, all of which have been in the same region. They started in NYC against the Rangers and are ending their four-game road trip in Buffalo.
Arizona are 2-1 going into Buffalo, with wins against the Rangers and Devils. Their loss came on a 4-2 defeat against the Islanders in Long Island. The Yotes played their most recent outing on a back-to-back, but it didn’t matter in Newark, as they came out of Friday night with a 4-2 win. The Coyotes had a couple of nights off going into tonight, but they’ve been on the road for a long time. They haven’t played a game at home since October 19th against the Senators.
That’s a lot of time for a young team to lose focus and get distracted by shenanigans on the road, but they’ve handled it well. While there’s only Coyote with 10 or more points, the defence has been impressive. Arizona have yielded just 2.2 goals per game for 3rd in the league. If the goal scoring comes around, look out for the Yotes in the desert.
Having said that, they have a tricky matchup to wrap up this road trip in Buffalo. The Sabres have been red-hot, especially at home where they haven’t lost a game thus far. They’re a perfect 5-0-0 at KeyBank Center. Their time at home includes an average of 4.4 goals scored per game, while allowing 2.71 goals against defensively. Carter Hutton has been playing great in net at home, with a 2.21 GAA in four outings.
Arizona have been average on the road this season, as they’ve recorded a record of 3-2-0 with 2.83 goals scored per game and 2.67 goals against. Buffalo have dominated the Coyotes in recent memory. They’re winners in seven out of their last nine meetings. Expect the Sabres to exploit a road weary Coyotes team who are just looking forward to getting back to the desert. Buffalo look good in this spot for a unit play.