Buffalo Sabres vs. Phoenix Coyotes - 12/23/13
Phoenix Coyotes (19-10-6) at Buffalo Sabres (9-24-3)
NHL Hockey: Monday, December 23, 2013 at 7:00 pm (First Niagara Center)
The Line: Buffalo Sabres +143 / Phoenix Coyotes -157 --- Over/Under: 5.5 See the Latest Odds
The awful start to the season for the Buffalo Sabres is hard to forget when you look at their 9-24-3 record. Talent wise this isn't a hockey club in Buffalo that has what it takes to compete on a nightly basis against some of the better competition in the NHL. Under Ted Nolan the Sabres have had a lot of fight in most games and they're working their tails off despite being overmatched on most occasions. Their efforts got the Sabres a victory on home ice over the Boston Bruins on Thursday night before the clubs headed to Boston on Saturda ynight and the Bruins returned the favor. It was still nice for Buffalo to see that if they work hard they can compete with even the best teams in the league. For a club like Buffalo that is looking to rebuild at this point it's important to put your young players into a winning environment and while that might be hard for the Sabres it's good to see that Nolan isn't accepting a losing attitude from these guys. On Monday night the Sabres will get to host a Phoenix Coyotes club that they can learn a lot from. The Coyotes aren't an organization that can afford to spend a lot of money in free agency and they have a lot of struggles of their own but are always competitive. Phoenix is a team that plays together and focuses on defending their own end, getting good defense, and capitalizing on their opponents mistakes. Until the Sabres are able to get some more talent onto the club that's the type of forumla they have to take right now. Phoenix was really struggling and had lost three straight games before snapping their streak on Saturday night in Ottawa. The Coyotes fell behind 2-0 but Antoine Vermette and Radim Vrbata scored for the Coyotes to even the score in the second period. The Senators would jump back in front before the end up period, leaving the Coyotes to make a third period come back to pick up the win. Vermette tied the game with his second of the night and 11th of the season and recorded the hat trick and the game winner in overtime to lift Phoenix to the 4-3 win. Mike Smith made 37 saves and picked up his 15th win of the season. Despite the Sabres playing better hockey it's still hard to trust them because of their inability to score goals. Phoenix has struggled as well but they've still got a lot more to work with than the Sabres.
USA TODAY Sports