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season is looking like yet another lost cause for both the Coyotes

For how bad the Arizona Coyotes have been this season, you would think
no team could catch them in the NHL’s basement. Earlier this month,
the Coyotes became the NHL’s first team ever to go 20 games into the
season without a regulation win, putting their postseason hopes to bed
before they even started.

Going 20 games into the season without a regulation win would
certainly give you the worst record in the NHL, no matter the points
received in overtime or a shootout. And yet, since the Coyotes gained
their first regulation win, a new challenger has approached to take on
the mantle of the NHL’s worst team alongside Arizona.

With just three wins in the month of November, the Buffalo Sabres
are now tied with the Coyotes at 16 points on the season as the league’s
worst team. Though the Sabres have played two fewer games than the
Coyotes this season, their 6 15 4 record has them sitting square with
Arizona a few games removed from the quarter pole of the season.

Revisiting our 2017 18 NHL season predictions at the 1st quarter pole

Both the Sabres and Coyotes are no stranger to the NHL’s basement
over the recent years. The pair have both been in the NHL’s bottom five
teams twice in the last three years, with the 2015 16 season seeing them
go 23rd and 24th in the league. This season, the Sabres and Coyotes
were supposed to take steps forward, at least where their on paper rosters were concerned.

We’ve outlined what’s been ailing the Coyotes so far this season
before. Arizona has seen a rotation of five netminders over the course
of the season, as they’ve averaged the league’s worst goaltending corps
this season with a .886 save percentage. Starter Antti Raanta was
injured in the early stages of the season, and only now after recovering
is he starting to play better.

The Coyotes’ offense has also struggled. While rookie Clayton Keller
continues to make his Calder Trophy bid with 21 points, Arizona as a
whole is the league’s second worst team in the league with a 1.83 GF/60
at even strength. The Coyotes’ offseason moves, like key additions in
center man Derek Stepan or stalwart defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson,
should have helped the team improve by all accounts, yet they sit dead
last in the league.

Likewise, the Sabres are almost a near mirror image of the Coyotes.
Buffalo has the league’s third worst goaltending duo with a combined
.892 save percentage between Robin Lehner and Chad Johnson. The Sabres’
goaltending was the team’s clear weak point coming into the season, and
neither Lehner or Johnson have been up to the task.

That much is made clear by the Sabres’ surprising xGA/60 stat, which
measures the expected amount of goals allowed per 60 minutes based on
shot type, distance, and other factors. Buffalo has the NHL’s ninth best
xGA/60 at 2.26 and the league’s fifth worst GA/60 at 2.66, meaning the
Sabres are allowing more goals than they should be factoring in the
chances their opponents are getting.

At the other end of the ice, the Sabres are last in the NHL with 55
goals for on the year through 25 games played. Their 1.86 GF/60 and 1.84
xGF/60 are essentially break even Luke Schenn Jersey,
despite Evander Kane putting up a career best point pace this season.
While Jack Eichel has been fine with 19 points in 25 games, the Sabres
lack the bottom six depth to help punch their way out of this hole.

We’re not even halfway through the 2017 18 season, and we’re already
facing another final standings page with both the Sabres and Coyotes in
the bottom five. Even the Edmonton Oilers, who have been basement
dwellers, too, in recent years, are tied as the NHL’s third worst team
right now with 22 points.

We’ve seen this movie play out many times before, and it’s hard not
to wonder if a shakeup somewhere — via a trade or firing — is coming for
the Coyotes and Sabres. Kane has been highly cited in trade rumors as
of late, and he’d bring in a fine haul for Buffalo. Yet,
that’d signal the end of the Sabres’ season as the team would go back
to the drawing board once again. For the Coyotes, they just landed head
coach Rick Tocchet in July and young general manager John Chayka has
done almost everything right on paper to help the team.

At the end of the day, this season is looking like yet another lost
cause for both the Coyotes and Sabres. How long and far they fall,
however, will be dependent on what moves they do — or don’t — make next.
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