Sabres look to get back in the win column against Arizona

February 26, 2017
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With tonight’s game being the second one out of the break and with it also not being in altitude, the Sabres should be able to put a better performance on against the Coyotes.
 
This is the first time these two teams have met this season. Buffalo is 8-1-1 in their last 10 against Arizona and 8-2-0 in their last 10 in Glendale.
 
The trade deadline is coming this Wednesday and this is a very stressful time for NHL players. Evander Kane still has one year left on his contract, yet his name keeps coming up in trade talks. Tim Murray said on Schopp and the Bulldog’s show that he was not shopping Kane and had not had any calls on him. Kane said, “It definitely doesn’t affect me. Am I aware of it? Of course, but it’s just this time of year.”
 
“Not to pump my tires, but I’m a lightning rod for the media and they love talking about me, so whether it’s good, bad or ugly or pretty, I usually come up somewhere, so that’s their job and I just try to do mine.”
 
Three other names are mentioned because they are on expiring contracts. Brian Gionta confirmed to me that he has no desire to be traded because he is the captain of this team and he wants to see this through no matter which way it goes. Tim Murray told me he has not spoken to Gionta personally about his wishes.
 
Cody Franson was in the same situation two years ago and was traded to Nashville as a rental player. The defenseman knows he could be gone by 3:00 on Wednesday, “Guys like myself with expiring contracts it comes into play more than with other guys, but for the most part, it's out of your control and I just try to approach it that if I play well, whatever happens, happens.” The defenseman added, “That’s my only focus is my play, if I get traded, I get traded, but if I can stay here and hopefully get another contract and I can make it work in Buffalo, that would be great, so I’m trying to play for another contract.”
 
Franson is 29 years old and has played in the NHL for eight seasons. He’s been to Nashville and Toronto, but would love to make Buffalo his final stop, “Absolutely, I think we’re really starting to find ourselves as a team and understand what makes us successful, so it’s an exciting time for our team right now and I’d love to be a part of it.”
 
Dmitry Kulikov has played 35 games and he hasn’t been close to 100 percent in any of them, but he wants to remain a Sabre. Kulikov struggled mightily in Denver and he said, “I’d like to keep going because I don’t think I’ve shown what I’m capable of at all this season with the injuries and coming into a new team and being out for a long time, so I don’t feel like I’ve shown everything I’m capable of.”
 
As far as if he’ll be traded before Wednesday Kulikov said, “I’ve never worried about it. It’s something that’s out of your control, you can’t do anything about it, so why put it in your head and make it more stressful than it has to be.”
 
Saturday Buffalo faced the team with the worst record in hockey while Arizona has second worst. The Coyotes have lost three out of four games and four out of six. Before that stretch started, Arizona won six of nine and seven of 11.
 
Martin Hanzal has six goals in eight games, Radim Vrbata has points in eight straight games scoring three goals and six assists for nine points, Max Domi is finally starting to get going as he has eight points in nine games.
 
Oliver Ekman-Larsson has been held pointless for four games, but before that he had 10 points in 13 games.

Veteran captain Shane Doan only has five goals in 60 games this season.
 
Former Sabre Jamie McGinn has just eight goals and six assists for 14 points in 53 games.
 
Mike Smith had played 13 of 14 games before missing the last game due to injury.
 
Join Brian Koziol for the pregame beginning at 7:30 when he’ll be joined by Dan Bylsma, Cody Franson and Dmitry Kulikov.