Both teams are playing the second game of a back-to-back. The Avalanche lost 3-1 in Carolina last night while the Sabres beat one of the league’s best handing the Bruins a 4-2 loss in Boston.
Though they won, it could have been a huge loss for the Sabres as franchise center Jack Eichel left the game with a knee injury. He’s not likely to play tonight, putting the teams on equal footing in terms of missing superstars.
It’s been a tough couple of weeks, but if the Avalanche want to stay in the playoff picture, tonight’s is a must-win game. The Sabres are one of the worst teams in the NHL and they’ll be playing without their best player.
It might sound like a broken record, but the Avalanche have to figure out a way to score without MacKinnon in the lineup. The forwards were held off of the score sheet yesterday - that’s something that can’t continue if this team wants to be competitive. It’s time for the veterans like Carl Soderberg and Gabriel Landeskog to step up and lead the young forward group.
Gabriel Bourque was really bad last night with a -14 Corsi on the game, it might be time for coach Bednar to put him back in the press box in favour of some more minutes for A. J Greer.
The team won’t skate today, and the lines are likely to go in a blender after last night’s performance, but here is the projected lineup for tonight:
J.T. Compher - Tyson Jost - Mikko Rantanen
Gabriel Landeskog - Alexander Kerfoot - Colin Wilson
Matt Nieto - Carl Soderberg - Blake Comeau
Gabriel Bourque - Dominic Toninato - Nail Yakupov
Nikita Zadorov - Erik Johnson
Anton Lindholm - Tyson Barrie
Samuel Girard - Patrik Nemeth
This season has been really bad for the Buffalo Sabres and they might be getting worse. There is no word yet on the severity of Jack Eichel’s injury, but it doesn’t look good. The 20-year old that has 53 points in 55 games this season will undergo an MRI on his knee this morning.
Hope Eichel is okay, this didn’t look good pic.twitter.com/sTkAmK7pnb— Marina Molnar (@mkmolnar) February 11, 2018
Buffalo has been playing a lot better lately, but it’s too little too late for a team that has been out of the playoff hunt since before Christmas. The Sabres only have 7 wins at home this season, so it’s not like they have much of a home-ice advantage tonight.
With Eichel likely out of the lineup, Ryan O’Reilly and Evander Kane lead the team in scoring with 37 points each.
We don’t know yet how the Sabres will fill the hole left by Jack Eichel, but Seth Griffith has been great for the Rochester Americans this season, so he might get a call-up before the game tonight.
71 Evan Rodrigues - _______ - 23 Sam Reinhart
9 Evander Kane - 90 Ryan O’Reilly - 21 Kyle Okposo
20 Scott Wilson - 22 Johan Larsson - 29 Jason Pominville
67 Benoit Pouliot - 10 Jacob Josefson - 17 Jordan Nolan
6 Marco Scandella - 8 Casey Nelson
82 Nathan Beaulieu - 55 Rasmus Ristolainen
4 Josh Gorges - 93 Victor Antipin
Neither goalie is confirmed, but Semyon Varlamov and Chad Johnson played last night, so we should expect Jonathan Bernier and Robin Lehner between the pipes tonight.
For the Avs, Bernier is 16-10-2 on the season with a .918 sv%. He will be looking to bounce back from a rough night in St. Louis on Thursday.
For the Sabres, Lehner has a .913 sv% while winning 12 of his 41 starts this season.