After their first three day break in a while, the Colorado Avalanche will be back on Pepsi Center ice tonight as they host the Buffalo Sabres. Both teams have been on a big of a roll lately so if nothing else, this should be an entertaining game in front of the NBCSN’s national audience.
The Avalanche have been back to their winning ways despite the lineup being crippled by injury. They’ve won three in a row and have points in 12 of their last 15 games.
The Sabres have been playing well themselves, winning five of their last six games. They were buyers at the trade deadline - despite sitting 13th in the Eastern Conference - and will be looking to quickly integrate their new players into the lineup in order to keep their hot streak going.
The Avalanche went to Buffalo and handily beat the Sabres 6-1 when these two teams met a few weeks ago.
With Nazem Kadri, Mikko Rantanen, Matt Calvert and Philipp Grubauer all still out of he lineup long term, coach Jared Bednar mentioned yesterday that both Andre Burakovsky and Matt Nieto are doubtful for tonight’s game. To fill the holes, each of Sheldon Dries, Martin Kaut, Logan O’Connor are still up with the team.
One big addition to the lineup is Vladislav Namestnikov who was acquired from the Ottawa Senators prior to the trade deadline on Monday. He will be starting on Pierre-Edouard Bellemare’s left wing but could be shuffled through the lineup if the team needs help down the middle. He plays with the kind of speed that should help him adapt quickly to the Avs up-tempo style.
Gabriel Landeskog - Nathan MacKinnon - Val Nichushkin
Tyson Jost - J.T. Compher - Joonas Donskoi
Vlad Namestnikov - PE Bellemare - Martin Kaut
Vladislav Kamenev - Sheldon Dries - Logan O’Connor
Samuel Girard - Erik Johnson
Ryan Graves - Cale Makar
Ian Cole - Nikita Zadorov
With 35 goals and 77 points through 61 games, Jack Eichel is putting up a legitimate Hart-worthy season and it’s being squandered by a lot of poor play around him. He and Sam Reinhart have been good, but a lack of depth and a very poor blue line has kept the Sabres near the bottom of the standings.
Despite sitting in 13th place in the Eastern Conference, the Sabres went out and acquired veteran rental Wayne Simmons at the trade deadline. He should be making his debut with the team tonight.
Buffalo’s other deadline addition is Dominik Kahun who made his way to the Sabres from the Pittsburgh Penguins. Kahun met with his new teammates in Denver this morning but isn’t expected to play tonight.
Victor Olofsson - Jack Eichel - Sam Reinhart
Jeff Skinner - Marcus Johansson - Wayne Simmonds
Jimmy Vesey - Curtis Lazar - Michael Frolik
Zemgus Girgensons - Johan Larsson - Kyle Okposo
Brandon Montour - Rasmus Ristolainen
Rasmus Dahlin - Colin Miller
Jake McCabe - Henri Jokiharju
Fresh off being names the NHL’s first star of the week, Pavel Francouz will be in net for the Avalanche tonight. He will have the newly acquired (and fellow right-catching) Michael Hutchinson backing him up.
For the Sabres, we are going to see Carter Hutton between the pipes. Hutton is working with a 12-10-4 record and a .897 sv%.