Oct 19, 2013; Buffalo, NY, USA; Colorado Avalanche defenseman Jan Hejda (8) knocks Buffalo Sabres center Zemgus Girgensons (28) to the ice during the second period at First Niagara Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

What We Learned: Avalanche - Sabres

So this is better late than never, right?

On Saturday night, the Avalanche defeated the Buffalo Sabres 4-2, bettering their record to 7-1-0 on the young season. The Avs looked good, but how good, really? The Sabres are not a good team. They’re not going to threaten very many teams with a loss this season and their fans were sarcastically cheering their first shot 15 minutes into the first period. Things in Buffalo are bad.

Here’s what we learned from Saturday night.

The Sabres Are Really, Really Bad

Like REALLY bad, you guys.

It was 2-0 Avalanche before you knew it and the Sabres still hadn’t registered a shot halfway through the first period. Poor Ryan Miller has to stop a thousand shots per game for his team to even have a hope of winning, which they don’t because they can’t score goals unless there are fluke bounces.

Everyone knew they were going to be bad, but they are going to be historically bad from at least a franchise aspect in terms of offense. They better hope a Nathan MacKinnon emerges in this draft class because nothing is worse than when your team is super bad and there isn’t even a franchise-changer available in the draft.

Godspeed, Buffalo.

Matt Duchene Is Good At Hockey

That first goal may have Ryan O’Reilly’s name next to it on the score sheet, but that was all Duchene. The move he made when he received the pass in the corner and the pass he made across the crease to O’Reilly was dazzling from start to finish. Check it:


He then did something similar on a later power play where he took the pass down low, spun towards the net, and kept working until it was in the back of the net. Superstar players do the fancy stuff like you see above, but they also work hard for the ones that don’t come so easy.

Dutchy is having himself a year so far and only stands to get better and better.

Landeskog Is Having An Underrated Year

The captain has been a bit overshadowed by both the top line and the third line (MacKinnon/Parenteau/McGinn) in terms of production, but Landeskog has looked very good this year. He’s physical, good on the puck, and capable of putting his shoulder down and getting to the net.

That was evidenced on the Avs’ second goal of the night when Landy split two defensemen, avoided a poke check by Miller, circled the net and slammed in the wraparound goal. He’s going to see the benefits of playing with two playmakers like Paul Stastny and Alex Tanguay very soon if he continues to play the way he is.

Oct 19, 2013; Buffalo, NY, USA; Colorado Avalanche left wing Gabriel Landeskog (92) celebrates his goal against the Buffalo Sabres with defenseman Nate Guenin (5) and left wing Alex Tanguay (40) during the first period at First Niagara Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

It could also be beneficial to be in the position he’s in. With Duchene and company facing the stiffest defensive tests, Landy will be free to do his thing without being the focal point of the opposition. Don’t be surprised to see him go off as the year goes on.

Varlamov Won’t Have To Be Superman All Year

Obviously, you can’t expect Giggy to be as outstanding as he’s been thus far; he’s the backup and you’re bound to get a bad start here or there from him. Thankfully, though, he’s been good enough that Patrick Roy is willing to give Varly a little more rest to keep him fresher as the year goes on.

Varly is where it begins and ends for the Avalanche: he’s been the catalyst behind this start so far even with as good as the forwards have looked. But with the question marks and relative inexperience among the defense, he’s been outstanding this season and kept the Avalanche out of real danger.

Keeping him fresh, especially after the start this team has had, will be important. It doesn’t look like this team will be a darkhorse anything; they’ll want to be competing fro a division title now and Varly is the key. Making sure he’s at his best is ideal.\

Next up: 10/21 @ Pittsburgh

Ryan is the editor of Mile High Sticking as well as co-owner of The Farm Club. Follow him on Twitter to talk Avs, Sabres, hockey in general, or to let him know what a yutz he is.

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Tags: 2013-14 Season Buffalo Sabres Colorado Avalanche Matt Duchene Nathan MacKinnon NHL Ryan O'Reilly

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