Colorado Avalanche Players Who Must Step Up Against Buffalo

DENVER, CO - FEBRUARY 25: Nathan MacKinnon
DENVER, CO - FEBRUARY 25: Nathan MacKinnon /

The Colorado Avalanche need to beat the Buffalo Sabres in the final game of their homestand — these three players must play a big role.

The Colorado Avalanche are facing the Buffalo Sabres tonight in what’s generally considered a must-win situation — by both teams. The Sabres are coming in being the worst team in the NHL with a 1-8-1 record in the last 10 games.

Thank goodness the Avalanche aren’t that bad off. However, they’ve gone 1-3-0 during their five-game homestand. Naturally, they want to improve that before they head off for a four-game roadie against some of the toughest teams in the NHL.

All-time, the Colorado Avalanche have gone 16-9-2-2(ties) against Buffalo. Last season the two teams met twice and split the series, with both teams winning at home.

Tonight represents the fourth and final game that captain Gabriel Landeskog will have to sit out due to suspension.

How to Enjoy the Game

Game time: December 5 , 7:00 pm MT
TV Networks: Altitude TV (Avs feed), MSG-B (Sabres feed)
Radio: Altitude Radio (AM 950)

Nathan MacKinnon

More from Mile High Sticking

Center Nathan MacKinnon had a magical November that saw him record 20 points in 10 games. To say he dropped off would be unfair — he has an assist in the two December games. However, he wasn’t as sizzling on the ice in those games as he was throughout November.

MacKinnon is supposed to lead on the ice with his play, especially in the captain’s absence. He’s the Avalanche’s best player. He’s going to set the tone for the whole team’s play, especially starting early.

Nikita Zadorov

Defenseman Nikita Zadorov was the prime piece of the return for Ryan O’Reilly in the 2015 trade. While J.T. Compher and A.J. Greer also play into the return, Zadorov was the centerpiece.

Zadorov has had a year full of ups and downs. He’s been in and out of the doghouse for bad form and also in the spotlight for great plays. He loves to play a physical game, and the Avalanche definitely need that from him. However, there can’t be penalties resulting from them.

Semyon Varlamov

I’m not sure what the nature of the illness was that took goalie Semyon Varlamov out of the lineup for three games. However, he doesn’t appear to be fully recovered. He played well against the Winnipeg Jets, but he was sluggish against the New Jersey Devils. And when he came in as relief for Jonathan Bernier against the Dallas Stars, his face looked drawn — he looked ill.

Well, hopefully he’s in good form tonight. The Buffalo Sabres aren’t big scorers — they have a -38 goal differential — but that can change with the likes of O’Reilly, Evander Kane and Jack Eichel in the lineup.

Next: Avs Players Discuss Leadership After Loss

The Colorado Avalanche and Buffalo Sabres will meet one more time, on February 11 in Buffalo.