Colorado Avalanche Must Beat the Sabres in Buffalo

BUFFALO, NY - FEBRUARY 16: Gabriel Landeskog
BUFFALO, NY - FEBRUARY 16: Gabriel Landeskog /

The Colorado Avalanche complete their three-game road trip in a back-to-back game in Buffalo. The Avs are facing the Sabres.

The Colorado Avalanche are here to beat the Buffalo Sabres at KeyBank Center. The two teams have met already this year, on December 5 in Colorado. Buffalo prevailed, 4-2.

All time, the Avalanche are 16-10-2-2(ties) against the Sabres.

Both teams are in their second game of a back-to-back series. The Sabres were in Boston to face the Bruins last night. They won 4-2.

Colorado was in Carolina to face the Hurricanes, losing 3-2. For the Avalanche, this marks their ninth back-to-back series.

So far, the Avalanche are winless on their road trip. As Avs analyst Mark Rycroft pointed out, that makes tonight’s game a must-win for Colorado.

How to Enjoy the Game

Game time: February 11 , 5 pm MT
TV Networks: Altitude TV (Avs feed), MSG-B (Sabres feed)
Radio: Altitude Radio (AM 950)

Keys to the Game

More from Mile High Sticking

Score First: Historically, the Colorado Avalanche do so much better when they score first. When they are scored on first, not so much. Fatigue aside, the Avs have to at minimum start as strong as they did against Carolina last night.

Side note: The Avs scored first last night and still lost. Nonetheless, they’re 25-4-2 when scoring first.

Generate Offense: Colorado only has five goals in the last four games. As captain Gabriel Landeskog said, “We’ve got to find another gear offensively” without star scorer Nathan MacKinnon.

Goal Tending: As I noted in a previous post, the Avs really only succeed when they get stellar goal tending. Jonathan Bernier was playing lights out, and they went on that win streak. Granted, the Nathan MacKinnon effect was in full force, but there were a couple games where Bernier was the one who kept them in to win it.

Play Simple: Colorado has a lot of skill players, even with MacKinnon out. They try to get too cute sometimes, and that can cost them. They’re so much better off when they play a simple game.

Except for Samuel Girard. His little spin-o-rama to make room for himself is delightful.

Players to Watch

For Colorado, the player to watch is a Bourque — Gabriel Bourque. Remember last year when the most famous thing about him was the preseason when we had Bourque, Bourque and Bourke (Gabriel, Rene and Troy)?

Well, the only Bourque we have left is Gabriel, and he’s scratched away a little niche for himself. He’s played 29 games for Colorado this season and has 4 goals and 2 assists. That’s not a ton of scoring, but he’s a fourth-liner. However, he’s been playing the kind of hardworking game that coach Jared Bednar likes. He even wore the A last night with Blake Comeau out, (who was wearing it in MacKinnon’s absence).

On the Sabres, of course we’re always going to watch center Ryan O’Reilly, who was part of the first blockbuster trade that Joe Sakic made. However, it’s All Star Jack Eichel who leads the team in scoring with 53 points (22 goals, 31 assists). The Avs will want to keep an eye on him — we all will.

Next: What the Avs Should do at the Deadline

This is the second and final meeting between the two teams. After tonight, the Colorado Avalanche