The Sabres face Colorado without its stars

Buffalo will be without Jack Eichel, and Colorado is missing Nate MacKinnon

Paul Hamilton
February 11, 2018 - 2:00 pm

Photo: Timothy T. Ludwig - USA TODAY Sports

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Buffalo, NY (WGR 550) - We now know that the Sabres will have to face the Colorado Avalanche on Sunday without Jack Eichel. The Sabres announced he has a high-ankle sprain and is out indefinitely.

Eichel’s right leg got folded under him during the first period in Boston on Saturday, and he was evaluated on Sunday.

Nick Baptiste was called up from Rochester.

Zemgus Girgensons was the only extra forward in Boston and he missed the game due to illness.

Even without Eichel for most of the game, the Sabres played a complete 60 minutes for the fourth straight game on the road. It was particularly impressive to walk into Boston and out hit them and win most of the battles. They were playing a team that had gone 27-4-4 in 35 games.

Overall, the Sabres have won two straight while Colorado has lost three of four and six of eight.

Before this slide, the Avalanche were the NHL’s hottest team with 10 straight wins.

With both teams playing Saturday night, neither team had a morning skate.

Chad Johnson played in the Bruins win so if Phil Housley stays true to form, Robin Lehner goes tonight. Lehner has gotten points in four of his last six starts giving up 10 goals.

Buffalo did get four goals in Boston, but they will miss Eichel’s production. He has 53 points in 55 games which comes out to 79 points over 80 games.

The good news is Evander Kane scored his first goal in 15 games and Benoit Pouliot had his best game as a Sabre picking up his first goal in eight.

Scott Wilson is a veteran and a winner with two Stanley Cups under his belt. When Eichel went down, Wilson got more of a chance to play and responded with a goal and an assist.

Casey Nelson has been playing two games with Marco Scandella and had his first two games over 20 minutes played. Nelson has two assists in his last three games and just keeps getting better and better.

Taking Rasmus Ristolainen off the pair with Scandella hasn’t brought down his ice-time like Phil Housley would like to do. Ristolainen has been over 27 minutes in six straight games.

The fathers were along for the last two games and they got to see two wins. Even though the dads trip is over, many will still be in attendance for Sunday’s game.

Nate MacKinnon has not returned yet for Colorado. He’s missed five games with a shoulder injury. MacKinnon leads the Avalanche with 24 goals and 37 assists for 61 points in 49 games. That translates to 102 points over 82 games.

Missing MacKinnon has hurt their power play and they’re 0-for-13 in four games.

Former Sabre draft pick J.T. Compher is doing just what Darcy Regier envisioned when he took him in the second round of the 2013 draft. He has 11 goals in 41 games and has four goals and three assists for seven points in the last eight games. Compher was part of the Ryan O'Reilly trade. In the end, he could wind up being a better two-way forward than O'Reilly is. 

Nail Yakupov continues to be the bust he was in Edmonton and St. Louis. The former number one pick has two goals in his last 28 games.

Jonathan Bernier has taken over the number one goaltending duties as he backstopped nine games during the 10 game winning streak. Since things haven’t gone well lately, he’s split the last four games with Semyon Varlamov. Berner has played in two of those games while Varlamov has played in three.

Despite the recent losing, Colorado is only four points in back of Minnesota for the Western Conference's final Wild Card spot. 

Join Brian Koziol for the pregame at 6:00 when he’ll be joined by Phil Housley and two players. 

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