Buffalo Sabres vs Colorado Avalanche

The East meets the West Saturday afternoon as the Buffalo Sabres roll into the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado to take on the Avalanche. The matinee game is set to start at 3 PM EST and will be televised by Alti and MSG-Buffalo. The radio broadcast of this game can be heard on WGR550 and KKSE 92.5 Colorado.

How to Watch

Where: Pepsi Center - Denver, CO.

When: Saturday, March 9, 3PM EST

How (TV/Radio): Alti, MSG Buffalo | WGR550, KKSE 92.5

Buffalo Sabres (Away)

Head Coach: Phil Housley {All-Time 55-73-20 BUF}

This game is as close as it gets. The Buffalo Sabres, currently ranked 11th in the East, take on the Colorado Avalanche, currently 10th in the West. The statistics in this matchup are almost identical.

After a strong start to the season, the Sabres have started to struggle. Their record has dropped to barely over .500: 30-28-8. They have also only been able to muster up a 2-7-1 record in their last ten games at the time of writing.

The advantages for Buffalo include shots on goal, where they rank seventh in the league, averaging more than 32 shots per game. The Sabres also hold the advantage in disciplined play. They are ranked fourth in the league in penalty minutes, averaging seven minutes or less, and are ranked fifth in the league on the penalty kill with an 82.5 percent success rate. But with defenseman Zach Bogosian listed as day-to-day and Jake McCabe to miss five to six weeks, it’s unknown what that may mean for Buffalo’s defensive numbers against the Avalanche.

Goalie Carter Hutton should get the nod between the pipes for this game against Colorado. Hutton is 16-18-4 this season with a goals against average of 2.82 and a .911 save percentage. He has yet to register a shutout this season.

Colorado Avalanche (Home)

Head Coach: Jared Bednar {All-Time 93-112-25 COL}

The Colorado Avalanche have gone 6-3-1 in their last ten games and are also barely floating above .500 with a season record of 28-26-12. They are ranked tenth overall in the Western conference.

The Avalanche out-score their opponents and will need to rely on peppering opposing goalie Carter Hutton with as many shots as possible. Currently, they rank eighth in the league in shots, just back of Buffalo, but they rank ninth overall in goals scored as opposed to Buffalo’s 23rd ranking. Colorado averages 3.26 goals per game. They also make their shots count more than their opponents as they rank tenth in shooting percentage compared to Buffalo’s 26th.

The most notable advantage will come on the powerplay. Buffalo doesn’t take many penalties, but if they do, they will be facing a powerplay that is ranked eighth in the league. The Sabres’ own powerplay is only ranked 17th. The Avs also allow fewer shots than their opponents and thus fewer goals against.

Goaltender Semyon Varmalov is expected to start against the Sabres. Varlamov has a season record of 18-16-9. His goals-against average is 2.83 and his save percentage is .911. He has two shutouts this season.

These two teams haven’t met since October 11, 2018. Colorado came out of the game victorious, defeating the Sabres with a score of 6-1.

What's At Stake?

Both teams sit just outside of a wildcard spot. A win for the Sabres would see them move to seven points out of the final wildcard spot on the East and would still have a large mountain to climb. They need these two points and they need to keep winning.

Colorado is currently sitting two spots back of the final Western conference wildcard spot and these two points would bring them to within one point of the final spot. Colorado could use this win and move towards potentially climbing out of the wildcard spot and into a more comfortable divisional seed. This is a very important game for both teams.

Questions to answer

How can these almost identical teams invoke their will against each other? Whose advantages are greater?

Will playing in Denver have any effect on the physical play of the Sabres - a team that already struggles on the road with an away record of 11-18-4?

How important will special teams be in the game? Will Colorado’s superior powerplay be able to score against Buffalo’s superior penalty kill?

Buffalo Sabres Injury Report

D Zach Bogosian - day-to-day (lower-body)

D Jake McCabe - day-to-day (upper-body)

F Vladimir Sobotka - day-to-day (upper-body)

Colorado Avalanche Injury Report

F Matt Nieto - day-to-day (lower-body)

F Vladislav Kamenev - IR (shoulder)

D Conor Timmins - IR (head)

Buffalo Sabres at Colorado Avalanche Predictions and Odds

The Buffalo Sabres (+145) are the underdogs going up against the Colorado Avalanche (-170).

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