The Colorado Avalanche welcome the Buffalo Sabres to the Pepsi Center in Denver on Wednesday night. The Avalanche are gearing up for a deep playoff run, while the Sabres are getting ready for the golf course again. In yet another season that featured a nice run by the Sabres, has turned into nothing in the second-half of the year. The Sabres went on a ten-game winning streak last season and all was looking up early on.
Fans were optimistic that it was going to be the season that Jack Eichel finally had his breakout in the playoffs. However, the Sabres fell hard and didn’t threaten to reach the playoffs at the end of the regular season. The Sabres had another stretch this season that looked promising to open the season. It hasn’t been a disaster for the Sabres in 2019-20. They’ve been decent with a record of 29-25-8 and 66 points.
Although, fans are expecting this team to get over the hump by now and get into the playoffs. They’re pretty far away from the Columbus Blue Jackets, who are currently in possession of the last wildcard in the Eastern Conference. The Blue Jackets have 76 points, so there’s time to go on a run, but that’s not going to be an easy leap for the Sabres. Between them and the Blue Jackets are the Canadiens, Panthers, Rangers, and Hurricanes.
The Sabres are coming off a couple of solid wins, including a 5-2 win against the Penguins and 2-1 against the Jets. That 5-2 win in Pittsburgh was awfully impressive by the Sabres. If they find a way to go on a run and do get into the playoffs, as unlikely as it is, we’ll look back at that win as the kick-starter for the Sabres. They have a long way to go before getting into playoff contention, though.
With wins in five of their last six games, it’s a good start, but there isn’t much room for them to slow down. They will have a tough matchup in Colorado against the Avalanche tonight. The Avs are holding strong at 36-18-7 and 79 points. There is company around them for the lead in the Central Division. The Stars have a 1-point advantage on the Avs, while the Blues are 1st with 84 points following a 6-5 win over the Blackhawks last night. Colorado has played three fewer games than St. Louis, so that’s certainly a good thing. Head below for our free Sabres vs. Avalanche pick.
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Sabres vs. Avalanche Prediction:
The Sabres acquired Wayne Simmonds from the New Jersey Devils to bolster their playoff push. The Devils gave up a fifth rounder for Simmonds, so the Sabres were able to get him at an affordable rate. However, is Simmonds going to be enough to close the gap in the Eastern Conference?
Probably not, but the front office seems to be confident that the Sabres can still do it and get into the playoffs. They face a banged up Avalanche squad in this one, though Colorado has done a terrific job at adapting and turning into an effective defensive team. With Kadri and Rantanen both out, the Avs have needed to take a different approach.
The Avalanche added Vladislav Namestnikov at the trade deadline from Ottawa to help with the offence. Namestnikov isn’t a game changer or anything, but he should help the offence in Denver. He netted 13 goals and 12 assists with the Senators in 56 games. If the defence and Pavel Francouz continue at their current pace, though, then the Avalanche are going to make out fine.
Francouz has been on fire with a combined save percentage of 0.972 in his last three outings. He’s allowed 2 goals on 75 shots, and in four of his last five outings, Francouz has allowed 1 or no goals. Philipp Grubauer is out with an injury, but if Francouz keeps this up, the Avalanche won’t be too concerned by his absence.
Colorado has allowed an average of just 1.6 goals per game in their previous ten outings. However, the offence has been struggling with only 2.3 goals per game during that same time. In any event, they’re still 7-3 in those ten games because of the excellent defence. And keep in mind that the Sabres have struggled to score the puck on the road, along with against the Avalanche.
Buffalo has scored just 2 goals in losses of 6-1, 3-0, and 6-1 against the Avalanche in their previous three meetings. The Sabres have scored just 2.66 goals per game on the road this season, which explains why they have a record of 10-15-4 as a visitor going into Wednesday. The Sabres have been playing really well recently, but this looks like a letdown spot against a physical Avalanche team in Denver tonight.