Considering how late the majority of the games have started this season, I won’t know what to do with myself when this game ends around 1:30 PM MST.
The matchup with the Sabres means the Avalanche will see Erik Johnson wearing another team’s uniform for the first time since they faced him as a member of the St. Louis Blues all those years ago. Johnson signed a one year deal with Buffalo over the summer, and was brought in to mentor some of their young defenseman. He’s mentioned multiple times that he believes his current team is similar to the Avalanche of around 2018, when there was loads of young talent ready to break out.
Johnson, of course, played for the Avalanche from 2011-2023, and helped them win a Stanley Cup in 2022. The more emotional game for Johnson will be on Dec. 13, when he makes his return to Ball Arena.
Beyond how strange it will be to see EJ in another uniform, the big story of the game will be in Colorado’s net. The Avalanche are expected to go back to Alexandar Georgiev against the Sabres, just a few days after he was pulled against the Penguins. If he does start, which Bednar said was the plan on Thursday night, it will be his 8th straight start.
We don’t know if there will be any changes to the Avalanche lines on Sunday, but it wouldn’t surprise me if there were. Of the six new additions up front for Colorado, only one has scored a goal at even strength, and that’s Fredrik Olofsson. They could use some even strength production from everyone, though.
The Sabres, who are off to a very slow start, are led offensively by Jeff Skinner, who has carried over his strong play from last season, scoring five goals in eight games this year. Rasmus Sahlin, who signed a massive extension recently, leads the team with eight points. Tage Thompson, who scored 47 goals last season, is starting to heat up, as he’s got three goals in his last two games.
Buffalo is banged up in net, and will turn to their third string goaltender, Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen.
The Sabres currently sit in last place in the Atlantic Division.
Expected Colorado Avalanche Lines
Artturi Lehkonen – Nathan MacKinnon – Valeri Nichushkin
Tomas Tatar – Ryan Johansen – Mikko Rantanen
Miles Wood – Ross Colton – Jonathan Drouin
Andrew Cogliano – Fredrik Olofsson – Logan O’Connor
Devon Toews – Cale Makar
Bowen Byram – Sam Girard
Jack Johnson – Josh Manson
Expected Buffalo Sabres Lineup
Greenway – Thompson – Benson
Skinner – Mittelstadt – Peterka
Olofsson – Cozens – Tuch
Girgensens – Krebs – Okposo
Dahlin – Samuelsson
Power – Jokiharju
Bryson – Johnson
Colorado Avalanche Power Play: 23.1%, 9th in NHL
Colorado Avalanche Penalty Kill: 93.1%, 4th in NHL
Buffalo Sabres Power Play: 12%, 26th in NHL
Buffalo Sabres Penalty Kill: 87.1%, 8th in NHL
How to Watch
TV: Altitude 2, ESPN+
Radio: Altitude Radio 92.5 FM
Game Time: 11:00 AM MST