Here are the GAME NOTES.
Like pretty much every team the Avalanche (15-37-2) will play for the rest of the season, the Sabres (24-23-10) are in the hunt for a playoff spot. They're five points out of the second wild card in the Eastern Conference.
Former Avalanche forward Ryan O'Reilly has 12 goals, 24 assists and a plus-7 rating in 47 games; he missed six games with an oblique injury and four after undergoing an appendectomy. He has three assists in two previous games against Colorado.
The NBC Sports yappers, during the telecast, are certain to rehash the June 2015 trade in which the Avalanche sent O'Reilly and Jamie McGinn to the Sabres for Mikhail Grigorenko, Nikita Zadorov, J.T. Compher and a second-round draft pick they sent to San Jose and turned into picks for A.J. Greer and Cameron Morrison.
Which brings us to general manager Joe Sakic's latest comments regarding the March 1 trade deadline, which for me can't come quickly enough.
In Buffalo after spending two days in Boston, Sakic didn't shed a whole lot of light on his plans in an interview with the Denver Post's Terry Frei. Sakic did suggest he expects to remain as GM after this dreadful season ends, and that coach Jared Bednar will also be back.
“I enjoy what I’m doing,” Sakic said. “As frustrating as this year is, and we have to get through it, there’s a lot of good things we can do to turn this thing around and go in the right direction. There have been a lot of conversations about a lot of different things. We’re in this position, so we’re certainly not going to be buyers at the deadline. We’re going to listen to offers for our (upcoming unrestricted free agents), that’s where we’re at. We want to start our rebuilding process and get younger.
[size]"I’m not looking to do something big. If something happens, I will listen to get exactly what we want to help the team in the future, and we’ll certainly listen and think about it. But if not, I’m continuing to go into the summer and see how we can improve in the summer. There’s no real deadline that way. But we’ll look at all options to get better.”
Sakic said he understands why Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog are named as prime trade candidates in rumors, but that he isn't responsible for it.
“I’m not the one talking about it,” he said. "I’m not the one starting it. I will say that where we are at, it’s going to be talked about. It makes sense for people to see where the Avalanche are and start talking different players. That’s probably a compliment to those guys. Because they’re really good players and you’re not going to talk about players who aren’t really good.”
Sakic said he still has faith in the team's so-called core of Duchene, Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon, Tyson Barrie, Erik Johnson and Semyon Varlamov. Johnson has been skating while recovering from the broken fibula he sustained Dec. 3 and Varlamov had season-ending hip surgery Jan. 26.
“I have faith in our team, yes," he said. "I don’t like the way our team has played this year at all. We’re not happy, and I know we still have to get younger, and we still have some young guys coming in next year. We’re going to free up some cap room and try and keep building up the younger guys.
"I’m disappointed. We never said we were a Stanley Cup contender, but we’re a better team than where we’re at right now. We’ve missed a couple of guys, but that’s not an excuse for the way we went on that 30-game stretch where whatever we did, we found a way to lose games.
"There’s nothing to be shaken about because I do look at it that maybe this is the best thing for us, have another high pick and keep bringing in the young guys. We have some bright spots coming into the organization.”[/size]