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Avalanche Vs. Sabres: Colorado Starts Crucial East Coast Trip In Buffalo

The Colorado Avalanche took care of business with overtime victories over Edmonton and Anaheim, yet still fell into 11th place in the Western Conference despite being idle. In fact, Colorado has won seven of their past 10 games and remains in the same exact position against the impossibly tight Western Conference. Since other teams in the standings are unlikely to fall out of the race, the only thing that Colorado can do is win.

This will be difficult for the Avalanche as they begin an incredibly tough road trip through the Eastern Conference with a game against the other "hottest team" in the NHL, the Buffalo Sabres. Once completely out of the playoff picture, the Sabres have regained some momentum behind the play of All-Star goalie Ryan Miller, who has been electric the past two months. In his last nine starts, Miller has a 1.84 GAA in his last nine games and a spectacular .943 SV%.

He has carried Buffalo into the postseason picture almost singlehandedly, since the rest of his offense has been below average -- ranking 24th in the league in goals scored. The Sabres will also be without the services of top defenseman Tyler Myers, who has been suspended for three games following an illegal boarding call.

The Avalanche likely face three Eastern Conference playoff teams over the span of four nights; a herculean task for a team attempting to keep pace in the Western Conference. Thankfully, they've received help from their deadline trade acquisitions. Jamie McGinn and Steve Downie have combined for 7 goals and 11 assists since joining Colorado. Gabriel Landeskog and David Jones have also been very productive lately, bringing the Avalanche offense up to 15th in the NHL in goals scored.

Semyon Varlamov will get another start in net, his sixth straight. The Russian netminder is the talk of the league, carrying a .953 SV% over his last eight starts.

Puck drops at 5:30 p.m. MDT

For more coverage, visit our Avalanche blog Mile High Hockey and our Sabres blog Die By The Blade.