By Mike Harrington
The Sabres had an optional skate this morning with about a dozen players on the First Niagara Center ice, so the lineup for tonight's game against the Colorado Avalanche is mostly a mystery. Here's what we do know:
1). Ryan Miller will start in goal and Cody McCormick is out after taking a shot to the foot Thursday night against Vancouver. Coach Ron Rolston said McCormick is day to day. Zemgus Girgensons returns after missing Thursday's game when he struck near the eye by a Tyler Myers shot Tuesday on Long Island.
2). Rolston, as usual, wasn't divulging who was playing tonight. He was asked if the Sabres may go with seven defensemen and said "possibly". He was asked if Nikita Zadorov's NHL debut was imminent and said, "could be tonight." Translation: I say Zadorov is in.
Zadorov is on the injured non-roster list for players hurt in training camp after he suffered a severe pinky injury in the final exhibition game at Carolina so the Sabres would have to make some sort of roster move to accomodate him.
3). The Avalanche are going with veteran backup J.S. Giguere in goal. He's played just one game, but made 39 saves while earning a shutout in a 2-0 win Oct. 10 in Boston. Semyon Varlamov (5-1, 1.68, .950) gets the night off and returns Monday in Pittsburgh.
The Sabres are 0-1-4 in their last five games against Colorado and haven't beaten them since a 6-4 win in Denver on Dec. 4, 2005. It's their longest victory drought against an opponent. Three of the four losses against Colorado since then are in shootouts, including the franchise-record 11-rounder Patrick Lalime lost here in 2011.
Nathan MacKinnon, the No. 1 overall pick, enters tonight's game with one goal and six assists in seven games. He's centering the Colorado third line between Jamie McGinn and former Islanders winger PA Parenteau.