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Dahlin, Montour among game-time decisions versus Avalanche

Sabres assessing injuries, illnesses prior to tonight's game

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber / Sabres.com

UPDATE (4:55 p.m.) - The Sabres have recalled forward Rasmus Asplund from Rochester for tonight's game. Forwards Johan Larsson (lower body) and Curtis Lazar (illness) and defenseman Rasmus Dahlin (upper body) will be out of the lineup. All three players are considered day-to-day. 

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With minor injuries and illnesses having infiltrated the dressing room, the Sabres' lineup for tonight's game against the Colorado Avalanche has yet to be determined. 

"We're still assessing," Sabres coach Ralph Krueger said during his morning session with the media. "We're dealing not only with some light injuries; we're also dealing with some sickness in the room right now and we are evaluating as I stand here." 

While Krueger spoke, defensemen Rasmus Dahlin and Brandon Montour were skating to test their respective injuries. Dahlin took a maintenance day Monday; Montour practiced but was a late scratch for the team's game against Columbus on Saturday. 

Johan Larsson also took a maintenance day Monday and will have his status announced prior to puck drop. Depending on the readiness of Dahlin and/or Montour, Krueger said there is a "high chance" the team dresses 11 forwards and seven defensemen. 

"It's a challenge," Krueger said of the lineup uncertainty, "but I think it's one that really brings us into focus and we just need to concentrate on the things we can do."

Video: PREGAME: Krueger

The Sabres are looking to build on the habits they displayed in their 2-1, overtime win over the Blue Jackets. While the Blue Jackets have been one of the NHL's best defensive teams over the past two months, Colorado enters tonight's game with a league-leading average of 3.64 goals per game. 

Asked to describe the Avalanche, Krueger quickly opted to use one descriptor: fast. 

"They have a lot of speed," he added. "They are extremely aggressive in their defense, but offensively they're attacking with four-plus all the time. A very dynamic game. They like to play on their toes, we like to play on our toes. It's going to be a really good game tonight."

Carter Hutton will start in net for the third straight game. He's stopped of 49 of 52 shots in his last two starts, good for a .942 save percentage. 

 

Matchup to watch 

The contest pits two of the league's top-five goal scorers against one another in Jack Eichel (31) and Nathan MacKinnon (30). The two players displayed a mutual respect at All-Star Weekend last month, when Eichel shared that MacKinnon is one of his favorite players to watch. 

"It's funny, Jack's one of mine, too," MacKinnon said. "You have breakfast watching highlights and he's on there every morning. He's really unique. He's effortless out there. It doesn't look like he's going that fast, but he's the fastest guy on the ice. Just effortless power."

Sabres forward Michael Frolik has already played the Avalanche three times this season as a member of the Calgary Flames, scoring in the most recent meeting. Frolik broke down MacKinnon's game in comparison to another one of the league's elite forwards, Connor McDavid. 

"He's got kind of everything," Frolik said. "He's a big guy and he's so fast and his hands are incredible. I think compared to McDavid, this guy, he's got size, right? So, he can like overpower you and go to the net hard. McDavid is all about speed, but I think [MacKinnon] is a big guy. He's fun to watch sometimes."

MacKinnon ranks fourth in the league with 72 points and fifth with 30 goals. Eichel sits one spot ahead of him in the goal category, having scored in three straight games. A goal tonight would give him his second four-game streak of the season. 

 

Tune in 

Coverage on MSG begins at 6:30 p.m. You can also listen to the game on WGR 550, with puck drop scheduled for 7. 
 

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