DENVER — When the Sabres started their rebuild talk, they brought up Pittsburgh and Chicago as clubs to emulate. Sure, those teams are great role models, but it would be just as wise to mimic Colorado.
The Avalanche showed more talent Saturday than any opponent Buffalo has faced this season. The Sabres didn’t stand a chance.
The speedy, slick-passing Avs did whatever they wanted in a 7-1 victory in Pepsi Center. The crowd ate it up, creating a fun-filled afternoon for everyone expect the players in white, blue and gold.
The Avs tried – and, more impressively, completed – the type of plays kids dream up in video games. They had spin moves, rushes and passes that usually only show up in freewheeling All-Star Games.
It was a harsh reminder for the Sabres and their fans of how far the organization really has to go. No matter how hard the Sabres worked Saturday, there was no way they could have matched the skill that was on display.
Nathan MacKinnon, selected first overall in last year’s draft, looked more like a candidate for MVP than Rookie of the Year. He had a goal and three points.
He had plenty of help. Gabriel Landeskog and Jamie McGinn scored two goals each, while defenseman Erik Johnson had three assists. Eleven Avs reached the score sheet, including goaltender Semyon Varlamov (one assist, 27 saves).
The Avs led, 3-0, after the first period and built a 5-1 cushion after 40 minutes. Coach Ted Nolan put Ryan Miller (22 saves) out of his misery by inserting Jhonas Enroth for the third, and the Avs showed there was enough misery to go around with two more goals on 12 shots.
The 30th-place Sabres get a team more their speed Monday as 29th-ranked Edmonton comes to First Niagara Center.