EDMONTON, Alberta -- The Buffalo Sabres marketing slogan for the 2016-17 NHL season is "Sharpen Your Swords."
Judging by the team's long injury list, maybe it should be "don't play around sharp objects." After losing their home opener Thursday to Montreal, the Sabres jet to Western Canada to begin a four-game road trip that opens Sunday at Rogers Place against the Edmonton Oilers (2-0-0).
The Oilers turned back the clock to the high-flying 1980s in their two wins over the Calgary Flames to open the season. Edmonton scored 12 goals in the two wins, and center Connor McDavid already has six points.
"I don't really know what to say, he's phenomenal, he's just that good," said Oilers center Leon Draisaitl, who had a three-point night against Calgary on Friday, about McDavid. "He makes something happen, every single shift, out of nothing, where you think there's nothing going on and he creates an absolute top, grade-A chance."
"He's got all the skills and tools," said Edmonton coach Todd McLellan of McDavid's red-hot start. "He's got a toolbox that's second to none. His mind and the way he sees the rink and the players on the ice surface. And he does things fast and slow, so you're never really sure (as a defenseman) if you should go or you shouldn't go."
The Oilers haven't made the playoffs for a decade but, thanks to the hot start and the Sabres' poor health, will be heavy favorites on Sunday.
For Buffalo, the talk is about who won't be going on this road trip. Before the season began, 2015 No. 2 overall draft pick Jack Eichel (56 points last season) went down in practice with a high ankle sprain and will miss a minimum of one month. Then, left winger Evander Kane left Thursday's opener and was taken to hospital after crashing heavily into the boards.
He suffered three cracked ribs and is expected to be out for "weeks," according to coach Dan Bylsma.
"There's a little bit of shake your head and snake bitten a little bit, but it's kinda come in droves," said Bylsma."But it's part of our game we're playing -- you know you're going to have injuries, you expect to have them throughout your lineup and, unfortunately, you have a rash of them. That's no excuse for how we need to play and how we can play and we got to keep fighting through it."
"It sucks losing players," said Sabres netminder Robin Lehner. "But we've got to find a way, just work even more and we have to look to Edmonton on Sunday. ... We can't think too much about it, we all have got to step up."
There is some good news for Buffalo as Kyle Okposo, who scored 22 goals with the Islanders last season but hurt his knee in training camp and missed the home opener, is on the trip and is expected be available for Sunday.
Like Okposo, defenseman Dmitry Kulikov missed the opener due to injury (back) but could skate against the Oilers.
To make up numbers on the roster, the Sabres called up right winger Nicholas Baptiste from their AHL affiliate in Rochester, N.Y. on Saturday.
Edmonton defenseman Adam Larsson did not practice with the team on Saturday.