Game Preview: Sabres @ Capitals

sbres-at-cpitals-caps-buflo

The Buffalo Sabres (9-10-5)  return to Verizon Center Monday night, for their second trip to DC in the last 10 days. The fluky NHL scheduling continues as the Capitals and Sabres wrap up their three-game season series this Friday in Buffalo. Puck drop for Monday’s game at Verizon Center is 7:00PM. 

BUFFALO
Since we last discussed the Sabres (prior to the Caps-Sabres game on November 25th), Buffalo’s young phenom Jack Eichel has made his way back into the lineup, and done so in impressive fashion. As you may recall, Eichel was sidelined with a sprained ankle that he suffered during a final practice before the Sabres season opener. After missing the first 21 games, Eichel made his season debut on November 29th, registering a goal and an assist to help the Sabres beat the Ottawa Senators 5-4. Eichel has three goals and one assist in his first three games back.

The Sabres, last in the Atlantic Division, are coming off of a 2-1 loss to the Boston Bruins Saturday afternoon in Buffalo. Evander Kane notched his first goal of the season, for the Sabres only goal of the game. Highly coveted 19-year-old rookie defenseman Brendan Guhl made his NHL debut against the Bruins.

Kyle Okposo and Matt Moulson lead the Sabres in goals scored with seven each. Rasmus Ristolainen leads the team in assists with 12 for the season.

Special Teams:
The Sabres power play is getting it done this season, currently 7th in the league at a 22.5% conversion rate. The Sabres penalty kill is not doing well, currently 29th in the league at a 77.2 success rate, for a combined special teams index of 99.7.

Other Notes:
Buffalo, 4-5-1 in their last 10 games, is last in the NHL in goals scored, with 48 goals through 24 games. The Sabres are faring a bit better on the defensive end, allowing 59 goals so far this season, 22nd in the league.

WASHINGTON
The Capitals are reeling a bit, following their 2-1 shootout loss to the Lightning in Tampa on Saturday night. The Capitals have now lost three consecutive games, something they haven’t done since the 2014-2015 season. Coach Trotz  addressed the media following the game:

Special Teams:
The Capitals power play continues to flounder, although the Caps man-advantage finally notched a tally Saturday in Tampa.  The Capitals power play had gone 0-14 before Nicklas Backstrom broke the dubious streak in the third period.

Washington’s power play is currently ranked 22nd in the league with a 14.5 conversion rate. The Capitals penalty kill is currently ranked 17th in the league with an 82.4 success rate, for a combined special teams index of 96.6.

THE MATCHUP
Mondays game against the Sabres is as close to a mid-season “must win” game for the Capitals as it gets. A loss to a sub 0.500 team will likely send Capitals faithful into a frenzy.

Series Flashback:

SHAVINGS

  • Washington is tied for last in the league for the fewest games played so far this season (23).
  • The Capitals have scored just three goals in the last three games.
  • Evgeny Kuznetsov‘s struggles continue, registering just 0.39 points per game, tied for 7th on the team with defensemen John Carlson and Dmitry Orlov.

GAME LINKS
Caps Hope to Halt Slide vs. Sabres (Mike Vogel)
POSTGAME NOTEBOOK: Bolts 2, Caps 1 (SO) (Mike Vogel)

By Jon Sorensen

 

About Jon Sorensen

Jon has been a Caps fan since day one, attending his first game at the Capital Centre in 1974. His passion for the Caps has grown over the decades, which has included time as a season ticket holder, social media and community organizer, and most recently led to the founding of NoVa Caps in 2014. Jon earned a Bachelor's of Science in Engineering at Old Dominion University, and is a Systems Engineer during intermissions, which has been instrumental in supporting his Capitals habit.
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