Pregame #17: Washington Capitals at Buffalo Sabres (11/13/10)

Washington Capitals (12-4-0) at Buffalo Sabres (5-9-3)
HSBC Arena
Time: 7:00 pm
TV: Comcast SportsNet, MSG-B
Radio: 820AM, 1500AM and XM
Previous Games: (none)
Games Remaining:
Nov 17, 2010 BUF@WSH, 7:00 PM ET
Feb 20, 2011  WSH@BUF, 3:00 PM ET
Apr 2, 2011 BUF@WSH, 7:00 PM ET
Familiar Faces of Former Capitals:
Shaone Morrisonn (2004-2010)
Mike Grier (2002-2004)
The Enemy:
Top Shelf
Die By The Blade

The Capitals visit Buffalo for the first time this season.  Buffalo is mired at the bottom of the Northeast Division standings but is 2-0-1 in their last 3 games and are poised to make a run if Ryan Miller returns to the lineup tonight as expected.  The hero of the silver medal-winning US Olympic Team hasn’t played since October 29.

This game marks the second of a 3-games-in-4-nights stretch for the Capitals and the first of back-to-back games.  Yesterday’s practice was very optional and only lasted 40 minutes.  Big minute defenders Tom Poti and Mike Green sat out and with only 7 forwards on ice (King, Bradley, Fehr, Chimera, Johansson, Knuble, Hendricks), assistant coach Dean Evason took part in some of the drills.  It was a light practice of mostly passing and shooting drills, and rookie goalie Braden Holtby saw more work than Michal Neuvirth, meaning Neuvirth will likely start tonight’s game.  The practice was run by assistant coaches Evason, Bob Woods, and Arturs Irbe; Head Coach Bruce Boudreau worked the crowd instead, taking pictures with a gaggle of excited children who spent most of the practice running from one side of the bleachers to the other to catch a glimpse of their favorite players. 

Don’t Be A Slug, Read On!

Mo-vember: This game will mark the first time former Cap Shaone Morrisonn faces his former mates since sigining with Buffalo in the offseason.  It also marks the first time he has played against the Capitals since his first career game on December 29, 2003.  In that game, Morrisonn was 6 days removed from his 21st birthday and he posted an assist and a +2 rating for the Boston Bruins.  So far this season, Mo has played 11 games, posting 1 assist, a -7 rating (second-worst on the team), and 10 penalty minutes. 

Get Down With the Slickness: The Capitals’ offense is rolling and the players are racking up the milestones.  The first of Nicklas Backstrom‘s 4 assists against Tampa Bay was the 200th of his career and he now has 8 assists in his last 4 games.    Brooks Laich posted his 200th career point with his second goal and 3rd point of the night against the Rangers on Tuesday.  He now has 4 points in his last 2 games. Alexander Ovechkin‘s first point against the Rangers on Tuesday moved him past Mike Ridley into sole possession of 6th place on the All-Time Caps scoring list.  With 552 points, he is now just 3 behind Bengt Gustafsson (555) and 4 behind Dale Hunter (556) to move into 4th place.  Ovie is riding an 8-game scoring streak in which he has posted 5 goals and 10 assists.  Alex Semin is riding a 6-game points streak in which he has posted 7 goals and 6 assists, including a 3-goal, 5-point game on Thursday against Tampa Bay.

Pass the Tylenol: f the Buffalo Sabres are going to win tonight, they will do so without defenseman and Team Captain Craig Rivet (flu) and wingers Nathan Gerbe (broken jaw) and Drew Stafford (shoulder).  The Capitals remain without the services of goalie Semyon Varlamov and they will also be without talisman center Boyd Gordon,who is expected to miss at least a week with an ankle injury suffered early in Thursday’s match.  The team is undefeated (10-0) with Gordon in the lineup.