The Washington Capitals are in Buffalo, New York, this evening to take on the Sabres in a Boxing Day clash as they attempt to gain some momentum heading out of the Christmas break. The Caps come into tonight’s game having gone 5-4-1 over their last ten, including their last game, a 4-3 overtime loss against the Devils on Friday. Overall, they are 17-14-2 on the year for 36 standings points, which places them third in the Southeast Division and tenth in the Eastern Conference. The Sabres, so far, have had an equally disappointing season as the Caps have, and are 3-5-2 over their last ten and 16-15-3 overall for 37 standings points. That has them in fourth in the competitive Northeast Division and eleventh in the East, one point behind the Caps. This is the second meeting between these two clubs this year; the Sabres won the first leg 5-1 in what was Bruce Boudreau’s final game behind the Washington bench.
Ryan Miller is expected to earn the nod from Lindy Ruff, despite losing his last three contests. After a Vezina-winning campaign in 2009-10, Miller fell off a bit last year, and has continued that so far this year. On the year he is 8-8-2 with a 3.11 GAA, .904 save percentage, and one shutout. Despite his poor performance this year, he’s still Ryan Miller, and he won that Vezina for a reason. Buffalo is also dealing with a rash of injuries, as defenseman Tyler Myers (wrist) and forwards Ville Leino (lower body) and Nathan Gerbe (concussion) are all out indefinitely. Forwards Thomas Vanek (lower body), Brad Boyes (leg), and Tyler Ennis (ankle) are also all questionable for tonight’s game.
Tomas Vokoun should start for Dale Hunter after a four game layoff and Michal Neuvirth’s loss against the Devils. Vokoun has underperformed vastly this year, and on the year is 12-8-0 with a 2.81 GAA .906 save percentage, and one shutout. He was pulled from his last start, two weeks ago against the Flyers. On the injury front, both Mike Green and Jay Beagle are out with groin and concussion injuries, respectively, and will not play. In terms of healthy scratches, as of now there is no indication that Jeff Schultz will reclaim the role in the lineup that is rightfully his over John Erskine or Roman Hamrlik, but of course that could all change.
Puck drops 7:08-ish. Happy Boxing Day!