Pregame #60: Washington Capitals at Buffalo Sabres (2/20/11)

Washington Capitals (30-19-10) at Buffalo Sabres (27-23-6)
HSBC Arena
Time: 12:30 PM
Radio: 820AM, 1500AM and XM
Previous Games:
Nov 13, 2010 BUF@WSH 2-3 L (OT)
Nov 17, 2010 BUF@WSH 4-3 W
Games Remaining:
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 take to the ice against the Buffalo Sabres Sunday in their fourth game of their current road swing for NBC’s Hockey Day in America. It will be the third contest this season against the Sabres, of which the Caps split the first two meetings. Although DC is coming off a disappointing loss to the Sharks on Thursday, they return to the East Coast with the chance to play a bit more rested after 3 games in 4 nights out West. Sunday’s contest will be the 3rd of a 6 game home stand for the Sabres . This is the perfect game to pick up 2 points for the Caps – Buffalo is reeling from its second straight loss, in which they’ve been outscored 5-1. 

Take a ride to find out what to watch for!

What To Watch For:


Hit ’em at Home: In addition to 2 straight at-home losses for Buffalo, the Sabres are now 0-2-1 in their last three at HSBC Arena and are 3-4-1 in their last 8. They are 1 of 4 teams in the NHL to have a losing record at home (12-14-2), and the only still in the hunt for the playoffs. The others (Islanders, Senators, Oilers) are currently the 28th, 29th and 30th ranked teams in the NHL, respectively. 

Young Guns: The Capitals big-names seem to have regained their form during the road trip. In three games, Alexander Semin is credited with 3 goals and 2 assists, Alex Ovechkin has 2 goals of his own coupled with 2 assists, and Nicklas Backstrom has added 1 goal and 2 assists. Aside from scoring, the trio have looked good other ways too: Ovie’s wrister was reminiscent of seasons’ past & Backstrom has been a monster in the face off circle. The remaining Young Gun, Mike Green, is still out with inner-ear trauma resulting in dizziness, nausea, and balance problems. He did see a specialist while in California, having all his tests come back negative, so hopefully we will see more of #52 soon.

Power Playa: The Caps’ Power Play woes have been prevalent all season. DC is currently 1-for-18 in their last 6 games, and 1-for-8 on their current road trip. More concerning though is the 2 short-handed goals allowed in 2 consecutive games. Washington will need to capitalize on a Buffalo team taking 12.7 penalties a game, and a PK that’s 15th in the league at 81.5%.