Don't look now - but the Buffalo Sabres haven't been that bad recently. The blue and gold are 3-1-1 in their last five games, and 7-4-1 at home after starting the season 0-8-1 in the friendly confines of the First Niagara Center. Ted Nolan has tightened up the defense and boosted the offense, and the Sabres have out-Fenwick'd their opponent in four of the last eight games after only doing so three times in the first 30.
It's a good thing, too, because this afternoon the high-flying Washington Capitals come to town, and they'll be bringing all the offense that Buffalo can handle.
The Caps come in to tonight's contest with the second most goals in the Eastern Conference, thanks to Alex Ovechkin's league-leading 30 goals and the league's #1 power play unit. However, in addition to pouring in goals, Washington gives up a ton of shots to their opponent, and actually ranks just 28th in the league in Fenwick % to Buffalo's 30th.
The Sabres will need their top line to be effective, and the combination of Zemgus Girgensons and Matt Moulson has been just that in recent weeks. Tyler Ennis, for his part, has seven points in his last four games against Washington. That line will need all the firepower they've got to keep up with Ovechkin and Backstrom tonight.
The Sabres didn't beat the Capitals all of last season, and tonight will be their first of three chances to turn things around. Who's up for some early evening hockey?
(10-24-4) vs. (20-14-4)
Puck Drop - 5:00pm EST - First Niagara Center - Buffalo, NY
TV - MSG, TSN | Radio - WGR 550-AM
SBNation Capitals Blog - Jaspers' Rink
2. Alex Ovechkin hasn't scored in TWO games (gasp!) - will he break through against Buffalo?
Holy schniekey - the Great Eight has 30 goals through 36 games, but has missed the net in each of his last two. With the way he's played over the past 80 games or so, he won't be held down for long, but will his scoring drought last one more game?
3. Will John Scott continue to earn his THIRD LINE minutes, and perhaps even challenge for a spot on the top two lines?
The offensive dynamo that is John Scott continues to dominate the NHL game in and game out, or at least last game. In all seriousness, Scott did play with the third line for much of the game versus Toronto, and Nolan continues to show more trust in him than basically anyone else in the NHL.
Projected BUF Lines
Matt Moulson - -
- - Matt D'Agostini
Scratches/Injuries: Sulzer, Porter, McCormick, Hodgson
- Sabres Links: Grigorenko and Ristolainen score, top stories of 2013, Seidenberg out for season
- Sabres at Leafs Recap: Buffalo forces OT late, lose in shootout
- Video: Watch John Scott score a goal over and over again
- Sabres Links: Moulson "considering" re-signing, Sabres fall short, Scott scores
- World Junior Championship Viewing Guide: How to watch, which Sabres prospects are playing?