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Sabres at Capitals preview: Who’s playing defense?

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The Sabres take a heavily injured blue line with them as they travel to Washington to face the Capitals.

NHL: Buffalo Sabres at Washington Capitals Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Game #25

Buffalo Sabres (9-10-5) at Washington Capitals (13-7-3)

Puck drop: 7:00 p.m. EST | Verizon Center | Washington, DC

TV: MSG, CN-DC | Radio: WGR 550

SB Nation’s Capitals Blog: Jaspers’ Rink

Three Questions

1. Can the Sabres contain Washington’s top line?

If you haven’t been paying close attention, you might not know that the Capitals and Sabres share many of the same scoring woes. Washington is 22nd in the league in scoring, and has as many issues with secondary scoring as the Sabres do.

The top line of Ovechkin, Backstrom, and Oshie is still as dangerous as ever, combining for 27 goals, while the entire rest of their team has combined for just 29. Keep the top line contained, and Washington becomes a much easier team to beat.

2. How will Buffalo’s patchwork defense hold up?

With Josh Gorges out for a few weeks with an injury, the Sabres have called up Eric Burgdoerfer from the Amerks. Between him, Taylor Fedun and Justin Falk, the Sabres now have three blue liners from the AHL, and that’s not to mention rookie Bredan Guhle, who has all of one NHL game under his belt.

Dan Bylsma will continue to rely heavily on the top pair of Rasmus Ristolainen and Jake McCabe, and will hope that Guhle can acclimate himself to the NHL within a few days rather than weeks. With some scary forwards in the Washington lineup, the Sabres need to find a way to make these pairings work.

3. Which Sabres player will keep his point streak alive?

Sam Reinhart has seven points in his last six games, and is currently riding a four-game points streak. Getting his roomie Jack Eichel back has certainly helped, as well as helping Evander Kane finally get his first goal of the season. Speaking of Kane, both he and Ristolainen have three-game point streaks of their own that they will look to continue tonight.

Projected BUF Lines

48 William Carrier - 90 Ryan O’Reilly - 21 Kyle Okposo
Evander Kane - 15 Jack Eichel - 23 Sam Reinhart
82 Marcus Foligno - 22 Johan Larsson - 12 Brian Gionta
26 Matt Moulson - 27 Derek Grant - 28 Zemgus Girgensons

29 Jake McCabe - 55 Rasmus Ristolainen
45 Brendan Guhle - 6 Cody Franson
41 Justin Falk - 46 Erik Burgdoerfer

Goal: 40 Robin Lehner