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Preview: Sabres Look To Stop Surge At Eleven

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Buffalo has lost ten straight games - eight in regulation. Can the skid stop against Washington?

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

Game 27

Buffalo Sabres (6-16-4) vs. Washington Capitals (17-6-4)

Puck Drop: 7:00 PM EST | KeyBank Center | Buffalo, NY

TV: MSG

Radio: WGR 550

SB Nation Capitals Blog: Jasper’s Rink

Know Your Opponent

Washington Capitals

Record: (17-6-4) | 38 PTS

Division Ranking: 2nd in East Division

PP: 6th (26.9%)

PK: 11th (81.4%)

1. Where Are The Wins?

Buffalo rolls into Washington, the losers of two straight in regulation and ten straight overall. To put that into perspective, the Sabres have not won a game in the month of March and last achieved victory on February 23 against the New Jersey Devils.

Out of the last 20 points available, Buffalo has been able to procure two points.

In a season that quickly has become lost, two points in ten games just is not going to cut it.

The pressure is on this wildly under achieving franchise and it does not get much easier on Monday night, where the Sabres take on the ultra-talented Washington Capitals.

2. Eakin Scratched

In what feels like a sigh of relief for Sabres fans all around the Western New York area, it appears that forward Cody Eakin will be a healthy scratch for tonight’s game in Washington.

Eakin, one of Sabres big free agent signings last offseason, has not had a great 2021 season - to say the least.

According to MoneyPuck, Eakin brings up the tail-end of Sabres forwards (minimum 100 minutes time on ice) when it comes to expected goals per 60 minutes, at 0.34.

Eakin has also managed to center the NHL’s worst line when it comes to expected goals.

The Rieder - Eakin - Okposo line is where offense goes to die, coming in with a 28.6 expected goals percentage in 16 games together.

The time certainly has come for Eakin to take a seat.

3. Keeping Eyes on Defense

With Buffalo all but out of playoff contention at this point, these games all become about working out the kinks.

Defensively, it has been a roller coaster kind of season for Rasmus Dahlin.

It appears that Dahlin will be paired back with Colin Miller against the Capitals. This pair last took the ice together against the Pittsburgh Penguins two games ago.

While Dahlin - Miller performed together well as a pair, the analytics show Dahlin struggled badly without Miller, posting a 0.0 expected goals per 60 minutes.

In Saturday’s shutout loss, Dahlin spent the bulk of his 5-on-5 time with Brandon Montour and his individual expected goal stats skyrocketed, posting a 0.045 expected goals per 60 minutes.

Trying to figure out Dahlin’s growing pains continues to be one of the biggest thorns in the Sabres side. Thankfully, they have 30 more games to try and crack the code.

Projected Lineups

Buffalo Sabres

Forwards

Taylor Hall - Riley Sheahan - Tage Thompson

Victor Olofsson - Eric Staal - Sam Reinhart

Tobias Rieder - Rasmus Asplund - Kyle Okposo

Jeff Skinner - Curtis Lazar - Casey Mittelstadt

Defense

Jacob Bryson - Rasmus Ristolainen

Rasmus Dahlin - Colin Miller

Matt Irwin - Brandon Montour

Starter: Jonas Johansson

Washington Capitals

Forwards

Alexander Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - T.J. Oshie

Jakub Vrana - Evgeny Kuznetsov - Daniel Sprong

Carl Hagelin - Nic Dowd - Garnet Hathaway

Conor Sheary - Brian Pinho - Richard Panik

Defense

Brenden Dillon - John Carlson

Dmitri Orlov - Justin Schultz

Zdeno Chara - Nick Jensen

Starter: Ilya Samsonov