Sabres look to stop the bleeding against Capitals
Losers of six straight, Buffalo will have another tough test as they host Washington
Buffalo Sabres (29-31-8) vs. Washington Capitals (41-20-7)
Puck Drop: 7:00 PM EST | KeyBank Center | Buffalo, NY
Radio: WGR 550
SB Nation Capitals Blog: Jasper’s Rink
Know Your Opponent
Record: 41-20-7 | 89 PTS
Last 10: 4-4-2
Division Ranking: 1st in the Metropolitan Division
Conference Ranking: 3rd in Eastern Conference
PP: 17th (19.5%)
PK: 5th (82.8%)
What to Watch
1. The March Massacre Continues
Even if the Sabres had managed to collect a string of victories to close out the month of February, their March schedule would have still been a daunting task, to say the least. After losing their sixth-straight game against the red-hot Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday evening, the gauntlet continues tonight against the Capitals.
This will be the first of two meetings between these two clubs to close out the final four weeks of the 2019-20 season. With Buffalo now well out of the playoff race (and spiraling), this could be the beginning of a very ugly limp to the finish line. Washington has lost three of their last five games, but are still one of, if not the top team in the Metropolitan Division.
2. The Return of Ullmark
Fans bemoaned the loss of Linus Ullmark when he was sidelined following their contest against the Ottawa Senators on January 28. As expected, the tandem of Carter Hutton and rookie Jonas Johansson fared poorly in his stead, especially as of late. Their combined save-percentage of .902 has helped contribute to Buffalo’s 7-10-1 record since losing Ullmark. While they certainly haven’t been the blue-and-gold’s biggest problem, they haven’t been part of the solution either.
If there’s any rust to shake-off, the 26-year-old will need to do it in short order. Washington trails only the Tampa Bay Lightning in goals-scored this season with 238 through 68 games.
3. More Shakeups at Forward?
Against the Flyers, fans saw reunion of the Jeff Skinner, Jack Eichel, and Sam Reinhart line at the top of the roster. While that trio was left off the score sheet, it remains to be seen whether Ralph Krueger gives them another go tonight. Conversely, the combination of Marcus Johansson, Dominik Kahun, and Victor Olofsson experienced some success in their first outing together, scoring the team’s only goal in the contest.
With the season all but lost, now is the time for Krueger to start experimenting and collecting data for next season. The status quo isn’t working, hasn’t worked in some time, and the Sabres current standing certainly warrants a new approach. We’ll see whether or not the coach gets creative. At this point, what does he really have to lose?
Jeff Skinner - Jack Eichel - Sam Reinhart
Victor Olofsson - Marcus Johansson - Dominik Kahun
Zemgus Girgensons - Johan Larsson - Kyle Okposo
Jimmy Vesey - Curtis Lazar - Wayne Simmonds
Brandon Montour - Rasmus Ristolainen
Jake McCabe - Henri Jokiharju
Rasmus Dahlin - Colin Miller
Starting Goaltender: Linus Ullmark
Alex Ovechkin - Evgeny Kuznetsov - Tom Wilson
Jakub Vrana - Nicklas Backstrom - T.J. Oshie
Carl Hagelin - Lars Eller - Ilya Kovalchuk
Richard Panik - Nic Dowd - Garnet Hathaway
Brenden Dillon - John Carlson
Dmitri Orlov - Nick Jensen
Michal Kempny - Jonas Siegenthaler