Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Buffalo Sabres PreGame Skate #39: Washington Capitals

The Buffalo Sabres (10-24-4), the leagues worst team this year, are set to take on the Washington Capitals (20-14-4) in both teams thirty-ninth game of the


For the Washington Capitals, it is business as usual in the winning department, something that many critics balked at their success in the new NHL because of their not playing in the weakened Southeast anymore.  The Capitals have disproven that theory, and while they trail their rival Pittsburgh Penguins by a substantial margin – they still are firmly rooted in a playoff position.

The large part of the success for the Capitals this season has been Alex Ovechkin and Niklas Backstrom.  Backstrom is no doubt benefiting from Ovechkin’s year, as he is leading the league in goal scoring in route to showcasing his talents in his homeland during the Olympic break.  Leading the league in goals or not he would have been a shoe in for the Team Russia roster, just another feather in his cap as Ovechkin as 30 goals in 36 games.

This is the first meeting between the cross division rivals.  Buffalo has dropped their last three meetings between the two clubs, and are 3-5-2 in their last ten meetings with the Caps.  At home the Sabres are a more favorable 5-4-1.  Buffalo is an all time 44-20-7 against the Washington Capitals at the friendly confines of First Niagara Center (and Memorial Auditorium).

While the Buffalo Sabres are looking to regain their winning ways slightly after losing a game in which they started with the lead against Toronto, the Washington Capitals are looking for their second straight victory with the hopes of closing the thirteen point gap between them and the Penguins for first in the Metropolitan division.

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The Sabres need to get back to basics if they want to keep this one close and squeeze any chance of victory or points out of the Capitals.  The Caps do have weaknesses, and one of them is their inability to at times clear the puck from their own end.  The Sabres have been increasingly better at applying pressure in their opponents end – especially in their last two games against Phoenix and Toronto.

While the Sabres are looking to close out the calendar year with a winning spell, the Capitals are also looking to put together regulation wins on consecutive nights for just the second time this season.

Game time tonight is 5PM.

Tags: Alex Ovechkin Buffalo Sabres Capitals Niklas Backstrom Pregame Skate

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