Since the lockout, the Caps have had a rough go of it against the Buffalo Sabres, tonight's opponent, posting a 2-8 record with only one win in the last nine meetings between the teams (that win, of course, being the infamous "checking from behind" game). In six of those nine games Buffalo lit the lamp at least five times. And I can't even use my go-to "But those were Glen Hanlon's Caps," since game three of the Bruce Boudreau era was a 3-1 home loss to the Sabres.
But those were Bruce Boudreau's Caps before he implemented his system (that dog'll hunt, right?).
At this point, I'm pretty confident that we know what we'll get from the Caps - a strong, confident effort that may or may not translate on the scoreboard. The Sabres, on the other hand, are a total crapshoot - their last six games include 8-1 and 7-1 wins, an 8-2 loss and a pair of 4-1 losses. Buffalo is still scoring in bunches, but they're giving up too many goals and have been every bit as mediocre overall as their .500 record would indicate. But their record is a little deceiving (at least as it applies to tonight's game), as they've managed a 7-4-0 record against Eastern Conference opponents not in the Northeast Division, including a 6-2-0 mark against the Southeast.
Still, it's impossible to predict which Sabre team will show up tonight - flip a coin... and bet the over.
Elsewhere 'Round the Rinks:
Tarik profiles Mike Green's breakout season in today's WaPo, and includes an interesting quote from GMGM (similar to one he had in Wednesday night's pregame show on Comcast): "You just never know when a player is going to break through. We thought it might be last year. But it seems to be happening this year." Question - how much of that was Hanlon and how much was Green, and if the former was a significant factor, has the development of other prospects been similarly stunted by having Hanlon at the helm for so long? Discuss.... Here's your Eric Fehr update (Jan), and it seems to be pretty good news.... Could the Caps have an embarrassment of riches on the blueline in a few years? Both Karl Alzner and Josh Godfrey made the Canadian World Junior team. Mathieu Perreault, however, was cut.... Speaking of the Caps Junior prospects, Hockey's Future provides an update on 'em.... The first player in Caps history to score on a penalty shot is being inducted into the Niagara Falls Sports Wall of Fame (slow news day, JP?).
- Hart: Jarome Iginla (3G in the third period, including the game-winner, A, +5, 9 SOG)
- Ross: Dion Phaneuf, Kristian Huselius (5 points each)
- Norris: Dion Phaneuf (5A, +3, 3 SOG, 4 hits, 3 blocked shots)
- Vezina: Tomas Vokoun (33-save shutout win)
- Richard: Jarome Iginla, Kristian Huselius (3G each)
- Calder: Carey Price (31, 30 saves on 31 shots against)
- Aiken: Johan Holmqvist (4 goals allowed on 6 shots against in just 13:05 of work)