The Sabres need to recover quickly and memorably to wash the bitter taste of brutal-defeat-to-the-league’s-worst-team out of their mouths. Luckily they get to face off against the ever unpredictable Washington Capitals tonight. The two teams have yet to meet this season, but have remarkably similar records. Washington comes to town with a 12-8-1 record while Buffalo enters the match up with a 12-9-1 record.
The teams are similar in more than just their standings. Both teams face high expectations that they have struggled to meet. Many thought this would be the year in Washington, with many of their stars reaching their prime. Instead Alex Ovechkin has been benched, Alex Semin has found the press box and the defense has been porous without Mike Green in the lineup. That’s right, the Capitals miss Mike Green’s defensive play…
The Sabres on the other hand went out and signed big names like Ville Leino and Christian Ehrhoff, who have yet to produce as expected. Combined with mounting injuries and some players struggling early on some fans have begun to become worried. The Sabres currently have many injury replacements in the lineup. Matt Ellis, Zack Kassian, Corey Tropp, Drew MacIntyre and TJ Brennan have all been filling in for the big club.
Both teams played last night and will have to travel for tonight’s game. Washington was handed a 6-3 loss by the New York Rangers, while the Sabres were thrashed 5-1 by the lowly Columbus Blue Jackets. Buffalo is 3-2 in game two of back-to-back games. Washington is 0-2 in game two of their back-to-back sets.
For Buffalo Jhonas Enroth is expected back between the pipes after Drew MacIntyre saw almost two full periods of action last night. Michael Neuvirth was lit up last night in Washington, so it’s fair to expect Thomas Vokoun back between Washington’s pipes.
The key will be defensive strength, something both teams have struggled with early in the season. The two clubs have balanced scoring and sniping stars in Thomas Vanek and Alex Ovechkin. Both teams also have young defensemen who have had difficulties to start the season. Whichever group can start to figure it out tonight will likely come out on top.