Caps-Sabres Round Two
Photos by Brittney Marcum
The Capitals extended their winning streak to eight when we last met the Buffalo Sabres. One of the keys to the Capitals’ success in Buffalo was their penalty kill. Much of that credit goes to Braden Holtby but the defense really stepped up in light of missing John Carlson for the night.
Michael Latta left the ice after a fight on Monday and was seen with his arm in a sling. No sling Tuesday night when he, Nate Schmidt, and Tom Wilson took in a movie; however, he did take morning skate. He is listed day-to-day.
Zach Sill was recalled from the Hershey Bears on Tuesday. Zach has two goals and five assists in 28 games played in Chocolate Town along with 28 penalty minutes. He will fit in nicely with the Caps fourth line as he steps in for the ailing Latta.
John Carlson did not skate this morning and looks to be a scratch for tonight.
Alex Ovechkin leads the team with 18 goals. He is now just seven goals away from 500 NHL career goals.
Nicklas Backstrom leads the team with 32 points and 22 assists. He made an awesome pass to Ovi resulting in the first goal of the game on Monday.
Braden Holtby leads the league in wins (23) and goals against average (1.86) He remains the only goalie in the NHL with 20 wins or more. He is inching closer to overtaking former Caps goalie Michal Neuvirth lead in save percentage with a rate of 0.935 to Neuvy’s 0.937
Backup goaltender Philip Grubauer in the seven games he has been in the net has four wins, two losses, and an OT loss. He should be strong in the net against the Sabres should Trotz give him the opportunity. A goalie has not been announced for tonight’s game at time of posting.
Brooks Laich and Andre Burakovsky still haven’t been producing as of late, but the fourth line looked strong Monday, although none of them actually had any shots. Maybe Sill will help turn that tide.
The Sabres ended their practice Tuesday with a shootout drill. Are they anticipating a close game on Wednesday? They had two near misses on Monday and the potential for a tie game is fairly high if they can get the puck in the net without a collision with the goalie!
Coach Bylsma in his presser Tuesday said that the team keeps work on improving their passing and they “threw a different drill at them today to sharpen the decision-making and execution.” They also drilled on playing the walls which was missing in the game against the Caps.
Rookie center Jack Eichel, the darling of the Sabres, had some great moves in his game against the Caps. Even so, his four shots failed to light the lamp.
Nicolas Deslauriers is likely to have the attention of Caps players given his run in with Williams and fight with Latta.
Center Ryan O’Reilly (90) could pose a threat to the Caps even though he was sluggish on Monday. He ranks first in goals and points (32) for the team as a whole. He has also had two GWG’s (Game winning goals) so far this year.
Evander Kane (9) was stymied by Braden Holtby and while he had four shots Monday, he still has been unable to break his goal scoring drought. He will certainly want to make good on his attempts tonight.
Goalie Watch: All three goalies practice on Tuesday. No word yet who will be in the net.
Linus Ullmark only let in two shot out of 26 on Monday against the Caps. He has lost more games than he has won so far this season.
Chad Johnson had 30 saves on 33 shots against the Bruins the last time he played. He has a .918 save percentage. In his last 5 games he’s had three regulation wins, one regulation loss and one loss in OT.
Goaltender Robin Lehner has been out since he was injured in the first game of the season. He participated in practice Tuesday but still has no timetable for his return.
Fight Potential: Given the atmosphere on Monday, we rate the fight potential HIGH. When it comes to major penalties for fighting Washington has 10 while Buffalo has 7 Additionally, the Caps average .29 fights per game compared to the Sabres’ .19. Josh Gorges leads the Sabres in penalty minutes at 44. Eyes on Evander Kane and Nicolas Deslauriers to instigate.
Practice Shots: Caps held morning skate at Kettler Ice plex this morning. Our parting gift to you is the darling of the Caps: Evgeny Kutznesov.
Caps-Hurricanes in Raleigh. Game time 7pm on CSN-DC