Before I get to the gameday preview I first have to apologize to Olie Kolzig who I'm sure is an avid reader of my blog. In my recap of the Caps-Stars game I indicated that at least one of the Stars' final 2 tallies was a softie. After reviewing the goals it appears that in actuality Olie didn't have much of a chance on either - no one who saw the game felt the need to call me an idiot on that one?
Anyways, I admit that I was wrong and I am sorry for blemishing what was an all-around stellar game by our always solid goalie. Sorry, Olie!!
And now on to the main event...
Who: Your Nation's Capitals vs. Buffalo Sabres
Where: Verizon Center
601 F Street NW
Washington, DC 20004
When: Saturday, December 2, 2006, 8:00 pm
Broadcast Information: CSN, WTNT-570 AM; MSG, WGR 550-AM
Washington Post (Poor Jamie)
2005-06 Season Series: Caps 1-3-0, Sabres 3-1-0
2006-07 Standings: Caps 10-9-6, 26 points - 4th in division, 13th in conference; Buffalo 20-3-2, 42 points - 1st in division, 1st in conference
Last Game: March 14 in Washington, Caps lost 6-4
- This game produced an offensive explosion by both teams, with goals coming in bunches and leads flip-flopping. The Caps gained the lead in the last minute of each period until Buffalo finally returned the favor with a late go-ahead goal to win it.
- Both teams connected twice on the power play, but the Caps gave the Sabres far too many chances with the extra man as they went shorthanded 9 times, including twice by two men.
- Bryan Muir and Brian Willsie both served 3 minor penalties during the game, although Willsie's third trip to the sin bin came courtesy of a tripping call to Brent Johnson to once again put the Caps two men down.
- Despite the loss, a handful of Caps had big games - Zubrus earned two assists and Ovechkin snapped a two-game pointless streak with a goal, his 43rd, and two assists. Meanwhile Clymer scored two goals and added an assist on the Ovechkin tally, while Johnson made 35 saves in yet another lopsided shot total.
- The late game-winner came courtesy of deflections and bounces, as it went off of Kotalik's stick, Johnson's stick, Morrisonn's skate and into the net.
- The loss marked the end of the last long homestand for the Caps, as they emerged from 5 games at home with only 2 wins. They would finish the season with 8 of their remaining 12 games on the road.
Things to Look for:
- It's hard to look at the disparity in records, points and standings between these two teams and not get a little nervous. Buffalo has lost only 3 times in regulation this year and only 5 times total, as they sit atop both the Northeast Division and the Eastern Conference. After the performance over the last two games I definitely have more confidence in the Caps ability to at least stay in the game, but Buffalo is a scary, scary team nonetheless and it will take the Capitals' best effort to come out of this one with a win.
- For the second straight game the Caps are catching a tougher team in the second of back-to-back games after having a day off themselves. However, Dallas came in to DC from Chicago on a red-eye after a disappointing loss to a bottom tier team, their second straight; meanwhile Buffalo is just heading down from NYC after completing a season series sweep of the Rangers in a shootout. The Caps need to take advantage of whatever fatigue the Sabres may display early and take a quick lead to fend off any Buffalo momentum.
- The Sabres lead the league in average goals per game by a large margin with 4.21; they have scored 5+ goals 9 times this season, and have 7+ goals 5 times. That's just wrong.
- Semin's return to the lineup has marked the return of his scoring touch as well, with 3 points in his first 2 games back. A few other Caps are also riding a mini hot streak, as Pettinger has points in 3 straight and Clark has scored in each of the last two games. The scoring from secondary sources will be necessary to counteract the high offensive output of the Sabres.
Per Vogel, here are the lineups - the Caps' lineup is likely to change, as Zubrus's return will be a morning skate decision and Hanlon will need to decide where to place him and Bradley. Based on what Vogel has, it doesn't even look like Beech will be playing - that's a questionable call given his obvious chemistry with Semin and Pettinger as well as his performance over the last two games. However, I'm no coach so I'll defer to Hanlon's expertise this time...and hope that Vogs got it wrong.
8-Alex "Splittin' Lumber" Ovechkin, 9-Dainius "Write-In" Zubrus, 17-Chris "Hot Hands" Clark
28-Alex "Welcome Back" Semin, 38-Jakub "Beech's Understudy" Klepis, 18-Matt "Breakaway" Pettinger
10-Matt "Enrique" Bradley, 16-Brian "K.O." Sutherby, 27-Ben "Slimer" Clymer
87-Donald "the Instigator" Brashear, 15-Boyd "Oh Boy" Gordon, 20-Richard "One Arm" Zednik
2-Brian "Point Shot" Pothier, 26-Shaone "the Deflector" Morrisonn
47-Bryan "Get Well Soon, Heward!" Muir, 52-Mike "Babyface" Green
4-John "the No-Clear Zone" Erskine, 44-Steve "I Heart Erskine" Eminger
1-Brent "Heeeere's Johnny!" Johnson, 37-Olie "the Rock" Kolzig
Projected Lineup for the Sabres
20-Daniel "Pumpkin" Paille, 48-Daniel "Crackers and Baked" Briere, 29-Jason "Tartes de" Pominville
26-Tomas "Mom's Mini" Vanek, 12-Ales "Warm Winter" Kotalik, 61-Maxim "FHM" Afinogenov
55-Jochen "Macy's Nordstroms and" Hecht, 23-Chris "the Terrier" Drury, 21-Drew "Chief of" Stafford
76-Andrew "Peeeete" Peters, 28-Paul "Patrick Swayze in" Gaustad, 28-Adam "the Female Horse" Mair
6-Jaroslav "Time for a Random" Spacek, 51-Brian "Glen" Campbell
27-Teppooooooo Numminen, 45-Dmitri "the Maid" Kalinin
5-Toni "Tony Tone" Lydman, 38-Nathan "the Almost-Capital" Paetsch
30-Ryan "Run of the" Miller, 43-Martin "Mathieu's Big Bro" Biron