Friday, April 3, 2009

Looking Ahead to Tonight's Caps-Sabres Game

I won't be at tonight's game as I'll be a Congressman Frank Wolf's Academy Night in Chantilly telling interested prospective students about my Alma Mater the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy. However I should be home in time to see the third period on Comcast SportsNet. The Caps will be working to stay ahead of the NJ Devils in second in the conference standings and will be playing for their 102nd and 103rd standings points for the year. The Buffalo Sabres will be fighting for what is left of their playoff "lives" - the Sabres are currently in 10th place, 6 points and 2 games behind the 8th place NY Rangers (the Sabres have 2 games in hand on the Rangers and 1 game in hand on the 9th place Florida Panthers.)

The Caps are 7-2-1 in their last ten games and have won their last two games. Tonight's game will the second to the last game of this regular season at home for the Capitals, who have been very tough at Verizon Center achieving a home record so far of 28-9-2 for the season. Overall the Caps are 47-23-7 this year and have a very real chance of a 50 win season and a chance to exceed the best record in their history and gather more than 107 points. What concerns their have been about their recent motivations are rooted in what have been slow starts by them in their last several games. However, those concerns have been modulated by their seeming ability to catch themselves and find ways to win.

The Sabres are 4-4-2 in their last ten games and lost their last game 3-2 in overtime in Atlanta against the Thrashers on Wednesday night. On the road this year the Sabres have compiled a 15-17-6 record thus far this season, against the Caps to date they are 1-2 having lost their last two meetings in December on the 26th and 30th. All three games between the Caps and Sabres so far this season have been completed in regulation including a highlight reel game winner by Alex Ovechkin in the third period of the December 26th game for the game winner in a game that ended 3-2. So far this season the Sabres' sharpshooter Thomas Vanek and Caps ace Ovechkin have done well in the series. It seems likely that once again during tonight's game they will be key players to watch. Also key to tonight will be goaltending and it seems likely the starters will be both team's number one goaltenders Ryan Miller and Jose Theodore. So far this season Miller has a 19-10-4 record in 34 games played with a 2.49 GAA and 0.917 SV%. Theodore is now 28-16-5 in 50 starts with a 2.80 GAA and 0.9-2 SV%. Since December 23rd, Theodore is 21-10-4 with a 2.57 GAA and a 0.911 SV%. The other player to watch for the Caps seems to me to be either Tomas Fleischmann or Alexander Semin, both seem due to come alive. Flash's March "drought" has been pretty well chronicled elsewhere and #28 was the only "Young Gun" not to score in the last game against the Islanders.

Assuming both teams show up focused and ready to play hockey this game should be a good one. Here's to hoping the evening ends with our Washington Capitals in possession of victory #48 and point 103 for the season.


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