Well tonight in Buffalo, there was sort of a preseason hockey game. I say sort of because by my reckoning, the result was inevitable. Inevitable because the Capitals showed up with three NHL defensemen to the Sabres five and eight NHL forwards to the Sabres ten. So basically the Capitals had just ~56% of their skaters as guys likely to be wearing Capitals sweaters on while the Sabres had ~72% of what will likely be there opening night team on the ice. Add to that fact, the Sabres came out with jump in their steps and they were allowed to pepper Braden Holtby pretty much at will during the first period and as I say, the result was pretty much inevitable.
Finish the First Period of play with the Capitals down 3 - 0, the second period with the Sabres up 5 - 0 and a Capitals Team without most of their best offensive weapons dressed to play and well lets be honest, this game was basically over after 20:00. The score sheet on this game was pretty much plain ugly, if you're a Caps fan. Everyone on the roster except 58 Conner Carrick, 48 Casey Wellman, and 24 Kris Newbury was a minus player. John Carlson finished the night - 3; Marcus Johansson, Evgeni Kuznetsov, and Karl Alzner finished the night at -2. The only bright spot was except for Burakovsky all the Capital's Centers had good nights in the faceoff circle. Other than that there's really nothing I saw tonight that you'd want to build on in a positive fashion going forward. The Caps did not play as a solid team; with the talent deficit they had tonight they needed to be making better, smarter hockey decisions on the ice and bluntly that didn't really happen on most shifts.
What did we learn tonight? Let's see ... I learned or reinforced my feelings that:
1) Matt Moulson is a really good hockey player, who goes to the dirty areas on ice and fights for those needed ugly goals. You remember, the way Brooks Laich used to but certainly didn't tonight on several occasions when he should have. So that means the 30 year old Moulson will likely be well worth his $5M Salary Cap hit for 3 and probably at least 4 of his current 5 year deal ... while the 31 year old Laich, likely needs a change of scenery in order for him to be worth his $4.5 million Cap Hit during the final three seasons of his current deal.
2) Jason "Ice Cheetah" Chimera, the oldest guy on the Capitals roster, as they say in Bahston, skates wicked fast, and is the fastest skater on the Caps Team.
3) The Capitals without Ovechkin, Backstrom, Green, and Niskanen in the lineup really aren't a team that one can see coming back from 2 let alone 3 goals down.
4) It's unlikely that at the end of this season many people, even in Buffalo, will feel that Ryan Miller is worth $4.5 Million more than Jhonas Enroth.
5) It's time. ... ITS TIME for the Caps to pare down the roster and play their last two preseason games with a roster that is 75+% consisting of guys who will be here after opening day.
Next up, a preseason game against the Flyers at Verizon Center tomorrow night.