Caps, Sabres Look For Bounce-BackPosted on January 14, 2013 by Mike Vogel
As ugly as Friday’s 6-3 home ice loss to the New York Rangers was, the Capitals can finish up a busy week of four games in six nights with a 3-1 mark if they can earn a road win in Buffalo tonight. The Caps have dropped three straight and four of their last five away from Verizon Center, and they’re facing a Sabres team that is also smarting from a difficult Friday loss, a 5-1 setback at the hands of the Blue Jackets in Columbus. Washington hopes to stem some of the uncharacteristic bleeding in its own end of the ice of late. The Caps went six straight games surrendering two or fewer goals earlier this season, but they’re now in a rut where they’ve permitted three or more in seven straight games for the first time in more than four and a half years. “Our biggest problem right now,” begins Caps coach Bruce Boudreau, “is we’ve had eight games out of the 21 where we’ve allowed four or more goals. Defense wins hockey and offense very rarely is going to be the criteria that wins you championships or wins you games. “Every now and again you’re going to win a 7-4 game or a 6-5 game. But nowadays in the NHL when the goals [scored] keep going down, you better be able to play good defense and be able to make the smart play or you’re not going to be successful.” Buffalo is also more than just a bit banged up; the Sabres will be without nine regular players when they hit the ice on Saturday night. A week ago tonight the Caps faced a Maple Leafs team that was without seven regulars and still suffered a 7-1 shellacking in Toronto. Among the missing for Buffalo: netminder Ryan Miller, defensemen Tyler Myers, Mike Weber and Robyn Regehr, and forwards Tyler Ennis, Cody McCormick, Patrick Kaleta, Brad Boyes and another as yet unidentified forward. “We’ve never had it this bad,” says Sabres coach Lindy Ruff. “Going into the game tonight nine of our regulars will be out. We lost another player besides [Regehr] last night. That’ll make it tough, too.” Tonight’s game will mark the third successive contest in which Buffalo has a player making his NHL debut. Defenseman TJ Brennan scored a goal in his debut on Wednesday against Boston, becoming the first Sabres defenseman to score in his NHL debut since Lindy Ruff turned the trick against the Capitals on Oct. 11, 1979. Right wing Zack Kassian collected an assist while skating 11:43 in his NHL debut against Columbus last night. Tonight, the Sabres expect to have 20-year-old defenseman Brayden McNabb making his NHL debut against Washington. Sabres goalie Jhonas Enroth won each of his first five decisions this season, but those all came prior to No. 1 netminder Ryan Miller being sidelined with a concussion earlier this month. Since then, Enroth has started six straight games, going 2-3-1. He has allowed three or more goals in four of his last five games.
After last night's 5-1 loss to the Sabres in Buffalo, the phrase "drawing board' came up a couple of times. "“It’s back to the drawing board and let’s see where we’re at," said Caps coach Bruce Boudreau. "We’ve got to get more consistent, better efforts from a number of people. The consistency is