Wednesday Roundup/ Sabres 6, Caps 3Gamenight: Habs @ Caps

[NHL.com Recap - NHL.com Preview - The Score's Tale of the Tape - WashingtonCaps.com Preview - Official Gameday Thread (en Français, no less!)]

Well that didn't go exactly according to plan. Bad bounces, bad coverage and bad preparation all contributed to a 6-0 Sabres lead before the game was eleven minutes old. And while the Caps chipped away a bit to make the score respectable, the game was by no means as close as the final count - Buffalo looked like they could have hung 20 on the visiting Caps had they wanted to (and they probably would have had it not been for some outstanding goaltending in relief by Olie Kolzig).

A few notes, then we'll try to forget this one and focus on tonight's match-up against the almost equally-tough Montreal Canadiens:
  • Memo to Brian Pothier: shoot the damn puck around the boards or carry it - don't tap it ahead ten feet towards the backside of your own goal so that when your man beats you to the puck (which he will) he can feed it out front for an easy tap-in goal.
  • The forwards were seemingly unaware of the late man into the zone and Buffalo's affinity for hitting him and this led to several scoring opportunities, including the Brian Campbell goal.
  • Someone tell AO that you don't do the Hulk Hogan hand-to-the-ear move when you're down 6-2. It's nice to embrace the role of villain, but at that point the goal was little more than lipstick on the pig.
  • The Sabres took their foot off the pedal a bit and if it weren't for a few great saves by Ryan Miller (especially the one on Dainius Zubrus), the game could have gotten much more interesting.
  • Diveial Briere's spear into AO's yambag wasn't very cool.
  • The Caps got killed in the faceoff circle (40-24 or 63%-37%), perhaps an indication of how unprepared they were for the game.
  • According to Sabres bench boss Lindy Ruff, AO "has a lot of jam." Out of context, I wouldn't have the foggiest idea what that means.
  • Even with last night's loss, the Caps have been great on the road, to the tune of 8-5-4. That means that in better than 70% of their road games, they've gained at least a point in the standings.
  • Maybe it was because the Caps were down big early, but Ovechkin and Alex Semin played together on Zubrus's wings more often than usual. I'd love to see that combination come out for a couple of shifts each period, particularly after a penalty kill.
  • Read this follow-up to the father-son story I mentioned yesterday - truly heartwarming. Oh, and on a somewhat-related note, do me a favor and don't click on links here just to go trolling. If you want to be an asshole, do it on your own blog.
  • According to Elias, only two teams have ever reached six goals in a game faster [than 10:57, the amount of time it took Buffalo to do so last night]. The Maple Leafs versus the Red Wings (10:33) on Jan. 12, 1946 and the Canadiens against the Blackhawks (10:35) on March 10, 1951. But...
  • Buffalo became the fifth team in NHL history to score at least six times in the first period and be shut out the rest of the game. Take that!
But enough about Buffalo, let's talk Montreal, one of only six NHL clubs that weren't in action last night. Sweet.

Montreal enters tonight's game with a 21-9-5 record that's good enough for third in the Conference (ignoring seeding) and t-sixth in the League, and that sparkling record is the direct result of great special teams - the Habs have the NHL's best power play and second-best penalty kill. Interestingly, they've had the second-fewest power play opportunities in the League. Do I have to tell you how important discipline and taking advantage of whatever power play chances come their way will be crucial to a Caps win. If so, just re-read this paragraph.

As you know, the Caps are in the middle of a brutal stretch of games and have to get points when and where they can. With a day off before heading up I-95 for games at the Devils and Rangers on Friday and Saturday nights, two points tonight would be absolutely enormous.

Daily Awards
  • Hart: David Vyborny (2G, including OT game-winner, A, all on the last three goals of the game, +1, 7 SOG, 2 hits)
  • Ross: Chris Drury (4 points)
  • Norris: Brad Lukowich (+3, 3 blocked shots in 3-0 win)
  • Vezina: Rick DiPietro (28-save shutout win)
  • Richard: David Vyborny, Sergei Fedorov, Chris Drury, Nathan Horton, Daniel Sedin (2G each)
  • Calder: Travis Zajac (GWG, +1, 2 hits, 2 takeaways, 0 giveaways)
  • Aiken: Brent Johnson (L, 4 goals allowed on 6 shots against in just 7:30 of work, one stick shattered on the crossbar)


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