For the first time this season, it appears, the Sabres and Caps are prepared to do battle with each team's most important player in the lineup.
Back in early November, the Caps traveled to Western New York sans Alex Ovechkin and were sent back home after being shutout by Ryan Miller to the tune of 5-0. Last week, the Sabres came to D.C. and were beaten by an Ovechkin goal (that apparently has already been viewed more than 80,000 times on WashingtonCaps.com alone) with Miller watching from the bench.
Tuesday night, however, Miller (8-2-0/2.48/.911 career against the Caps) and the reigning Player of the Week (ten goals, five assists in 13 games against the Sabres) are expected to be on the ice for one of those great games-within-a-game.
Outside of these two stars, the match up is just as compelling - the Caps come in having won eight of nine and ten of their last twelve games, have a 7-1-1 record against the Northeast Division, a red hot top line and a number one goalie who... well, I don't want to jinx anything. But the boys from D.C. are also heading out on the road and into a building in which they have won just once in their last eight tries. For all the talk about the Caps' road woes in general, however, they're 7-4-2 away from home against the Eastern Conference, which counts as good in my book. Good enough? The jury's still out.
This game will likely come down to the usual factors - special teams, good goaltending, etc. - but don't be surprised if comes down to Ovechkin versus Miller... and you know who I've got my money on.
Elsewhere 'Round the Rinks:
The Canadian Press has named its Team of the Year, and its one that was captained by Karl Alzner, so that's nice.... This is among the most disjointed articles I've ever read (and who calls the Caps "the Red?").... Some new power rankings out with the Caps down seven to 14 at TSN.ca (I guess a 2-0-0 week wasn't good enough), up one to fifth at The Hockey News, and up two to fifth at ESPN.com.... Today's Cap of the Day was acquired from the Sabres back in 1999.... Nice profile on prospect Justin Taylor here.... Four questions with Joe Finley. Let me ask a fifth: beat up any mascots lately? (H/t CI).... Hey, go vote for a Friend of the Rink. Do it for hockey.... Finally, on this day back in 1992, Al Iafrate's slapper was clocked at 101.4 mph, making him the first player to officially register triple digits on the radar gun when he accomplished the feat during the team's skills competition at the old Capital Centre. Not for nothing, but why don't they hold a team skills competition any more? Is it because Redskins' kicker Chip Lohmiller had the hardest shot one year?