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Game Day - Sabres @ Capitals

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[AP Preview - WashingtonCaps.com Preview]

Hey look at that, a game day!  And we've only had to wait through one off day since the last one this time!

When it comes to the Capitals, the recent problem, fans, pundits, and even players have all said, is that the team hasn't had all that much to play for in the last couple months of this season.  Between the early lead the team opened up in the Southeast, Boston's incredible start to the season, and how well New Jersey was faring without Martin Brodeur, it seemed like the Caps were all but a lock for the East's number three seed and that the team was content to let the season wind down, see who their playoff opponent was going to be, and go from there.

But things have changed.  The Capitals recent success (7-2-1 in their last ten) and a stretch of, shall we say, unimpressive play on New Jersey's part (3-6-1 in their last ten) has put the Caps in second place in the East and in a position to earn a potentially much weaker first round opponent, as well as home ice advantage for the first two rounds.  Oh, and if the Caps win tonight, they clinch the Southeast Division.

Hopefully those two incentives provide enough motivation for the team that they come out strong from the opening faceoff, because they'll be facing an absolutely desperate Buffalo team.  How desperate?  Even if the Sabres win all of their remaining games, the team would finish with 95 points, likely barely enough to secure a playoff berth, and the team's still fighting hard enough to have toughed out a 3-0-1 record over their last four games, coming from behind three times in the process.

On Wednesday night it took a couple of fights and a questionable heavy hit from Mike Green to wake the team up and get them clicking.  Here's hoping it doesn't take anything that extreme to get the team going tonight, because if it does it might be this season's first meeting of these teams all over again.