The Buffalo Sabres have not been a particularly kind opponent for the Capitals to face this season. In two meetings so far this season, the Sabres have outscored Washington 9-3. And to a man the Capitals will tell you that both games were far from the types of performances they expect from themselves.
Buffalo’s 5-1 win on Nov. 26 against a listless Capitals squad was the final game of Bruce Boudreau’s tenure as head coach. In that contest, the Sabres were without nine players because of injuries but Washington didn’t have an answer for the energy and speed brought by the AHL replacements from the Rochester Americans.
On Dec. 26, the Capitals had another disappointing trip to Buffalo. The Sabres scored four goals in the opening 15 minutes of the game and that’s all they needed en route to a 4-2 victory over Washington. The way the Capitals came out in that game was surprising given that they were victimized by a slow start in the contest immediately prior to it and given the way they lost at First Niagara Center in November.
So to face the Sabres four days after that most recent loss gives Washington a chance for a little redemption as they seek to roll the success from the win over the Rangers into better play moving forward.
“It’s kind of nice that we’re able to play them so quickly after a game like that,” Troy Brouwer said. “We showed some good things in the later part of that game but we need to have a better start. We’ve been a better home team obviously so getting them at home now I think it will be a better game.”
Defenseman Karl Alzner, who usually draws the assignment of shutting down an opposing team’s top line, is particularly glad to have a chance to face Buffalo quickly. Alzner was on the ice for three of the Sabres’ four goals in the Dec. 26 game, including two that came on the power play, and he was critical of his own performance in the contest.
“I know that they were out battling me and that can’t happen when I’m playing against the line I’m playing against,” said Alzner, who is the team’s leader in plus/minus at plus-14. “It is nice to see it and good for me personally, I need a redemption game against them. I wasn’t too happy with the last one so it’s good.
“They are a tough team to play against and I think the games that they lose they beat themselves,” Alzner continued. “We’ve definitely got to bring the same effort we brought against the Rangers. We already know [the Sabres] are a worthy opponent.”