Open thread: Capitals at Sabres

December 29, 2013

(AP Photo/Nick Wass)

BUFFALO — Philipp Grubauer (5-1-1, 2.18 goals-against average, .937 save percentage) will make his seventh start in the past 10 games Sunday as the Capitals visit First Niagara Center for the first time this season. The league-worst Sabres will go with perennial No. 1 Ryan Miller (9-17-1, 2.79 goals-against average, .924 save percentage).

For as ugly a season as Buffalo is having — they fired Ron Rolston on Nov. 13 and brought in Ted Nolan as coach and have yet to name a new general manager after parting ways with Darcy Regier the same day — it is 4-2-2 in its last eight games. That’s the same record the Capitals have in the past eight contests heading into Sunday’s matchup and Coach Adam Oates wants to make sure his squad doesn’t overlook the Sabres.

“Obviously you have to be really careful that you take them too lightly,” Oates said. “They’re playing freer looser and sometimes that’s dangerous. Anybody can beat anybody, that’s really the attitude you have to have.”

The Sabres have the worst goal differential in the league (-40) and have the lowest goals for (69) but they’ve earned points in four of their past five games and even recorded wins over the Phoenix Coyotes and Boston Bruins in that span.

>> Oates said he tentatively plans to start Braden Holtby Monday night in Ottawa, but that can always change depending on how the game in Buffalo plays out. If Holtby does start against the Senators it will be his first since Dec. 21 against New Jersey.

>> Brooks Laich will miss yet another game with the lingering groin injury that has been so troublesome over the past year. This will mark the 13th time in the past 14 games that Laich has sat out.

As always discuss the game right here.

Faceoff: 5 p.m., First Niagara Center
TV: CSN | Radio: 106.7 FM

Here is the Capitals’ lineup.

Forwards
Johansson-Backstrom-Ovechkin
Fehr-Grabovski-Brouwer
Chimera-Erat-Ward
Volpatti-Beagle-Wilson

Defense
Alzner-Carlson
Orlov-Green
Erskine-Oleksy

Goal: Grubauer, Holtby
Scratches: Brooks Laich (groin), Michal Neuvirth and Alex Urbom.
LTIR: Michael Latta (lower body) and Jack Hillen (fractured tibial plateau)

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Katie Carrera · December 28, 2013