Open thread: Capitals vs. Sabres

January 12

 (Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images)

Philipp Grubauer (6-2-3, 2.27 goals-against average, .931 save percentage) will make his 11th start in 16 games Sunday afternoon as the Capitals host league-worst Buffalo. “He’s the guy we’re leaning on right now,” Coach Adam Oates said.

The Sabres will go with usual starter Ryan Miller (11-18-1, 2.64 goals-against average, .927 save percentage), who stopped all but one of the 50 shots he faced from Washington back on Dec. 29 in a 2-1 shootout win for Buffalo. The Sabres recently settled some of their front office uncertainty, naming Tim Murray general manager earlier this week and Oates said that he’s noticed improvement in Buffalo’s overall game in recent weeks.

“I think from their perspective they’ve played better hockey. When you watch them the last 10-15 games they’ve played better hockey,” Oates said of the Sabres. “They look like they have a plan they all believe in and I think that’s an important thing for a coach, no matter what that system is it looks like the guys are buying into it and believing it. We have to be ready, there’s moments in the game they’re very passive but they’re a very good forechecking team. We have to not play their style, we have to play ours. We can’t get lulled to sleep in moments of the game.”

Faceoff: 3 p.m., Verizon Center
TV: CSN | Radio: 106.7 FM

Here is the Capitals’ lineup.

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

Defense
Alzner-Carlson
Orlov-Green
Erskine-Carrick

Goal: Grubauer, Holtby.
Scratches: Martin Erat, Michal Neuvirth and Steve Oleksy.
LTIR: Jack Hillen (fractured tibial plateau)

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