Game #78, Sabres @ Capitals: Gallows Hymn
Just like every game before it leading all the way back to Feb. 23, the biggest game of the season is upon us. The Sabres can either march one step closer to a locked-up playoff spot or fall closer to those chasing them when they visit the Capitals tonight.
With Ryan Miller out, the goaltending duties will fall yet again on Jhonas Enroth. Fresh off his first NHL shutout, Enroth has seen steady improvement in his play this season. He’ll need to be sharp again against Washington’s dangerous stable of forwards.
The Capitals have adjusted to running a tighter, more defensive-minded system that definitely makes them a more dangerous team. Instead of playing a free-wheeling game, the Caps now would rather eat up space in the neutral and defensive zone waiting to spring Ovechkin or Semin on a rush in the opposite direction. Add in their net-crashing secondary scoring and you’ve got a team that can play patiently and then strike with any of their lines. To combat this, the Sabres will need to play the same kind of game they employed so successfully against the Rangers, only better. Thomas Vanek, Drew Stafford, Tyler Ennis, and Tyler Myers are all due for a goal and getting started on a scoring streak now would be the perfect tune-up for the playoffs.
All around them, the Sabres can hear the gallows hymn playing, be it for teams on the brink of oblivion or by teams hunting those directly in front of them. All the Sabres need to do to quiet the din is win any way they can.