Can the Sabres catch the Capitals?

Darcy Kuemper, Washington Capitals Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Darcy Kuemper, Washington Capitals Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports /

The Washington Capitals are in a dangerous spot. Games in hand is bad news when it comes to the standings and playoff positioning.

Tonight the Capitals play the Pittsburgh Penguins and their records are nearly identical. The Caps are 25-19-6 while the Penguins are 24-15-8 but when all is said and done they head into tonights game with 56 points each.

The Penguins are first in the Wild Card of the Eastern Conference while the Caps are second. The Buffalo Sabres are right behind them with 53 points and a 25-19-3 record. Doing the math, the Caps have played in three more games than the Sabres have up to this point.

The Sabres have been able to climb up the standings thanks in large part to a four game winning streak. Their most recent win was two nights ago in a 5-3 victory over the St. Louis Blues.

Tage Thompson leads the Sabres with 33 goals and 33 assists for 63 points. Alex Tuch has 23 goals and 30 assists for 53 points. Rasmus Dahlin added 14 goals and 39 assists for 53 points. Jeff Skinner has 20 goals and 28 assists for 48 points.

Ukko Pekka Luukkonen is 13-5-1 with a 3.35 goals against average and a .897 save percentage.

The Sabres won their first matchup against the Caps 5-4 in overtime on Jan. 3 at Capital One Arena. They’ll face each other two more times this season which could determine who could get in the playoffs.

Those two contests come on Feb. 26 in Buffalo and March 15 in D.C.

Tonight the Sabres take on the Winnipeg Jets on the road. Then they’ll travel to take on the Minnesota Wild on Saturday. That rounds out the month of January.

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Is it too early to be scoreboard watching? Probably. But the Caps need to start winning to avoid having teams like the Sabres pass them. That makes tonight’s game against the Penguins all the more important.