Canucks Army GDT #73 - Sabres @ Canucks

Dimitri Filipovic
March 23 2014 12:36PM

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A few months back, I was surprised to find out that CoHo Apparel was a real thing. But by all accounts it appears to in no way be some sort of stunt or prank, which is definitely interesting; you figure that someone in the operation would've stopped and thought to themselves "hmm, maybe we should avoid referring to our star's female fans as 'CoHoes'. If we can avoid it we should stay away from that sort of unfortunate wordplay being associated with our brand." 

Nope. That obviously didn't happen, and as a result we've been blessed with the unintentional comedy that is Cody Hodgson's clothing line as the former Canuck's epic string of PR blunders continues to truck along.

I guess you could draw some parallels between that and Hodgson's team, the Buffalo Sabres, who themselves are also filled with unintentional comedy, while seeming that they shouldn't really be a thing even though they technically are.

They'll visit Vancouver to play the Canucks on Sunday night, and if you're leaning towards indulging in some March Madness action over this barnburner I wouldn't hold it against you. But for those of you loyal bunch that'll tune in, let's get to the preview..

Broadcast Info

Puck Drop: 5:00 PM PST

TV: Sportsnet Pacific

The Canucks

[Lineups via Daily Faceoff]:

Screen Shot 2014-03-23 at 9.46.06 AM

The big news on the Canucks lineup front is the return of Daniel Sedin following a 9-game absence. It's a testament to how much Brother Daniel's stock has fallen over the past year and a half or so that this news is mostly met with indifference. It's not that the team couldn't use his contributions on the offensive end of things, but moreso that we're not sure what those contributions will actually be. 

After all we're talking about someone that hasn't scored in an NHL game since December 30th. That was 83 days ago for those scoring at home, keeping in mind that there was a break in action because of the Olympics mixed in there (during which he actually proved that he was still capable of putting the puck in the back of the net).

With all of that being said, if he's even remotely healthy he's still certainly an upgrade over the other options, particularly since Alex Burrows is out (still being considered "day-to-day", even though it's widely believed he'll be out for longer than that). That's a total shame, what with the Burrows-Henrik-Jensen trio really clicking over the past 5 games, controlling >55% of all shot attempts at 5v5. Daniel replaces Burrows on the top line, and it'll be fascinating to see how Nicklas Jensen clicks with them as he attempts to fight off the inevitable regression he's due for.

UPDATE:

I assume this means that Kesler is slot back in for the 2C gig next to Hansen and Higgins, with Matthias bumping down to the 3rd line, and Schroeder to the 4th. While it'll be nice to have Kesler back in - since he's pretty good at hockey and all of that jazz - I'd imagine that most fans of the team will be holding their breath every time he takes a big hit or an awkward fall. 

All this franchise needs at this point is some sort of unnecessary freak injury to Ryan Kesler that prevents them from being able to explore all of their options come the summer..

The Sabres

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Screen Shot 2014-03-22 at 2.43.54 PM

The Buffalo Sabres have put together quite the resume this season. They've won 20 of their 70 games thus far, with only 14 of them being of the regulation/overtime variety. The Florida Panthers - at 19 ROW - are the only other team below 20. They have a -70 goal differential; that's the worst mark in the league, and by comparison, 148 worse than the league leading Boston Bruins. 

As some of you are probably familiar with, I made a bet with The Artist Formerly Known as Cam Charron that the Sabres would finish the year with 15 wins or less. Obviously I lost that a while ago, but I'll readily admit that was a loss I was expecting from the moment I agreed to it; it was more of a spur of the moment, trying to prove a point by being aggressively extreme type of deal than anything else. 

Anyways, after the Sabres won their 15th game - and I paid up by buying him a pitcher of beer - I suckered Cam into taking a 2nd bet that they wouldn't be able to win more than 25 games this season. Which leaves me in an interesting position tonight -- on the one hand, I want the Canucks to continue losing so that they earn themselves a higher draft pick this summer, but on the other, I want to not only be right but more importantly enjoy a free pitcher of tasty beer. 

I like my chances of moving one step closer to the latter after this one. While I agree with what the Sabres are doing in terms of dismantling their roster and thinking big picture, their current lineup is hilarious (which in turn, makes the fact that they beat the Oilers 5-1 in Edmonton a few days ago even funnier). 

With Zemgus Girgensons, Chris Stewart, and Tyler Myers all out, they're leaning on guys that I've either a) never heard of (Chad Ruhwedel? Nicolas Deslauriers?), b) have heard of and know are terrible (Mike Weber, John Scott). 

A few specific lineup notes:

-Obviously the focus will be about Cody Hodgson and Zack Kassian, both tonight and forever as they'll be eternally linked around these parts. Jason Botchford put together a nice little bit on how neither guy has exactly delivered thus far. Given how much the Canucks have struggled putting the puck into the net - and in turn, with keeping their centers healthy - I know that people around these parts have had raging Cody Hodgson hate boners this year. Let's just say that it's not as simple as that. 

Kassian hasn't exactly worked out for a variety of reasons, but would you really want to be on the hook for >20 million over the next 5 years for a guy who has legitimate concerns re: both how his back will hold up and whether he'll ever be anything more than a 2nd or 3rd center that needs to be sheltered? There's a lot of misplaced Cody Hodgson lust out there.

With all of that being said I'd love to see what Twitter deteriorates to should Hodgson factor into some sort of scoring play in this game..

-With Neuvirth and Enroth both banged up, they're going with Nathan Lieuwen between the pipes. The Abbotsford native has one career NHL start to his name, and despite the fact that it's not like the Canucks are some sort of potent offense, will be up against it solely because of how porous the Buffalo Sabres defense is. 

-Cory Conacher is awesome, and I still can't believe the Senators just let him go. On a related note: I hope John Scott doesn't try to murder someone tonight.

The Numbers

Canucks Sabres
5v5 Corsi For % 51.7 (10th) 41.4 (30th)
5v5 GF/60 2.12 (12th) 1.50 (30th)
5v5 GA/60 2.17 (11th) 2.43 (22nd)
5v5 PDO 99.7 (T-16th) 98.7 (26th)
     
5v4 GF/60 4.82 (26th) 4.95 (25th)
5v4 SF/60 58.5 (4th) 47.2 (25th)
4v5 GA/60 5.00 (6th) 6.10 (16th)
4v5 SA/60 40.2 (1st) 59.7 (28th)

Gameday Reading

You'll want to tune in on time today, since it's expected that the Canucks will belatedly honour Henrik Sedin for reaching the 1000-game milestone in Winnipeg recently. On that note, I'd recommend giving Ed Willes' bit on him a read, as the team is set to honour "a man and hockey player of quiet grace and character".

I asked Dan Murphy what the plan for the ceremony is, and he told me that Jim Gregory will present him with a silver stick prior to the game, followed by a video tribute with a bunch of past teammates passing along their messages to him. Murph made sure to note that Kyle Wellwood will be one of those former teammates, so there's that. 

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Dimitri Filipovic writes about hockey on the internet, and is the Managing Editor of Canucks Army. You can follow him on Twitter @DimFilipovic, and email him at dimitri.filipovic@gmail.com.
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#1 PB
March 23 2014, 01:22PM
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Why aren't the starting D for the Canucks listed? Not that it'll be a big surprise. That fourth line for the Sabres is hilariously awful. Oh wait, we still have Sestito on ours. Glass houses, never mind.

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#3 PB
March 23 2014, 01:57PM
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If Kesler does draw in and there's a domino effect down the lineup, what chance does Schroeder have of staying in? I'm assuming they would play him in Dalpe's spot because Sestito can not be removed due to his punchiness? Or does Richardson slide over to the wing on that line?

I don't see how Tortorella can justify continuing to play Sestito but I suppose he does have the versatility to slide up to that 1st line role...

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#4 antro
March 23 2014, 02:28PM
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@PB:

LOL! Nothing like a versatile 1st/4th line winger! Wait till the Canucks use their first round pick to pick up another. (Just kidding...I pray.)

Although I too would rather get a higher draft pick, there are limits to how much pride a team can swallow...better win this one. Watch Daniel get a hat-trick just for the comedy of it all.

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#5 JFR
March 23 2014, 02:35PM
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Amazing to look at our center ice men. Mathias is our #2 center?? If anyone wants to know why the Canucks will miss the playoffs it because our centers should be Hank, Kess, Santo and Richardson.....

Torts style of play is a close second since the players seem to be thinking their way through the game rather than just playing.injuries will heal, but not sure how Torts fits in with this group of players. A coaches first job is to put players in a position to be successful, Torts seems to be trying to make players into something they are not.

Hope Jensen does keep up his play since his development is the only bright spot in this disaster of a season.

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#6 markusnaslund19
March 24 2014, 12:18AM
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Not to bag on you Dmitri, but the difference between the quality during the Jeff Angus days and present days is absolutely staggering. From Angus I learned something everyday. Now it's bloggers showing that they don't care 'that much' about watching the games. Just pathetic.

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#7 Zippy
March 24 2014, 02:47PM
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Who wears his own monogrammed gear?

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