Game Day Recon #17 – Canucks @ Sabres
The Vancouver Canucks face their 40th anniversary expansion cousins tonight as they head to Buffalo to play the Sabres. The Canucks come off an high-profile, come-from-behind win in Toronto on Hockey Night in Canada on Saturday. So they question for tonight is…
Can they draw enough emotion from the tank to get fired up for a game against the struggling Sabres?
The Vancouver Canucks haven’t won in Buffalo since 2003! OMG – it’s been seven years! Dan Cloutier was in net! Ok, but they’ve only played in Buffalo twice in that time. Twice. Two times. So let’s throw that out the window.
One more thing to throw out the window? The Sabres wonky record. Buffalo is 6-9-3 and only JUST won their first game at home in their last outing. Why do we throw this out the window? Because their terrible record, especially at home, is just not indicative of how good their team is. You also have to factor in that Ryan Miller was out for six games. Let’s face it – Miller is by far the Sabres’ best player. And without Miller playing, or on his game, the Sabres stink. They let in a TON of goals.
One thing that Miller can’t affect is the Sabres power play, which also stink. Sitting third from last, Buffalo has only made good on their power play on 11.6%. It’s even worse at home at only 10.0%, which does a little to explain their poor home record.
The Sabres have been better lately though, winning 3 of their last 4, going 3-0-1. A weird anomoly is that all four of those games went to extra time (2 SO, 2 OT). So they are on the upswing, looking for a second consecutive win at home.
As for the Canucks, one of their prized acquisitions this summer is set to sit for the fourth straight game. Keith Ballard, who looks to be battling conditioning issues following off-season surgery, will again remain in the press box. It’s hard to argue with the decision, as the Canucks continue to win, and their one loss in their last 10 games (to Montreal) was hardly because of defensive woes
The Three Keys
Here are the three keys for the Vancouver Canucks tonight:
1. Shut down Derek Roy and Thomas Vanek. The Sabres don’t have a lot of offense up front, but they do have two pretty big studs. If the Canucks can lock down Roy and Vanek, they won’t be facing much from the rest of the Sabres forwards.
2. Get in Miller’s kitchen. Miller and Luongo are very similar, in that they hate have opposing players in their personal space. The Canucks have to play nasty with their cousins’ big name goalie and get in his area frequently.
3. Don’t let this thing get to extra time. Win it in 60. The Canucks don’t have a good record this year in added time. The Sabres have been very successful of late in OT and the shootout. The Canucks would serve themselves well by wrapping this thing up in 3 periods.
Here are your top 5 links for today’s game.
1. Tale of the Tape: Canucks @ Sabres (canucks.com)
2. Canucks Game Day (Vancouver Sun)
3. Sabres defensemen reaching their goals (Buffalo News)
4. Canucks Road Show hits Buffalo (Rogers Sportsnet)
5. Canucks @ Sabres: Rover, Wanderer, Nomad, Vagabond… (Nucks Misconduct)