For a brief moment, it appeared as if a flaw had appeared in Tim Murray’s master plan. His Sabres, victors of 13 consecutive greatest tank battles, had somehow found themselves ahead 1-0 in the 1st period against the Vancouver Canucks. But General Ted Nolan is nothing if not resilient. He rolled out his armoured division in full power at the start of the second period, ensuring that the fantastic streak of tanking prowess would remain intact.
The Canucks dominated the Sabres for rest of the night, coming away with a 5-2 win. Read past the jump for a recap.
- Scoring goals feels good, but honestly there’s not a whole lot we can take from this performance tonight. We went over just how historically awful the Buffalo Sabres were in the pregamer, but just in case you forgot, here’s a refresher:
The Sabres are bad. Very bad. They are so far and away the worst puck possession group we have on record that it’s insane. They can’t score goals (last in the NHL with 92) and they can’t prevent goals (last in the NHL with 174 against). Their penalty kill sucks and their powerplay is somehow worse. Cody Hodgson, who was expected to develop into a top-6 forward, is a possible buyout candidate. They have lost a staggering 13 games in a row, all in regulation, and haven’t won a hockey game in over a month. There are literally zero redeeming qualities about the team other than the fact that they are frontrunners for Connor McDavid. This Travis Yost chart was two weeks ago, and the Sabres have since broken the minus-1000 Corsi mark, becoming the fastest team to ever do so. They should catch the 2014 Leafs at minus-1092 within the next week or two.
- As expected, the Sabres got stomped in the possession battle. The final EV Corsis according to Natural Stat Trick? 60-16 for Vancouver. If this trend holds, the Sabres will be the most out-attempted team in the Behindthenet era by their 50th game of the season, smashing through Toronto’s record minus-1092 mark set last year.
- Shawn Matthias was snakebit tonight, as Sabres goalie Matt Hackett absolutely robbed him on a handful of chances. It’s kind of ironic, because scoring goals is really the only thing Matthias does above a 4th line level, and he’s really good at it.
I don’t know what to make of Shawn Matthias. Great bottom-6 goal scorer, awful at everything else. pic.twitter.com/rrAdRr18aL
— Rhys Jessop (@Thats_Offside) January 31, 2015
- Matthias was also an astounding +18/-1 on the night for a 94.7% Corsi. Frank Corrado led all players at a +20/-1 for 95.2%. Good lord the Sabres are bad.
- Chris Higgins scored a goal tonight, his first since December 22nd. As much heat as Higgins has been getting, he’s one of only three Canucks forwards with a positive Corsi since December 1st, and has been the best possession forward on the team. The other two guys that have out-attempted their opponents? Brad Richardson (50.1%) and Zack Kassian (50.3%).
- Ryan Miller didn’t have to be particularly great to pick up the win against his former team, giving him a victory over all 30 NHL teams. He stopped just 20 shots, and was unlucky to let in a fluky second goal.
- Cody Hodgson was invisible tonight. Wow, eh?
Cody Hodgson is in the second year of a six year contract that will see him earn $5.5 million in 2018-2019.
— CanucksArmy (@CanucksArmy) January 31, 2015
The Canucks are back in action on Super Bowl Sunday morning, taking on the Minnesota Wild at 12:00 noon. Devan Dubnyk has been a godsend for the Wild, but they’re still just 4-5-1 in their past 10 games and are trying to desperately claw their way back in to the playoff race. Hopefully the Canucks can gain some confidence from beating up on the cellar-dwelling Sabres and put forth another strong effort against a much better and more desperate Minnesota team.
Other than that, go Seahawks!