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Photo Credit: Image: Vancouver Canucks / Twitter

CanucksArmy Post-Game: Canucks shutout by Sabres

The Canucks expansion cousins, the Buffalo Sabres, visited Rogers Arena tonight and were not good guests, as they took two points from the home team. The Canucks had a good performance just two nights ago, so there was hope that they would build on that win and string together a couple of strong efforts leading into the All Star Break.

Unfortunately, that did not happen. The Canucks were just unable to get anything going.

The final score was 4-0 for Buffalo.

The Sabres had been my second team as a kid growing up, so I figured, there was no better opportunity to do my second ever post-game report tonight. So, let’s break it down.

First Period

The game started slowly as both sides appeared to be feeling each other out, but that quickly changed as the Sabres started to take it the Canucks. Evander Kane had a good look after a Nick Dowd giveaway at around the 2-minute mark.  After that, it felt like the Canucks were on their heels and having the pace pushed onto them.

It eventually led to a goal against.

At the 4:27 mark of the first period, Sam Reinhart opened the scoring, putting the Sabres up 1-0:

After that, the Canucks had a bit of life as Daniel Sedin and Brock Boeser broke into the offensive zone. Boeser lost an edge, but while on the ice and with one hand on his stick, he was able to get it to Alex Biega for a nice chance.

Vanek took a penalty shortly after the goal, and the Canucks were able to effectively kill that off and slow the pace for a little bit. But the Sabres were able to ramp it up from about the 10-minute mark onwards. The Canucks did have a couple good shifts with 3-4 minutes remaining in the period.

The shots were 12-9 for Buffalo, with a large portion of the Canucks shots coming during those aforementioned shifts with a few minutes left. With that being said, the Canucks did a good job preventing high danger shots, as the Sabres only had three HD shots in the first, while the Canucks had 2.

Michael Del Zotto led all Canucks in ice-time in the first period with 8:23, and his partner Alex Biega was second with 7:42. Travis Green shuffled the lines a bit to close out the period, reuniting Boeser, Baertschi, and Horvat for a bit, while moving Virtanen to play with the Sedins’. That was short-lived, as they were shuffled again in the second.

Second Period

The second started similarly to how the first did – both teams getting some decent looks. The Sabres were unable to register any shots for the first part. The Canucks did get a good chance fairly early, as Evander Kane coughed up the puck to Markus Granlund in tight. But he was unable to get it past Robin Lehner.

Shortly after that, the Canucks took a too many men penalty, which was served by Jake Virtanen. They were able to successfully kill that off and send Virtanen in on an odd-man break, which ended with a Sabres defencemen sliding into Lehner.

The Canucks continued to pressure the Sabres, culminating with Boeser dangling around some players before getting a backhanded shot on. Lehner was unable to contain the puck leading to Horvat getting some good whacks at it, but they were unable to get the puck past Lehner.

As the period went on, the balance of play started to even out a bit more. Until, at the 12:49 mark of the second, Virtanen turned the puck over at the Sabres blueline:

That is a poor read by Virtanen, and ultimately ended up in the back of the Canucks net. That was the worst case scenario, but still is a play that can’t happen.

The lineup blender was set to full blast for the remainder of the 2nd period, as the Canucks hoped to get something going offensively.

Virtanen had been playing well up until the turnover, but as Jeff Paterson pointed out, Virtanen did not see the ice for the remainder of the period.

The Canucks outshot the Sabres 9-8 in the second frame. After two periods, Alex Edler led the Canucks in ice time with 15:32 which included 2:25 of shorthanded icetime.

Third Period

The third period happened. That is the best way to describe it. For the majority of the frame, there wasn’t very many noteworthy plays.

The Canucks received a powerplay in the second part of the period and were unable to get one past Lehner. That was followed up by a broken play that resulted in Edler losing an edge behind the net and tripping the Sabre forechecker.

On that powerplay – Okposo was able to tuck a puck that went through Markstrom into the back of the net.

The building cleared out pretty quickly after that.

The Canucks pressed to get on the board, but Johan Larsson blocked a shot and threw it into the open net

The Canucks outshot the Sabres in the final frame by a total of 12 to 6.

The Numbers

Quick Hits

  • The Canucks played really well on Tuesday night – taking the play to the Kings. Tonight was a different story. They were unable to build on any possible momentum that they might’ve created. They were flat, not skating and unable to generate any sort of offence at 5v5. They led the Canucks in shot differential – although it can be hard to use that given how many times the lines were changed.
  • The Sabres are a mess of a team. They have Scott Wilson playing on the second line, Zemgus Girgensons and Sam Reinhart playing on the wing, and dressing Victor Antipin and Justin Falk. They’ve come through Western Canada and shutout the Canucks and Oilers. Those scores were more an indication of the losing teams than the Sabres.
  • Baertschi, Horvat, and Boeser played well as a unit and should be reunited going forward. The problem is what to do with the rest of the lines after that.
  • Virtanen played well for most of the game, but that was a bad turnover on the second Sabres goal. Head coach Travis Green mentioned that he could’ve carried the puck in further or chipped and chased. It was a poor read and hopefully, he can learn from it.
  • The lines were mixed throughout the game – and it was hard to keep up. Green was hoping to get his players on their toes but it resulted in a lot of disjointed play throughout the lineup.
  • It’s All-Star Weekend – as Brock Boeser will head to Tampa Bay to represent the organization.
  • The Canucks next game is Tuesday against the Colorado Avalanche, who have surprised many pundits with their play this season.
  • Sandpaper

    This team always struggles against the faster teams, not saying Buffalo is real fast, but all lines were skating well, whereas we have some players that just can not skate very fast at all.
    A team like LA is a bit slower so we can compete, it seems with them, and a few other slower teams, just the faster teams expose our 3 or 4 slow and older players too often.

    • Cageyvet

      100 per cent. Oilers looked really fast against us, but didn’t pose a problem for Buffalo. It’s why I’d be fine with the Sedins retiring now. I understand everything they bring the team, so I’m also fine with one more year, but damn I’d like to see some guys blazing up the ice.

      With this squad, sometimes you just watch them create fast break opportunities but they evaporate as the players just break out, forgetting the whole “fast” part.

      Call me crazy if you like, but I’d throw caution to the wind. Goldobin and Virtanen would be seeing tons of ice time right now, and I’d use them in OT and some special teams as well. I’d rein in their roles if they were screwing up too often, but they’d get a long leash. You should nuture players with speed and skill.

  • Lemmy Kilmister

    perhaps players should stop saying to the media the old cliche “that we not underestimating or taking them lightly” that only motivates the other team and when you lose, especialy being shut out it indicates that the Canucks not only underestimated the Sabres but also thought the could just go through the motions and get a W much in the same manner as what the Oilers did the other night

  • TheRealPB

    That challenged one of the games against the Flames as one of the worst of the season. Mostly it made me sad to have to watch two just terrible teams. I know parity rules in the NHL these days, but so too does mediocrity. With the exception of Tampa Bay, Vegas, Boston and sometimes Winnipeg, most of the teams are just inconsistent, uninspiring, and bad. Ryan is right, Buffalo’s two game win streak here has less to do with them (they looked awful) and more to do with the Oilers and us (we looked worse). That first period was nightmarish — sluggish, unable to complete a pass, pick up a defensive assignment, put any kind of sustained pressure on. Markstrom, Tanev, Horvat and Boeser appeared to be the only ones who understood what hockey is. I also don’t think that Green’s constant line juggling (especially when he doesn’t have all those injuries to contend with) is doing much good. I put down the poor results for Eriksson this year to a large degree to Green (and to be fair to Loui, he’s been shuffled up and down the lineup more than almost anyone during his time here). He and Granlund in particular are rarely put in positions to succeed. And I just don’t get the defense decisions. How are Biega and Del Zotto — both tire fires in their own zone, no matter how often Biega gives it a good effort elsewhere — less than Hutton or Pouliot? How does one of them sit in favor of the others? This isn’t just about the Canucks; the NHL seems all about punishing young players for mistakes and seemingly rarely holding vets accountable to their mistakes. It’s not like MDZ or Biega are a Gudbranson; we’d never get a thing for them and they are valued by no one. And yet they get played again and again despite that poor play. It is mind-boggling.

    I really wish I hadn’t watched that game (though I did flip to a few others that were much more entertaining).

    • LTFan

      TheRealPB – again a good analysis of the game against Buffalo. Some of the Coach’s decisions are troubling and as you said “mind-boggling”. It is tough to watch sometimes and if it weren’t for a few good players – the one’s you mentioned – I would probably give up for the season.

  • Steamer

    Last sentence should not be a sentence, but a continuation of the proceeding sentence; should read “…against the Colorado Avalanche, who have been…” Beginning the sentence with ‘Who’ works only if you are posing a question.

  • Wise_Canuck

    A total disgrace to be shut out on home ice against one of the worst teamsin the league.

    Meanwhile Vegas are a playoff lock in their first season with zero superstars and every other teams rejects!

    It beggars belief that some clowns on here still want Benning back after four years of failure… Colorado, New Jersey, Boston and Tampa and are all the proof you need that with the right management and decisions you can turn a team around instantly – we are not even close under Dim Jim… wake up losers…

    • Boston and New Jersey are good examples of quickly revamping a roster and returning to relevance, but Colorado and Tampa are not. Colorado and Tampa were both terrible, started to get good, and then completely fell apart again. Tampa’s yo-yoing over the past decade is pretty phenomenal. Cup in 2004, 1st and 2nd overall picks around 2008, Eastern Conference Finals in 2011, become immediately terrible again and get the 3rd overall pick, return to the Stanley Cup Finals, in 2015, miss the playoffs entirely in 2017, best team in the league in 2018.

      Colorado just had one fluke season but has otherwise been terrible for close to a decade now.

      Vegas is simply not a model you can emulate. The Canucks should be looking to Calgary as a team that was bad and didn’t want to admit it for a few seasons, then finally embraced a rebuild and quickly returned to relevance. Or Toronto, for how bad management can fail a rebuild, and then good management can turn that rebuild around and get the team back on track in only a couple of seasons.

    • Bud Poile

      Speaking of loser inconsistency you dissapeared from this board after the Canucks thrashed the Kings 6-2, Dud.
      When the Canucks lose I look first and foremost at the center’s stats.
      Bo was eating first line minutes but languished in his second game back.
      Instead of 75% f/o success he struggled just above 25%.
      Hard for his wingers to score goals without puck possession.

    • TheRealPB

      I shouldn’t even but…
      Vegas is not an example of anything other than the sweetest deal any expansion team has ever received in any pro sport. You could argue that new teams SHOULD get such an opportunity to be competitive, but between what the NHL gifted them (competitive young players off active rosters) and other teams totally mismanaging the situation (we were one of the few that lost very little, as opposed to Florida, CBJ and Islanders among others) they’ve been set up for success. Yes, McPhee has done admirable work in making the best of it but they are not an example anyone else can emulate. And Boston, one could argue, has continued to excel DESPITE the best efforts to screw it up by Sweeney and co. They continue to ride an excellent set of top-end players and the emergence of a couple of young ones like McAvoy, Heinen and Carlo plus Pastrnak. I still think it’s a mirage and any team that trades Seguin, Hamilton, Kessel and passes on drafting Barzal, Connor and Boeser for the three in a row they did take, not sure they’re a model either…

      • crofton

        Scarier yet to hear that the rules for the next expansion will be the same. Vegas appeared briefly so far as the best team in the NHL, yet they will draft no lower than 3rd overall for 2 more years

  • BC SPORTS FAN

    What terrible hockey last night. Both teams were bad, Canucks were worse than Buffalo. Why do we have to buy tickets to watch this rec league hockey ?