The Canucks will look to get back on track with a Friday night tilt against the lowly Buffalo Sabres at Rogers Arena.
At 14-31-3, the Sabres are the odds on favourites to win the McDavid-Eichel sweepstakes. If the Canucks were ever to break out from their home ice scoring woes, it is against the sad sack Sabres.
Game Time: 7:00 pm
TV: Sportsnet Pacific
The Canucks looked lethargic and discombobulated in a 4-0 loss to the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday night. Being held scoreless was bad enough, but injury was added to insult when the Canucks watched Ryan Kesler injure Derek Dorsett with his elbow. The Canucks showed no push back against the Ducks and not one Canuck sought retribution for Kesler’s nasty hit. This is not a good sign and the Canucks badly need a home ice win against the Sabres.
On February 27, 2012, Brad Ziemer of the Vancouver Sun had this to say about the shocking (at the time) trade of Cody Hodgson for Zack Kassian:
So Gillis pulled the trigger Monday and traded away to the Buffalo Sabres a promising player in Cody Hodgson, who has lots of skill, in exchange for a young up-and-coming power forward in Zack Kassian, who has plenty of grit.
In hindsight this analysis seems absurd, but this trade, in particular, captivated the city at the time and brought out all sorts of hyperbole. The reality is that Hodgson showed lots of promise in Vancouver, but he did not understand his own good fortune in playing behind a Selke Trophy and a Hart Trophy winner in Ryan Kesler and Henrik Sedin. The Canucks parted with a young player who felt he was better than he really was and brought in Kassian. Kassian was that “power forward” the Canucks could have used in their Stanley Cup Final loss to the Boston Bruins.
Fast forward to Friday night and you will see two players who are barely hanging on to regular spots on their respective teams. Hodgson has 2 goals and 5 assists in 47 games this year with the Sabres and carries a staggering $4.25M cap hit. Kassian is a perimeter player who relishes backhand saucer passes over heavy hits.
This is the rare trade where both teams lost.
Willie Desjardins had Nick Bonino working with the 1st power play unit in practice on Thursday in place of Alex Burrows and will likely give this look a try on Friday night against the Sabres. The Canucks have dropped to 16th in the league in power play percentage. This is simply not good enough for a team that has had trouble of late scoring at even strength. Henrik and Daniel Sedin have traditionally feasted on opponents down an attacker, but the magic has disappeared of late. Simply put, the Canucks will not make the playoffs without success with the man advantage.
Ryan Miller faces the team he spent more than a decade with on Thursday night. Miller has been more parts brilliant than brutal in his first season with the Canucks and needs to regroup after a subpar effort against the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday night. Miller has been one of the bright spots for the Canucks lately and there is little doubt that the Canucks need strong, consistent play from him for the rest of the season.
The Canucks have run into some injury trouble. Kevin Bieksa is out long-term while Derek Dorsett, and Brad Richardson are day-to-day. The Canucks have called up Ronalds Kenins from Utica and Canucks fans will likely get their first look at the 6′ Latvian on Friday night.
Vancouver also made a trade on Thursday night, sending promising prospect Gustav Forsling to Chicago in exchange for the more NHL-ready Adam Clendening.
Willie Desjardins shook up his lineup at practice, splitting up his top defence pairing and jettisoning Zack Kassian to the fourth line.
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The Canucks are not only playing one of the worst teams in the NHL on Friday night, but they are playing a tired Sabres team. Buffalo lost Thursday night to the equally brutal Edmonton Oilers. No excuses for the Canucks. The Canucks take this one 5-2. Zack Kassian and Cody Hodgson both hit the scoresheet.