The Vancouver Canucks kick off their longest road trip of the season Saturday morning when they pay a visit to their favourite cousins in Buffalo, New York.
Game Time: 10:00 am
It’s a family reunion of sorts for the Canucks and Sabres. I say this because they are considered expansion cousins as they both entered the National Hockey League in the same season (1970-71).
The best part of this particular reunion is that neither cousin has anything to brag about. There’s nothing worse than meeting up with your family and having to hear about how successful they have become.
Neither Vancouver nor Buffalo are the cousin Jeffrey who works for the Parks Department that Uncle Leo wants to brag about at the dinner party.
Side note: My apologies to those who don’t understand the Seinfeld reference. I highly recommend stopping your life and watching the entire series from start to finish.
Instead, both teams have had their chances for glory only to fail and still bear the scars years later.
It’s a depressing reality but hey, at least we are in it together.
*Quietly sobs in the corner*
1. Ryan Miller returns
The biggest storyline behind the game will be Ryan Miller returning to Buffalo for the first time since he was traded to the St. Louis Blues on February 28, 2014. That bottomed-out completely which led to his signing in Vancouver a few months later.
It’s crazy to think that Miller has yet to play a game in Buffalo since the trade but his injury last season ruined any chance of that.
It may be hard to remember, but Miller had quite the run in Buffalo, winning the Vezina Trophy in 2010 and reaching the Eastern Conference finals after a Presidents’ Trophy season in 2006-07.
Miller was the backbone of a very good Sabres franchise for a long period of time. Surely there will be a celebration (video montage time!) in his honour. Hopefully he can stay focused and unemotional because the Canucks kind of need the points right now!
2. Road sweet road
As I mentioned earlier, the Canucks are embarking on their longest road trip of the season; a seven game jaunt through the Eastern Conference before finishing up in Winnipeg on November 18th.
It’s about time!
After stumbling through their home games this season (2-3-3), it will be a welcome change of pace to hit the road where the Canucks have been at their best (4-0-1).
It’s an incredible statistic that the road has been kinder to the Canucks. Most teams plan for the worst when it comes to games on the road, mainly because coaches of opposing teams are able to better utilize the advantages that come with being the home team.
I’ve written about this before, but I would like to reiterate that one of Willie Desjardins’ weaknesses appear to be his inability to take advantage of the opportunities that come with being the home team. Desjardins’ idea of the perfect game is one where all four of his lines are rotating on a consistent level. While this is good from a player’s stamina point of view, this strategy doesn’t do the best job of putting your best offensive players in a position to score. If your opponent’s fourth line is caught on the ice after icing the puck, you would think your best option would be to put out the Sedins.
Not so fast in Willie’s world.
However, being on the road and not having this advantage plays right into Willie’s wheelhouse. While other coaches may try to take advantage of a first line vs. fourth line shift, Willie’s players are already trained to take on whatever line they need to without question.
There may be method to his madness after all.
3. Kids in the spotlight
Despite Ryan Miller being the central focus on the early goings of this game, I am pretty confident that the kids will take over the storylines rather quickly.
This game will feature one of the National Hockey League’s rising stars and recent first round draft pick:
I’m kidding of course.
Well, as good as those two players have been this season, Buffalo’s Jack Eichel has star potential written all over him. Had it not been for Connor McDavid (RIP), Eichel would have been the clear number one overall selection in this past June’s Entry Draft. Eichel has already displayed the speed, skill, and creativity that has been expected of him ever since his Hobey Baker winning season with Boston College.
Just take a look at this:
Then again, Eichel has five goals while McCann has five goals AND one assist.
The lines are starting to settle as the talent is now being spread across all lines. I’m especially excited to see McCann play with Higgins on the fourth line.
|D. Sedin||H. Sedin||Vrbata|
My predictions have been terrible this season so I’m not even going to try and justify my choice. I’m going to leave it up to chance.
The world is cruel, and the only morality in a cruel world is chance. Unbiased. Unprejudiced. Fair.
*flips a fake two-face coin that has the Canucks logo on both sides*
Yep, Canucks win.