(Sbisa taking a knee against the Sabres; Photo via Canucks Twitter)
A couple of observations before I get into this particular game. First, a lot of empty seats, like a Joe Louis Arena level of empty seats in the lower bowl. Obviously I am half a world away, but I am assuming it has to do with ticket price and usually people with money just do things to brag. Like how some people with money will buy a Ferrari because they can, not because they are into cars. However, I’m not criticizing Canucks fans. I am all for voicing displeasure with your wallet. Hence why I will not spend any money on anything Detroit Lions related until the Fords sell the team, but enough of my psychological sports scars.
Second, and I noticed this in the last game, I feel like the Canucks lines are playing more as a unit so far, especially the second and third lines. We can discuss whether they should be finishing more of their chances, but over play has been much improved. I feel like the passing and forecheck is much improved, and they seem to be on the same page. Now just to keep that up for 78 more games.
A couple first period, Canucks penalties highlighted a rather slow start to this one. Neither team looked awful, but neither looked amazing either. The second started much the same, but I thought the Canucks upped the pressure, which was rewarded with Jannik Hansen’s 100th career goal. Its was such a Hansen goal too. Sutter catches them on a bad change, Hansen heads right to the net, and there’s a juicy rebound. Loved it. Also, scoring first? Who is this team?!
The third period picked up the pace a bit. It saw six penalties in total, with the Sabres getting four. The Power Play finally showed up as Daniel Sedin snagged his second of the year from Loui Eriksson and Sutter, who continues to get points (1G 3A in 4GP, with 1 SO winner). Great passing, and vision by the entire unit on that one. Although, that brought about the ‘dreaded’ two-goal lead, which the Sabres were able to cut to one, just over halfway through the period.
A complete cluster-fack in front of the net caused Alex Edler to pull an Eriksson and inadvertently put the puck in his own net attempting to kick the puck out. At least that’s the way I saw it, maybe he was just shuffling his feet. Either way, it was a goal, and then the Canucks challenged goalie interference, leading to an NFL-esque break in the play. No-go on the interference, which I think was incidental anyway (if they had lost I’d be screaming “The refs are against us!”).
The big story for this game in my opinion was Jacob Markstrom. He played great, stopping 27 of 28 shots, facing a bulk of them in the second period. He even added a Spinaroonie of sorts near the side boards with a Sabre closing in on him for good measure. He was beat a few times, but his good friend the post was there to save him. You need a little luck to have a game that good, just ask Jimmy Howard.
The other positive I am taking away is, the Canucks were out shot and still won. They continue to face adversity, or not look so great, and win. I like this because it builds confidence, and doesn’t cause them to give up if they get behind, which I think has been an issue the last few seasons. I’m not booking any flights to Vancouver for April 2017, but being pleasantly surprised is never a bad thing.