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I Watched This Game: Canucks 2, Sabres 3

I want to be mad at Rasmus Ristolainen. I do. His late game-winner -- a wrist shot from the point that beat Ryan Miller with 17 bloody seconds remaining in the third -- killed what could have been a great Canucks comeback.

I want to be mad at Rasmus Ristolainen. I do. His late game-winner -- a wrist shot from the point that beat Ryan Miller with 17 bloody seconds remaining in the third -- killed what could have been a great Canucks comeback. He wrecked the ending I wanted, and I should resent him.

But I can't. He has such a fun name. Rasmus. Ristolainen. It feels so nice to say. It's linguistic butterscotch. And that power slide after the goal was Springsteen-esque. Hockey needs more power slides, and that one was well-earned and well-executed. Game respects (and I watched this) game.

  • Don't be too upset about losing to Buffalo. The Vancouver Canucks came into existence losing to Buffalo. The Sabres got to select first in the expansion draft. Then, the next day, they won the spin of a roulette wheel to go first again in the amateur draft. In other words, before the Canucks had ever played a single game, they'd had lost to the Sabres twice. It's in their DNA.
  • Sorry if I can't muster more emotion. I'm writing this at 1pm on a Saturday. I still don't feel fully awake. How the Canucks managed to overcome their West coast body clocks and play the first period they did, outshooting Buffalo 15-4 and looking far and away the more alert, awake team, is beyond me. And don't say it's because they spent a couple nights in Buffalo adjusting. That would have only made it harder. Nothing is more of a downer than waking up in Buffalo.
  • For all the Canucks' early hot-dogging, however, they couldn't mustard a goal, and they soon found themselves playing ketchup. Debate for the comments: is a hot dog pun a sandwich pun?
  • Not long after the Sabres had jumped ahead by two, the Canucks finally got on the board. Henrik Sedin scored the 2-1 goal, taking a pass from his brother Daniel and then making a pass of his own to the invisible third Sedin who lives in the net. His name is Lars.  
  • It's rare to see a Sedin-to-Sedin goal and think much of the credit lies outside the Sedin family, but I would argue the goal was as much Ben Hutton's creation as it was one of theirs. The rookie defender, who just continues to impress, gained the Sabres' blue line with incredible speed, backing the defence off and leaving the Sedins with a tonne of time and space. It's great to see the Sedins finally getting some help on the rush, since they don't really rush so much as they stroll. The twins cross the blueline like they're seeing a new collection at the museum.
  • That's hardly a complaint, though. Sometimes I love the shifts where the Sedins don't score -- they just skate around, playing keepaway with the puck. It's pretty. It's like hockey ballet. Of course, Daniel Sedin's defensive work on the game's final shift was whatever the literal opposite of ballet is: maybe that face cats make when they're pooping.
  • The Sedins make a lot of passes to one another. Did you know that? Accorsing to John Garrett, they lead the NHL in offensive zone passes, and of course they do. The Sedins are offensive zone passes. They should call this stat SOGs, or Sedin-Oriented Gives.
  • And speaking of shots on goal, it's stupid the Canucks didn't win this game. They out-attempted Buffalo 64-33. The Sabres had 22 shots. The Canucks missed 21 shots alone. That's too many misses, though. You may miss 100% of the shots you don't take, but you should also try not to miss 33% of the shots you do take. 
  • The game-winning goal was especially disappointing because the Canucks had worked so hard to put the game back on even terms. Sabres goaltender Linus Ullmark (who, as Canucks Army noted, looks suspiciously randomly-generated) was excellent. Right up until he wasn't. Chris Higgins' game-tying marker was a ugly goal. But he'll take it. It should help with his confidence as he works his way back to playing speed -- although that power forward move to the goal was evidence he's hardly lacking for confidence as it is. But Ullmark looked bad and he should feel bad
  • Mike Weber was noticeable in this game (he fought), which caused many of us to reflect on the fact that the NHL has three defencemen named Weber, and they all wear the number six. That's weird. Coincidence? Or glitch in the matrix?
  • Ryan Miller deserved better in this game, and not just because it was his dramatic return to Buffalo. I thought he looked good. I'm really starting to drink this Ryan Miller kool-aid. I'm been so ambivalent towards him since he arrived in Vancouver last year. In my defence, after the Luongo saga, I'm just not ready to love another goalie. But Miller is beginning to win me over. I'm this close to suggesting we go on a trip together.
  • Another Sabre who's won me over: Jack Eichel. The second overall pick is downright lovely to watch. He's so shifty. He's like a sentence rife with proper nouns.
  • Finally, it's time to take Brandon Sutter off the second powerplay unit. If you're grooming Ben Hutton and Chris Tanev as your powerplay blueline tandem of the future, maybe you should also start grooming your powerplay centre of the future, since we all know it isn't Brandon Sutter. Sutter does a lot of things that I like: centring this unit isn't one of them.