Sure, one could get caught up in all the manufactured Cody Hodgson drama (and that's exactly what it is, folks), but the Canucks have much more to worry about tonight than their former 1st round pick. Thankfully cheapshot artist extraordinaire Patrick Kaleta won't be in the lineup for the Sabres to potentially injure someone (oh come on, look at the guy's rap sheet), but still have to worry about knuckle-dragging mouth-breather John Scott and Steve Ott to worry about tonight. No I prefer to look at a matchup between two potential Olympic goaltenders going head to head, the same matchup as the gold medal game in 2010. I was so over Cody when he got shipped out, so whatever he says leading into this game means little to me.
Sure, it's natural to focus on players that used to play for you when you face them again. It will be interesting to see Christian Ehrhoff again, and there's some saying Zack Kassian needs to have a big game tonight to prove something to the Sabres. Personally, I'd rather he prove something to the Canucks and their fan base, especially the portion that still clings to the memories of Cody Hodgson as some kind of saviour that the Canucks shipped away. The Canucks may have lost that trade if Kassian can't play to his potential, but that deal had to get made, no matter what Hodgson and his people say.
The Canucks are starting to get a reputation for 3rd period comebacks, doing it to the Flyers this time as they got goals from Chris Higgins and the winner coming from Ryan Kesler, his second of the night. Getting that 2nd line active is great, and if the 3rd line can start popping a goal or two here, the Canucks should be able to settle into the kind of team we thought they could be. There's still some growing pains as they adjust to coach John Tortorella's new systems, especially defensively, but there's signs that some are adapting. Chris Tanev really seems to have bought in, and continues to play strong, smart hockey. And with rumblings out of the Canucks camp that Dan Hamhuis may in fact be nursing an injured hand, this not only explains a lot, but is a relief in a way, because it means that he actually didn't just forget he's one of the better D-men in the league.
The Sabres? They're really struggling to start this season, and one of the biggest reasons is goal scoring. Their 3-3 shootout win over the Islanders Tuesday night was not just their first of the season (and moved them one point over the Flyers for last in the East), but just their 2nd multiple goal game of the year. Ouch. You have to think that the clock is ticking for GM Darcy Regier. Sure, bringing in a new coach in Ron Rolston might have bought him a little time, but the longer this team struggles, the more the focus will be on Regier. More change might be on the way as well, with a rumour continuing to bubble away that the Sabres are looking to ship Ryan Miller and Thomas Vanek to Edmonton for Nail Yakupov and others. I hate this deal for the Sabres. Vanek's been probably the best Sabres skater in recent years, and moving Miller out to take on one of the OIlers goaltenders? That's an automatic downgrade no matter how you look at it. And naturally, we hate anything that makes the Oilers better.
The Canucks are playing a team in the same boat as the last one, so if they can focus on playing a strong, disciplined game defensively, avoid getting caught up in the various distractions this game can provide and get the power play clicking, they should shuffle outta Buffalo with 2 points. Though it's not what you'd call a rivalry per se, it is always fun when the Canucks play their expansion cousins. But I kind of feel they have more in common with the Buffalo Bills in a way, all those finals appearances (though can you imagine if the Canucks had lost four finals in a row?) with nothing to show for it.
Scrambled egg wrap
If you're a hockey fan, then tonight is a pretty damn good night to watch some games. A lot of attention will be on Florida (stop laughing) as Tim Thomas is back and getting the start against the Bruins. In true Thomas fashion he's refused to speak to the Boston media, and this game should be fun to watch. The best part? Someone has to lose this game :) Another fun one will be Patrick Roy's red hot Colorado Avalanche meeting the Detroit Red Wings for the first time. The wars between these two teams are the stuff of legend from back in the 90's, when the Red Wings were a team that actually fought. You know, like this:
The chance of another Patrick Roy freak out in this one? Meh, a coin toss really. But there's always a chance. Either way, it's another test to see if the Avs are the real deal... Coming off that blowout against the Sharks, the Blues face another challenge in the defending champion Chicago Blackhawks. They'll be without Maxim Lapierre, who's awaiting his hearing with Brendan Shanahan tomorrow... Another game to watch? I'd keep an eye on Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. The Flyers are a frustrated team right now, and their bitter rivals may be just the thing they need to get them going...
Kickass Metal Tune Of The Day
Old school Vancouver metal (you know I was waiting to be able to use this one haha) from Assault. I remember hearing these guys back on the Monday Midnight Metal Shop back when I was in high school. Decent speed metal for the time, and if I'm not mistaken the drummer was Ray Hartmann, who went on to play with Annihilator. I have this on cassette, and you can occasionally see copies of this show up in thrift shops, etc.