The second wild card seed in the west, your Vancouver Canucks. Unfurl the division banners, plan the parades and get your monogrammed playoff rum mugs minted now. Before it’s too late. Or too soon.
Nucks win this game despite not playing their best. The Sabres out-shot, out-possessed the Nucks - except Demko out-saved the Buffalo goalie. ‘Demmer’ is 2 and 0 in his NHL career - first Canucks goalie in history to win his first two starts.
How was the Nucks start at the start of the game?
In the esteemed ROG hospitality tradition, the Nucks let the visitors control the play out of the gate. And not just the play. Let the Sabres take all the early shots. And the first goal compliments of the all forwards defenders.
Good things happen at the net #LetsGoBuffalo ⚔️ #Sabres pic.twitter.com/M1gGBU2kt5— Buffalo Sabres (@BuffaloSabres) January 19, 2019
Good things? Bad things? In our end, it’s a bad thing. But, just part of the Nucks welcome to the ROG party.
The ROG shot patience clock was ticking. And ticking. Fortunately before the period was half over the Nucks get a shot on goal.
Even better, 2 shots later and the Nucks score a goal. No really. Great work from Bo to deliver the puck to Eddie for the slapper. Play great for 90 seconds a period and good things happen.
At this point it’s Sabres 58 shots and Nucks 3. Doesn’t matter.
Because tonight, for reasons not even Westy could explain, Pouliot decided to play the offensive Orr-acle style. Wheeling and slicing through the Sabres D and making a nifty pass to Sven.
4 shots, 2 goals. That’s Nucks 1st period efficiency at 50% potential. Get outplayed, win the period. Bumper stickers will be issued.
Can the Nucks keep this sort of pace?
Not even a minute into the period, the Nucks fire drill defensive coverage gets burned. Pouliot, Bo and Guddy get outworked in the corner and Okposo, unopposed by Brock, makes a backhanded (non)compliment on Demko.
It’s a tie game. Again. 2-2 in the 2nd.
Still plenty of time to get that outworked, outplayed mojo going again.
It’s 4-on-4 and the ROG witnesses a defensive gaffe. The best kind. A Sabres gaffe.
Bo receives a hot pizza for a shot on goal. And better, a cold pizza pass to Brock for the tap in. BuffaFlowed.
So nice to see other team’s D make ample turnovers. It’s another apple for Bo.
Vancouver is back on top, 3-2. Game is won. Pretty much.
Meanwhile over in the Demmer zone, reflex testing from Skinner.
Can’t save ‘em all though.
Reinhart gets behind everyone (not a hard thing to do in this game), receives a pass, spins and sends a backhand past Demmer. Dammit.
Just what we wanted. Another tie. And it’s a 13-13 tie on shots too. Maybe it’s a sign. A hockey game - a chippy hockey game at times, but a hockey game that won’t be decided until the 3rd is actually over. Which is better than deciding in SO.
This is the second consecutive game where the Nucks didn’t extend their league lead in 3rd period goals against. If they keep this trend up, could lose the lead. Hey...it’s possible.
How would you like to win this game? Guessing here...but with a goal, perhaps.
When would you like to win the game: early or late in the period?
Who would you like to score the GWG?
Take your time.
[musical interlude - hummm along at home]
Results are in. It’s an early goal. Player was selected by salary cap supremacy.
Our highest paid player gets the BIG goal! It’s Loui from the hard-working Leivo.
Just like they planned at the rock ‘n roll hall of fame over half a century ago. Leivo played possibly his best game yet. We won the trade. Again.
Now, all the Nucks have to do is keep the fast and skilled Sabres at bay for about 15 more minutes. Easy.
And try not to take a penalty. Which happens anyhow.
Ok, try not to get scored on. Which happens. Buffalo fails to score on their late PP because we have a young goalie that uses his head to play the game.
Demmer is known for his hard-headed stops. He needs tougher masks tho.
Demko took Dahlin’s shot off the mask. It definitely left a mark. pic.twitter.com/OoHFhZE7HU— Vancouver Canucks (@Canucks) January 19, 2019
Dahlin shot off the mask. Ouch!
DEMK pic.twitter.com/NrhwWrGLHn— Vancouver Canucks (@Canucks) January 19, 2019
Demko had to go to the bench for the backup’s backup mask. Not saying this threw the Sabres off their game, but Demko was keeping them off the game scoresheet for the rest of the game and that means a Nucks Home WIN!
Nucks win when they weren’t the better team. The Sabres outshot our slacker heroes 16-6 in the 3rd. Yet, the Nucks outscore the Sabres and in the new nhl that counts far more towards wins.
Here’s the winning video snippet.
Virt extended his game goal drought to 10. Trying to keep up with the Horvats? Bo hasn’t scored in 11 (and counting), but who cares (other than Westy). Bo with 2 assists is the same amount of points as 2 goals would be. So there’s that.
Let’s look at the winning stats...winning stats are more fun.
Outshot 39-23 and Demmer gets a .923 SV% - a very nice debut number.
|#||Forwards||GP||G||A||P||P||+/-||S||PIM||PIM||SOG||HITS||BLKS||GVA||TKA||FO%||TOI||PP TOI||SH TOI||PP||GW|
|#||Defense||GP||G||A||P||P||+/-||S||PIM||PIM||SOG||HITS||BLKS||GVA||TKA||FO%||TOI||PP TOI||SH TOI||PP||GW|
Demko gets his 2nd career win and 1st win of 2019. He looked great all night. No softies in his hard-headed stopping.
Demko’s 1st game of the season with the Nucks and 1st star of the game.
Thatcher Demko records a win in his season debut and gives his take on the victory. pic.twitter.com/dlX8oW36mC— Vancouver Canucks (@Canucks) January 19, 2019
How does Bo feel about his 200th NHL point?
.@BoHorvat comments after recording the 200th point of his career and has a lot of positive things to say about Demko's performance. pic.twitter.com/gZlo4FwBi6— Vancouver Canucks (@Canucks) January 19, 2019
Over in the home Green room, no happiness about the process, but results are good.
Hear from Coach Green after the Canucks defeat the Sabres, live from @RogersArena. https://t.co/T0uxFDlOzt— Vancouver Canucks (@Canucks) January 19, 2019
Great season debut for Demko. He made the difference in the game.
In the past I may have stated something about how you play the game is more important than winning. Tonight, the Nucks have amended that to it’s not how you play to start it’s that you squeak out a win that counts.
That counts so much that the Nucks have jumped over the moon. And mooned Minni and Edmonton to secure the 2nd wild cardness in the west.
We’re going to the dance! If the dance started tomorrow. Which it doesn’t. Which is good because the Nucks -12 DIFF wouldn’t be the happiest dance card to be carded with.
Instead, we get to play another eastern team. One that used to be in the west. But without moving, glided into an easier division out east. Until it wasn’t so easy.
28th place Detroit are out west again. Just as tourists. Lost in Calgary and will be primed to lose on Sunday in the ROG where we hope to make their -27 DIFF get to 30 below.
Will Pete be in to make that happen? Probably. Will Demko be back to stop? Probably not. Will we ever see Goldy play again at home this season? So many questions. Yet some troublemakers just want another goalie controversy in Vancouver.
All I want for you is a serene Saturday and a spectacular Sunday.