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GAME DAY PREVIEW- Game 45: Canucks @ Buffalo

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After waiting for a response that never came, perhaps getting out of the hellish wasteland that is Florida and heading to upstate New York will help the Canucks outta this funk?

Vancouver Canucks v Buffalo Sabres Photo by Sara Schmidle/NHLI via Getty Images

VANCOUVER CANUCKS vs BUFFALO SABRES

10:00 AM PST KEY BANK CENTER, BUFFALO, NY

TV: SPORTSNET. RADIO: SN650.

OPPOSITION BLOG: DIE BY THE BLADE

I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised at the story arc of these two teams this season. Forever linked as expansion cousins, neither team was expected to do well, but came out of the gate looking like the nay-sayers were wrong. “And then what happened, Kent?” Well, they weren’t, and now both teams are on the outside looking in when it comes to a playoff spot, though the Sabres situation is far more dire, currently 8 points behind the last wild card slot in the Eastern Conference.

And while there’s a lot of similarities, there are some differences. The Sabres are 3-7-0 in their last ten, the Canucks 7-3-0. There’s this whole 2 straight asskickings the Canucks have received, and that will definitely play a factor in today’s contest.

LINEUPS:

Courtesy of nhl.com, here’s what we should see from these teams today:

Canucks projected lineup

J.T. Miller -- Elias Pettersson -- Jake Virtanen

Tanner Pearson -- Bo Horvat -- Loui Eriksson

Antoine Roussel -- Adam Gaudette -- Brock Boeser

Tyler Motte -- Jay Beagle -- Tim Schaller

Quinn Hughes -- Christopher Tanev

Alexander Edler -- Tyler Myers

Jordie Benn -- Troy Stecher

Jacob Markstrom

Thatcher Demko

Scratched: Oscar Fantenberg

Injured: Josh Leivo (kneecap), Brandon Sutter (upper body), Micheal Ferland (upper body), Tyler Graovac (lower body)

Sabres projected lineup

Jimmy Vesey -- Jack Eichel -- Sam Reinhart

Conor Sheary -- Marcus Johansson -- Michael Frolik

Zemgus Girgensons -- Johan Larsson -- Kyle Okposo

Scott Wilson -- Curtis Lazar -- Evan Rodrigues

Jake McCabe -- Rasmus Ristolainen

Rasmus Dahlin -- Brandon Montour

Lawrence Pilut -- Henri Jokiharju

Linus Ullmark

Carter Hutton

Scratched: Zach Bogosian, Colin Miller

Injured: Victor Olofsson (lower body), Jeff Skinner (upper body), Tage Thompson (upper body), Vladimir Sobotka (lower body)

So it looks like no changes for the Canucks, as Zack MacEwan was sent back to the Comets and played for them last night. One thing that has to change is effort, and in particular from that 4th line. While Tyler Motte’s been playing decently since returning from injury, Jay Beagle and Tim Schaller have been pretty dreadful, and once again it makes you wonder why some guys are down in Utica and others aren’t. If there was a sound argument that these guys are bringing anything at all that couldn’t be provided by someone else right now I would listen to it, but I don’t think there is.

The Sabres are missing a couple big pieces right now in Victor Olofsson and Jeff Skinner, but did manage to recently beat that Florida Panthers team who just manhandled the Canucks. And there’s the unfinished business of their previous meeting where the Sabres beat the Canucks in overtime until they didn’t.

Much like Florida getting revenge for a loss to the Canucks earlier this season, this game has a stomping by the home team written all over it.

Well... maybe there’s gonna be some changes today after all:

GAME DAY BATTLE HYMN:

The music world lost a giant yesterday, as we lost RUSH drummer Neil Peart to brain cancer. He was 67. Peart was a huge part of the influential band’s sound, a virtuoso behind the drum kit who inspired millions to take up the sticks. In his honour, here’s my favorite RUSH track. RIP.