It was a shootout today at Rogers Arena and not the kind that takes place after five minutes of overtime. Think the final shootout of a Spaghetti Western. Josh Leivo even looks like Clint Eastwood in the Good, the Bad and the Ugly if you squint hard enough. No? Well, forced comparisons aside, the movie reference fits as this game had a little bit of everything.

Some shifts the Canucks looked Good, other times they were Bad, and when trying to defend the lead late in the third, things got Ugly. For the most part, the Canucks looked great. They were strong in transition and did well to attack Buffalo’s blue-line on the rush. However, multiple defensive lapses paired with some calls not going their way led to three separate Canucks leads evaporating. If anything, the Canucks certainly aren’t mediocre when it comes to entertainment value.

A constant theme throughout the first third of the season has been the maturation of Vancouver’s young core and this was yet another game full of learning experiences. Look no further than who was out there trying to close out a game with the Sabres net empty. Jake Virtanen and Adam Gaudette were hemmed in their own zone as the Sabres’ best players ramped up the pressure. Ultimately, they did not do their job and Buffalo tied the game, but it will serve as a valuable lesson for both players, especially Gaudette. His role has been the subject of debate this season, and  whether or not he can be a player that the Canucks rely upon to close out games remains to be seen. Luckily, failure can be a great teacher.


Michael Ferland and Jay Beagle returned from injury and played on the fourth line bumping Loui Eriksson and Zack MacEwen into the press box.

Bo Horvat went into concussion protocol after taking a shoulder to the head late in the game. This seems precautionary as he was shown on broadcast congratulating the team at the end of the game.



(5v5 statistics)

Game Notes

  • More on Gaudette: While that third line was out for the game-tying goal, they were also on the ice for two goals for and I thought Gaudette was solid even though he didn’t find the score sheet. On Roussel’s first goal, Virtanen made a nice play in his own end along the wall to find a supporting Gaudette who carried the puck blue-line to blue-line. Gaudette creates the zone time that ultimately led to Roussel’s goal. On the season as a whole, I’ve been a big fan of Gaudette’s puck moving ability, albeit against weak competition. He’s also been strong at eliminating high-danger shots in his own zone.

  • Quinn Hughes and Tyler Myers were a dominant pairing when it came to controlling shots at even strength. Quinn was at 73.53% and Tyler at 66.67%. I’ve been a big believer in Hughes’ defensive ability and putting him with Myers will be a hard litmus test. Where this pairing could get hurt is down below the circles trying to win pucks back. The pair was on the ice for the Zemgus Girgensons goal that originated from a puck battle below the circle and the amount of space he had in a high danger area to pick a corner was shocking.
  • Thatcher Demko is already an elite puck-handler. Multiple times this game he came out of his crease to calmly play the puck and relieve pressure on the Canucks defence. An overlooked part of the value a goaltender can bring, especially with the trapezoid.