Canucks Next Game: Stopping a stampede

No matter what happens Saturday night vs. Calgary, this is the Canucks at the precipice.

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BUFFALO SABRES

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21-33-8, 6th in Atlantic Division

at VANCOUVER CANUCKS

30-25-7, 5th in Pacific Division (before Saturday’s game)

Sunday, 7 p.m., Rogers Arena.

TV: Sportsnet. Radio: Sportsnet 650 AM.


WHY WATCH

This is it. This is the Canucks at the precipice. They can afford just five losses in their remaining 19 games. Any more than that and they simply won’t be able to win enough points to stay in the playoff race. In other words, they have to beat the Sabres. But can the Canucks find an extra gear, one that was sorely missing Saturday vs. the Flames, when the Canucks were totally invisible in the first period.


POINTS LEADERS

SABRES

1. Tage Thompson GP 58 G 25 A 20 PTS 45 (-14)

2. Jeff Skinner GP 60 G 23 A 18 PTS 41 (-12)

3. Rasmus Dahlin GP 60 G 8 A 29 PTS 37 (-18)

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CANUCKS (before Saturday’s game)

1. J.T. Miller GP 60 G 24 A 49 PTS 73 (+9)

2. Quinn Hughes GP 58 G 5 A 44 PTS 49 (+11)

3. Elias Pettersson GP 60 G 18 A 24 PTS 42 (0)


SPECIAL TEAMS

SABRES: PP 18.9% (22nd) PK 76.7% (21st)

CANUCKS: PP 21.0% (14th) PK 71.3% (32nd)


THREE THINGS ABOUT THE SABRES

In goal: Canucks head coach Bruce Boudreau wasn’t giving anything away Saturday morning, but Thatcher Demko will likely play both games this weekend. He pulled Demko from the game after the second period, much to Jaro Halák’s apparent chagrin. He said it was to give Demko a break and he hadn’t yet decided who is starting on Sunday.

• Decent run: The Sabres haven’t had much success this season but are 5-5 in their last 10 games. They beat the Calgary Flames Friday night in dramatic fashion, a 1-0 win in overtime after Jacob Markström misplayed the puck while well away from his net. They were thumped in Edmonton on Thursday night, but they’ve pulled off some upsets a few times this season, including last Sunday when they made the Toronto Maple Leafs look silly in the Heritage Classic at Tim Hortons Stadium in Hamilton, beating Toronto 5-2.

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Deadline: There’s plenty of chatter about what Canucks management might or might not do before Monday’s NHL trade deadline. But the Sabres are in full sell mode. Beoynd Anderson, pending free agents like centre Cody Eakin, defencemen Mark Pysyk and Robert Hägg plus winger Vinnie Hinostroza all stand a chance to be moved by Monday’s deadline. Defenceman Colin Miller, another player in the last year of his contract, might be an option too, but he’s coming back from an injury and only got back into the lineup this week.

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