The Vancouver Canucks will visit an old friend for the first time tonight as they take on Cody Hodgson and the struggling Sabres at First Niagara Center. The Sabres have stumbled out of the gates to start the season but Hodgson has found chemistry with his new linemates, and will be looking to continue the trend tonight against his former team.
At the other end of the ice Zack Kassian won’t be lacking motivation against his former club after a slow start to the season at home
Featuring a duo of trade returnees the following are five keys to tonight’s game in Buffalo.
Kassian Comes Home
Zack Kassian only played 27 games with the Sabres in 2011-12, but will be forever linked to Cody Hodgson due to the fateful trade deadline deal two seasons ago. After sitting out the first five games of the year due to suspension Kassian has the perfect opportunity to get himself going tonight against his former club.
Hodgson Has Something To Prove
Cody Hodgson’s time in Vancouver was, quite frankly, a disaster. From ice time issues to daddy issues, the controversy surrounding Hodgson’s development was fierce during his time with the Canucks, and tonight Coho has a chance to put that all behind him with a solid showing.
While the Sabres have been brutal to start the season Hodgson has been one of the lone bright spots on the team putting up 6 points through his first 8 games.
Look for Hodgson to provide the home team with a spark tonight alongside Thomas Vanek and Steve Ott.
Dan Hamhuis has had a rough start to the season, but only recently has it become evident that Hamhuis is playing through some sort of ailment. Hamhuis was reportedly receiving treatment (hiding from reporters?) shortly after the Canadiens game this past week, and was not seen at this morning’s optional gameday skate.
Keep a close eye on Hamhuis tonight as he continues to try and find his game under new head coach John Tortorella.
After another successful split up in Philadelphia Henrik and Daniel Sedin are expected to start tonight’s game against the Sabres on separate lines. If it wasn’t weird enough that Henrik put up career point #800 without his brother, tonight’s game could really get interesting.
While Roberto Luongo has typically been regarded as a “slow starter” with the Canucks the affliction seems to have spread to the entire team to start the season.
The Canucks have scored the opening goal of the game only twice through seven contests this year, and have ended up playing from behind in the other two as well.
The visitors should have every opportunity to turn that around tonight against a Sabres team that has only one first period goal to their name through seven games.