A tale of two starts will be at hand when the Buffalo Sabres visit the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday.
The Sabres have won three of their first four games to start the season, including two straight, and head into Vancouver fresh off a 6-3 win against the Calgary Flames. The offense has delivered so far, scoring 17 goals, with at least four in each of their wins.
“It’s the style of hockey we want to play,” said winger Alex Tuch, who scored his first career hat trick in the victory against Calgary. “We want to be right in their face. We want to go right ahead. Playing offense is a lot more fun than playing defense. It really is. We’re trying to play as simple as possible and we’re just going. Whenever we have a chance we’re going, and it’s fun, and we’re playing together.”
Tuch has six points (five goals, one assist), sharing the team lead with Rasmus Dahlin.
It’s been a historic start to the season for Dahlin, who scored for the fourth straight game to open the season, becoming first defenseman in NHL history to do so.
“It’s unbelievable to see,” Tuch said. “He leads by example and all the other guys follow. All the other guys want to be out there doing the right stuff with him and it’s unbelievable what he brings to this team. He doesn’t get enough credit, honestly, in this league.”
At the other end of the spectrum, the Canucks find themselves still in search of their first win of the season. They lost their first three games in regulation and their past two in overtime after holding a third-period lead in each contest.
“I mean, it’s no secret that we’re all frustrated,” captain Bo Horvat said. “I mean, when your play is, in my opinion, probably as good a 60 minutes we play all year, and we just can’t find a way to get a win … that’s where experience has to come in, leadership. We’ve got to find a way to dig deep to try and get over that hump right now. I think once we do, things are going to turn around for us.”
Horvat leads the team with four goals, one ahead of Elias Pettersson, who sits atop the team with six points.
While the team is averaging three goals per game, it’s been a struggle to keep the puck out of their own net. The Canucks have allowed at least three goals against in every game so far and have given up at least four in four of their five games.
“I said one of the things when you’re not winning because you want to win so bad, you start learning good habits and the good habits keep coming,” said coach Bruce Boudreau, whose next win will be the 600th of his career. “You might still lose for a couple but once you get those good habits down, and you start winning, and you keep those good habits it’s usually a way to be successful.”
–Field Level Media