The Nashville Predators are in Vancouver tonight for a tilt against the Canucks. A road game? Haven’t had one of those in a while… so long that it may be easy to forget that Nashville, after starting out 8-0-0 away from the friendly confines of Bridgestone Arena have lost four consecutive road games, going back to their first road loss, in Anaheim on November 12, ironically, the day Viktor Arvidsson was put on IR.
The Preds come into tonight a team missing 50% of its top six forwards and 25% of its top four defense. It will be the third game without Filip Forsberg, sixth game without Kyle Turris, eleventh game without PK Subban and thirteenth game without Arvidsson. The record since the start of the injuries on 11/12 is 6-5-1. However, their last win, Monday night over Buffalo portends for better things. Frankly, it was the best 20 man defensive effort this team has seen in quite a long time. The lockdown Nashville put on the Sabres once they took a 2-1 lead was a thing of beauty to behold.
With the kind of injuries this team is battling, it is the kind of play that needs to happen a little more often… and that is not necessarily a bad thing. This kind of experience playing this type of game will be invaluable come April… and hopefully May and June.
Turning attention back to tonight, Vancouver started the season like a house afire, finishing October in playoff position with a respectable 8-6-0 start; exceeding even the most wildest predictions for this rebuilding team. Reality hit in November as the Canucks posted a 5-6-3 record and have fallen out of the playoff race. They are currently on a 4 game losing streak and have dropped eight of their last nine games.
The reason for hope in Vancouver is in one Elias Pettersson. The rookie leads all other first year players in goals with 13 and points with 23. He has cooled a bit since lighting up October with 7 goals and 3 assists as the NHL’s Rookie of the Month but remains dangerous. The youngster has a bright future ahead of him and the Preds will need to keep a close eye on him.
It seems weird to see an Canucks team without a Sedin, but a new era has begun. Bo Horvat is second on the team in goals (behind Pettersson) and first on the team in points. Those are the only two Canucks in double digit goals. In net for Vancouver… well, Jacob Markstrom has 20 games so far, posting an 8-9-3 record with a sub-.900 save percentage and a GAA of 3.31, backup Anders Nilsson has a 3-6-0 mark with only marginally better stats. For Nashville, it’s an open question on who gets the start tonight, it might be a good place for Saros, or considering the success Saros has seen against Calgary, maybe he gets the nod on Saturday night.
Nashville’s power play may very well be the key to tonight’s game. It appears to have gotten back on track and Vancouver’s penalty kill has been… ummm… shall we say… not good, giving up three power play goals to sink a decent effort against Minnesota on Tuesday night. Also, keep an eye on Vancouver winger Nikolay Goldobin who was a healthy scratch Tuesday. Head coach Travis Green is trying to get the young Russian’s attention. We will see if that scratch had the desired effect tonight.
Game time is 9pm central, so brew up the coffee and settle in as Nashville tries to get their road mojo workin’ again. Pregame coverage on 102.5 the Game starts at 8pm, Fox Sports Tennessee pregame begins at 8:30pm.
- Milwaukee Update –The Admirals posted a stinker last night in Texas as the Stars put a 5-1 hurtin’ on the Ad’s… these two teams get together again tomorrow night and then the Ad's go from Austin to San Antonio Saturday for a game against the Rampage before coming home.
- Nashville has won four of their last six games in Vancouver and are 7-3-1 in their last 11 games overall.
- It seems that every couple of wins for Pekka Rinne moves him to a new position on an all-time list, his next win will move him into a tie for 25th all-time in NHL Goaltender Wins.
- Rinne has played in ten straight games… the coaching staff will have to find a way to get Juuse Saros some starts as playing Rinne this much has to potential of biting this team. Rinne is a workhorse, always has been, but it’s something that bears watching.
- If you told me that Chicago, St. Louis and Los Angeles would be the bottom three teams in the West after 26+ games I would’ve wondered what you had been smoking.
- Looking at the San Jose Sharks, I know they are in third in the Pacific and have 33 points… but this team doesn’t seem to be gelling. I know we are only in December, but something isn’t right in San Jose.
- It seems like every team has a writer/blogger that is bemoaning how bad the expansion draft is going to be for the team they cover… good heavens, pump the brakes people… the expansion draft is three and a half years away!
So much can happen between then now and then. Relax...
- The St. Louis Blues can’t buy a break right now… three major injuries have the Blues depleted and looking for solutions. Robby Fabbri has gone down again, Alex Steen has a concussion and Alex Pietrangelo has a separated shoulder
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