The Canucks look to be streak snappers again tonight when they host the Nashville Predators, who bring their run of 14 straight games without a regulation loss into Rogers Arena.
The Canucks are well aware that the Predators, despite currently occupying one of the two Wildcard playoff spots in the Conference, are for all intents and purposes beyond their reach to catch. That won't stop tonight's game from having plenty of intrigue, however. Ending Nashville's streak, you would think, is motivation enough for the boys but playing for future jobs is clearly at the forefront as well.
The expected return of Henrik Sedin tonight will mean one forward will come out of the line-up, likely either Alex Burrows or Brendan Gaunce. Newcomer Nikita Tryamkin skated on a defensive pairing with Dan Hamhuis yesterday although Coach Desjardins didn't make it sound likely the big Russian would debut quite yet. That gives the current defence corps, in particular the players thought to be on the bubble as far as future employment with the organization goes, one more chance to prove they belong tonight before the impending shake-up.
Puck drop at 7 pm PT – Live on CBC, TSN 1040, or online at tsn1040.ca.
Regular Season Record
2015.16 Season Series
Last 10 games
Last 10 head-to-head
Keys to the Game
Play streak killer again. So far this season, two record-setting streaks (Montreal's NHL record 9-game win streak to begin season; Florida's franchise best 12-game win streak) have met their demise at Rogers Arena. With a chance to put an end to another record run, expect the Canucks to come out a motivated bunch.
Solve Rinne. Over the past two seasons, there are few netminders in the league that has given the Canucks more nightmares than Pekka Rinne, who is 3-0-1 in his last four outings versus Vancouver posting a .931 save percentage in the process. The Canucks need to test Rinne as often as possible and try to bang in a few garbage goals.
Don't get complacent. The Preds' impressive run since mid-February has them virtually home and cooled as far as a playoff spot is concerned but they will be in for a rude awakening if they think that entitles them to just be able to show up and pick up points each night out. They got burned in Calgary and won't want to make the same mistake tonight.
Canucks Game Preview
By the Numbers
Points percentage for the Predators against Canadian teams this season (12-1-4). (8-0-2 on the road).
Straight head-to-head games the Predators have earned points against the Canucks (3-0-1).
Game regulation unbeaten streak (7-0-3) for Nashville G Pekka Rinne entering play tonight.
Straight road games with a point for the Predators (10-0-3). The old franchise record was 7 games in a row.
Straight games with a point for the Predators (9-0-5). The old franchise record was 10 games in a row.
Shots for the Predators on January 26, second fewest by a Canuck opponent this season.
- Before the Predators started their currently-active franchise record point streak, they were still in fairly precarious position as far as the playoffs were concerned sitting just two points up on the Canucks in the final spot. Fast forward a month later and the Preds have virtually locked up a spot and have since stretched their lead over Vancouver to a whopping 17 points.
- During the 9-0-5 run, the Preds have out-scored their opponents by a combined 45-28, which includes a pair of 5-0 blowout wins over the Panthers and Blues, respectively. Both the PP (8-for-41; 19.5 percent) and the PK (32-of-38; 84.2 percent) have been big parts of the run as well.
- When you're on a run as impressive as Nashville's, you're getting contributions up and down your line-up. However, it's no secret the engine that drives the Preds offensively is Filip Forsberg. The 21-year-old has already set a new career-high in goals (28), is among the top goal scorers in the league since January 1 on a list that includes the likes of Ovechkin, Crosby, and Marchand, and is on his way to setting a new career-high in points.
- Another driving force for the offence? The defence. Nashville's blue-line leads the league in goals (45) and points (167). Their defence may have lost some offensive talent with the departure of Seth Jones but when you can look down the bench and see Weber, Josi, Ekholm, and Ellis it's not so bad. Ekholm has already set a new career-high in points, while Ellis has tied his. Josi is on his way to setting a new career-high in points, while Weber has a shot at eclipsing his previous best as well with a strong finish to the season.
- Another name to keep an eye on from the blue-line is Anthony Bittetto. The 25-year-old demonstrated he could put up points back in his collegiate hockey days and even at the AHL level and is finally getting his shot now at the NHL level after starting the season eighth on the depth chart. He recorded his first career NHL goal in Wednesday's loss to Calgary.
- One player the Preds need to start getting back on track offensively is forward Ryan Johansen. The Vancouver-native got off to a torrid start after being dealt from Columbus to Nashville netting 16 points (4-12-16) in his first 16 games but has just three assists in his last 12 outings.