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Game 73: Canucks at Predators (3.24.16)

by Daniel Fung / Vancouver Canucks
UPDATE:

The Canucks hope to put an end to a franchise-record scoreless drought tonight when they visit Music City to take on the Nashville Predators.

Forget the fact the Canucks are virtually out of the playoff race. Forget the fact they are riding a season-high five-game losing streak. The only thing that's on their mind as they begin tonight's game should be pushing a puck past the goal line and into a cage with a 72-by-48 inch opening – something they haven't done in eight days since Henrik Sedin beat Colorado's Semyon Varlamov in the first period of an eventual 3-1 loss.

The offence could get a boost tonight with the return of Jannik Hansen but, unfortunately, that may come at the expense of another top point-getter in Sven Baertschi who is questionable after blocking a shot in Tuesday's 2-0 loss to the Jets. Daniel Sedin is also a question mark after he left practice early yesterday. Yannick Weber is a possibility to return after missing the last four games with an upper-body injury.

Puck drop at 5 pm PT – Live on Sportsnet 360, TSN 1040, or online at tsn1040.ca.

Regular Season Record

27-33-12 37-23-13

2015.16 Season Series

1-1-0 1-1-0

All-Time Series

38-23-3 24-32-8

Last 10 games

3-7-0 6-2-2

Last 10 head-to-head

6-4-0 4-5-1
 

Keys to the Game

Some shots would be nice. The fact the Canucks have only mustered a total of 47 shots over their last two outings might be more of a hot topic were it not for the fact they've given up a staggering 99 combined shots over that same stretch. Cutting down shots against is a definite must, but so is putting more on net if they ever want to score a goal again.

The goalies keep doing what they're doing. When Daniel Sedin blasted the team's lack of effort six nights ago, he clearly was not directing his comments at the netminding which has been stellar despite the team's losing streak. This seems to be the only part of the Canucks' game that has been a positive and it will need to continue being so.

Take nothing for granted. The Preds may have thought facing the Canucks would be a cakewalk back on March 12 when they brought their franchise-record 14-game point streak into Rogers Arena and they paid for it that night. Nashville's riding another high coming off a win over the mighty Kings but they've got to be ready to compete in this game.


Canucks Gameday Road Report, Presented by Toyota


By the Numbers

.833

Win percentage for the Canucks in their last six visits to Nashville (5-1-0).

5th

Predator in franchise history to score 30 goals is Filip Forsberg (first since 2009.10 – Patrick Hornqvist).

6

Players with two points each so far in the season series: D. Sedin, Burrows, Horvat, Vrbata, Fisher (NSH) and Josi (NSH).

21

Canucks on the current active roster who were not born yet the last time the Canucks suffered three straight shutouts (Jan. 7-10, 1984).

182

Combined points scored by Nashville's defence this season (47-135-182), most in the NHL.

228

Consecutive minutes of play without a goal scored by the Canucks entering play tonight, a new franchise record (previous record was 223:10).


Scouting Report

  • The Preds may have slipped up a bit back on March 12 in falling 4-2 to the Canucks and seeing their franchise-record 14-game point streak come to an unceremonious end but they've responded quite well since then winning three of their last four games. Their only loss was a 4-1 defeat at the hands of the Eastern Conference powerhouse Capitals.
  • The Predators' top stars were uncharacteristically quiet 12 nights ago against the Canucks but they have been making plenty of noise since. The top trio of James Neal, Ryan Johansen, and Calle Jarnkrok has combined for seven goals and 17 points over the past four games since coming up empty in the game against the Canucks.
  • It's a good thing Nashville's top line is firing on all cylinders because their second line, anchored by stud forward Filip Forsberg and featuring Craig Smith and Mike Ribeiro, hasn't been. Over the last four games, they've only combined for one goal together. Forsberg has goals in back-to-back games but his other marker came on a power play.
  • The Preds, as always, can also count on getting offence from their back end. Against the Canucks on March 12, the defence contributed three assists (2 from Josi, 1 from Weber) and also had 14 of the team's 37 shots that night.
  • Josi and Weber are clearly the ones to watch out for on Nashville's back end and rightfully so as they're two of the top offensive defencemen in the NHL. Another name the Canucks may want to pay close attention to is Mattias Ekholm, the third-year NHLer who is enjoying a career-season with seven goals and 31 points. Those statistics are good enough only to put him fourth on the team in goals among defencemen and third in points among blue-liners, but those same statistics would have him ranked first in both categories if he were a Canuck. Ekholm led the Predators with five shots on goal against the Canucks on March 12 and had a couple shots that missed the net as well.
  • Pekka Rinne has had a few rough stretches throughout the season but lately he's looking like the perennial Vezina Trophy contender that the Preds have become accustomed to. In his last six starts, only one team – the Canucks – have been able to put more than two pucks past him. He's stopped 155 of 168 shots in his last half dozen outings for a save percentage of .923.
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