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Game Day Blog: Preds vs. Vancouver Canucks

by Staff Writer / Nashville Predators
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Nashville Predators vs. Vancouver Canucks
2 pm CST
Radio only: 104.5 The Zone, Predators Radio Network

It will be a pretty good challenge today for the Predators as they face the Canucks in matinee action, with one-half of Olympic uber-duo Shea Weber out due to an upper body injury. Cody Franson has been recalled from Milwaukee and will be inserted into the lineup today, while d-men such as Ryan Suter and Francis Bouillon can expect a bump in minutes.

As any defensive discussion would go, I asked Barry Trotz as part of our morning chat about the play of Denis Grebeshkov since his arrival. Coach Trotz responded that while they’ve identified some areas they would like to see him improve, they’ve also asked him to play with “less risk” in his game because of Nashville’s defensive shortcomings in recent games. Especially against Detroit, it was obvious that the Preds were struggling on D, and so they’ve asked the new guy to keep his jumping into the offense in check so as to not create even more possible turnover situations.

For those who were wondering, yes, Dustin Boyd will go into the lineup here today on a line with Colin Wilson and Jordin Tootoo. I would love to see Boyd some out and give Nashville a welcome boost right off the hop, while getting spark from Tootoo and Wilson as well. Let’s face it, Tootoo and Vancouver’s Alex Burrows have the ability to be the same type of player (getting under your skin, agitating you, and making you take notice) but the more effective player in his role gives his team a better chance to win every night. I will say this, however: Tootoo definitely brings more to the table physically. He’s far more willing to stand up for his teammates… and himself.

Vancouver has been up and down the last two games, beating Detroit handily and losing to Chicago in a game they trailed 5-1 after the first period. Roberto Luongo looked by turns superhuman and all-too-human, and was replaced after only 20 minutes in the windy city by Andrew Raycroft. He is expected back between the pipes today for the Canucks, who need every single playoff point they can get.

Oh, and the Canucks have to make due today without two key defensemen in Willie Mitchell and Kevin Bieksa.

Keys To The Game
  • Get to Luongo. If you can derail his game early and instill some doubt, all the better for the game as it wears on. Vancouver rides the confidence waves when it’s high, but can also drown in those same waters if things go the other way.
  • Contain the Sedins. Yeah, easier said than done. But keeping them in check goes a long way towards keeping things even, and reducing the impact of this line on a game favors the opposition.
  • Come out flying. If Nashville is awake when it hits the ice and the Canucks are not, something as simple as a 1-0 or 2-0 advantage can make Vancouver take chances and open up holes for the Preds’ offense.

Notes
  • Luongo’s yanking was the third for him in his last eight games (dating before the Olympics), and he has now allowed 13 goals in his last three NHL starts.
  • Ryan Kesler has four goals after playing for Team USA in the Olympics, and now has an eight game point streak heading into today.
  • Cal O'Reilly figures to be the Preds scratch along with Wade Belak today as Dustin Boyd makes his Nashville debut today wearing #14.


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