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Tale of the Tape: Canucks @ Predators (2.22.13)

Friday, 22.02.2013 / 9:31 AM / Features
By Daniel Fung
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Tale of the Tape: Canucks @ Predators (2.22.13)
Team Record: 9-3-4
Last Game: 4-3 W at Dallas (FEB.21.13)

Season Series: 0-0-0
Last Meeting: 5-2 W (MAR.30.12)
Team Record: 8-4-5
Last Game: 4-3 OT/W vs Detroit (FEB.19.13)

Season Series: 0-0-0
Last Meeting: 2-5 L (MAR.30.12)

Storylines

The Set-Up

The Vancouver Canucks (9-3-4), fresh off a slump-busting win less than 24 hours ago in Dallas, will play the penultimate game of their four-game road trip tonight at the Bridgestone Arena facing the Nashville Predators (8-4-5).

What You Need to Know
  • The Canucks snapped a three-game winless streak with their 4-3 win last night in Dallas. The Canucks will now look to string together wins in consecutive games for the first time since their six-game win streak from January 30 to February 12.
  • The Predators are looking to sweep their short two-game home stand with a win tonight. They scored a 4-3 overtime victory over the Red Wings on Tuesday to open the home stand.
  • The Canucks and Predators split their season series last year with each team winning twice, including once each at the Bridgestone Arena.
  • Canucks F Daniel Sedin (3-3-6) and F Henrik Sedin (1-5-6), along with Predators F Mike Fisher (4-2-6) all tied for the season series points lead with six each.
  • The Canucks will get F Jannik Hansen back tonight after he finished serving his one-game suspension yesterday. He'll likely get a chance to skate on the second line alongside Ryan Kesler and Chris Higgins.
  • Canucks F Daniel Sedin (2-5-7) and F Henrik Sedin (2-5-7) have matching four-game point streaks. D Alex Edler (1-2-3) has a three-game point streak.
  • Predators F Colin Wilson has a team-leading five-game point streak (2-5-7). Other hot players for Nashville include D Shea Weber who has a four-game point streak (3-3-6) and F Sergei Kostitsyn who has a three-game streak (1-3-4) on the line.
  • With the Canucks playing the back end of two games in two nights, it's a safe bet that G Roberto Luongo will pick up the start tonight. Luongo has a 12-12-3 career record against Nashville, including going 2-2-0 last season against them. G Cory Schneider has just one career start against Nashville but he never got to finish that game. It came last season in a 6-5 Vancouver loss on December 1, 2011 that saw Schneider pulled after giving up three goals on five shots in the first period.
  • The Canucks' string of facing back-up netminders could come to an end tonight should the Preds start G Pekka Rinne. Rinne has put up Vezina Trophy worthy numbers this season posting a 1.67 GAA and a .935 save percentage with three shutouts. In 14 starts this season, he has allowed three-or-fewer goals in all but one outing. Back-up G Chris Mason has made just three starts this season and was yanked in his last outing four nights ago after giving up six goals on 18 shots against Colorado.
  • Like the Canucks, the Preds have played a lot of bonus hockey this season. Nine of their 17 games have gone beyond regulation. Vancouver has gone beyond 60 minutes of play on seven occasions this season out of their 16 games played. The Canucks are 3-4 in overtime this season while the Predators are 4-5.
Follow the Action

Tonight's game faces off at 5 pm PT and can be seen on Rogers Sportsnet Pacific. Listen live on The TEAM 1040 Sports Radio or online at teamradio.ca.

Those away from a TV or radio can follow @CanucksGame on Twitter for in-game play-by-play.

Keys to the Game


The Canucks Win If...

  • They get scoring 5-on-5. Nashville not only has one of the league's best penalty kills but they're also one of the league's least penalized teams. If the Canucks are to have any offensive success tonight, it's likely going to have to come at even-strength even though their PP has been hot over the last three games going 4-for-12 during that stretch.
  • They get inside Rinne's head. Nashville's netminder has been all-world this season but the Canucks have had recent success against him. Last year, Rinne won just one of three starts versus Vancouver while surrendering 13 goals on just 98 shots in four appearances for a 4.45 GAA and .867 save percentage.
  • They continue to have strong third periods. Despite some of their recent struggles the Canucks have seemingly saved their best hockey for late in games. They've out-scored their opponents by a combined 5-2 in third periods in the last three games.


The Predators Win If...

  • They take advantage of a tired team. Vancouver is playing their third game in four nights on their current road trip and might be discouraged early if the Predators come out strong and get a little bit of early success on the scoreboard.
  • They lead after the first period. Another reason the Preds will want a fast start is because they can't seem to win when they don't have one. Nashville is among a handful of teams that has yet to win this season when trailing after the first period going 0-3.
  • Weber stays red hot. Nashville's captain has been leading the way offensively lately with goals in three straight games. A big reason for his success is that he's getting his shots through. He has 12 combined shots over the last three outings while his 44 total shots this season not only leads all Preds players but also puts him among the league leaders for defensemen.

Ones to Watch

KEVIN BIEKSA

Of all the potential candidates to lead the Canucks in goal scoring this season, Kevin Bieksa is probably not one many would expect to be among them. But that's exactly where the 31-year-old blue-liner finds himself now more than a quarter of the way into the campaign thanks to his recent hot hand.

Bieksa, who has an underrated offensive touch despite the fact he has notched more than 40-points in a season on three occasions, has goals in two straight games entering play tonight giving him a season total of five. It puts him not only tied for the team lead in that category but among the league leaders for defensemen as well.

Bieksa will try to make it three straight games with a goal tonight which would mark a new personal career-high. He has one goal and nine points in 22 career games versus Nashville. Three of his nine career points against the Preds came last season.

SHEA WEBER

You can't help watching Shea Weber's play at the start of the season and wonder whether his heart was in Philadelphia even though the rest of him was still in Nashville – the city where he has spent his entire NHL career to date.

The Predators' captain, who caused a huge stir in the off-season when he agreed to a 14-year, $110 million offer sheet with the Flyers only to have Nashville match, looked nothing like the perennial Norris Trophy candidate that he's been the past several seasons in his first 13 games this year as he stumbled out of the gate and managed to net just one assist. He's bounced back considerably since then as he has notched points in four straight outings including recording goals in three straight games, the latter streak being a new career-high.

The Sicamous-native will try to continue his hot run against the Canucks, a team he also was rumoured to be interested in joining prior to signing his offer sheet with the Flyers. He has four goals and 10 points in 25 career games versus Vancouver.

Game Notes on Canucks.com are written by Daniel Fung. Follow him on Twitter @daniel_fung or e-mail him at dfung_sports@hotmail.com.