Tale of the Tape: Canucks @ Predators (4.15.13)
|Team Record: 23-12-6
Last Game: 3-4 L at Colorado (APR.13.13)
Season Series: 2-0-0
Last Meeting: 7-4 W (MAR.14.13)
|Team Record: 15-20-8
Last Game: 0-3 L vs Detroit (APR.14.13)
Season Series: 0-2-0
Last Meeting: 4-7 L (MAR.14.13)
The Vancouver Canucks (23-12-6) will try to rebound from a loss in Denver when they continue their five-game road trip tonight taking on the Nashville Predators (15-20-8).What You Need to Know
- The Canucks are playing the third game of their five-game road trip tonight. They are 1-1-0 after the first two games and are coming off a 4-3 defeat at the hands of the Avalanche on Saturday, a loss that snapped their four-game win streak.
- Saturday's loss in Denver was also Vancouver's third in their last four games on the road.
- The Predators are closing out their four-game home stand tonight but are still in search of their first win on the home stand. Including their 3-0 loss to Detroit last night, Nashville has lost six straight games and has just one win in their last 10 outings (1-7-2).
- Back on April 2, before the start of Nashville's current six-game losing streak, the Predators sat tied for the eighth and final playoff spot. They begin play today sitting nine points back of eighth place with just five games left on the schedule. A loss tonight would officially eliminate them from playoff contention.
- The Canucks begin play today sitting five points ahead of the Wild for first place in the Northwest Division. Both teams have played 41 games so far. Minnesota is in action today as well as they take on Calgary in a game that starts one hour after the Canucks' game begins.
- The Canucks are expected to shuffle their forwards once again tonight with the most notable change being F Ryan Kesler shifting from his usual centre spot to the wing. He's expected to skate on a line with F Derek Roy in the middle and F Alex Burrows on the left side.
- For the first time in nearly a month, Canucks G Roberto Luongo will get a planned start as he will be between the pipes tonight. Luongo blanked the Predators in the Canucks' last visit to Nashville back on February 22 stopping all 23 shots he faced in a 1-0 Vancouver victory.
- Tonight marks the third and final meeting between the Canucks and Predators this season. Vancouver has already captured the season series winning both of the first two games including scoring a 7-4 win in their most recent match-up back on March 14 at Rogers Arena.
- The seven goals the Canucks scored against the Predators in their last meeting tied their record for most goals in a single game against Nashville. They first set that record back on March 20, 2003 in a 7-3 win on home ice.
- A win tonight would allow the Canucks to sweep the season series against the Predators for the first time in team history. Vancouver has come close to sweeping Nashville on two occasions – in 2000.01 and in 2003.04. In both of those seasons, the Canucks finished with a record of three wins and one tie against the Predators.
Tonight's game faces off at 5 pm PT and can be seen on 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 live in-game play-by-play.
Keys to the Game
The Canucks Win If...
- They come out angry and ready to redeem themselves. The fact the Canucks are coming off a loss to the last place team in the league should be more than enough motivation for thems to want to quickly remove that bad taste from their collective mouths. After Saturday's embarrassing outing, they should be fired up to make sure they don't have a repeat of the debacle from two days ago.
- Luongo outduels Rinne. The Canucks' netminder turned in a sensational performance in his last start five nights ago in Calgary stopping 40 of 41 shots and will need to carry that over to tonight when he's expected to go up against a fellow top netminder in Pekka Rinne. Luongo has started both meetings against the Predators in the season series posting a perfect 2-0 record with a 2.00 GAA and a .929 save percentage to go with one shutout.
- They don't get frustrated and wait for their scoring opportunities. The Preds are like two different teams when it comes to how they perform on home ice compared to on the road at least as far as their defensive play is concerned. While they are among the league leaders in most goals surrendered on the road (65), they have also given up among the fewest home goals (47). That being said, the Canucks may have to wait and pounce on their chances when they come along or, in other words, they have to out-Predator the Predators.
The Predators Win If...
- They don't try to outgun the Canucks. If their last meeting against the Canucks back on March 14 was any indication, the Preds – who are one of the lowest scoring teams in the league this season – aren't likely going to find much success if they try and play run-and-gun with Vancouver. Instead, their best bet to succeed would be to try and take away space and scoring chances and capitalize on mistakes by the opposition when they get those opportunities.
- They play like their season is on the line...because it is. The Predators won't make the playoffs this season but they're technically still alive at the moment. That could change by the end of tonight, however, as a loss will officially end their playoff hopes. That being said, if Nashville wants to keep themselves alive for one more day, they'll need to treat this contest not only like a playoff game but as if it were a Game 7.
- Filip Forsberg provides a spark. The newest top prospect of the Preds had a rather unremarkable NHL debut last night but, with the butterflies now out of his stomach, perhaps he can showcase some of the offensive skill tonight that made him such a high draft pick of the Capitals last June.
Ones to Watch
In the six seasons that Dan Hamhuis spent as a Nashville Predator, he developed a reputation for being a solid, stay-at-home defenseman although even the fans in Nashville will tell you he had a flair for offence that was underrated. This season, Hamhuis is showing that offence is still very much a part of his game.
The 30-year-old comes into tonight's game leading all Canuck blue-liners with 21 points including four tallies which equals his entire goal output from last season. He also brings a five-game point streak (2-3-5) into tonight's contest which matches his personal career-best. A point tonight would extend his streak to a career-high six games.
Hamhuis hasn't exactly torched his team on the scoresheet since leaving Nashville following the 2008.09 season. He has four assists in eight career games against his former team, with one of those helpers coming earlier this season.
Before he even made his NHL debut, Filip Forsberg had already been involved in one of the league’s biggest trade deadline day deals.
The 18-year-old, who is described as a skilled two-way forward, was originally a first round pick (11th overall) of the Washington Capitals at last year's NHL Entry Draft but was moved by the Caps to Nashville in a trade that saw Martin Erat go the other way. He began this season in his native Sweden playing for Leksands IF in Sweden's second-highest league where he was having a career-year netting 15 goals and 33 points in 38 games before coming over to North America.
Forsberg, who bears no relation to former NHL superstar and one-time Predator Peter Forsberg, made his NHL debut last night against the Red Wings finishing with 0 points in 18:37 of ice-time with two shots and a minus-two rating. His career resume includes winning a World Junior gold medal in 2012 as well as captaining the silver medal-winning junior squad for Sweden in 2013.
Game Notes on Canucks.com are written by Daniel Fung. Follow him on Twitter @daniel_fung or e-mail him at email@example.com.