Look Out! Here Come The Preds!

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PREDATORS (22-11-3) AT CANUCKS (20-16-0)

GAME TIME: 7:30 PM

TV: Sportsnet Pacific

THE FANGED ENEMY: On The Forecheck

UPDATE (11:23 AM): It was apparently heard on the Team 1040 that Pavol Demitra is back practicing with the Canucks...already. They must have good drugs in Slovakia. Just tuned in to the Team and if you gauge what AV said...Alexander Edler could play tonight.

UPDATE (1:08 AM): Salo and Johnson are expected to play tonight. For more on that, and some praise by AV for O'Brien, check out the Vancouver Sun.

UPDATE (1:24 AM): Jason Arnott is "questionable" for tonight with an upper body injury.

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Oh no! Not another Central Division team! No! The Canucks are 1-7 against that heinous group. Turn on the game and pop an anxiety pill, right? Well, maybe not. There are a couple possibilities/reasons why the Canucks might show up for this one.

A. They usually follow lackluster efforts with good ones.

B. Nashville sits 4th in the West. The Canucks won't be playing down to their competition. Nashville is 7 points ahead of Vancouver.

Almost amazingly, the Canucks can still find themselves in 8th spot tomorrow night if they beat the Preds and Dallas loses to San Jose in regulation tonight.(DONE!) Detroit and Dallas play on Wednesday and will probably push us out then if we sneak in.

The Preds are rolling right now. Since their 4-2 win over the Canucks on December 8th, they have a 5-0-1 record. They have won 4 in a row (Canucks don't know what that is like), and have a 7-1-2 record in their last 10 games. Good lord, is this Nashville we are talking about? What gives?

In the 4 game winning streak, there are a few unlikely heroes in Nashville's lineup:

-Patric Hornqvist has 4 goals and 7 points, earning him the NHL's 3rd Star Of The Week.

-Marcel Goc (good buddies with Ehrhoff) has 2 goals and 4 assists.

-Joel Ward has 1 goal and 5 assists.

Then we have what should be the usual suspects:

-David Legwand and Martin Erat have 2 goals and 4 assists each.

-Steve Sullivan has 3 goals and 1 assist.

-JP Dumont (3 points) and Jason Arnott (2 points) have slowed down. Doesn't mean we should discount them. They can strike at any moment.

So Nashville has a lot of good things going on right now, especially with the scoring from several sources.

How do the other stats add up?

COMPARATIVE STATS

-GOALS PER GAME: Canucks 5th, Preds 13th

-GOALS AGAINST PER GAME: Canucks 10th, Preds 16th

-5 ON 5: Canucks 6th, Preds 11th

-POWER PLAY: Canucks 5th, Preds 26th.

-PENALTY KILL: Canucks 19th, Preds 28th

SHOTS PER GAME: Canucks 11th, Preds 12th

SHOTS AGAINST PER GAME: Canucks 10th, Preds 11th.

WINNING % WHEN LEADING AFTER 1: Preds 3rd, Canucks 6th

WINNING % WHEN LEADING AFTER 2: Preds 1st (100%), Canucks 8th (.933)

FACEOFF %: Canucks 11th, Preds 14th

Sad, isn't it? We are better than them in most statistical categories but are still 7 points behind them. Crazy to think that in Nashville's 4-game winning streak they have scored 23 goals, but only 1 of them on the power play, which goes along with their ranking above.

I would really appreciate it if the Canucks would just calm the hell down and play their game. They need to stop getting caught up-ice. They need to play an aggressive, consistent, and defensively sound game. Can someone please teach them how to properly break out of their own zone? Please!

Willie Mitchell said Monday: "We have to go into this one prepared to win 1-0 or 2-1," said Mitchell. "If we do that, we'll be more consistent."

Oh, and check out Kevin Bieksa's disdain about having his ice time reduced. There is some finger-pointing going right now.

Can we clone 12 Ryan Keslers? Is that possible?

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