Get Back On Track: Canucks - Predators Preview

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GAME TIME: 7:30 PST

TV: Sportsnet

SEASON SERIES: 1-1

LAST MEETING: December 22: Canucks 4 Predators 1

THE ENEMY: On The Forecheck

UPDATE (1:45 PM): If any idiot decides to use a laser pointer at GM Place tonight, Nashville coach says this: "I'll pull the team off," Trotz said after his team's morning skate. "They do that, then we'll stay off." More on that here. Jokingly, it sure wouldn't be hard to find Trotz's mellon with one of those would it?

UPDATE (12:20 PM): H/T to those who caught it in the comments section: mercifully, Steve Bernier will not play tonight because of an apparent groin pull. Jannik Hansen will draw into the lineup. Hell yes.

************************

Vancouver used the win over Nashville on December 22 as stepping stone to go on a tear. They are 6-0-2 since that game, outscoring their opponents 31-15 in the process. In those 8 games:

-Henrik Sedin has 4 goals and 11 assists. Woo!

-Daniel Sedin has 4 goals and 9 assists. Woo! Woo!

-Alexandre Burrows has 7 goals and 4 assists. Woooo!

-Ryan Kesler has 2 goals and 6 assists.

-Mikael Samuelsson has 4 goals and 2 assists

-Mason Raymond has 3 goals and 3 assists.

-Kyle Wellwood, Alex Edler and Sami Salo have 4 points each.

There is a lot in those individual stats to be excited about.

There is also a time to come to the realization that some of those players are not going to be able to keep up that pace. The Canucks' high times won't last forever. With every high comes a low. Vancouver took their foot off the gas pedal against the Flames on Saturday night and lost to a flattering 3-2 score. Very flattering. And that was a game where they could have kept their spot on top of the Northwest Division. I'm not going to sit here and hack the team for that lackluster effort. I'll take it in stride and hope that they find another gear against the Predators. I can take solace in the fact that the Canucks sit in 5th spot in the Western Conference log jam. The Avalanche, Predators and Kings, who occupy 6, 7 and 8th spot have somewhat cooled off, especially the Kings. Vancouver sits 4 points up on the re-surging 9th spot Red Wings and 8 points up on the 10th place Stars.

That is no reason to become complacent though.

It will be great getting Salo back into the lineup to balance out the defencemen's minutes again. With Oberg and Lukowich playing their first games against Calgary, Alain Vigneault limited their ice time (especially Oberg) and Ehrhoff and Edler played over 32:00 each.

Nashville rolls into Vancouver to begin their 3-game road trip. They lost their last game 3-2 to Anaheim. They are 5-5-0 in their last 10, but have won 4 of their last 6. In those 6 games:

-Shea Weber, obviously stoked about his Team Canada draw, has 1 goal and 7 assists

-Patrik Hornqvist has 5 goals and 2 assists

-JP Dumont has 2 goals and 3 assists

-Steve Sullivan has 1 goal and 4 assists. Stevie was boarded by Hurricanes' Andrew Alberts last week:

Cooled off are:

-Marcel Goc (1 goal and 1 assist in those 6 games)

-Ryan Suter (2 assists)

-Martin Erat (1 goal and 1 assist)

-Jason Arnott (1 goal and 3 assists) He missed Saturday's game with an upper body injury. He is questionable for tonight.

I expect Pekka Rinne to start for Nashville. Check out his stats here.

COMPARATIVE STATS

GOALS PER GAME: Canucks 3rd, Predators 13th

LEAST ALLOWED GOALS PER GAME: Canucks 7th, Predators 17th

5 ON 5: Canucks 3rd, Predators 12th

POWER PLAY: Canucks 4th, Predators 25th

PENALTY KILL: Canucks 12th (and still rising), Predators 27th

SHOTS PER GAME: Predators 13th, Canucks 15th

LEAST ALLOWED SHOTS PER GAME: Canucks 9th, Predators 12th

WINNING % WHEN SCORING 1st: Predators 4th, Canucks 10th

WINNING % WHEN LEADING AFTER 1: Predators 2nd, Canucks 5th (remember that shit)

WINNING % WHEN LEADING AFTER 2: Canucks 2nd, Predators 3rd

FACEOFFS: Canucks 9th, Predators 16th

ON THE HOT SEAT

Steve Bernier. Pointless in his last 8 games but not a minus player. 1 goal and 1 assist in his last 14 games. Ugh. Get your shit together, Steve. We need line 3 to chip in more often.

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