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GAME DAY PREVIEW- GAME 81: CANUCKS @ NASHVILLE

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Rest your weary heads. The end and sweet merciful release is coming...

NHL: Vancouver Canucks at Nashville Predators Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Vancouver Canucks (35-35-10) vs Nashville Predators (45-29-6)

Where: Bridgestone Arena, Nashville, TN

When: 5:00 pm PST

Where to Watch: SNP

SB Nation Opposition Blog: On The Forecheck

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: It’s been another year of frustration for the Vancouver Canucks. Should they be able to close out these 2 remaining games with wins, that will see them improve on their point total over last season by 11 points. Just letting you know this now, because you’re very likely going to see this touted as a sign of improvement. It’s marginal at best, and when you consider how low the bar is to make the playoffs in the West, it certainly takes the luster off of it.

Over the next 4 months we’ll dissect it all, from what should and could be changed, who can and should be drafted and how it can all come together to continue forward progress for this team. Trying to stay positive is a challenge when you increasingly have to convince yourself things might not be as bleak as they appear.

So while we try and figure which team it would suck the least to see win the Cup, we can just relax and enjoy a couple games. Maybe they’ll win tonight. Maybe Elias Pettersson will snap his goalless drought. Maybe we’ll see Quinn Hughes notch his first goal.

In spite of all of this, there’s still a spoiler’s role to play here, and that’s better than nothing, I suppose. Nashville are locked in a vicious 3 way battle with Winnipeg and St Louis for the Central Division crown, and they will be desperate for a victory tonight. She may not be there, but the Canucks should always want to make Carrie Underwood cry.

The Canucks have held their own against the Preds this season, getting 3 of 4 points in the two previous contests. What got them there was their best players being their best. Bo Horvat, Brock Boeser and Elias Pettersson all have tallies against the Preds this season, and they’ll need them against a Nashville team that’s unshockingly one of the better defensive teams in the NHL.

The Preds have been playing well, just 3 losses in their last 10 and are eager to shore up as much of a home ice advantage for their playoff run as they can. Via The Province, here’s what we should see from these teams tonight:

CANUCKS’ LINES

Forwards

Tanner Pearson — Bo Horvat — Loui Eriksson

Sven Baertschi — Elias Pettersson — Brock Boeser

Ryan SpoonerAdam GaudetteJosh Leivo

Tim SchallerJay BeagleMarkus Granlund

Defence

Alex Edler — Alex Biega

Ben HuttonTroy Stecher

Quinn Hughes — Luke Schenn

Goalies: Jacob Markstrom, Thatcher Demko

PREDATORS’ LINES

Forwards

Filip ForsbergRyan JohansenViktor Arvidsson

Mikael GranlundKyle TurrisCraig Smith

Colton SissonsNick BoninoAustin Watson

Brian BoyleCalle JarnkrokWayne Simmonds

Defence

Roman JosiRyan Ellis

Mattias EkholmP.K. Subban

Dan HamhuisDante Fabbro

Goalies: Pekka Rinne, Juuse Saros

SICK BAY

Canucks: Jake Virtanen (lower body, day-to-day), Tyler Motte (upper body), Antoine Roussel (knee surgery), Chris Tanev (ankle), Brandon Sutter (hernia surgery, IR), Guillaume Brisebois (hip, day-to-day).

Predators: Miikka Salomaki (upper body, IR), Rocco Grimaldi (upper body, day-to-day).

SPECIAL TEAMS

POWER PLAY

Canucks: 27th (15.8%)

Predators: 30th (12.8%)

PENALTY KILL

Canucks: 10th (81.1%)

Predators: 5th (82.6 %)

GAME DAY BATTLE HYMN: 24 years ago today, the world was introduced to the mad genius of heavy metal, Devin Townsend. After a brief period as singer for Steve Vai’s solo project, Dev’s STRAPPING YOUNG LAD was unleashed upon the world. It remains one of the Vancouver metal scene’s finest moments, incorporating a myriad of influences and fueled by his struggles with mental health issues, SYL left their mark on the scene as one of the most unique, and unashamedly Canadian acts ever. The debut ‘Heavy As A Really Heavy Thing’ started with a whimper, with a mere handful of sales until reviewers around the globe began turning people on to this album. SYL will always be an acquired taste, but to me, this band is such a strong representation of what Canadian metal is all about. Devin’s solo work and other bands since then are all worth exploring, but SYL will always hold a dear place in my cold, black heart.