Preview #58: Predators Battle League Leading Canucks


By Amanda DiPaolo

Season Records

Vancouver Canucks 37-14-9
Nashville Predators 30-19-8

Cody Franson has scored in consecutive games. Can he make it three in a row?

On Thursday night, the Nashville Predators host the Vancouver Canucks at Bridgestone Arena. It’s the first of two meetings between the two clubs in Nashville and is the second of four meetings this season.

Vancouver is first overall in the entire NHL and have only lost three games in regulation in their last 29 games. The Canucks are coming off a 4-1 win over Minnesota on Tuesday night.

Nashville is 4-4-2 in their last 10 outings. The Predators lost in overtime on Tuesday to the Sharks after allowing 50 shots on goaltender Pekka Rinne.

Season Series

This is just the second of four meetings between the two clubs. Nashville first played Vancouver just before the All-Star break, losing by a 2-1 score. The game was scoreless going into the third period. Nashville took the lead on a Shea Weber blast but the Canucks came back and scored two goals before the end of regulation for the win.

Last season, the two teams split their season series each winning one game at home and one on the road.

At home against the Canucks, the Predators have a 9-9-(1)-4 record in 23 games.

Special Teams

Winning teams have great special teams. Vancouver ranks first in the League on the power play, converting on the man advantage 25.4 percent of the time. That number increases on the road to 28.7 percent. To stop that offense Nashville will have to stay out of the box, and when that doesn’t happen, the team will need to show why they have the second best penalty kill in the League at 86.4 percent kill off rate.

The game on Tuesday night marked the 37th time this season that Nashville did not allow a power play goal scored against them. When Nashville kills off all penalties it takes, the Predators have a 23-8-6 record. In the last eight games, Nashville has killed off 26-of-27 penalties, 96.3 percent. Nashville also boasts the top-ranked home penalty kill in the NHL at 89.9 percent.

Nashville’s power play has been better as of late. Tuesday night Nashville scored a power play goal for the sixth time in seven games. The Predators have gone 6-for-22 which is a 27.3 percent conversion rate. The Preds are 14-6-3 when scoring a man-advantage goal. However, the power play is streaky and is only ranked 25th in the entire League with a 15.3 percent success rate.

Vancouver has a very solid penalty kill too, ranked fifth in the League at 85.2 percent kill off rate.

Injuries

Both Nashville and Vancouver have battled through injuries this season. In particular, it is the Canucks blueline that is suffering the most right now. Five Vancouver defensemen are out with injury.

Alexander Edler has been on injured reserve since the end of January and is out indefinitely after having back surgery. Lee Sweatt was put on injured reserve February 3rd with a foot injury. Andrew Alberts has a broken wrist, had surgery, and is expected to miss six to eight weeks. Keith Ballard is expected to miss a month with a sprained right knee, and former Nashville Predator, Dan Hamhuis is out indefinitely with a concussion.

As if the injuries on the blue line couldn’t get any worse for the Canucks, they actually did on Thursday morning. The Vancouver Sun reported that Kevin Bieksa is also out. He has a broken foot.

With all the injuries on the blue line, however, Vancouver still boasts Sami Salo, Christian Ehrhoff, and Aaron Rome, but will be getting some help the AHL affiliate for the next few weeks.

Nashville got two players back into the lineup Tuesday night against the Sharks. Marek Svatos saw less than five minutes of ice time on Tuesday. Marcel Goc also returned to the lineup.

According to The Tennessean Francis Bouillon has begun off-ice workouts but is still a ways away from returning to the Predators lineup.

Nashville’s other two injured players are not expected back anytime soon. Cal O’Reilly remains out with a broken leg and Matthew Lombardi hasn’t played since the second game of the season in which he sustained a concussion.

Game time is 7pm at Bridgestone Arena. Tickets are still available. It’s college night which means if you show your student ID you can get upper level seats for $10 and lower bowl seats for only $25.

Photo: Getty Images
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