By Amanda DiPaolo
Nashville Predators 32-23-9
Vancouver Canucks 40-15-9
Hopefully Erat and Kostitsyn can find their scoring touch again for Nashville (Getty Images)
The Nashville Predators and the Vancouver Canucks are going head-to-head for the third of four meetings on Thursday night at Rogers Arena. Both teams are coming off games Tuesday night that were 2-1 scores decided in the shootout, but with differing results. The Predators lost to the Edmonton Oilers. Vancouver beat the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Nashville has had a problem finding the back of the net. While last game saw Blake Geoffrion score his first NHL goal and the game prior to that, Sunday against Columbus, saw Jonathan Blum score his first NHL goal, Nashville’s veterans need to step up.
The Predators have scored 8 goals in the last six games going 1-4-1 in that span. Four of the eight goals have come from defensemen, two by Weber and one by Suter and Blum. Besides Geoffrion, only Colin Wilson, Sergei Kostitsyn and David Legwand have found the back of the net recently for the Predators.
It would be easy to say all Nashville needs to do to score more goals is to take more shots. But take Edmonton for example. The last two times the Predators have played the Oilers they have outshot them and still lost. Even still, a more consistent ability to put shots on goal throughout a game couldn’t hurt. Only Detroit has scored more goals this year than Vancouver and the Canucks have 10 players who have more than 100 shots on goal. the Predators have only 6 skaters who have reached the 100 shot on goal mark.
Among active forwards, only Jerred Smithson and Jordin Tootoo have shot the puck less than Sergei Kostitsyn for the Predators. Kostitsyn, however, is just one goal off the team lead at 16 tallies on the season. While many of Kostitsyn’s more memorable hockey moments are quick passes that seem impossible to make, the accuracy in his shot is evident. With 16 goals on 67 shots, Kostitsyn has to be encouraged to take the shot when he has an open lane.
With all the roster changes for Nashville, the youth movement has taken over and has been productive thus far, but the Predators can’t possibly make the post season if all the pressure and expectations are put on the shoulders of a couple highly touted rookies.
Fun fact for those keeping track, the Predators now have the fifth-youngest active roster in the NHL at 26 years, 140 days. Taking Steve Sullivan and Francis Bouillon off the active roster as well as Marcel Goc and adding Blum Halischuk, and Geoffrion means the only teams with younger rosters are the New York Islanders, Colorado, St. Louis and Toronto.
After Thursday, the Predators move on to Calgary for a game on Sunday and then play in San Jose on Tuesday night before heading back to Nashville where the team will play nine of the next 10 games.
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