Feb 22, 2013; Nashville, TN, USA; Nashville Predators center David Legwand (11) brings the puck down the ice against Vancouver Canucks right wing Alexandre Burrows (14) during the third period at Bridgestone Arena. The Canucks beat the Predators 1-0. Mandatory credit: Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports

Gameday: Vancouver Canucks at Nashville Predators, 4/15/13

VANCOUVER CANUCKS

at NASHVILLE PREDATORS

April 15th, 2013
Bridgestone Arena
Nashville, Tennessee
7:00 p.m. CDT
TV: FOX SportSouth
Vancouver leads season series 2-0

The Vancouver Canucks have beaten the Nashville Predators twice already this season: 1-0 in Nashville, and 7-4 in Vancouver. They come to Bridgestone Arena tonight looking to shut the Preds out in the season series.

NASHVILLE PREDATORS

(15-20-8, 5th in Central)

The Nashville Predators lost their sixth consecutive game in regulation last night against the Detroit Red Wings, who are fighting for their playoff lives. Tonight Nashville faces the Vancouver Canucks, who are having an easier time of it at the top of the Northwest Division.

Key players

NHL: Nashville Predators at Chicago Blackhawks

David Legwand finds himself surrounded with two very talented young wingers tonight. (PHOTO: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports)

Taylor Beck (3G-4A) and Filip Forsberg played on a line together last night in the young Swede’s debut, putting nine shots on net between the two of them. They were matched up with David Legwand (11G-12A), who has been the team’s most reliable offensive contributor the last few weeks. They looked dangerous together last night, especially during the first period. This is clearly the most skilled line on a depleted team and any chance to beat a team as strong as Vancouver starts here.

Pekka Rinne (14-15-7, 2.28 GAA, .916 SV%) is starting yet another back-to-back tonight, and it’s been on the books and confirmed since early on in the day. He’s been in good form lately, but hasn’t collected a win since April 2nd thanks to a dearth of goal-scoring by the Preds.

Others to watch

After Legwand, Sergei Kostitsyn (3G-11A) is the highest-scoring veteran forward the Preds will put on the ice tonight. His 14 points in 41 games have been completely underwhelming to a fan base that hoped he would be a major contributor to Nashville’s offense this season.

Mattias Ekholm will play his first game with the Preds since the start of the 2011-12 NHL season. Ekholm was called up under emergency circumstances to cover for injured defenseman Kevin Klein.

VANCOUVER CANUCKS

(23-12-6, 1st in Northwest)

Vancouver was in a bit of a battle for the Northwest Division title a few weeks back but has pulled ahead of the Minnesota Wild with a 7-3-0 record over the last 10 games. The team might have a chip on its shoulder after losing 4-3 to last-place Colorado yesterday.

Key players

NHL: Vancouver Canucks at Nashville Predators

Roberto Luongo has a chance for a second shutout against the Preds tonight. (PHOTO: Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports)

Roberto Luongo (8-4-3, 2.36, .911) has only started four times since he beat Nashville in Vancouver on March 14th, but he’s showing no signs of rust. His most recent start saw him stop 40 of 41 shots in a win over Calgary.

Ryan Kesler (2G-7A in 10 games) has missed most of this season, but his return from a foot injury three games back has seen him contribute a goal and three assists to the team’s cause in steadily increasing ice time.

Others to watch

Henrik Sedin (11G-28A) and Daniel Sedin (11G-24A) are still hockey’s version of the Wonder Twins.

Bottom line

Vancouver is certainly a beatable team, but the current Nashville squad isn’t likely to be able to do what they need in order to pull out a win. Too many injuries to too many key personnel have them sporting half an AHL squad right now, and their offense has become completely ineffective as the season has drawn closer to an end. Tonight is another good testing ground for the players of tomorrow, but expecting anything more from it is a setup for disappointment.

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