Nashville Predators @ Vancouver Canucks Preview : All In

Luongo_poker_medium vs. Pekka_blackjack_medium

9:00 PM CST | FSN-TV (HD) | 102.9 FM | Online Radio Stream

I don't really believe in "streaky" teams. People see the losing streaks, followed by winning streaks, followed by losing streaks, and suppose something about the Predators makes them uniquely susceptible to running hot and cold. "Streakiness" in sports, like many popularly ascribed attributes, is often narrative imposed on coincidence. 

Fans bemoaned the Predators lack of consistency earlier this season, but consistency for consistency's sake is no goal. R.A. Dickey told me "what everybody wants at any level of professional athletics is to be consistently good." Short of that, though, I'll settle for good, because right now the Predators are seeing the other side of consistency--consistently out-chanced, consistently out-worked, consistently beat. 

And let's face it--if this team hopes to make any type of run in the playoffs, a hot streak will be involved. I can envision a scenario in which the Predators make the playoffs and advance a few rounds, but it involves Pekka Rinne channeling his inner-Hasek and pitching shutouts with Roy Halladay-like frequency. 

There's nothing consistent or sensical about losing to the NHL's worst team one night and beating its best right after. But the Predators can and need to do it. If there's going to be another good streak, please let it start now. 

Keys to the Game for Nashville

  • Pester Luongo--The waiving of Svatos, aging of Sullivan, and hating of Dumont have left the Predators low on scoring touch. And despite losing four of their last five, the Predators outshot their opponent in three of those four games. The Predators need to generate better quality chances, and for a relatively-unskilled bunch like this one, that means standing near the net, creating screens, getting rebounds. 
  • "They play a weird system. It's almost like they don't want to score goals and they just want to sit back and wait for us to make mistakes. It was a little frustrating. We got some quality shots, but we needed to generate a little bit more. Their goalie played well. Their goalie won them the game. It wasn't a very entertaining game for the fans, that's for sure." --Ryan Kesler

Inside the Numbers

  • Rookies Jonathon Blum and Blake Geoffrion are getting great opportunities to play down the stretch, but they won't be totally thrown into the fire. Blum is taking a whopping 66% of his non-neutral zone faceoffs so far in the offensive zone, while Geoffrion is dead last on the Preds in Quality of Competition. And while it may seem like babying, these match-ups also give the youngsters more opportunities to be a part of the team's offense and make a lasting impression.  
  • By contrast, Canucks' rookie Chris Tanev is being used in a strictly stay-at-home capacity, taking 60.6% of non-neutral zone faceoffs in the defensive end. And despite having just one point, he's performed admirably in the role, managing not to get outshot, while on the ice. 

Lineups

Nashville 

Kostitsyn - Fisher - Erat
Willy - Leggy - Horny
Spaling - Smithson - Ward
 Halischuk - Geoffrion - Tootoo

 Suter - Weber 
Klein - Blum
Franson - O'Brien
Rinne

Vancouver

Burrows - H. Sedin - D. Sedin
Raymond - Kesler - Samuelsson
Torres - Malhotra - Hansen
Glass - Lapierre - Tambellini

Salo - Ehrhoff
Ballard - Hamhuis
Tanev - Rome
Luongo (C)
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