The team-level stats and assorted updates ahead of tonight's late-night (9:00 p.m. Central) start between the Predators and Canucks.
|Nashville Predators||Vancouver Canucks|
|5-on-5 Save %||.931||4th||.919||14th|
|# of PP's/Gm||3.19||26th||3.80||10th|
|# of PK's/Gm||3.38||6th||3.72||17th|
The Canucks are a well-rounded team, without any glaring holes, but no single area is exactly tearing up the league, either. That's pretty impressive considering the injury issues Vancouver has had to deal with this season, and speaks to the potential that team has if they can get healthy or perhaps add a piece for a playoff run.
In their only previous meeting this season, the Canucks beat the Preds 1-0 in Nashville back on February 22nd.
After this road trip is over, the Preds play 12 of their final 18 games at home. Tickets at Bridgestone Arena are growing scarce, so make sure you take the OTF Discount!
The Canucks are used to running away with the Northwest Division each year, but this time they've had difficulty separating themselves from the pack. A decent part of that can be explained by the absence of Ryan Kesler, who has only played seven games this season. He missed the opening weeks while recovering from off-season hip surgery, but then broke his foot after returning to action.
The other big story in Vancouver, of course, is the goaltending drama, which currently shows Roberto Luongo as having reasserted his dominance in net, quieting the talk of trading him (and his hefty contract) so the Canucks can turn over the keys to young Corey Schneider.
|2012 - Roberto Luongo||12||722||6||2||3||25||2.08||300||275||.917||2|
You can tell how tense things are in B.C., given the reaction to a recent win over Columbus which ended a four-game losing streak:
All hail Roberto Luongo for "saving the season." Frustrations were boiling hotter than they had all season, and I'm sure both Luongo and Alain Vigneault are breathing a little easier tonight. After stopping Letestu's final shot, Luongo even had a sort of smile on his face that read, "Don't worry guys, I got this."
--- Nucks Misconduct
Make sure to head over to Nucks Misconduct to check out their preview for line combinations and more.
The Preds are going through a rough patch with injuries, having lost a regular forward in each of their last three games. The latest victim was Paul Gaustad, so Nashville has called up Chris Mueller from Milwaukee to fill the gap at center. Where he'll fit in the lineup is a bit of a guess, as Josh Cooper gives us at least a glimpse of what to expect tonight:
Looks like Spaling back to center the fourth line, and Boychuk will take his place on the wing with Smith and Halischuk— JoshuaCooper (@JoshuaCooper) March 14, 2013
With Spaling and Smith both getting work at center, perhaps Mueller will watch from the press box tonight, but stand ready if needed for the rest of the current road trip.
Do the fewer number of games make Rinne more capable to get through the season without being affected physically? Are the Predators forced to start him more than they'd like because of their place in the standings? Probably a combination of both.
"It is a different kind of year; you notice the schedule because there's not much time to practice. But I feel good physically," Rinne said. "You just try to save as much energy as you can and bring everything you've got to the game."
|2012 - Pekka Rinne||24||1410||10||8||4||47||2.00||618||571||.924||5|
So plan for a late night of hockey watching, and stay tuned for a special guest star posting tonight's game recap...