This is a battle of two teams most expected to not even be in talks of making the playoffs. Fast forward to today, and you have Nashville sitting at the top of their divsion, and Vancouver is second in theirs. The Predators head into Vancouver tonight looking to rebound from Friday night's loss in Calgary. The Preds looked very uncharacteristic by giving up three goals in the third period of that game. It has been rare to see this team give up a lead, and get behind by that much in a short amount of time. Needless to say, adjustments will be made, and it would be surprising if we saw that again any time soon.
This Vancouver Canucks team has been a surprise this year. Not many expected them to be competing this well. It is almost as if they benefited from the old addition by subtraction method. The Canucks have been on a hot streak as of late and they look to carry that into tonight's game at home. We'll see if playing last night will slow them down at all.
The Vancouver Canucks
This is not your typical Canucks team we're used to seeing. A new coach and new players have given this team a fresh look, the biggest of which is no more Ryan Kesler or Roberto Luongo. Other than the Sedin twins, those guys were the faces of this team for a while. The loss of those guys haven't phased them though. Both Daniel and Henrik Sedin are playing phenomenal, and they are getting decent goal tending from Ryan Miller.
Miller has been fitting in nicely with this team. He has an average GAA and SV%, but he is getting the wins. Miller has worked his way to a 7-1-0 record this season so far. It's not just all him though. The Sedin twins just may be playing the best they have played in a while. They each have 12 points and are not looking like they are going to slow down.
With so many changes, it is hard to figure out who is going to be the difference maker in tonight's game. I think it will ultimately be Kevin Bieksa. If he can play effectively against Nashville's top two lines, they have a good shot of winning the game.
The Nashville Predators
James Neal is continuing to find his scoring touch with the Preds. His latest goal couldn't have come at a better time. It was on the power play. A power play that was struggling badly, and one that needed just one goal to take some pressure off of them. We all knew it would only be a matter of time before they started clicking, but deep down, we were all freaking out a bit.
Matt Cullen has been playing better than most expected to already. I have mentioned before that I wasn't quite sure where he would fit in with this team, but he has meshed well with Derek Roy and Craig Smith. I know Smith has enjoyed having Cullen back as well, considering he has three goal in the past two games. The chemistry that line has formed is great for the Preds. Speaking of which...
The entire second line is going to be the X-factor for tonight's game. They've been playing at a high level ever since Cullen was inserted in the line. They are going to be tough to deal with for the Canucks on the back end.
Reason To Watch
It's two good teams going head to head. It should be a crisp, fast paced game that will be exciting (on paper at least). I mean, what hockey fan doesn't enjoy quality hockey, right? Also, no one cares about the Steeles vs. Ravens on Sunday Night Football. So yea, watch hockey.
Wouldn't It Be Funny If
James Neal put a big hit on one of the Sedin twins, which then prompts the crowd to serenade him with a relentless bevy of boos. Wouldn't that just be a great heel move? I think so.
For all of those watching the game at home, you can find it on FS-TN locally. Puck drops at 8:30 pm CST.