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Nashville Predators vs. Vancouver Canucks Preview: Canuck Is Enough

The Nashville Predators are running out of games to start collecting points, the time for change is now

NHL: Vancouver Canucks at Nashville Predators Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

The Nashville Predators host the Vancouver Canucks tonight at Bridgestone Arena, in a battle of two teams competing for the final wild card spot in the Western Conference.

The Preds have won each of the last two season series between the two clubs and is 4-1-1 in their last six meetings.

The Vancouver Canucks

The Canucks come into Nashville having won seven of their last 10. They have done well to dig themselves out of an early season hole that saw them post a nine-game losing streak from Oct. 22 through Nov. 7.

Vancouver is coming off a 3-1 loss to Calgary on Saturday. Prior to that, they had won six straight. Bo Horvat leads the team in goals (13) and points (29). The Canucks also have three other players who have scored double-digit goals: Sven Baertschi (11), Daniel Sedin (10), and Brandon Sutter (10).

Vancouver sits just one point back of the final wild card spot. They are also two points ahead of the Predators in the wild card standings, meaning this game can shift the pecking order in playoff contention.

The Nashville Predators

Nashville is coming off a 5-2 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center. The Preds fought all game long and kept it close in the third period before conceding two empty net goals.

The Predators are losers of six of their last eight, and have not won a home game since Dec. 13 against St. Louis. The good news for the Predators is Vancouver has been a bad road team, posting a 5-13-1 road record.

Ryan Johansen leads the team in points (29), and has nine multi-point games this season. The Preds are undefeated in games in which Johansen scores a goal. Filip Forsberg has six points (4 goals, 2 assists) in his last six games and six goals in his last nine games. With Colin Wilson, James Neal, Viktor Arvidsson, and P.K. Subban all injured, the Preds will need Forsberg and Johansen to step their games up and put some pucks in net.

Reasons to Watch

  1. Let the kids play. Top prospect Vladislav Kamenev made his NHL debut Jan. 6 against Florida. He is being heralded as the Preds future second line center, behind Johansen and many have been chomping at the bit to watch him play. In addition to Kamenev, Frederick Gaudreau and Harry Zolnierczyk have been called up from the AHL to fill some holes in the lineup. There is no question the road to Nashville leads through Milwaukee, and fans are getting a taste of the talent in the prospect pipeline.
  2. The Predators may be in serious trouble. Their inconsistent play, coupled with the rash of injuries this season, have been the perfect storm for lackluster results as far the on ice product is concerned. The Preds are 17-16-7 with just 41 points. They currently sit in fourth place in the Central, and three points out of the final wild card spot. If this team is going to make the playoffs they need to turn things around, immediately.
  3. Despite everything I just mentioned, they are only three points out of a wild card spot and just six points behind the Blues for third in the Central. This team was in a similar situation last year, then they traded for Johansen and went on a run, including setting a franchise record 14-game point streak. This team has the talent and is very capable of doing so again this year. However, it seems as if everyone expects them to go on a run at some point, and waiting for it to happen can become dangerous business.

Sights & Sounds

Puck drop is at 7 p.m. You can watch on Fox Sports TN or the Fox Sports Go app. And as always, you can listen to the smooth sounds of Pete Weber and Brent Peterson call the game on 120.5 the Game.