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Vancouver Canucks vs. Nashville Predators Preview: The Pekka Rinne Show

Pekka Rinne has been fantastic lately, and Nashville’s holding third place in the Central. A win tonight means two crucial points in a tight race.

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Tuesday’s outing against the much-hated Chicago Blackhawks was a sweet victory against a team we love to beat. THE Pekka Rinne made some incredible saves to keep the Predators in the game late (I feel like I use this sentence a lot). Timely goals from Filip Forsberg, Austin Watson, and Roman Josi helped the Predators seal the deal against the surging Hawks. As Alex noted in his recap, the Predators’ turtling in the third period is becoming more common …. that’s concerning.

The Predators are in the middle of a series of games where they’re playing every other night. With points in the last 10 of 11 games played, they’re skating at an impressive pace. However, they are still third in the Central Division. Even with wins over St. Louis and Winnipeg, Nashville still sits behind those teams in third place.

Tonight, the Preds face the Vancouver Canucks in their first of three meetings this season. The Canucks dropped their contest on Tuesday against the New York Islanders. The Canucks are 11-10-4 on the season. Last season, the Predators won two of three contests against the Canucks.

The Vancouver Canucks

While Canadian teams tend to gather little attention in Nashville, it’s evident that the home cooking of Bridgestone Arena is important to the Predators. Every chance for two points is a chance that should not be squandered.

After winning against Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, Vancouver lost to New Jersey, the Rangers, and the Islanders. They will be looking to snap their losing streak tonight.

Vancouver sits in the middle of the League standings. They’re fourth in the Pacific Division, somehow above Anaheim and the disappointing Edmonton Oilers.

Vancouver has a new coach: Travis Green. Green coached the Utica Comets, the Canucks’ AHL club. He was hired in late April. With the aging Henrik Sedin and Daniel Sedin, Green can hope for the future if this season doesn’t put Vancouver in the playoffs. The Sedins will be 37 at the end of the season. Vancouver looks like they’re closer to the draft lottery than to the playoffs, but we could be surprised.

The Canucks can boast one of this season’s most exciting rookies in young Brock Boeser. He has 11 goals and 11 assists, good for 22 points. Boeser is making the Calder race exciting for fans in Vancouver.

Bo Horvat has 18 points this season, and free agent pickup Thomas Vanek has 17 points. The Sedin twins both have 12 points.

In goal, the Canucks have Jacob Markstrom and Anders Nilsson. Neither are starting goaltender quality, although Markstrom has played about nine more games than Nilsson. Markstrom has a .909 save percentage, and Nilsson has a .924. Nilsson started Tuesday against the Islanders, but the Canucks goalie in the crease for Thursday’s game remains a mystery.

The Nashville Predators

The Nashville Predators are doing some serious work during this current stretch of hockey. They have lost only three games in the month of November (against San Jose, Carolina, and Minnesota) and are holding steady at third in the Central. The Carolina game went to a shootout, so the Predators have collected points in 10 of their last 11 games. They have one of the League’s best records in November.

Prince Filip Forsberg has 25 points going into tonight’s game after adding another goal Tuesday evening. P.K. Subban has 18 points, and tiny Viktor Arvidsson has 17 points. What’s excellent about the points leaders is that three Nashville defensemen have more than 10 points: Subban, Josi, and Mattias Ekholm.

According to The Tennessean’s Adam Vingan, Filip Forsberg is the only player this season with points in all his home games.

If the Predators can continue to keep their foot on the gas through a full 60 minutes, there is no reason they should have less than two points in tonight’s game.

Rinne’s save percentage has climbed to .928, and his incredible saves Tuesday night earned him another win. He’s one of the game’s stars nearly every game he plays. See the below clip for Pekka Rinne’s absolute dominance. We don’t deserve him.

Memories and Feelings

-A loud Bridgestone is the best Bridgestone. Ryan Johansen mentioned he hadn’t heard Bridgestone “playoff loud” until Tuesday evening’s game against Chicago. Preds fans are the loudest fans!

-”The fans don’t want you to turtle. I don’t want you to turtle. Pekka doesn’t want you to turtle. Play a full 60 minutes! Don’t turtle!” -Coach Laviolette probably/hopefully

Reasons to Watch

  1. Thursday night hockey in Smashville!
  2. You should watch simply to see the magnificence of Pekka Rinne.
  3. Will the Predators turtle in the third period?
  4. Will Pontus Aberg ever score? Tonight may very well be the night!

Theme Song

“Fight for your Right” by the Beastie Boys.

The Preds have to fight for their right to score, to maintain a lead, and to win.

Sights and Sounds

Puck drop is at 7 pm Central in the Tire Barn. Fox Sports TN will have the live broadcast, and 102.5 the Game will have the radio call.