I’ll admit it—since last week’s game was at 83 o’clock Western Poutine Time (WPT), I didn’t watch any of it. That being said, I’m not upset that I missed it. The Canucks scored early and never looked back. Elias Pettersson scored on his first ever penalty shot (because firsts-ever against the Preds are automatic). Pekka Rinne was chased from the game. It was an incredibly inauspicious start to the Predators' brief Canadian road trip, which followed through to their next game (also a loss, to the Flames).
The Preds have since bounced back with a fundamentally sound win over the Ottawa Senators, though the Senators were playing so few recognizable players that Twitter was digging pretty deep into the joke well...
Is Thomas Chabot Jewish? Because I'd really like to tell him "Chabot Shalom."— Adam Vingan (@AdamVingan) December 12, 2018
Hanukkah's over, Adam!
The Canucks are not much better, though they have won three in a row. That being said, at this point, with this depleted lineup, every game is a grind.
20-year-old phenom Elias Pettersson leads this Canucks team in everything, except for age. He’s got a healthy 32 points in only 27 games, and is shooting over 28%. He and Bo Horvat (28 pts) are the two consistent guys to watch out for on this extremely mediocre Canucks team. A returning Brock Boeser has also been extremely productive, with six points in his last seven games, including a hat trick on December 9th (but it was against St. Louis, so does it count?).
Alexander Edler and Ben Hutton are your top-pairing blueliners on this squad. And since most people would be unlikely to pick them out of a lineup of two, we’ll move on to the netminding. Jacob Markstrom has been the primary starter, leading his team to the frozen sheet in 23 games, and he has a halfway decent 11-9 record. That being said, his GAA and save percentage are both abysmal—so nothing about him is scary. Anders Nilsson, known for such hits as “Without You” and “Coconut,” will be your (presumed) backup, assuming he hasn’t retired off the royalties of this commercial...
Oh, I almost forgot. Extremely relevant is that this is a Michael Del Zotto revenge game. You know he’s going to be fired up.
They’re all still injured. Poile provided this major update yesterday:
Per @1025TheGame: #Preds GM David Poile says Kyle Turris could return to game action this week, P.K. Subban hopefully next week and still three or so more weeks for Filip Forsberg and Viktor Arvidsson.— Thomas Willis (@TomAWillis) December 12, 2018
Hopefully Turris is back tonight, but honestly, who needs him when such aces as Miikka Salomäki and Freddy Hockey are soaking up minutes. Behind noted goal-scorer Austin Watson (the team’s leading scorer over the last month), there’s no one. Eeli Tolvanen has played reasonably well, but he’s been saddled with linemates of the local men’s no-check hockey variety. Kevin Fiala has shown some glimmers, and Ryan Hartman continues to shine, but it’s a barren wasteland in the offensive firepower department.
The defense has weathered P.K. Subban’s long absence with the revolving door of Anthony Bitetto and “Puckodile Hunter” Matt Irwin (crikey!), and neither has performed impressively. To the eye, Bitetto appears more dynamic, but when I see either getting penalty kill minutes (when Ekholm, Ellis, Hamhuis, or Josi is in the box), I preemptively take an antacid.
Luckily, Pekka Rinne is doing Pekka Rinne things. In Tuesday’s game against the Senators, Pekka gave up an extremely soft goal within the first 30 seconds. After a tough two-game road trip, it was extremely demoralizing. He proceeded to shut the Senators out the rest of the game, earning first star status and leading his team to a 3-1 victory. He’s performing at levels above and beyond last year’s Vezina-winning season, and he’s a joy to watch—playing the puck well, letting up very few rebounds, and exhibiting flexibility and quickness with ageless grace. Juuse Saros has been less than stellar this season, so we’ve needed Rinne, and he’s stepped up big time.
Reasons to Watch
- Turris might be back.
- Rocco Grimaldi is going to have two or more points.
- Chargers-Chiefs is a meaningless game between two inconsequential football teams with no excitement or playoff ramifications.
Preds-Canucks WWE Feud Equivalent
I’m kind of cheating here, but with disjointed pieces composing the Preds' roster, I thought back to one of my favorite returns in history. The APA teamed with Lita to demolish Heath Slater after a string of cockiness (the Canucks' three game winning streak?). A twist of fate, clothesline from Hell, and finally a Litasault (3-0 Preds win tonight) sent a clear message to Slater that, quite frankly, they didn’t give a DAMN that he has kids.
How to Watch
102.5 the Game for the radio call
FS-TN on the television
Bridgestone Arena for the live viewing