The Canucks are currently the exact opposite of the Preds. They sit in second-to-last in their division (only the Phoenix Coyotes are worse), second-worst in the conference, and fourth-worst in the league. They are also on a two game losing streak and have lost 11 of the 15 games they have played since the All Star Break.
Despite their record, there are showings of hope for this team. Brock Boeser has been in the Calder Cup conversation all year, and Jake Virtanen and Bo Horvat are players that have shown flashes of their true potential. This team also has a few veterans, namely the Sedin twins and the newly acquired Jussi Jokinen. Those guys will not be able to do much for this team’s competitiveness right now, but they will definitely help mold that locker room into what it needs to be if the Canucks are to return to the Stanley Cup Finals any time soon.
Defensively, no one player really stands out. Opposing teams average .53 goals per game more than the Canucks on 1.9 more shots per game, and the Canucks have also racked up 16 more penalty minutes than their opponents this season. They will have to rely on the offense to score goals tonight if they are looking to beat a scorching Preds team. That will be more difficult given the unsurprising news that Loui Eriksson is done for the year with a fractured rib.
Less than 24 hours ago, the Preds reclaimed their rightful
seat on the iron throne place atop the Western Conference standings, and General Manager David Poile became the winningest GM in NHL history.
Filip Marchberg, sorry, Forsberg, notched two assists, setting up VIktor Arvidsson for two huge momentum shifting goals, including what ended up being the game winning goal. Ryan Hartman got some time with Ryan Johansen and Forsberg, before he was sent back to the 4th line and the JoFA line was reunited. The Hartnell-Bonino-Jarnkrok line kept itself going, with Hartnell opening the scoring for the Preds for his 4th goal in 5 games. And, not to be left out, Austin Watson notched a goal at the end of the game. This Preds offense is clicking, and there are still 19 games before playoffs. Not to mention that there is at least one more forward who will work his way into the rotation, and possibly two.
The biggest thing in recent games—excluding the Oilers game—has been defensive production on the offensive side. In only 25 games played, Ryan Ellis has totaled 15 points, with a +/- of 13. Ekholm has put up a slightly less impressive 28 points in 62 games, but his +15 in those 62 games is almost more impressive. As for the two Norris candidates, Subban and Josi both currently have a +14, with Subban tallying 48 points in 63 games compared to Josi’s 44 in 60. Despite none of them picking up a point last night, Josi was the catalyst in Tuesday night’s win over the Jets, getting an assist on all but the 6 goals scored by the Predators.
In net, it’ll probably be Juuse Saros. The Juuse has been loose this year, going 6-5-5 with a 2.39 goals allowed average and a .926 save percentage in 16 starts. If he can put up anything close to those numbers tonight, the Preds are in good shape.
Reasons To Watch
- The Juuse is Loose
- We’re still on Fish Watch
- It’s a Friday night, and it’s not that late (okay it’s kinda late, but still)
Game of Thrones Scene Equivalent
Something new I’m going to add into my previews, similar to the “WWE Feud Equivalent” and other end-of-preview specials my fellow contributors have put into their own previews. Sorry for any spoilers, but don’t lie to yourself. If you hadn’t started the show yet, you weren’t going to ever start watching.
Anyways, tonight’s is pretty self-explanatory. The Canucks may not be as high-and-mighty as Viserys was, but, he was trying to get something he knows he probably can’t have, and the Canucks will be going for a win they probably won’t get. [DISCLAIMER: It’s not a very pretty end to the scene. You’ve been warned]
Sights and Sounds
Same as (almost) always: FSTN for TV, 102.5 The Game for radio. Puck Drop at 9 p.m. Central.