Facing each other just two weeks ago in Nashville, the Predators and Vancouver Canucks will square off again tonight at Bridgestone Arena. Nashville, who’s been off since Thursday, is 27-14-4 and second in the Central Division; Vancouver, who beat Chicago 3-1 last night, is 20-19-6 and seventh in the Pacific Division.
The last time these two teams faced each other, the Canucks extended Nashville’s losing streak to four games, scoring three unanswered goals in front of a 31-save performance from Thatcher Demko.
While Nashville controlled five-on-five possession for the first and third periods, Vancouver capitalized on their momentum from the game-tying goal and let Demko do the rest. Overall, however, it was a tight battle when it came to scoring chances; Nashville slightly edged out the Canucks with a 50.8% expected goals rate.
Since then, the Predators rebounded with three solid wins over Winnipeg, Detroit, and Seattle but lost to Edmonton in a shootout late last week.
As of last Thursday, forward Eeli Tolvanen was the only Predator on the league’s COVID list, and Dante Fabbro remains on injured reserve. However, David Poile said this morning that he expects both back in the lineup today. Expect Juuse Saros to start before heading to Vegas for the NHL All-Star festivities this weekend.
Since their last win in Nashville, Vancouver is 2-1-3, including their win in Chicago last night. Over those six games, the Canucks have scored just 12 goals and five of them came in a beatdown of the Jets last week.
While trade rumors begin to swirl, J.T. Miller continues to lead Vancouver in scoring with 44 points in 43 games, and Elias Pettersson is heating up with two goals and four points in his last six games. Conor Garland, whose name has also come up in trade rumors, has just one assist in his last six outings.
Despite a slight turnaround since hiring Bruce Boudreau, the Canucks remain a negative possession team (49.9% Corsi) at five-on-five that’s benefiting from excellent goaltending; their combined five-on-five save percentage of 0.943 towers above the league average of 0.923.
Vancouver recently welcomed Demko, Jaroslav Halak, Bo Horvat, and Garland back from the league’s COVID protocol, but Tanner Pearson remains on the list. Jaroslav Halak started last night in Chicago, so expect Demko to go against Nashville tonight.
Prospects to Watch
The Canucks don’t have much behind their two emerging forwards (Podkolzin and Höglander) in the way of prospects, but we could see defender Noah Juulsen dress for his third-straight game tonight. The 2015 first-round pick by Montreal has bounced from Quebec to Florida and now to Vancouver; he’s gone scoreless this season in the NHL but has scored ten points in 25 games with Abbotsford in the AHL.
In Nashville, rookie Philip Tomasino, who’s tied for the league-lead in power-play goals by a rookie (3), has one goal and three points in his last five games. Tanner Jeannot continues to lead rookies in scoring (13) and is sixth in points (26); he has just one goal and one assist in his last five games.
Where to Watch
Puck drop is at 7:00 pm CT tonight, and you can watch on Bally Sports South or ESPN+. As usual, the Nashville radio call will be on 102.5 The Game.