December 22 2009 04:22PM
The Canucks should be making special wishes to Santa Claus tonight. "Please Santa - give me a win and a healthy roster at the end of the night!"
The Nashville Predators visit Vancouver tonight as the Canucks look to rebound from a woeful and disheartening effort in their last outing. The Canucks have two games remaining on this eight-game home stand and should be looking to win both, starting with tonight's contest against the squad from Music City.
Nashville continues to surprise the entire league with their play all season. Despite a miniscule payroll and a cast of mostly uninspired names, the Predators continue to win and creep up the standings. Nashville currently sits in fourth place in the West, only one win out of the division and conference lead.
That said, the Canucks lead the Predators in most statistical categories - GF, GA, PP%, PK%, 5-on-5 GF/GA. One stat where the Preds lead, and this could be a very important stat tonight, is winning percentage when scoring first. The Preds are third in the league at 0.842. It will be vital for the Canucks to not only score first, but to be leading after the first period. Nashville is not particularly good at coming back when down, so the Canucks need a quick, successful start to the game.
The Predators have only three players with 10 goals or more, and their highest goal scorer has a mere 12 goals. Now, granted the Canucks only have 4 players with double-digit goals, but they also have Kesler and Bernier each sitting on 9 goals coming into tonight's game. The point on Nashville is that they score by committee, so it will be tough for the Canucks to focus in on one player or one line, in particular.
Tonight is a night for Roberto Luongo to win one all on his own. It's been a while since Luongo was the first star of a game. Tonight is just as good as any for him to reclaim the spotlight. Go to it, Captain Lu!