Game 7 Preview: KesLORD vs. Predators

Ryan Kesler put on a hockey clinic against the Predators this past Spring.
Will it do it again tonight?
(Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images North America)

Game Day Recon: Game #7 – Predators @ Canucks

The Predators roll into Rogers Arena to try to avenge their devastating second round loss to your Vancouver Canucks. I’m trying to make this game sound dramatic because if tonight’s game is ANYTHING like the six games we saw in the playoffs, we’re in for a looooooooooong, sloooooooooooooow night, kids.

Get the caffeine ready. Maybe have a book on hand. Maybe you have a really exciting game of Words with Friends that you want to finish. All viable options.

Predators Hockey! Catch the fever!

Broadcast Info

Game Time: 7:00 PM PT

TV: SN-VAN Radio: Team1040

The Setup

The Nashville Preda….zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Oh sorry. I nodded off there for a second at the mere thought of the Predat……zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz….. damnit it happened again.

The Predators are not exciting. They are not flashy. They are not loaded with super-star talent.  In fact, their most exciting player, Martin Erat, has only played one game so far and he’s out of the lineup on IR. The Canucks catch a break there, because Erat has become a Canuck Killer of late, with 24 points in 32 regular season GP against Vancouver.

The Predators record and goal output has been quite similar to the Canucks this year, but I’m pretty sure hockey fans in Music City aren’t phoning into sports radio shows to roast their goaltender or demand their coach’s head, or bemoan the team’s special teams. In fact, do hockey fans in Nashville even know the season has started? I kid, I kid.

Now that Ryan Kesler has his first game under his jock, Canucks fans are hoping to see him dominate the Preds much like he did in May when it seemed like it was Kesler vs the Preds through all six games. Unfortunately, Kesler doesn’t Shane O’Brien on the other side of the ice to use as a pylon. So Kesler gets a chance to test his new hip against a team he skewered a few short months ago. Hopefully that will breathe some life into this game.

Final notes… Roberto Luongo is debuted a new mask tonight. THAT should solve all his problems! Mikael Samuelsson is out for tonight’s game and Marco Sturm draws back in. They’ve both been dreadful so far, but Sturm did have his best game against the Oilers before drawing out against the Rangers. It will be interesting to see if Sturm keeps up his improvement after a one game break. But seriously, if not for Ryan Kesler tonight, I might be gunning for a personal best score on Angry Birds tonight.

The Three Keys

Here are the three keys for the Vancouver Canucks tonight:

  1. ZOMG! Score a goal on the power play! And score a goal int he first period. Just score a bloody goal! PLEEEEEEEEEEEEEEASE! The Canucks have alternated scoring 4 goals then 0 goals for four straight games… so since they were shut out against the Rangers… FOUR GOALS TONIGHT! The fact is that the Canucks have been wildly inconsistent with their scoring to start the season, and that mostly means that they haven’t been scoring enough. The Cauncks have only 14 GF in 6 games this season, and while this is miles better than the 8GF in 7GP in the Stanley Cup Final, it’s not cutting it to start the season. Granted that they do have some balance to their scoring, with 7 forwards already notching at least 1 goal to start the year (Henrik, Daniel, Burrows, Higgins, Hodgson, Samuelsson, Lapierre). This is fairly average when compared tot he rest of the teams in the league right now. Considering the fact that they aren’t supposed to have "balanced scoring" yet, this has to be considered a positive. Their offence should kick into high gear now that Kesler is back and actually has two decent wingers playing beside him in Hodgson and Higgins. Kesler just has to remember that he actually HAS wingers playing with him, instead of trying to do everything himself. Then again, their opponent tonight is the Nashville Predators, and Kesler kinda had a thing for running over the Preds like a bull in a china shop. If for nothing else, let’s just hope that Kesler can add some hot sauce to the Canucks power play.
  2. Dan Hamhuis needs to get his game going. From an article in the Province today from Tony Gallagher, Hamhuis claims he’s feeling better than ever. Well, you wouldn’t know it from the way he’s started. He’s been a mess so far this year. And it’s possibly one of the reasons why Vigneault and the coaching staff have been juggling the defensive pairings so much. They need to find some spark for Hamhuis, and frankly all of the defencemen. That is except for Sami Salo, who’s been a tower of poise and consistency on even strength. So for the rest of the defencemen (possibly excluding Keith Ballard, too – but I’ll admit that I am a Ballard apologist), it’s time to see them get back to their stellar play from last season and the playoffs.
  3. Win the special teams battle. The Canucks have started the year MUCH WORSE than the Predators on both special teams. That’s not to say that the Canucks power play has been awful. It WAS awful against the Rangers, despite the litany of shots. The Canucks penalty kill has been very sub-par, compared to last season. Not that playing against the Predators provides much of a tonic for either ailing situation, but getting back on track on special teams against Nashville would certainly help right the ship and get the fans to shut their yaps. Oh, wait. That was me yapping. Alright Canucks, you heard me. Do me a favour and shut my yap tonight.

The Links

Here are your top 5 links for today’s game:

  1. Tale of the Tape (Vancouver Canucks)
  2. Trotz says Canucks’ power play something to fear (The Province)
  3. Toothless Canucks needs power-play bite (The Province)
  4. Young Pred still has to prove himself (The Province)