Canucks Army GDT #41 – Canucks @ Predators

After dropping their final two games of their five game home stand, the Canucks take to road to battle the league leading Nashville Predators tonight at 5:00 PM PST. Vancouver’s biggest challenge of late has been putting puck past opposing goalies, and that task gets even tougher tonight as they face the league’s stingiest team in their own rink.

Read past the jump for a preview of what is likely to be a closely contested game.

Broadcast Info

Puck Drop: 5:00 PM PST

TV: Sportsnet Pacific

Radio: TSN 1040

Lineups

Courtesy of DailyFaceoff.com

Defensive Pairings
Alexander Edler 
Alexander Edler
Chris Tanev 
Chris Tanev
Ryan Stanton 
Ryan Stanton
Kevin Bieksa 
Kevin Bieksa
Luca Sbisa 
Luca Sbisa
Frank Corrado 
Frank Corrado

Newly minted NHL All-Star Radim Vrbata will re-take his position at first-line RW with the Sedins. Bo Horvat did not practice yesterday due to a maintenance day. Linden Vey will suit u pin his stead if Horvat is out. Dan Hamhuis will not dress tonight, but plans on playing some time during this 5-game road swing. Eddie Lack will make his 3rd start in 4 games as Ryan Miller is still dealing with a minor illness.

Defensive Pairings
Roman Josi 
Roman Josi
Shea Weber 
Shea Weber
Seth Jones 
Seth Jones
Mattias Ekholm 
Mattias Ekholm
Anton Volchenkov 
Anton Volchenkov
Victor Bartley 
Victor Bartley


James Neal will likely return from a lower body injury tonight. Ryan Ellis will miss tonight’s game with a lower body injury. Mark Arcobello has been placed on waivers. Pekka Rinne will start in goal.

Head to Head

G41 @ NSH

Storylines

  • On the Hunt – Considering their lineup features a mish-mash of relatively unheralded young players and veteran re-treads, it’s a bit surprising to consider that these Nashville Predators currently sit in 1st place in the entire NHL. A lot of this is goaltending – Pekka Rinne currently has an astounding 0.930 save percentage through 36 games played – but this is still a potent offence that would lead the Pacific division in goals for, and a top-10 puck possession team. Character issues and all, Mike Ribeiro has been the best value signing of the offseason, as he’s given the Preds high-end 1st line puck possession and production at a price tag of just $1.05 million this year.
  • Back to Lack – As Ryan Miller sits out another outing with an illness, Eddie Lack will get his 3rd start in four games tonight, making this easily his most busy stretch of the season to date. After stumbling out of the gate, Lack has provided Vancouver with excellent backup goaltending, and posted a very respectable 0.918 save percentage so far this season while playing mostly in very difficult situations. With continued strong efforts, it will be tough to ignore Lack’s push for an increased workload for much longer.
  • Power Outage – The Canucks have gone nearly two full games without scoring a goal since sneaking one by Roberto Luongo early in last Thursday’s contest against the Florida Panthers, and were shut out by a goalie that the Utica Comets have beaten five times themselves this season on Saturday. Since the beginning of December, the Canucks are dead last in the NHL in 5-on-5 goals for (21), and T-29th in 5-on-5 goals for/60 (1.6). Some of this is percentage driven, but a lot of it is just ineptitude and poor play. According to War On Ice, the Canucks are a bottom-10 team at generating scoring chances at even strength since this slump began, and are 23rd in the NHL in scoring chance for percentage (SCF%) at 46.3%. They’ll need to be much better to get a few behind Pekka Rinne tonight.

Gameday Reading

      • Pekka Rinne has nothing to do with signing Ribeiro on the cheap because most every other GM in the NHL was too delusional to overlook his off ice “issues”.

        Acquiring Forsberg was another example of taking advantage of a competitor’s delusion.

        And it’s not just a couple of moves.

        Nashville has been competitive for years on a limited budget and without the benefit of a number of top 5 picks…

        • Those off ice issues were/are huge and can still work out to bite Nashville. Just look at Ribeiro’s track record, it speaks for itself. Taking that sort of risk is easier for a non playoff team outside of the spotlight, which Nashville was last year. Nothing really brilliant to point out here. More desperation than anything else.

          Nashville has been a bubble team for longer than any team I can remember in the West. Their drafting has been fantastic considering where they drafted their cornerstones Weber and Rinne. So I agree, they seem to have hit a couple of homers in the draft.

          I’ll change my argument a little and say Weber and Rinne have a lot to do with it. Take either one of these guys out and Poile doesn’t have the leeway to make the moves he does. Just look at what they did without Rinne last year.

          • Weber, Suter, Hamhuis, Josi, Ellis, Jones etc.

            I’m not sure that any other GM has done as well with defenseman as Poile.

            And Rinne isn’t the only goalie who has posted good save percentage numbers in Nashville.

            Nashville has ranked 1, 2, 12, 16, 16, 3, 6, 23, 26 & 3 (prior to today’s games) in team save percentage in the salary cap era.

            Vokoun, Mason & Ellis all put up some good save percentage years prior to Rinne taking the starter job in 2008-2009 and Rinne has had some down years mixed in there as well.

            They have long been a tough team against which to play…

          • acg5151

            Tallon seems to have an eye for D-men as well. Also Lombardi.

            Yes Vokoun, Mason, and Ellis did well. But they had each other to lean on for competition. This particular Nashville team is in trouble, or desperately shopping for a rental goalie if Rinne goes down. Carter Hutton and his .899 save percentage awaits on the bench.

  • We need to be on the receiving end of one of these idiotic deals that lands someone Filip Forsberg or Tyler Seguin. There’s gotta be someone who thinks Burrows, Bieksa or Higgins is that last intangible doesn’t there? Or someone who’s dumb enough to pull a St. Louis and take Miller at the deadline?

  • acg5151

    I am with NM00 on this as far as Nashville is concerned – up until Suter left the Preds were a solid playoff team for several years, like that year where they finished off the Detroit Lidstroms in the first round. The only reason they couldn’t go deeper is because they went up against a ridiculously hot Mike Smith in the second round that one year, and because they went up against a ridiculously hot Vancouver Kesler’s the year before that.

    They have perennial Norris candidate Shea Weber, perennial Vezina candidate Pekka Rinne, a good young defensive group full of high picks like Ryan Ellis and Seth Jones, good dman Roman Josi, and a forward group that has Calder candidate Filip Forsberg, young power forward Colin Wilson, ridiculous center depth that they have built through FA, trades, and good drafting, and James Neal, who I don’t like but who is a good player.

    I don’t see many weaknesses with this Predators team come playoff time and David Poile deserves a lot of credit for that.