CANUCKS ARMY GDT# 53 – CANUCKS @ PREDATORS

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Photo Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin – USA TODAY Sports

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There are no gimme’s from here on out for the Vancouver Canucks and with the start of their six game road trip beginning in Nashville this evening, they’ll need every bit of help they can get. The loss on Saturday to the Wild really stung because it was a measuring stick for what this team should expect.

They failed.

Tonight, the Predators will have a healthy lineup and it could give the Canucks fits right from the opening faceoff. Round one of the “biggest game of the season” starts tonight so I sure hope this team is ready for the challenge.

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LINE COMBOS

Ben Hutton returns to the lineup after being out with an injured hand against the Flames on January 6th. Jayson Megna is back in the lineup (hooray!) and has taken over Brendan Gaunce’s spot. 

Brendan Gaunce was sent down as he is waiver exempt. I don’t know if Jim Benning knows this but Jayson Megna is waiver exempt too! Well, not really but you could understand why I’d say that.

Ryan Miller is between the pipes and he may just be the only reason this will be close tonight.

Vancouver Canucks lines courtesy of Dailyfaceoff.com:

Roman Josi is back in the lineup after concussion protocol has kept him out since January 12. He did come back on the weekend but will be with his normal partner Ryan Ellis. This will be the Canucks first look at P.K Subban in a Predators uniform as he was injured the last time they played.

Pekka Rinne should start and he’s a tough customer. Don’t expect an easy night out of him.

Nashville Predators lines courtesy of Dailyfaceoff.com:

GAME NOTES, STATS AND OTHER INTERESTING INFO

  • Brandon Sutter is still hanging around the FOW% leaderboard with a 55.7% rating. He’s had a pretty remarkable year and the fact that he’s healthy probably speaks to those numbers. The Canucks have struggled in many areas but faceoffs doesn’t seem to be one of them. This is one of those times where you can only imagine how bad this team would be without Sutter. Don’t imagine it, though.
  • Skinny pants or baggy skateboard ones, it doesn’t seem to matter a whole lot to Pekka Rinne and Ryan Miller. Rinne has a phenomenal .922 SA%, while Miller is a good run away from boosting his .915. Despite the Canucks offensive woes, Ryan Miller has hung around with the NHL’s elite-ish and again, if he’s not playing the way he has then who really knows how far ahead of the Nolan Patrick sweepstakes Vancouver would be.
  • Having the game on his stick seems to be Sven Baertschi’s M.O lately. Since January 1, he is tied for 2nd in the league with 3 GWG. Tough to say when that goal becomes official but Baertschi has a knack this year for scoring valuable goals. His linemate, Bo Horvat, is no stranger to this either.
  • The road seems to favour Jack Skille’s CF%. Skille leads the Canucks with a 53.90% at 5v5 on the road. He is a close second to, wait for it, Jayson Megna on xGF% with 51.54, which he and Megna are the only two over 50%. 

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

This is pretty funny. We all need a laugh sometimes. What is scary is how close to the truth this is. I take it back, it’s not funny at all. It’s frightening.

MY TAKE

An essentially healthy lineup should warrant the Canucks a chance tonight but the Predators play Vancouver pretty tight so there really isn’t room for error. Even if Ryan Miller stands on his head, this one will be a grind until the end.

PRE-ROAD TRIP PREDICTION

I think I may be in the minority but I believe the Canucks can go 3-2-1 on this 6-game road trip. Wins against St. Louis, Buffalo and Columbus are my guess, outright losses to the Penguins and Bruins and an OTL tonight against the Predators. I’m wrong so often, though, so don’t put too much weight into it.

  • Red Moon Rising

    Morning Troops. Been away, did I miss anything? (scans week worth of blogs)

    Oh.

    So, team wilts under pressure– check.

    Grampa Willie still loves him some crappy players–check.

    J.D. with the Corrado love (or Benning hate)-check

    TheRealPB posting better than half the bloggers–check. (He’s half the reason I stop by here).

    Stealth Tank (TM) part II underway–check.

    Always94 misnumbering the GDT–check (sorry, 94 but you do this every year so some mild chop-busting is in order).

    Bud Poile’s cheerleading skills coming along nicely–check (Benning should really have bought you a beer by now).

    Gaunce sent to minors…..wait, what? This is the one I’m having trouble with. I realize that he is not being put in the best position to succeed but his defensive game has been, given the circumstances, exemplary (I may be overstating that a bit). I understand that owning a donut in the goals column doesn’t look good (and likely feels much worse) but its not like his line is expected to carry the offense and whereas Chaput seems to be able to pass the biscuit reasonably well, he rarely has the puck. Skille does know how to hang on to the puck (he’s one of the few who can actually gain the offensive zone with some regularity) but he couldn’t pass the salt at Sunday dinner. On top of that I really do believe from following his play for a few years that Gaunce is a better centre than winger (so even though he will get a lot more ice down in Utica it will likely be on the wing).

    For a management that propounds to want the playoffs their decisions are seeming a little suspect.

    Ah, that’s better. Have a good day everyone.

  • Vanoxy

    Willie D must be suffering from a serious case of flop sweat right now.

    Toughest stretch of the season coming up and Claude Julien is on the market.

    I expect him to be twice as twitchy as usual behind the bench tonight.

    • Pat Quinn Way

      Totally agree with this comment. It’s pretty amazing and sad that proven Stanley Cup winners like Hitchcock, Hartley, Crawford and now Claude Julien are without head coaching jobs in the NHL whilst Willie D is still behind the bench in Vancouver. Mind-boggling.

      Surely CA bloggers should be discussing this on the forum?

      Let’s not forget that Willie is Lindens guy not Benning’s, but Julien sure was a big part of the puzzle in Boston when Jimbo was (then) Bruins GM and mastermind Peter Chiarelli’s grunt in Beantown.

      Let’s also remember that Vancouver got Keenan in a few seasons after the heartbreaking Rangers final loss back in the day… deja vu?

        • Pat Quinn Way

          Haha No way would I want that soap opera back mate, however it is funny now looking back at Messier arriving on that private jet while everyone looked on in disbelief that the mess-iah was arriving to save the franchise along with Iron Mike!

          What I am saying is the Canucks tried sleeping with the enemy once in a desperate attempt to win a Cup so would they try it again with Claude Julien joining Benning here… stay tuned?!

  • apr

    A lot of love for Hitchcock and Julien whose teams have underperformed all season, while WD’s team is fighting tooth and nail for a playoff spot and was predicted to finish with 65 points.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    We must be a real good team when the only things worth talking about are who should play on the 4th line! For what it is worth, I don’t quibble at all with the decision to send down Gaunce. Give him a chance to remember that he can score a bit. Maybe he can even help Virtanen a bit. Would like to see Boucher get a chance on the 4th.

    Defence will be the next interesting decision. When Gudbranson comes back, will they send down Stetcher or waive one of Larsen or Biega? Waive Megna and carry 9 Dmen?

    Julien being available is interesting, but probably more of a worry for a coach on an underperforming team (Winnipeg? Dallas? Philly?). Don’t see Julien coming here any time soon, unless he really believes that Bo Horvat is going to lead the Canucks to the promise land (I hope he can, but don’t see him as an elite 1C — maybe a Ryan O’Reilly).