Having lost two of their top three scorers in Bo Horvat and Sven Baertschi; the Canucks are stuck in a three-game skid. Things won’t be any easier tonight when they take on the red-hot Predators.
From a Team Tank perspective, Monday night’s 5-1 loss to the Winnipeg Jets could not have gone any better.
The Vancouver Canucks lost to a team below them in the standings, all while young players like Brock Boeser and Jake Virtanen took on greater responsibilities. Boeser scored the team’s lone goal, while the latter skated a near season-high 13:27.
From any other perspective, however, one could argue that Monday’s game could not have gone any worse. Subpar goaltending combined with porous defence and a miserable offence to produce a pathetic effort and consequential result.
The big storyline headed into the game against Nashville is the status of Nikolay Goldobin. The 22-year-old offensive winger has spent the last two games in the press box despite a desperate need for scoring. Look for the talented Russian to draw in tonight.
The Predators meanwhile, will be looking to extend their 7-1-2 run with another victory- one that would allow them to overtake the Blues for 2nd place in the uber-competitive Central division.
With that being said, let’s preview tonight’s game.
2017-18 record: 14-13-4
2017-18 record vs Predators: 1-0-0
Goals for: 82
Goals against: 88
Who’s on offence
Brock Boeser: Boeser is reaching new heights in an already unreal season. The Flow was the lone scorer against the Jets; extending his goal streak to three games.
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Even more impressive is that Boeser’s scoring itself accounts for 30.5% of the Canucks’ goals in the past 12 games. For the Canucks to have any chance tonight, they’ll have to lean heavily on Boeser for offence.
The Sedins: With Sven Baertschi and Bo Horvat out of the lineup, the Sedins are once again the focal point of this Vancouver offence. The twins played a season-high 18 plus minutes against Winnipeg, with each registering an assist. With a tough Nashville defence against them, it’ll be interesting to see how the Sedins fare in top six minutes.
Who’s on defence
Derrick Pouliot: The former 8th overall pick has been a revelation for the Canucks; putting up 10 points in 28 games. Pouliot will look to bounce back after a couple of rough performances against the Jets and Flames.
Who’s in net
After a tough night for Marky, it’s a pretty good bet that we’ll see fellow Swede Anders Nilsson get the start. Nilsson’s been impressive in 10 games, posting a .921 save percentage. He’ll have to be on his A-game to give the Canucks any chance to win against a dominant Nashville team.
Daniel Sedin—Henrik Sedin—Brock Boeser
Loui Eriksson—Alex Burmistrov—Thomas Vanek
Sam Gagner—Michael Chaput—Nikolay Goldobin
Brendan Gaunce—Markus Granlund—Jake Virtanen
Alexander Edler—Chris Tanev
Michael Del Zotto—Derrick Pouliot
Ben Hutton—Troy Stecher
2017-18 record: 18-7-4
2017-18 record vs Canucks: 0-1-0
Goals for: 95
Goals against: 84
Who’s on offence
Filip Forsberg: Forsberg leads the Predators in scoring by eight points with 29 in 29 games. He’s been hot as of late with points in 12 of his last 14 games. The dynamic winger has been a little lucky though; converting on 18.9% of his shots.
Kyle Turris: The Preds are making out as bandits in the first month since acquiring Turris in the three-way Matt Duchene trade. Since adding him, Turris has put up 14 points in 15 games. With Nashville’s top centre Johansen out, Turris is doing a great job of spearheading the new look Preds offence.
Who’s on defence
P.K. Subban: The flashy offensive defenceman will look to get back on track against the Canucks, having been held pointless in seven consecutive games. Despite that, he’s still second on the team with 18 points in 29 games. Look for Subban to try and use his speed to exploit a much slower Canucks squad.
Mattias Ekholm: Ekholm is a personal favourite of mine- one of the most underrated defenceman in the league. His efficient play on both sides of the ice makes a huge impact in all situations. It’s also why he’s second on the team in averaging 24:59 a night. Don’t be surprised if the Preds lean on Ekholm heavily to shut down Boeser and the Sedins.
Who’s in goal
Pekka Rinne has been dominant in the past five games; posting a save percentage above .923 in four of his past five starts. With five days of rest since his last start, it’s looking likely that he’ll get the nod.
Kevin Fiala—Kyle Turris—Craig Smith
Colton Sissons—Nick Bonino—Victor Arvidsson
Filip Forsberg—Calle Jarnkrok—Pontus Aberg
Cody McLeod—Frederick Gauthier—Austin Watson
Mattias Ekholm—Roman Josi
Alexei Emelin—PK Subban
Anthony Bitetto—Yannick Weber
Keys to Victory
- Stay out of the penalty box. The Predators have a lethal power play that’s converting on more than a quarter of its chances. The Canucks’ simply can’t afford to let the 2nd best power play in the league get to work.
- Support Boeser. Nashville will undoubtedly send their top defensive pair of Josi and Ekholm to shadow Boeser. While most of the attention will fall on The Flow, his linemates have to make use of any extra time and space they get as a result.
- Get to Rinne early. Between Nashville’s elite blueline and Pekka Rinne’s recent stretch of dominant play, the Canucks will once again have trouble generating chances. To have any chance of breaking through, the Canucks will need to come out of the gate flying. If they can get one or two on Rinne early, we might just see Pekka waver like he did in the Cup finals. If not, Rinne will surely shut them down once he gets dialled in.
- Deny Boeser space. As impressive as he’s been, Brock Boeser is losing the support around him due to injuries. A pure goal scorer, Boeser is far less effective when restricted the time and space to get his shot off.
- Push the pace of play through the D. With guys like Subban, Josi, and Ekholm, Nashville has extremely mobile defencemen who can both rush and pass the puck well in transition. The Preds should look to be aggressive in their transition play to exploit a slow Vancouver team- even if that means taking a few calculated risks. Between Rinne’s lights out play and the Canucks’ lack of speed, counterattacks should not be a particular concern.
- Stay disciplined. The only time that the Canucks have looked dangerous offensively is on the man advantage. Maximizing even strength time will make it tough for Vancouver to generate scoring chances.
The Canucks don’t see anything wrong with a little bump and grind! With injuries all over, the team keeps this close by playing tight defensively. Brock Boeser scores again, and Goldy gets the other.
The Canucks are struggling to score everywhere. Now, they face an elite Nashville team with a stingy defence and hot goalie. Expect this to be another frustrating loss on home ice.
Nashville’s elite blueline is able to slow down a dreadful Vancouver offence. On the flipside, Kyle Turris leads a well-balanced attack that burns the Canucks on the power play.
This is a good team and many of the Canucks that rose to the occasion in Nashville are sidelined with injury or ‘bad practice habits.’ A lot depends on the lineup that Coach Green ices but even if Goldobin gets in, the Canucks aren’t winning this one. The decline is real.
Coach Green learns nothing from Winnipeg. His goaltending will let him down again and Brock Boeser will be the only source of offence. Goldy is getting the short end of the stick again and Dowd will play 7 minutes and still pick up 6 minutes in penalties. Has it been 4 weeks yet? Preds take this game easily.