Game 53: Canucks vs. Predators: Fellowship of the Puck

Music City Mayhem

In Honour of Sean Astin co-starring on NCIS Tuesday night…

Just when you thought the schedule might get a little easier for the Vancouver Canucks, that idea turned into a fantasy worthy of Tolkien. The same can be said about the Central Division and how it’s shaped up to this point in the season.

Canucks Offense vs. Predators Defense

Attempting to reach “Mordor,” Van City will have to get by the Oliphant on Tuesday night!

Columbus is an after-thought in 5th place and 31 points behind the 4th ranked Central Blackhawks, but the other four teams are attempting to walk into Mordor also known as Detroit.

You know what they say! One does not simply walk into Mordor.

Detroit is and always will be one of the top two powerhouses in that division, barring a move to the East in re-alignment.

A couple weeks back, Vancouver was facing off against St. Louis in a battle for 1st in the West. Now Detroit has reclaimed that spot and Nashville site in 4th, one point ahead of the Blues.

If parity in this league had a monetary value, you could buy an army of 10000.

In fact 1st in the Central (Detroit) is separated from 4th in the Central (Chicago) by just 7 points.

Keys To The Game!

Well the Canucks have to deal with all this Tuesday night and they should win. They should, by all accounts, leave the Music City with 2 points and some pats on the back.

Of course that’s not a given judging by how Took-ish the boys in blue have been playing recently. With Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider bearing the burden lately, here are your keys to Tuesday night’s matchup against the Preds.

Those Preds Are Smokin’

Similar to the hot streak Vancouver enjoyed a couple months ago, Nashville is 14-3-0 in their last 17 games. That is why they sit in a position now that would give them home ice advantage if the playoffs started today.

As expected, Mike Fisher has led the Nashvillian fellowship with 16 points in his last 17 games (8g, 8a).

The Predators are 18-2-1 when Fisher notches at least one point in a game. His line-mates Martin Erat and Sergei Kostitsyn have 16 and 15 points, respectively, in that same span.

If you remember, Martin Erat had a hat trick against Vancouver a couple seasons ago so with him and his line-mates on fire (baby burn it up), the Canucks D would be well served to have their heads on swivels when the first line is on the ice.

Rinne Revisited

When Vancouver and Nashville went toe to toe last May, it was expected to be a low scoring series based just on the style of play Barry Trotz likes to employ. It turned out to be a battle scoring goals because of the play of Pekka Rinne.

Only once in 6 games did Vancouver score more than 3 goals.  It was mainly credited to Ryan Kesler for winning that series and once again Nashville has had a very stingy defence this season.

Ranked 7th in the West for Goals Against with 136; 6 more than Vancouver, it will not be easy to come by goals Tuesday, especially given the recent difficulty the Nucks have had.

Not to be a pessimist, but if the Canucks are also attempting to reach “Mordor,” they’re going to have to get by the Oliphant that is Nashville’s last line of Defense. I see some resemblance to Weber don’t you?

I’ll make this really simple for everyone; Pekka Rinne has won a franchise record ELEVEN straight games.

That matches NHL best streaks by Roy, Brodeur, Biron and Fleury over the last 13 seasons. ( story)

Road Warriors

I’m painting a pretty bleak picture for the Canucks Tuesday night but not all is lost; or in the words of Aragorn: “There’s always hope.”

The Canucks are 1st in the West and tied for 2nd overall when it comes to victories on enemy ice with 17.

One might challenge that by saying the Preds have the same amount of wins on home ice this season but that that I say, “HISTORY.”

These two teams have met twice this season, splitting the decisions but both of those were in Vancouver. If we go all the way back to May 2011 again, Vancouver wins Games 3, 4 and 6 to clinch the series; all of those games in Nashville.

Vancouver vs. Nashville

Alain, Carrie and the Canucks come into Nashville Thursday night riding the Kesler wave!

It was in Nashville that Kesler split the D and scored arguably the goal of the playoffs. That also represents a ray of hope for Vancouver as Kes has finally started to heat up and resemble his old self.

He has 5 points in his last 5 games, including 4 goals. That run also includes a 3 game Goal scoring streak the naked one will take into Bridgestone Arena Tuesday night.

Perhaps this is a chance for him to further break out and make a statement heading towards March and April.

In fact, it’s about time he put the team on his back and won a game or two.

BEST BET TO WIN: Naaaaaashville? Am I actually saying that?

If the Canucks as Frodo bearing the burden of playing like crap lately should get past the Predator Shelob and advance into the realm of Mordor, one main thing needs to happen.

They need to play up to their standards.

I heard an interesting call on the TEAM1040 Monday morning and the caller stated that the Canucks would not break out of this slump until they have gone a few games without getting points.

While barely earning said points in games that they didn’t deserve to, they are still technically slumping.

They are underachieving and should be putting up more of a fight against some of these teams (i.e. Colorado.)

Alain Vigneault said that the Twins and Alex Edler sat out of the on-ice practice Monday because, “…they didn’t really have an All-Star break and this seemed like a good opportunity for that.”

Perhaps that is another reason to be optimistic but Nashville simply has the upper hand going into Tuesday night’s quest. Yes; quest.

I hate to say it, but the Canucks Tuesday, should not they not play at the level they CAN, are as good as mount DOOMED.

Puck drop is at 5pm on Sportsnet Pacific and the Team1040 Radio.

Find out what I’m TOLKIEN about and Follow me on twitter @vancan19 for some great in-game tweets.


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