After narrowly regaining their dignity against the Carolina Hurricanes, the Canucks are back and in Music City for a date with Carrie Underwood’s husband and the Nashville Predators.
Following a humiliating display in New York against the Rangers, the Canucks were looking for a huge comeback effort against the Carolina Hurricanes and for the most part they achieved that. Vancouver actually struck first (no, not a typo) when Ryan Kesler capitalized on a 5-3 power play. Tom Sestito made it 2-0 Canucks after deflecting a Jason Garrison point shot and suddenly the Canucks entered the second period with a lead. However, that wonderful feeling did not last long. In the span of 10 seconds, Carolina roared back thanks to Jordan Staal and the minor hockey kid who skates out with the team before the anthems (Editor’s Note: apparently his name is Nathan Gerbe and he is an NHL player. I’m stunned). Kesler, having none of that, bounced one in past Cam Ward about a minute later and all of a sudden Vancouver had the lead again. Not much happened after that span of 2 minutes and the Canucks held on to defeat the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2.
The Nashville Predators have about 3 things going for them: Shea Weber, Seth Jones, and Carrie Underwood. They currently sit 4 points back of the Canucks in the Western Conference standings but have 2 games in hand. Following a summer where they signed everyone’s leftovers, Nashville went into this season with heightened expectations but have so far failed to deliver. Off-season signings such as Victor Stalberg and Matt Cullen haven’t added much offensively, with most of the points coming from David Legwand and Craig Smith. Defence is where the Predators excel with the aforementioned Shea Weber (who will miss Tuesday’s game with an upper body injury) providing a solid foundation. Nashville somehow ended up with Seth Jones after the Avalanche, Panthers, and Lighting opted against drafting the American defence man in last June’s Entry Draft. Usually, the Predators have Pekka Rinne tending the net. However, he has been sidelined for a few weeks with an infection and the responsibility has fallen on Carter Hutton and Marek Mazanec. Carrie Underwood’s husband is also somehow affiliated with the team, but no one is really concerned about that.
Alex Burrows has a broken jaw and will be sidelined for a month.. Expect Zack Kassian to get back into the lineup and Jason Botchford reported the bottom six as shown below. Luongo will start in goal.
D. Sedin – H. Sedin – Kesler
Higgins – Santorelli – Hansen
Weise – Richardson – Booth
Sestito – Dalpe – Kassian
Edler – Garrison
Hamhuis – Tanev
Stanton – Bieksa
1. Bounce back Luongo
Although he hasn’t been terrible, Roberto Luongo hasn’t really stood out in many games and quite often fails to make the game changing save that all successful teams require. With the clock ticking down on his bid for Team Canada, it’s time for Luongo to start becoming the difference maker we know he can be so he can knock Carey Price off his Team Canada starting goalie perch. Also, it would help the Canucks dig themselves out of the hole they are currently in.
2. Alex Burrows
One of these days, Alex Burrows will hopefully score another goal. It’s not so much that he’s not scoring. It happens and everyone goes through it. However, he is playing with the Sedins and that has to be the most concerning aspect of this drought. We can all look at the fact that he is a least getting chances and is just unlucky, but eventually that excuse wears thin.
3. Stay awake
Games in Nashville are much like games in Columbus and Minnesota; awful. The Predators play a defensive style that’s designed to wear teams down and pounce on their mistakes. It’s a relatively successful system, but it makes for some terrible television, especially on the road where the Predators will control the match ups. Unfortunately, the Canucks have been prone to making those mistakes so staying aware of who’s on the ice and being smart will likely be the difference between a win and a loss.
This game is probably going to go one of two ways. Either the Canucks are locked in a awful defensive battle and they lose, or they are locked in a awful defensive battle and they win. I’m taking the latter and saying they make one less mistake than the Predators and win 2-1. Carrie Underwood graciously accepts defeat.