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Hockey, Sports

Ben Hutton returns to lineup for Canucks tonight in Nashville

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Lachlan Macintosh Feb 07, 2017 2:56 am 265

After two lopsided losses following the All-Star Break, the Canucks head out on the road for what essentially amounts to a make-or-break road trip. With Vancouver five points out of a playoff spot, anything less than some excellent hockey in their upcoming contests could spell the end to their playoff chances.

Nashville, Columbus, Boston, and Pittsburgh are all currently in the top three in their respective divisions and will likely prove stiff competition for the Canucks.

See also

Matchup

Vancouver Canucks (23-23-6, 52 points) vs Nashville Predators (25-19-8, 58 points)

Venue: Bridgestone Arena, Nashville

Time: 5 pm PT

TV: Sportsnet Pacific

Radio: TSN 1040

By the numbers

  Canucks Predators
Goals for 2.29 (28th) 2.69 (14th)
Goals against 2.85 (19th) 2.54 (9th)
Power play % 14.4 (28th) 17.8 (19th)
Penalty kill % 79 (23rd) 83.6 (9th)
Shots for 27.8 (28th) 31.5 (5th)
Shots against 31 (21st) 30.3 (16th)
Faceoff % 52.2 (4th) 50.3 (15th)

Lineup

Brendan Gaunce was reassigned to the AHL Utica Comets, increasing the chance that we may see Reid Boucher sometime soon. The move was forced by Ben Hutton’s activation from IR.

It appears Hutton will draw in next to Tryamkin to begin the road trip. Jacob Markstrom will get the start in goal.

D. Sedin H. Sedin Eriksson
Baertschi Horvat Burrows
Granlund Sutter Hansen
Megna Chaput Skille
Edler Stecher
Sbisa Tanev
Tryamkin Hutton
Markstrom

What you need to know

1. Not a pretty playoff picture

It wasn’t long ago that the Canucks were in the final wild card spot, if only barely. However, they’re now five points behind the Calgary Flames for that same spot with the St. Louis Blues and Winnipeg Jets ahead of them. Not to mention the Dallas Stars also have 52 points. It’s crowded, but the Canucks are near the back of the line.

A .500 road trip wouldn’t be good enough and would likely lead to the end of the dreams of playoff dancing in the heads of Canucks players and fans alike.

2. Road woes

Much has been made regarding the Canucks pitiful performance on the road this season. Before the 2016-17 campaign began, experts and pundits all over predicted the Canucks would place last in the league… Well, maybe they were just half right.

The Canucks own the worst overall road record and worst road point percentage in the league. They’re 6-15-3 with those four of those six wins coming against such noted powerhouses as the Colorado Avalanche (twice), Arizona Coyotes, and Tampa Bay Lightning.

Nashville is no walk in the park either – when the Predators are playing well, Bridgestone Arena can be a pretty tough place to play.

A good showing on this road trip might just change the narrative on the Canucks poor road record. A bad one would almost certainly be the death knell for an up and down season.

3. Smash city

The Predators long since moved on after completing the biggest blockbuster trade in recent history, dealing Shea Weber to Montreal for P.K. Subban.

Though Subban has been restricted to 36 games this season, he’s back now, as is Roman Josi, who had been out for nearly a month with a suspected concussion.

Vancouver native Ryan Johansen leads the team with 38 points in 52 games, including 29 assists.

Nashville is likely too far behind the Minnesota Wild and Chicago Blackhawks to battle for the division lead, but do sit three points up on the St. Louis Blues. The Preds have alternated wins and losses for the last six games, most recently dropping a 1-0 decision to the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday evening.

Nashville also completed a trade on Monday, acquiring Vernon Fiddler from New Jersey for a fourth round draft pick. This will be Fiddler’s second stint in Nashville and it’s just a shame that Kevin Bieksa isn’t still with the Canucks…

Prediction

Things don’t look particularly positive heading out on this six-game road trip. They’ve suffered two bad losses in a row, but are icing a relatively healthy lineup for the first time in a long time.

I’m not sure why, but I feel as if Alex Edler is going to have a big game. Look for a couple of power play points (yes, power play) and a few big hits. Canucks win 4-2, start this trip off with a bang, and win the season series between these two teams.


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Lachlan Macintosh
Above average cook, below average fantasy football player, Harvard graduate, and eternal lover of the Peyote Coyote.

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