The Nashville Predators land in Vancouver for their last game of a four-game road trip on Monday night. They were in Edmonton on Saturday where they coughed away a 2-0 lead to lose against the Oilers, 3-2. It’s a big loss that may return to hurt the Predators in April. At a minimum, they at least have to get a point out of that game, but that wasn’t the case versus an Oilers team fighting for a spot in the playoffs as well.
The Predators are 26-21-7 with 59 points heading into Vancouver on Monday night. Their most realistic shot of getting into the playoffs is going to be a wildcard. They’re three points behind the Calgary Flames for the final wildcard in the Western Conference, so yes, every point is important for the Predators now and that blown game may return to haunt them.
If the playoffs started today, the Predators would be left out while the Canucks would be dancing into the first-round as the No. 1 seed in the Pacific Division. The Canucks continue to lead a tight field in the division, as they look to build on a slim lead by a point on Monday. Edmonton and Vegas are a point behind the Canucks, so there is zero breathing room to be had.
The Flames are only three points behind as well, while the Coyotes are within reach at 61 points Vancouver carries a record of 30-21-5 and 65 points into Rogers Arena this evening. Who is going to win the Pacific? Many will give you a guess, but that’s all it is at this point. The talent level is so even in this division that it’s tough to say who will emerge with top honours in the Pacific Division.
You could make a solid argument for each team who is within reaching distance. The Canucks have been building up a solid roster of talent in the last few years, and now it’s coming together for them. Whether they’re a year or two off from really benefiting from the rebuilding process remains to be seen, though.
Just don’t expect the Canucks to fade away if they don’t get it done this season. Brock Boeser will not be playing tonight, and will miss at least their next game against the Blackhawks. Fortunately, it isn’t expected to be a long-term issue for Boeser. Calle Jarnkrok may or may not play for the Predators tonight after having to sit out five consecutive games. Head below for our free Predators vs. Canucks pick.
Nashville Predators vs. Vancouver Canucks Betting Odds:
Predators vs. Canucks Prediction:
The Canucks are coming off a lifeless performance against the Calgary Flames on Saturday night. They were punched in the gut at home, as the Flames made it look easy in a 6-2 win. This was after the Canucks were slow in Minnesota for a 4-2 loss against the Wild a game prior. The last win for the Canucks was on February 1 versus the Islanders in overtime.
The recent drought by the Canucks has allowed the rest of the Pacific Division to claw right back into striking distance. Just when it looked like a team was going to take the initiative and run away with things, the Canucks hit a wall and there’s only a game difference between three clubs. Nashville can’t afford to take the Canucks lightly because of their recent struggles, though.
The Canucks have often been a hot and cold team this season, and it’s within reason that they could find the right switch Monday night. They’ve typically been on the hot side at Rogers Arena in Vancouver. The Roxy Flu might be over in Vancouver, but this still is a difficult place to go and win games for visitors. The Canucks are solid at home, having posted a record of 17-6-3 up to this point.
They’ve scored an impressive average of 3.58 goals per game, while allowing 2.65 goals per game in the defensive zone. Jacob Markstrom is coming off three bad starts, as he’s allowed at least 4 goals in each outing. Markstrom has been better at home, with a 2.60 GAA and 0.921 save percentage as opposed to a 3.04 GAA and 0.908 save percentage on the road.
Markstrom has been better than Pekka Rinne throughout the season, though. Rinne has largely been cold between the pipes, as the Predators are still awaiting a red-hot run by him. They’re likely going to need it if they want to go to the playoffs. If Rinne heats up, the Predators are not a team to mess around with. However, that hasn’t been the case thus far. Rinne has posted a 3.01 GAA and 0.898 save percentage.
He finished with a career-low 2.77 GAA and 0.902 save percentage in 2013-14. Rinne is well on his way to smashing that. As a result of his struggles, the Predators are 24th in the league with 3.22 goals against per game. They have been consistent in that regard recently, having registered 3.2 goals against in their previous ten outings.
The Canucks have been cold, though this looks like a spot where they should be able to bounce back. Expect them to take advantage of a tired Predators team who are ready to go home after a long road trip and get a bit too complacent in Vancouver. There appears to be solid value on the Canucks on Monday night.