Photo by Frederick Breedon/NHLI via Getty Images
The 1-0 loss to Vancouver at Bridgestone Arena was the beginning of a 1-5-0 skid for the Nashville Predators at the end of February. Nashville travels to Vancouver for their one meeting in the Pacific Northwest this season and hope to continue the hot start to the five-game road trip coming off a 4-0 win over the Dallas Stars. But, Vancouver sitting only two points ahead of the Predators and one point ahead of Phoenix for the Pacific Division lead are looking to continue their point-grabbing ways in the month of March.
Any rumors about whether or not Luongo would be traded have dried up with the solid play of both Luongo and Schneider with almost identical records on the year. The constant firepower from the Canucks with the Sedin twins and Burrows able to cash in from the forward position is backed up remarkably by some capable offensive defensemen. Hamhuis is tied for 3rd in points with 14 and Edler is 5th on the Canucks with 12 points.
Daniel Sedin leads the squad with 8 goals and Chris Higgins is second with 7 goals. Higgins coming off some oft-traded seasons two years ago is flourishing in Vancouver picking up 43 points last season: his second highest point total in seven complete NHL seasons. Unlike in seasons past when Kesler and the Sedins took over the scoring numbers for the team, the Canucks are playing a more balanced game with everyone getting in on the scoring-by-committee approach.
The Nashville Predators came off the Western California road trip battered and bruised emotionally and mentally dropping all three in dismal fashion. Since then, Nashville has picked up at least one point in their last three games going 2-0-1. The most amazing stat from these three games comes in the form of the unflappable Pekka Rinne who recorded his league-leading fifth shutout of the year. A fifth best GAA and a seventh best SV% has Pekka Rinne once again atop the league leaders and with the loss of Nashville’s two best scorers in Hornqvist and Wilson for at least a week on IR, Rinne has to be beyond human for Nashville to have a chance in the next four road games.
When players go down, especially leading team scorers on a team desperate for goals, it is refreshing to see unlikely heroes come forth and get the fans, and as of late the media, talking. Rich Clune has developed quickly into a fan favorite for his high energy play and now his offensive contributions have everyone buzzing from local radio shows to a great piece by Scott Burnside of ESPN.
Clune, along with Nick Spaling, were the unlikeliest players to stir the pot and come through with timely goals against Dallas (Spaling with the game winner). Clune’s easy personality and straight forward banter is worth a listen as this player, despite being a bruiser in pugilism and hits, can put together memorable and clever notes about his game and the opponents.
If Nashville can keep up the solid defensive play over the next four road trip games, it may be this point of the season fans look back on to show how Nashville came together and made the push for the playoffs. It’ll only get sunnier when Hornqvist and Wilson resume their usual tenements in the starting lineup within a week.
Game time is at 9:00 P.M. Central time and can be heard on 102.5 the Game and viewed locally on FS Tennessee and nationally in Canada on TSN. If you like what you’re reading or have questions/comments feel free to write us below or follow us on Twitter @Preducated and @ThePredatorial.
Stay HardCore…100%, No Lie