Originally posted on The Predatorial  |  Last updated 2/7/12

Photo Credit: Derek Leung/Getty Images

The Northwest Division-leading Vancouver Canucks (32-15-5) storm into the Bridgestone Arena looking to square off against the Nashville Predators (32-17-4), who are 4 points behind the Detroit Red Wings with a chance to close the gap to only 2 points with a win.

This is Vancouver’s first trip back into Nashville since dispatching the Predators in Game 6 of the Western Conference Semi-Finals.

This Year’s Series: 1-1-0 Home (0-0-0) Away (1-1-0)

Looking at the Canucks: The Canucks are coming in on a good run…well, of sorts. Vancouver hasn’t lost in regulation in the past 6 games (4-0-2), winning 4 of their past 5 games (San Jose, Edmonton, Chicago, Colorado) while only dropping shootout decisions to both Detroit and Los Angeles.

Being led by the brothers Sedin, Vancouver is third in the league in goals forced per game (3.13)

Looking at the Predators: Nashville on the other hand is having a run of their own, and no “sort-of’s” about it. Dropping on 3 games in their last 17, the Predators have stretched the gap to 12 points between them and 9th place in the Western Conference and sit 1 point ahead of St. Louis for 4th place, also sitting only 4 points behind Detroit for the division (and subsequently, the league) lead.

Pekka Rinne has won a franchise record 11 straight games and doesn’t look like he is going to quit anytime soon, stopping 41 of 42 shots 3 nights ago against St. Louis, including giving up two goals or less in all but one of his 11 straight wins.

For the Canucks to win: Find ways to beat Pekka Rinne. Minnesota figured out the formula a few nights ago, however the majority of that could have been due to the fact that Nashville forgot to cover Dany Heatley. Either way, beating Pekka Rinne is the key to beating the Nashville Predators.

Averaging a 1.54 GAA in his 11-game win streak (this includes the 4-goal allowance in Minnesota), Rinne has become a brick wall lately. Don’t believe me? Ask St. Louis. The only goal they scored Saturday came when the startled Rinne by stripping the puck from Roman Josi who was not but TEN FEET max from the goal.

For the Predators to win: Defend the wall. The Predators have split the series this season so far with the Canucks, including a 6-5 barnburner on the first of December. What did we learn in that game? You can score on Vancouver, but you better be prepared for an offensive onslaught in return.

Vancouver has scored ten, that’s right TEN, goals in the two games they’ve played against Nashville this season. That number needs to go down, period. Slow down the Sedins, give Rinne a good amount of room to see, and put the pucks in the back of the net.

———————————————–

Questions/Comments/Concerns? Let us know! Email me at kris...@thepredatorial.com or find me on Twitter at @ThePredatorial

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