Nashville Predators (22-22-7) at Vancouver Canucks (26-16-9)
|Date & Time||Thursday January 23, 2014, 10:00 PM (EST)|
The Line: Vancouver Canucks -186 / Nashville Predators +169 --- Over/Under: 5
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The Canucks look for their second straight victory without their suspended head coach as they return home to face the Nashville Predators.
The Preds head into Thursday night’s contest coming off a victory but sit in 11th place in the Western Conference and are seven points out of a playoff spot as it stands making each game from here on out incredibly vital. Nashville has undergone a major overhaul over the last few years and while they haven’t fully recovered and it might take another season or two they are keeping spirits high. Nashville got the ball rolling on the NHL’s trade front by sending talented defenseman Kevin Klein to the New York Rangers for blue liner Michael Del Zotto in a move that makes sense for both clubs as Klein is on the rise and will help a contender immediately while Del Zotto could use a change of scenery and can learn from a guy like Shea Weber. Nashville is still in tough though when it comes to goaltending as the move for Devan Dubnyk isn’t a long term answer but he gets the call here against the Canucks who he had a lot of familiarity from his days in Edmonton.
The Canucks have been dealing with both on and off ice issues over the last few days as their Saturday night line brawl with the Calgary Flames and subsequent incidents stemming from it landed Canucks head coach John Tortorella with a 15-day suspension from the team. The Canucks upended the Oilers in the first game without Torts and now return home to host the Predators in a game in which they’re big time favourites as the schedule for them over this stretch has been quite generous. Vancouver is in a playoff race at the moment and sit in seventh place in the West and with the trade deadline fast approaching it’ll be interesting to see what Mike Gillis does with his team as I think many are expecting a full blowup if things aren’t going according to plan. Roberto Luongo gets the call here for Vancouver who to me should absolutely steamroll the Preds in this spot and while I am a bit nervous laying the regulation play I think it is our only option against a depleted Predators team.