Game Day: Canucks look to bump slump against pumped-up Predators

 

 
 
 
 
Daniel Sedin (left) will be back in the Canucks’ lineup tonight when they take on Calle Jarnkrok and the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena. (Frederick Breedon, Getty Images)
 

Daniel Sedin (left) will be back in the Canucks’ lineup tonight when they take on Calle Jarnkrok and the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena. (Frederick Breedon, Getty Images)

Photograph by: Frederick Breedon, Vancouver Sun

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NASHVILLE — The last team the Vancouver Canucks beat was the Nashville Predators.

So the struggling, goal-starved Canucks at least have that going for them heading into tonight’s game against the Predators at Bridgestone Arena (5 p.m. Pacific time, on Sportsnet, TSN 1040).

They’ll also have their top line back together for the first time in a long while. Winger Jannik Hansen, a 19-goal scorer this season, will return after missing 11 games with a rib injury.

“We are getting some healthy bodies back, getting guys back to spots where they can succeed,” winger Daniel Sedin said after this morning’s game-day skate. “That has been a big problem. I think we have been a little bit too young. A lot of young guys instead of maybe having two or three young guys. It has been tough for all of us. But we are starting to get a little bit more healthy and like I said, it is going to make things easier for each and every guy.”

There was some question after Wednesday’s practice whether Daniel would play tonight. He left that practice early with a sore back. But he pronounced himself fit after this morning’s game-day skate.

“I get this a few times a year where the back locks up, but it usually goes away after a day or two,” Daniel said. “This morning it felt good.”

Winger Sven Baertschi, who missed Wednesday’s practice after blocking a shot Tuesday night in Winnipeg, also skated this morning and will play tonight.

The Canucks are, of course, desperate for a win. They are also desperate for some offence. They have been shut out in their last three games and haven’t scored a goal in over 228 minutes.

The Canucks beat the Predators 4-2 at Rogers Arena back on March 12. Not much has gone right for them since then and Nashville coach Peter Laviolette says that makes Vancouver a dangerous team.

“I always say that during the course of a year there is something like that that pops up and you’re not sure why and the only thing it does is put gas on the fire in the other room to score goals and they are certainly capable of that,” Laviolette said.

“So I think we’re really going to have to be sharp defensively tonight and I’m sure that’s the emphasis for them. You start not scoring goals and all of a sudden there’s these meetings about getting to the front of the net and crashing the net and shooting the puck. We are going to have to be sure we are ready to play tonight. I know the last couple games haven’t gone their way, but that’s a good team over there.”

The Predators, who have a lock on the first wild-card playoff spot in the West, have not suffered a regulation loss at home since Feb. 9 They are being led by their top line of Ryan Johansen, James Neal and Calle Jarnkrok.

Johansen, a Port Moody native, has settled in nicely with the Preds since being acquired from Columbus in a Jan. 6 trade.

“I feel totally comfortable here now,” Johansen said. “I have been here for more than two months now and have got all settled in … Finally I don’t have to use Google maps everywhere I go. It’s definitely been nice to be settled in and just focus on playing and not all the other distractions like finding grocery stores and things like that.”

Ryan Miller will start in goal for the Canucks, while Pekka Rinne will start for Nashville.

Defenceman Yannick Weber, who has missed the last five games, could draw back in tonight for Vancouver. He would likely replace rookie Andrey Pedan.

• INJURIES:

The Canucks are without D Alex Edler (broken fibula), D Chris Tanev (back), D Luca Sbisa (shoulder), C Brandon Sutter (broken jaw), C Markus Granlund (upper body), RW Radim Vrbata (knee) and LW Derek Dorsett (upper body).

The Predators are missing C Paul Gaustad (upper body) and D Anthony Bitetto (lower body).

ICE CHIPS: Tim Peel and Kyle Rehman are tonight’s referees … The Canucks charter post-game to St. Louis where they close out their three-game road trip Friday night against the Blues.

bziemer@postmedia.com

Twitter.com/bradziemer

 
 
 
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Daniel Sedin (left) will be back in the Canucks’ lineup tonight when they take on Calle Jarnkrok and the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena. (Frederick Breedon, Getty Images)
 

Daniel Sedin (left) will be back in the Canucks’ lineup tonight when they take on Calle Jarnkrok and the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena. (Frederick Breedon, Getty Images)

Photograph by: Frederick Breedon, Vancouver Sun

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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