Tommy Novak Predators, Quinn Hughes Canucks

Canucks Game Day 6; Which Predators? Hot ‘Huggy’

Canucks Game Facts

Tonight: Vancouver Canucks at Nashville Predators

Where: Bridgestone Arena

When: 6:15 pm pacific – Part of the NHL’s “Frozen Frenzy”, with 16 games on Tuesday featuring all 32 teams.

TV/Radio: Sportsnet / AM-650

Key Factors:

Starting goalkeepers: Thatcher Demko for Vancouver, Juuse Saros expected for Nashville.

The Predators are like a Seinfeld episode, that one where everything keeps breaking even for Jerry. The Nashville squad are the poster boys of mediocrity through their first six games. 3-and-3 record, 18 goals for, 16 against, and special teams that even out, with the power play above average and the penalty kill sinking.

Canucks winger Andrei Kuzmenko seemed very pleased to have his Russian pal and linemate Ilya Mikheyev back in the line-up last game. After a slow start to the season, ‘Koozy’ notched the game winner against the Florida Panthers on Saturday. The two skate on Elias Pettersson’s wings.

Vancouver practiced in Nashville on Sunday and had a full day off on Monday.

“Basically 36 hours off, good bonding, guys can hang out together,” Canucks head coach Rick Tocchet said after the skate. “We have a lot of new guys, so it’s nice for them to get together, that’s why I did it this way, plus guys have a better chance at recovery.”

“Hoagie” is back in on the 4th line, replacing Jack Studnicka in the line-up. Bottom six:

Dakota Joshua – Pius Suter – Conor Garland

Anthony Beauvillier – Sam Lafferty – Nils Höglander

Defenceman Carson Soucy, a free agent import from the Seattle Kraken during the off season, has played three games since returning from a training camp injury and has averaged a little less than 17-minutes a night. He scored his first goal with Vancouver against the Panthers and will initially pair with Tyler Myers on Tuesday night.

Who’s Hot? And Not …

Canucks captain Quinn Hughes, a.k.a. ‘Huggy’, has been hot all season when you consider his overall impact and basic plus-minus. He’s been on the ice for just one goal against through the first five games. On average he’s a point-a-game player while playing more than 25-minutes a night.

Nashville’s 26-year-old, 3rd-line centre Tommy Novak hasn ‘t reached the 100 game mark in the NHL as of yet, but the Minnesota native is looking to eclipse his career high of 17 goals from two seasons ago. He has four already, notching two during the weekend win over the Sharks and three over his last three games.

The Predators won their last two games.

Special Teams

The Canucks are popping on the power play, number-three in the NHL at 37.5%, going 6-for-16 thus far.

The Canucks penalty kill is working 75% of the time. Not great, but not as horrible as Nashville’s, presently finding a success rate of just 66.7%. They’ve killed just 14 of 21 opposing man advantages.

The Predators power play is a respectable 23.6%, going 6 for 26 so far this season. They’re coming off a 2-for-5 performance against the Sharks.

Coming In:

Canucks: 3-and-2 record. In their last game, they beat the Florida Panthers 5-3.

Predators: 3-and-3, coming off a 5-1 home victory over the San Jose Sharks.

The Predators and Canucks went to a shoot-out all three times they faced one another last season. On November 5th the Pred’s won at Rogers Arena 4-3. Nashville won the skills competition again on February 21st 5-4 at home, and then Vancouver turned the trick in the finale, winning 4-3 at home on March 6th.

The Canucks will see the Predators again in one week on Halloween night at Rogers Arena, the final game of a three-game homestand that begins Friday night against the St. Louis Blues.


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Rob Simpson

Rob Simpson has covered the NHL in five different decades. He’s authored 4 books on hockey and is a veteran TV and radio play-by-play man and reporter.