Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Preds eye payback as they take on Vancouver

It may only be October, but the Nashville Predators will be looking to get a little taste of revenge on Thursday night when they take on the Vancouver Canucks. While a win would hardly erase last season's second round loss to the Canucks, the Predators definitely want to beat the team that ended their run last year.

Nashville has dropped three straight games since winning the opening two games of the year against Columbus and St. Louis. Monday night saw one of the worst performances in franchise history against the Edmonton Oilers. The Predators had a grand total of 12 shots in the game. They will be looking to dramatically increase that total against Vancouver.

Vancouver has struggled out of the gate so far this year. They have gone 2-3-1 in their first six games this year, and were just shutout 4-0 by the New York Rangers on Tuesday night in Vancouver despite having 40 shots on goal.

Roberto Luongo is already under fire from the Vancouver "faithful." In four games, Luongo has a save percentage of .856 and a goals against average of 3.70. His play will have to improve if the Canucks hope to come anywhere near last season's success.

My player to watch for the Canucks is Ryan Kesler. Kesler played for the first time this year against the Rangers on Tuesday night. Preds fans will remember what kind of an impact Kesler can have in a game after last year's playoff series he had against Nashville. He almost single-handedly beat the Predators.

For Nashville, my player to watch is Shea Weber. Weber has yet to score a goal this season. Teams are trying to take his shot away, and it has been working so far. Weber has two assists so far this season. He always shows up to play in Vancouver because he grew up in Sicamous, which is close to Vancouver. Look for Weber to be firing from the point.

Both of these teams need this game. Neither of them have started the season the way they had hoped, so they will both be looking to collect two points on Thursday night. Monday night really should have been an eye-opener for the Preds. We'll find out tonight at 9:00 p.m. central time at Rogers Arena.