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Morning Skate: Game 18 vs. Vancouver

UPDATE (12:45 PM CT): Preds try to contain Sedin twins

Tonight the Nashville Predators and Vancouver Canucks will meet up for the first time this season. Whenever teams face Vancouver, one of the biggest challenges is matching up with the Canucks’ one-two combo of Daniel and Henrik Sedin.

“They are an intelligent group,” Predators head coach Barry Trotz said. “They play off each other and, if you watch closely, they create a 2-on-1 everywhere they are. They have good instincts. You have to stay out of the box from their power play; [the Sedins] are the keys to that.”

The Sedin twins have always been a handful for the opposition, but in recent years they have elevated their game to new heights. They haven’t slowed down this season, as Daniel and Henrik lead the Canucks’ in scoring with 17 and 15 points, respectively. They have been especially good lately, combining for 17 points over the last six games.

When asked about matching up with them, Trotz said, “We’ll probably have to go back to the old standard rule of our best against their best.”

“A big part of their game is great cycling in the offensive zone,” Mike Fisher said, “so we have to be smart, be in good position, keep them to the outside as much as possible and try to challenge them physically.”

“A lot of times they just know where each other are,” Kevin Klein said. “The fact that they’ve been doing it their whole lives together, they don’t really talk and you don’t hear them too much.”

Recently, Alex Burrows has been reunited with the twins and the trio has rekindled their magic from previous seasons. They combined to score a sensational give-and-go goal in Dallas last night to help the Canucks claim a 4-3 victory.

“He can put the puck in the net, he works hard, he goes to the net, plays a gritty game,” Klein said of Burrows. “He’s a good complement for them.”

To try to slow down the Canucks’ entire arsenal up front, Trotz hinted that he will be going back to his lineup with seven defensemen tonight.

“The penalty kill can be affected greatly,” Trotz said of going with seven defensemen.

Look for Hal Gill to be back in the lineup tonight, with Matt Halischuk possibly sitting out.

Trotz did give an update on Paul Gaustad, who has been sidelined with an upper-body injury since the first period of Monday’s game in Colorado. Trotz said Gaustad will not play tonight or tomorrow, and “will see where we are on Monday.”

*****

7:00 PM CT – Vancouver Canucks (9-3-4) @ Nashville Predators (8-4-5)
TV: FS Tennessee
Radio: 102.5 The Game

Last time out:
VAN- Last night the Canucks overcame two separate one-goal deficits to beat Dallas in regulation by a score of 4-3. Henrik Sedin scored the eventual game-winning goal early in the third period, while Cory Schneider made 22 saves in the win. With the victory the Canucks snapped a three-game winless streak.
NSH- In their first meeting since last April’s playoffs, the Predators pulled out a back-and-forth contest against the Red Wings on Tuesday night. Shea Weber potted the overtime winner, his third goal in as many games, to claim a 4-3 victory. Also, Craig Smith and Roman Josi each scored their first goal of the season in the winning effort.

Players to watch:
VAN- The Sedins
Henrik and Daniel, who have seen their line’s third wheel alternate all season, have rekindled their magic alongside Alex Burrows. The Sedin twins have combined for 17 points over the last six games.
NSH- Colin Wilson
Coming into tonight’s game, Wilson is riding a career-high five-game point streak. He has seven points during the streak. Wilson has been the Preds’ best forward this season as he leads the team with 14 points.

Projected starting goaltenders:
VAN- Roberto Luongo (2012-13 stats: 4-0-3, 1.63 GAA)
NSH- Pekka Rinne (2012-13 stats: 7-3-4, 1.67 GAA)

Projected lineups from last game/practice:

Vancouver Canucks
Offense
Daniel Sedin Henrik Sedin Alex Burrows
Chris Higgins Ryan Kesler Zack Kassian
Mason Raymond Jordan Schroeder David Booth
Aaron Volpatti Maxim Lapierre Dale Weise
Jannik Hansen
Defense Goalie
Dan Hamhuis Kevin Bieksa Roberto Luongo
Alexander Edler Chris Tanev Cory Schneider
Jason Garrison Keith Ballard
Andrew Alberts Cam Barker
Nashville Predators
Offense
Colin Wilson David Legwand Martin Erat
Gabriel Bourque Mike Fisher Patric Hornqvist
Sergei Kostitsyn Craig Smith Brandon Yip
Richard Clune Nick Spaling Matt Halischuk
Paul Gaustad*
Defense Goalie
Roman Josi Shea Weber Pekka Rinne
Scott Hannan Kevin Klein Chris Mason
Jonathon Blum Ryan Ellis
Hal Gill *-Injured

*Lineups are subject to change

Injury report:
VAN- Manny Malhotra (undisclosed, out)
NSH- Paul Gaustad (upper body, doubtful)

Keys to the game:
VAN- Solid Luongo… Twenty-four hours after winning in Dallas, the Canucks need Luongo (assuming he starts) to come up big tonight in Nashville. The Canucks’ defense has been leaky of late, and the Preds are averaging over 30 shots a game over the last five contests. In his last eight starts in Nashville, including the playoffs, Luongo is 6-2-0 with a 2.07 GAA.
NSH- Stay out of the box… The Preds have only been shorthanded six times combined in the last three games, which is an improvement from the previous 11 contests. They will need to stay disciplined tonight against the Canucks, whose power play has been solid over the last seven games (7-for-28, 25%).

Numbers to know:
- 2011-12 season series vs. Vancouver: 2-1-1 Predators
- The Preds are 4-1-3 at home this season … Vancouver is 4-1-2 on the road.
- Since the start of the 2007-08 season, including the playoffs, the Preds boast a 3-8-2 home record against Vancouver.
- Last season the Preds were 8-3-0 on the front ends of back-to-backs; this season they are 0-1-2. They will play in Detroit tomorrow night.
- Pekka Rinne is 5-5-1 with a 2.59 GAA and .920 save percentage in 12 career games vs. Vancouver. His counterpart, Roberto Luongo, is 12-12-(3)-0 with a 2.26 GAA and .922 save percentage in 28 career games vs. Nashville.
- Martin Erat has 29 points in 35 career games vs. Vancouver.
- Mike Fisher has 14 points in 19 career games vs. Vancouver.
- Power play: Nashville (15.2%, 21st) … Vancouver (19.2%, 10th)
- Penalty kill: Nashville (85.0%, 6th) … Vancouver (81.8%, 17th)

Remember when?
In Game 2 of the 2011 Western Conference Semifinals, Matt Halischuk ripped a shot past Luongo to give the Predators a double overtime victory by a score of 2-1…

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