TONIGHT’S STORYLINES VS. VANCOUVER
The Nashville Predators continue their second 2010-11 tour of Western Canada tonight at Rogers Arena in search of their sixth consecutive split at the venue dating back to 2005-06. In Nashville’s first trip to the Pacific Northwest and the sixth and final game of a season-long road trip, the club took a 1-0 lead 37 seconds into the third period, only to see the Canucks rally for a 2-1 victory to claim a point for the 13th straight time on home ice. Shea Weber scored Nashville’s lone goal in his first game in his home province since winning a gold medal there at the 2010 Olympics. Nashville outshot Vancouver by a 12-4 margin in the first period of the game, but were outshot 31-15 the rest of the way.
The Predators got back in the win column in the most recent clash of the teams, topping the West’s best by a 3-1 score at Bridgestone Arena on Feb. 17. All the scoring was done in the final six minutes of the second period, as Martin Erat scored the game’s first goal at the 14:13 mark before Daniel Sedin, Nick Spaling and Mike Fisher completed the second-fastest three goals by both teams in building history, scoring in a 44-second span. After Sedin knotted the game at one at 18:15 of the second, Spaling would collect his second game-winning goal of the season a mere seven ticks later, tying for the second quickest response in franchise history. Fisher’s insurance marker at 19:11 was his first as a Predator.
Three of Nashville’s four goals against Vancouver through two games have come in the middle frame, as it has outscored the Canucks 3-1 despite being outshot 28-18. Six of the Predators last 14 goals against Vancouver have been scored by special teams, with the power play going 5-for-24 (20.8 percent) to go along with Joel Ward’s shorthanded marker in the Jan. 11 victory.
With a goal and an assist on Feb. 17, Erat now has a team-best three points (1g-2a) in two games against the Canucks this season. Since the start of the 2008-09 campaign, the Trebic Czech Republic native has 11 points (5g-6a) in nine games against the Canucks, including his second career hat trick and a career-high four points (tie) on Dec. 8, 2009.
GEOFFRION BECOMES SECOND PRED IN AS MANY GAMES TO SCORE GOAL NO. 1
Playing in his third career game on Tuesday at Edmonton, Blake Geoffrion pulled off another “first,” burying a feed from Ryan Suter at 12:45 of the first period for his first career goal. This after the Brentwood, Tenn., native became the first Tennessee native and first fourth generation player to make it to the NHL last weekend. His father, Danny, played 77 games with Quebec in the WHA and 111 NHL games with Montreal and Quebec. Blake’s grandfather, Bernie “Boom Boom” Geoffrion, is a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame after scoring 822 points in 883 career NHL games. Blake’s great-grandfather, Howie Morenz, was one of the 12 original inductees to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1945 after recording 472 points in 550 games and finishing among the NHL’s top-10 scorers 10 times during his career.
Blake’s first career goal came 29 years, 11 months after Danny scored his final NHL goal – on April 1, 1981 at Vancouver (with Winnipeg). Danny scored his first NHL goal on Oct. 19, 1980, while Bernie did so on Dec. 16, 1950 and Morenz on Dec. 26, 1923.
ONE GAME AFTER BLUM
Geoffrion’s goal comes just one contest after Jonathon Blum – the first-ever California native to be drafted in the first round of the NHL Entry Draft – scored his first NHL goal in Sunday’s 3-2 win over Columbus. Blum, who finished his junior career as the Vancouver Giants’ (WHL) all-time leader in defensive scoring, in addition to ranking third overall on the franchise’s scoring list with 204 points (49g-155a) in 248 regular season games and 42 points (14g-28a) in 67 postseason contests from 2005-09, has suited up for each of Nashville’s last six games after receiving his first career recall on Feb. 22. During his tenure with the Giants, the team claimed four division titles, two conference titles, a WHL Championship and a Memorial Cup Championship. He was named the 2009 Canadian Hockey League Jack Link’s Defenseman of the Year and captained the Giants to their best season in franchise history in 2008-09.
YOUNG HOMEGROWN ROSTER
With their debuts, Blum and Geoffrion became the 18th and 19th Predators draft picks to suit up for the club this season, breaking the previous club record of 17 set a season ago. Of the 20-man unit used in Tuesday’s game, 14 of them were drafted and developed by Nashville, including five-of-six defensemen and both goaltenders. Blum and Geoffrion’s presence in the lineup means that each of team’s first selections in every draft from its first in 1998 (David Legwand) to 2008 (Colin Wilson) has made it to the National Hockey League.
With the addition of the duo, and the departure of Steve Sullivan (36), Francis Bouillon (35) and Marcel Goc (27) from the active roster due to injury, the Predators now have the fifth-youngest active roster in the NHL at 26 years, 140 days. The only teams younger than them are the New York Islanders, Colorado, St. Louis and Toronto.
The Predators are 32-23-9 through 64 games, good for 73 points. That is just two points fewer than they had at the same point last season (35-23-5 record) when the team put up 100 points for the third time in franchise history and made the playoffs for the fifth time in six seasons… The Predators have scored a power-play goal in 8-of-13 post-All-Star Game contests, going 8-for-39 in that span (20.5 percent). Pre-break, the power play had converted 24-of-174 opportunities (13.8 percent) in 50 games… Predators captain Shea Weber is tied for third among NHL blueliners in goals (13) and is tied for 10th at the position in points (39). He also ranks third among d-men in shots (205) and hits (178), and ninth in the NHL in average ice time (25:15). Since Dec. 31, Weber leads NHL blueliners in goals (8) and is second only to defensive points leader Keith Yandle in points, putting up 24 (8g-16a) in 28 games to go with a +13 rating… David Legwand has eight points (3g-5a) and a +6 rating in his last 10 games… Mike Fisher leads all NHL forwards in blocked shots (72), while Kevin Klein ranks ninth overall in the category (137)… Patric Hornqvist ranks 16th in the NHL in shots (216) despite averaging 15:59 of ice time, the lowest total among those with at least 190 shots/in the Top 35.