Game Day Preview: Western Conference Rivalries Prevail

Alan Bass
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An easy Sunday night in the NHL, just three games on tap. Here’s what you need to know:

Vancouver at Columbus

Despite a loss to the Penguins, the Canucks played a solid game in Pittsburgh Saturday afternoon. The team is 5-3-1 and has been solid defensively, both 5-on-5 and on the penalty kill. The Blue Jackets are coming off a bad game against the Washington Capitals and find themselves in a very familiar hole to start the season. Their offense has been lacking and their defense has been faulty at best. The only bright side of their team right now might be their power play, which ranks ninth in the league.

Game Day Report from Columbus (Columbus Blue Jackets)

Canucks Fall Prey to Malkin, Lose in a Shootout (National Post)

Player to watch: Ryan Kesler has been disappointing this season, with no assists and the worst plus/minus rating on the Canucks. Tonight is an opportunity to score some easy points (literally and figuratively) against a team that has struggled as of late.

Nashville at Winnipeg

An even matchup, both teams have four wins and four losses, both have similar offensive and defensive numbers, and both hover near each other in special teams ranking. The Jets are coming off a shootout win at home against the Blues, and the Predators have points in five consecutive games after beating the Montreal Canadiens last night. Who has the edge?

This road trip will speak volumes about the Predators (The Tennessean)

Jets aren’t out of hot water just yet, says Olli Jokinen (Winnipeg Free Press)

Player to watch: Filip Forsberg, recently featured in an issue of The Hockey News, has been mediocre offensively, and porous defensively. Look for him to spark some offense for Nashville and give them an opportunity to win.

Dallas at Anaheim

The Stars have been average at best this season, while the Ducks are one of the league’s best teams and have yet to lose at home. Dallas is coming off an embarrassing loss to the Los Angeles Kings Saturday night, while Anaheim’s last game was a close shootout win to the Phoenix Coyotes on Friday. The Ducks’ offense has been impressive, while the Stars’ defense has been anemic. The Stars’ offense has struggled, while the Ducks’ defense has dominated. Something has to change if the Stars want a chance to win.

The Stars are hoping to find some answers in goal (Dallas News)

Ducks goalies Jonas Hiller and Viktor Fasth have a friendly rivalry going (LA Times)

Player to watch: After an off year in 2013, Teemu Selanne is succeeding offensively with five points in six games already, and has been one of the Ducks’ best players.