The Nashville Predators have been in the thick of the Western Conference standings for most of the season.
Finally, they get a look at the top when they face the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday (9 p.m., Fox Sports-Tennessee) in their final game before the All-Star break. Vancouver, which has the conference’s best record, is the only team from the West that Nashville has not yet faced in 2010-11.
“I’m looking forward to it because I want to see, in person, how far ahead of the pack [the Canucks] are,” coach Barry Trotz said Tuesday from Vancouver. “They have superstars up front. … Their defense is deep, and they have an all-world goaltender [Roberto Luongo].
“They’re a team that has been considered a Stanley Cup contender for the last couple years, but now they’re deeper, and they seem to have a much clearer sense of purpose.”
When the Predators embarked on the current six-game, 11-day road trip, there were three conference foes they had not faced — Colorado, Edmonton and Vancouver.
They whipped Colorado 5-1 last Thursday on the third game of the trip, and three days later got past Edmonton in a shootout (3-2).
Now they get Vancouver in the first of four meetings between the teams that will take place between now and the end of March.
The Canucks had a recent streak of eight straight victories and 12 out of 13. They have not gone consecutive games without a point since late November and have earned at least one point in 26 of their last 29.
“They sort of remind me of Chicago last season in the way they understand what they want to be and how they need to play to be that kind of team,” Trotz said. “Every year they look like a good team. This year they look like they’re on a mission.”
• Trotz said J-P Dumont is “probable” for the game against Vancouver.
Dumont sat out Monday’s loss at Calgary after he took an inadvertent stick to the back of the neck a night earlier at Edmonton. He had six points (five goals, one assists) in the first three games of the road trip, including a hat trick Jan. 18 at Phoenix.
• Forward Marek Svatos underwent minor knee surgery Tuesday in Nashville. The procedure was expected to keep him out a minimum of two weeks.
Svatos had a goal and two assists in seven games for Nashville since being claimed off waivers from St. Louis. He has not played since Jan. 13 at Florida.
Trotz said the procedure was to correct a preexisting issue with his knee, which he recently re-aggravated.