Sharks blog: Fear the Fin
TV Coverage: Fox Sports Tennessee (Dish Network 444, DirecTV 644)
Streaming Video: Yahoo! Sports
Radio: 104.5 "The Zone" (WGFX)
Fresh off of stealing a point in the standings in an OT loss to Anaheim, the Preds conclude a four-game road trip tonight in San Jose, where the Sharks are merely 27-3-4 on home ice. Keep in mind, however, that it was Nashville that gave San Jose it's first loss at home on November 11 in a 4-3 overtime win. Jason Arnott and Radek Bonk are still not expected to play due to injury.
Questions to be answered: (1) Do the Predators have any gas left in the tank after playing last night? (2) Will Dan Ellis get a rare start in goal? He's made 82 saves on 89 shots in two games against the Sharks this season, a .921 save percentage. (3) Can the Sullivan/Legwand/Erat line recover from a poor game against Anaheim, or will they be split up?
Predators coming in: With the OT loss to the Ducks, Nashville is 2-0-1 on the current road trip, and 8-2-3 in their last 13 games. With 76 points, they currently sit in 7th place in the Western Conference. Edmonton is a point back at 75, but has two games in hand.
Sharks coming in: After losing in Phoenix 4-3 Tuesday night, San Jose held a long closed-door meeting between the players and the hockey operations staff. After a four-game losing streak a couple weeks ago, the Sharks are 3-2 in their last five.
Predators to watch: After I wondered if Ryan Suter might be the hottest Predator yesterday, he went out and recorded three assists last night giving him 36 so far. The team record for assists by a defenseman in a season is 42, set by Kimmo Timonen in 2006-7. J.P. Dumont had a goal and an assist, giving him consecutive multi-point games.
Sharks to watch: Joe Thornton is tied for 4th in the league in assists with 55, and Patrick Marleau appears rejuvenated under new coach Todd McLellan, playing at roughly a point-per-game pace. Evgeni Nabokov's gaudy win totals keep him among the most overrated players in the NHL; in my book, he's an average starting goaltender behind an incredible lineup.
Here's a look at the two teams in the main statistical categories, along with overall NHL rank:
Umm... *gulp*. Let's move on.
Here's a review of who draws the penalties, and who takes them for each team (data as of March 16):
|Nashville||Penalties Drawn||San Jose||Penalties Drawn|
|Player||Draws||Fouls||Pen +/-||Player||Draws||Fouls||Pen +/-|
|Jordin Tootoo||47||42||+5||Joe Thornton||41||24||+17|
|Martin Erat||24||24||0||Ryan Clowe||32||17||+15|
|Ryan Jones||23||10||+13||Devon Setoguchi||32||17||+15|
|Dan Hamhuis||21||24||-3||Joe Pavelski||26||14||+12|
|Joel Ward||20||11||+9||Patrick Marleau||25||8||+17|
|Vern Fiddler||20||9||+11||Travis Moen||23||23||0|
|Penalties Taken||Penalties Taken|
|Jordin Tootoo||47||42||+5||Rob Blake||7||39||-32|
|Ryan Suter||16||34||-18||Jody Shelley||22||30||-8|
|Shea Weber||14||32||-18||Christian Ehrhoff||19||28||-9|
|Greg de Vries||11||25||-14||Joe Thornton||41||24||+17|
|Martin Erat||24||24||0||Brad Staubitz||18||24||-6|
|Dan Hamhuis||21||24||-3||Travis Moen||23||23||0|
Rob Blake is at the very bottom of the Penalty Plus/Minus rankings, but having stellar performers at the top end like Thornton, Clowe, Setoguchi, Pavelski and Marleau ensures the Sharks spend more than their fair share of time on the power play. San Jose has enjoyed 309 PP's this season, while only having to fight off 269 PK's, a +40 differential that's among the best in the league.
Lastly, let's check on the goaltenders:
|2008 - Dan Ellis||35||1965||11||19||4||5||96||2.93||963||867||.900||3|
|2008 - Pekka Rinne||41||2320||24||11||2||4||88||2.28||1109||1021||.921||7|
|2008 - Brian Boucher||21||1232||11||6||3||2||45||2.19||542||497||.917||2|
|2008 - Evgeni Nabokov||50||2956||34||8||7||0||120||2.44||1344||1224||.911||6|