San Jose Sharks @ Nashville Predators: Game Day Preview


7:00 PM CST | 102.9 FM | Center Ice Only

The Nashville Predators meet the San Jose Sharks for the first time this season tonight, and unlike normal meetings between the two teams, the Preds are four spots ahead of San Jose in the standings - if the playoffs began today, Nashville would have home-ice advantage with the 4th seed.

For whatever reason, the Sharks are struggling to play at the elite regular season level they've become accustomed to over the past few years. It presents the Predators with a solid test - beating a team that has had their number through the years, and to serve notice to the rest of the West that the Nashville Predators will not be pushed around.

After the jump, more on tonight's matchup.

Lineups

Nashville

Honestly, there aren't enough superlatives to describe how well Lindback has played since Pekka Rinne went down. Get this - in five games, he's gone 4-0-1 with a 1.40 goals against average and .955 save percentage. Lets just hope that when he comes down to earth, it happens slowly.

Anders Lindback

#39 / Goalie / Nashville Predators

6-6

205

May 03, 1988

GP MIN W L EGA GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
2010 - Anders Lindback 13 689 7 1 25 2.18 360 335 .931 2

David Legwand and Matthew Lombardi are still out, so we've seen a bit of stability in the line combos lately, which has resulted in success.

Forwards
Sullivan (A) - O'Reilly - Wilson
Dumont - Spaling - Hornqvist
Kostitsyn - Goc - Erat
Tootoo - Smithson - Ward
Defense
 Suter (A) - Weber (C)
Klein - Bouillon
Franson - O'Brien

San Jose

The Sharks have been platooning things a bit this year, which has worked out moderately well - that is to say, I have no idea who will start tonight.

GP MIN W L EGA GA GAA SA SV SV% SO

2010 - Antti Niemi

2010 - Antero Niittymaki

15

16

854

964

6

9

7

3

45

39

3.16

2.43

431

424

386

385

.896

.908

1

0

With the retirement of Rob Blake and the injuries to Kent Huskins and Douglas Murray, what was once a position of moderate depth is now one of weakness on the Sharks' blueline. They can still score in bunches, obviously, even without Devin Setoguchi, who is questionable with an upper-body injury.

Forwards
Heatley - Thornton (C) - Mitchell
Clowe (A) - Couture - Ferriero
McCarthy - Marleau - Pavelski
McGinn - Nichol - Mayers
Defense
Boyle (A) - Joslin
Vlasic - Demers
Wallin - Braun

Thoughts

  • While this was certainly a relevant storyline last season, I know a lot of Predators' fans still reminisce over the days of Scott Nichol. While it wasn't a trade, I think that David Poile got the better end of the deal when he signed Marcel Goc, don't you?
  • Late in the game against New York, Sergei Kostitsyn was hit by a Shea Weber slap shot and did not return. Kostitsyn has become an extremely valuable cog in Nashville's lineup, playing on the power play, penalty kill, and at even strength. He's working a six game point streak, and if he misses any time with an injury the Predators could find their 2nd scoring line severely handicapped.
  • Before Thanksgiving, the Preds faced Jeff Skinner, one of the NHL's top rookies. Tonight, they'll go against the equally dangerous Logan Couture, who leads the Sharks and all NHL rookies with 14 goals. Couture's rise has given San Jose three potent scoring lines, and I'm interested to see how Nashville deals with it, especially considering the absence of David Legwand.
  • Nashville's penalty kill has risen to 5th in the NHL, but I'm convinced much of it has to do with their discipline at even strength. The Preds take fewer penalties than anyone in the Western Conference, which keeps the penalty killers fresh and ready to go. One thing to note? The newfound restraint of Shane O`Brien, who through 29 games has just 22 penalty minutes. In his first 29 games as a Canuck last year, he was already up to 34.
  • Monday night against Dallas, the Sharks lost a game which both captain Joe Thornton and coach Todd McClellan thought they should have won. San Jose isn't really noted for their resolve, but the Predators must be prepared to fight back in the event they fall behind early, which is something they haven't done much of lately. There's no place on Broadway for a sense of complacency, despite having earned points in eight consecutive outings.
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