Predators Game Day Preview: Nashville @ San Jose

The Nashville Predators kick off a California road trip tonight, taking on the San Jose Sharks at HP Pavilion. The Predators are 36-25-5, have 77 points, and cling to the 7th spot in the West by two points over the Calgary Flames. The Sharks are 42-14-9, with 93 points, and lead the Western Conference by a slight margin over the Chicago Blackhawks. This is Nashville's final game against San Jose this year, and being a preview of a possible first round matchup, will be a good measuring stick for the Predators.

As always, below are your game breakdown, lineups, and prediction...

Nashville coming in

The Predators got a much needed win against the Thrashers to kick off their road trip, getting a power play marker from Ryan Suter and the game winner from rookie Colin Wilson. Dan Ellis was excellent in net, so it'll be interesting to see who gets the call from Barry '400' Trotz tonight.

The Predators' special teams have improved quite a bit, particularly the power play. The Preds scored power play goals against Vancouver and Atlanta, both without PP catalyst Shea Weber, and is up to 20th league wide with a 17.4% conversion rate. The penalty kill still toils near the bottom, but as newcomer Dustin Boyd is acclimated, we may see that number start to creep up.

San Jose coming in

The Sharks have reeled off three comeback wins in a row since the Olympic break, and are hoping to catch the Capitals in the race for the President's Trophy. As usual, the big question in San Jose is how the team will perform in the playoffs, and lately if Evgeni Nabokov is ready for the postseason.

The Sharks have an absolutely lethal special teams, with the power play at 4th in the NHL (22.2%) and the penalty kill in 2nd (86.2%). Obviously, if the Predators special teams really have turned the corner, they'll need a huge effort tonight on both ends of the ice. Check out the San Jose perspective of tonight's game here.

Who's hot


GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG GTG SOG PCT
2009 - Colin Wilson 19 4 3 7 -4 0 1 0 2 0 28 14.3


Who's not


GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG GTG SOG PCT
2009 - David Legwand 66 10 23 33 0 22 0 1 3 0 122 8.2


The Guys in Goal

For the Preds, John Glennon reports that Trotz will return to the hot hand:


Dan Ellis

#39 / Goalie / Nashville Predators

6-0

188

Jun 19, 1980


GP MIN W L EGA GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
2009 - Dan Ellis 29 1599 14 12 69 2.59 796 727 .913 1

Perennial Vezina candidate, Russian Olympian, this guy has seen it all:


Evgeni Nabokov

#20 / Goalie / San Jose Sharks

6-0

200

Jul 25, 1975


GP MIN W L EGA GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
2009 - Evgeni Nabokov 56 3343 36 10 126 2.26 1726 1600 .927 2

Injury Report


Nashville Predators Injuries

Out (IR / Out / Suspended / Physically unvailable)

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Shea Weber upper body, questionable
03/05/2010
Denis Grebeshkov lower body, out
03/07/2010

San Jose Sharks Injuries

Out (IR / Out / Suspended / Physically unvailable)

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Marc-Edouard Vlasic knee 01/30/2010

Projected Lineups

John Glennon says that Shea Weber skated yesterday, so he may be a game-time decision. Yay!

 

Forwards
Wilson - Arnott - Erat
Ward - Legwand - Smithson
Sullivan - Goc - Hornqvist
Tootoo - Boyd - Dumont
Belak/O'Reilly
Defense
Suter - Hamhuis
Bouillon - Klein
Franson - Sulzer
Weber

Looks like Scott Nichol will return from injury tonight, but if not, Ryan Vesce will take his place:

Forwards
Heatley - Thornton - Setoguchi
Marleau - Malhotra -Pavelski
Clowe - Nichol - McGinn
Staubitz - Mitchell - Ortmeyer
Defense
Wallin - Boyle
Murray - Blake
Huskins - Leach

Did you know?

  • Nabokov is 6-1 with a 1.99 GAA in his last seven starts against the Preds.
  • All three games in the season series have been by a score of 4-3
  • The Sharks have one of the highest faceoff percentages in the league (55.9%), with centers Manny Malhotra, Joe Pavelski, and Joe Thornton all excelling in the circle.

Fearless Prediction

Though Nashville has played fairly well in the last four games, they are still without two key defensemen, and are running into an offensive juggernaut in the Sharks. San Jose is one of the more balanced teams in the league, and can kill you in just about every facet of the game. I fully expect the Predators to play hard- it just won't be enough. San Jose 4, Nashville 2.

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