Predators @ Sharks Preview: Once more into the shark tank

The Nashville Predators take their new-found confidence into San Jose tonight, for a road battle against one of the Western Conference's top contenders. Can a relatively healthy Preds team stand toe-to-toe with a team which has nothing less than a Stanley Cup in their sights this season? Tune in tonight at 9:30 on FS-TN to find out...

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The Tale Of The Tape

Nashville (6-4-2) at San Jose (7-4-0)
NSH Offense vs. S.J Defense S.J. Offense vs. NSH Defense
5-on-5
GF/60 SF/60 Shoot % GA/60 SA/60 Save %
 NSH Offense  2.5 (11th)   24.5 (28th)  10.1 (4th)  2.4 (16th)  32.1 (29th)  926 (13th)   NSH Defense
 S.J. Defense 1.9 (4th) 27.4 (6th)  929 (18th)  2.6 (9th) 33.3 (3rd) 7.9 (13th)  S.J. Offense
GA/60 SA/60 Save % GF/60 SF/60 Shoot %
Special Teams
NSH PP vs. S.J PK S.J. PP vs. NSH PK
GF/60 SF/60 Shoot % GA/60 SA/60 Save %
 NSH 5-on-4 5.2 (19th) 42.5 (24th) 12.2 (16th) 3.2 (4th)  54.2 (22nd)  941 (3rd)  NSH 4-on-5
 S.J. 4-on-5 9.0 (26th) 46.8 (12th) 809 (28th) 5.9 (16th) 82.0 (1st) 7.1 (26th)  S.J. 5-on-4
GA/60 SA/60 Save % GF/60 SF/60 Shoot %

As we saw when these two team first met early last week, the Sharks are a dominant 5-on-5 team, while that's still an area in which the Preds have struggled. The 5-on-5 situation should improve, however, now that the lineup is finally getting back to normal, so the real danger area I see here is when San Jose goes on the power play. They're putting a ton of shots on net, and Nashville's save percentage on the penalty kill is unsustainably high.

San Jose Sharks

San Jose has been one of the hotter teams in the NHL, with wins in 6 of their last 7 games coming into tonight. Joe Pavelski is leading the way these days, as San Jose boasts their typical stacked lineup of talented, speedy forwards. They can roll 3 genuinely dangerous lines, and now have the all-around force on the blueline in Brent Burns that the Sharks have been after for years.


Joe Pavelski

#8 / Center / San Jose Sharks

5-11

190

Jul 11, 1984



GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG
SOG PCT
2011 - Joe Pavelski 11 8 5 13 4 4 3 0 1 35 22.8

For more on tonight's game from the opponent's perspective, check out Fear The Fin's preview.

Nashville Predators

The Predators almost seem like the preseason lasted a couple extra weeks, as we saw a roster loaded with kids for the first couple weeks, which often seemed lost just trying to break out of their own zone. With Sergei Kostitsyn and Mike Fisher making their return Thursday night in Phoenix, it will be interested to see if we get a repeat of the forward lines from that game:

Wilson-Legwand-Hornqvist
Kostitsyn-Fisher-Erat
Smithson-Smith-Tootoo
Halischuk-Geoffrion-Bergfors

What fascinated me most about this bunch is that 3rd line, which was surprisingly effective. More and more, I like the sheltering of the Honey Badger's minutes where possible - Craig Smith is still a rookie, after all, and we need to keep the long-term perspective in view. Besides, if the Preds can get some pop out of that line, it greatly adds to their versatility, as the top two, while effective, aren't exactly lights-out offensive units.


8475225_medium

Craig Smith

#15 / Center / Nashville Predators

6-1

197

Sep 05, 1989



GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG
SOG PCT
2011 - Craig Smith 12 4 6 10 1 10 2 0 0 34 11.7
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