San Jose Sharks @ Nashville Predators preview: Welcome Back, Horny

SAN JOSE, CA - NOVEMBER 05: Patric Hornqvist #27 of the Nashville Predators battles for the puck with Joe Thornton #19 of the San Jose Sharks during an NHL hockey game at HP Pavilion at San Jose on November 5, 2011 in San Jose, California. The Predators won the game in overtime 4-3. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

Tonight at Bridgestone Arena, we get another potential 1st-round playoff preview, as the Pacific Division-leading San Jose Sharks visit the Nashville Predators (7:00 p.m. Central). If the Sharks can hold on to their #3 seed in the West, there's a chance that the Preds could meet them in the first round as the #6 seed, if Chicago overtakes them.

So rest assured, besides the fact that both are looking for two points in the Western Conference standings, there could be some message-sending for the playoffs ahead...

Tonight's game is not on TV, so save money on tickets with the OTF Discount!

Tale Of The Tape

San Jose (32-20-7) at Nashville (35-19-7)
S.J Offense vs. NSH Defense NSH Offense vs. S.J Defense
5-on-5
GF/60 SF/60 Shoot % GA/60 SA/60 Save %
S.J Offense 2.5 (9th) 33.2 (1st) 7.4 (23rd) 2.0 (5th) 27.5 (6th) 926 (7th) S.J Defense
NSH Defense 2.3 (10th) 30.8 (28th) 926 (7th) 2.3 (15th) 26.7 (26th) 8.6 (12th) NSH Offense
GA/60 SA/60 Save % GF/60 SF/60 Shoot %
Special Teams
S.J PP vs. NSH PK NSH PP vs. S.J PK
GF/60 SF/60 Shoot % GA/60 SA/60 Save %
S.J 5-on-4 7.3 (3rd) 67.8 (1st) 10.8 (22nd) 7.4 (25th) 52.9 (21st) 861 (23rd) S.J 4-on-5
NSH 4-on-5 6.7 (21st) 53.4 (22nd) 875 (18th) 7.5 (1st) 48.5 (16th) 15.5 (1st) NSH 5-on-4
GA/60 SA/60 Save % GF/60 SF/60 Shoot %

Under head coach Todd McLellan, the Sharks have had a "fire at will" mentality that has them top-of-the-charts in both 5-on-5 and 5-on-4 in terms of Shots For, which will present a tough challenge for the Predators tonight.

San Jose Sharks

The Sharks look like a sports car that needs a tune-up. They've got the talent to be considered a real Western Conference power, but haven't quite put it all together yet, and have Phoenix right on their heels for the Pacific Division lead.

You know what will be interesting tonight? If Hal Gill gets the chance to battle Big Joe, who leads San Jose in scoring once again:


Joe Thornton

#19 / Center / San Jose Sharks

6-4

230

Jul 02, 1979



GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG
SOG PCT
2011 - Joe Thornton 59 13 41 54 15 20 1 0 2 122 10.7

San Jose's bigger forwards have long given the Predators trouble, and we'll keep our eyes on the gargantuan Gill to see how tonight may play out differently than previous matchups.

This game marks the eighth on an epic nine-game roadie for the Sharks, and they've put up a 2-4-1 record so far. In fact, Thursday's 2-1 win at Toronto was the the first time they'd given up less than 3 goals in a game dating back to February 2nd.

Over at Fear The Fin, they're hoping that the Leafs game will spur a rejuvenation in their goaltending:

After serving as the team's whipping boy during San Jose's four-game losing streak and being called out by his coach in a press conference, Antti Niemi turned in the kind of performance that still haunts the memories of Sharks fans from the Finnish netminder's time between the pipes for the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2010 Western Conference Finals.


San Jose Sharks Last 5 Games

@ Toronto Thu 02/23 W 2 - 1
@ Columbus Tue 02/21 L 3 - 6
@ Detroit Sun 02/19 L 2 - 3
@ Carolina Fri 02/17 L 2 - 3
@ Tampa Bay Thu 02/16 OT - L 5 - 6

Nashville Predators

What we all hope to see tonight is the return of Patric Hornqvist, who has been inching closer to a return from his absence since the February 11 game at Boston. The media notes for this one indicate that he's off Injured Reserve, but the move hasn't quite been made "official" yet.


Patric Hornqvist

#27 / Right Wing / Nashville Predators

6-0

188

Jan 01, 1987



GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG
SOG PCT
2011 - Patric Hornqvist 55 17 12 29 0 24 5 0 2 154 11.0

The Predators are 1-1 so far against San Jose this season, with both games taking place early on. They lost 3-1 in Nashville the Shark Tank back in October, and took a 4-3 overtime decision at San Jose in Nashville a few weeks later.

As for who has the hot hand against the Sharks? Shea Weber has put up 3 goals and 13 assists for 16 points in 21 career games against San Jose. Can he chip in a few more tonight? Get down to the arena tonight to find out (remember, no local TV)...

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