USA TODAY Sports
Two teams aiming to get back on track meet up tonight in San Jose (9:30 p.m. Central on FS-TN). With both the Sharks and Predators searching for goal scoring, are we in for a pitcher's duel?
|Nashville Predators||San Jose Sharks|
|5-on-5 Save %||.924||8th||.937||3rd|
|# of PP's/Gm||3.29||27th||4.79||1st|
|# of PK's/Gm||3.38||4th||3.89||17th|
While they're wondering where the goals have gone in San Jose, the saving grace of that team has been strong goaltending and defense, along with a propensity to draw calls and get more power play opportunities than their foes. The Preds have been relatively well-disciplined, giving up the 4th-fewest PP's in the league, so one major factor to follow tonight will be how the special teams battle plays out.
San Jose Sharks
After charging out of the gate with seven straight wins, San Jose has been in a tailspin since the Predators beat them in a shootout back on February 2nd, going 2-6-4 in their last twelve games. To get a sense of the mood out west, head over to Fear The Fin.
In goal, Antti Niemi is off to a good start for San Jose. Of his eight total losses, four have come in games which he gave up one goal or less during regulation & overtime:
|2012 - Antti Niemi||16||988||8||4||4||31||1.88||464||433||.933||1|
Against Nashville all-time, Niemi is 5-3-3 with a 2.18 GAA and .918 save percentage. Just as before, the San Jose media relations staff brings us this fascinating Fin Fact:
"Joe Thornton made up the nickname "Rico" for him, no one, not even Joe, knows why. "He just looks like a Rico," says Joe."
After an embarrassing effort Wednesday night at Anaheim, the Predators have held a team meeting, tried to lighten the mood with shootout competitions in practice, and are apparently shuffling the lines for tonight's game:
|Colin Wilson||Mike Fisher||Martin Erat|
|Sergei Kostitsyn||David Legwand||Gabriel Bourque|
|Nick Spaling||Craig Smith||Patric Hornqvist|
|Brandon Yip||Paul Gaustad||Rich Clune|
Will it make a difference? That Legwand line will get some close scrutiny tonight. Kostitsyn was called out in the paper this morning by Barry Trotz, and Leggy gets my nod as the most underperforming player on the team this season:
|2012 - David Legwand||21||3||4||7||+1||8||1||0||0||31||9.7|
It's just too bad the Preds will wear their road whites tonight. Make sure to come back later for the Game Thread, which will take us into the wee hours of the morn!