Home ice hasn't been much of an advantage for the Nashville Predators this season, as they currently sit with a 10-8-3 record on Broadway. Tonight, it starts with the San Jose Sharks, who are second in the Pacific Division, seven points behind the Anaheim Ducks, who the Preds see on Thursday.
These two teams last met here on December 14th, with Nashville hanging on to a 3-2 win which was, at the time, their third-in-a-row. The team hasn't made a win streak like that since. The Preds are looking to try and break their current mini losing streak by playing the Sharks the same way they did last month. San Jose is suffering from bites from the injury bug, so if there is an opportunity for the Preds to take advantage, this is it.
|San Jose Sharks||Nashville Predators|
|5-on-5 Close SF/60||34.3||1st||29.4||14th|
|5-on-5 Close SA/60||28.7||15th||27.5||9th|
|5-on-5 Close Save %||.923||16th||.906||27th|
|# of PP's/Gm||3.93||1st||3.12||26th|
|# of PK's/Gm||2.60||1st||3.12||9th|
The San Jose Sharks
The Sharks (27-10-6) are coming off a back-to-back set of games over the weekend, where they fell to Colorado and prevailed against the Blackhawks in the shootout. The game in Denver saw them down 4-0 in the second period, before staging an almost impressive comeback that had the Avalanche hanging on for dear life in the final minutes. The clock was the Avs best friend, and they secured the 4-3 lead.
Already dealing with a number of different injuries, San Jose announced that Logan Couture is going to have surgery on Wednesday to fix an upper-body ailment. Word on the street is he will be out for 3-4 weeks, which puts his Olympic hopes in jeopardy. (UPDATE: David Pollak of the Mercury News is reporting Couture did not make the team.) The Sharks are already without star rookie Tomas Hertl, Tommy Wingles, Marty Havlat, and Tyler Kennedy. Even though they still have Thorton, Marleau, and Pavelski, stretching the forward lines so thin could spell danger in the coming weeks.
One of the things that makes them such a dangerous team is how many ways they can score, as evidence by being the fifth best team in the league at putting the puck in the net. They will need guys like Jumbo Joe to help out. Despite having 48 points on the season right now, (tied for fourth in the NHL with Anaheim's Ryan Getzlaf) Thorton only has five goals on the campaign.
For more on the Sharks and to stay up to date with their injury woes, check out the always excellent Fear The Fin.
The Nashville Predators
The last few games haven't gone the Predators way, although it isn't for lack of trying. The Predators, though still a sub 50% fenwick team, have been getting better in their last few games. Granted, you'd hope they would be getting better when they are a 44% possession team. However, though their possession is rising their PDO is falling steadily. PDO, which adds shooting percentage and save percentage, essentially boils down to puck luck. The Preds aren't getting the bounces to go their way. If Nashville continues to shoot, their PDO will eventually come back up and some of the games will start going their way again. Dare to dream.
One thing that would definitely help the team and get this home stand to a great start, would be the reemergence of David Legwand. He's only recorded one point in his last nine games. With Mike Fisher surging, and Craig Smith continuing to produce, Legwand needs to start finding his line mates, as well as calling his own number from time to time.
#11 / Center / Nashville Predators
Aug 17, 1980
|2013 - David Legwand||43||6||20||26||-11||16||3||0||2||69||8.6|
One would assume we'd see Marek Mazanec in net tonight, after Trotz's public lambasting of Carter Hutton after the Carolina game. Mazanec last played in the shootout loss to Florida, where he stopped 25 of 29 shots for a .862 SV%. Save for his outing against Los Angeles, Maz hasn't been as sharp as he was earlier this season, so let's hope a return to form is in order for the young Czech.
Stay out of the cold, light a fire, and huddle under some blankets for this one. Let the Preds warm your soul with a win at 7:00 p.m. CST. Hopefully you have a radio close by or Center Ice or GCL as the game isn't being broadcast tonight. Only one more time that happens this season...