Nashville fans rejoice! The slump has ended, the days are brighter, and everything is right in the world again. Even though the Preds finally got one in the win column, there are still things that need to be figured out.
Nashville continues their trek through the west coast with a stop in San Jose tonight.
The San Jose Sharks
The Sharks are a desperate team these days. They find themselves on the outside, looking in to the playoffs as of today. They are, however, only five points out of a top three spot in the division, and four points out of a Wild Card spot. Even though they are only 4-6-0 in their last ten games, three of those wins came in their last four. The Sharks are going to be playing like a team on a mission this last month of the season. And that is the worst type of team the Preds could be going up against right now.
There is no surprise that the Sharks are led by a pair of Joe's (Joe Pavelski and Joe Thornton). Pavelski continues to be a perennial scorer in the league (scoring 32 goals so far this season), while Thornton is proving that is still has some gas left in the tank (second on the team in points). Another reason why San Jose is still lingering around is the aging Patrick Marleau. Marleau is fifth on the team with 48 points (which would lead some other teams in the league), and second with 33 assists. The Sharks are getting balanced scoring up front, which is always a scary thing to face this late in the season.
Antti Niemi has been consistent on the back end for the Sharks. He is giving up 2.58 goals per game and has a save percentage of .914. Those numbers are average when you look at the league as a whole, but it is just good enough for the Sharks to be contending for a playoff spot still. If Niemi can get back to the form he was in when he won a Stanley Cup, San Jose could make a run late.
No sad gif montage here today. It all smiles in Nashville (for right now) today. The Preds finally busted their slump a got back in the win column against the Coyotes. Even though it was a win, there are still plenty of things they can work on improving as a team.
Pekka Rinne played like a Vezina and Hart Trophy candidate on Monday. But the Preds were only able to score two goals in that game. And they needed overtime to do it. James Neal got the game winner, which is definitely something he needed to get back on track as well. Filip Forsberg hasn't been playing at the same level the past couple of weeks as he had the beginning of the season either. If Nashville can find a way to get those two guys going again, they will heading in the right direction heading into the playoffs.
Another thing that needs to be taken into consideration (as Dan mentioned here) is the fact that the players aren't sticking up for each other as much these days. I am not going to look too much into this one though. I feel that a lot of that could just be the losing streak taking a toll on all the players.
Nashville has to continue playing aggressively right out of the gate. They have to get on the board first and dictate the pace for the rest of the game. That was their winning model earlier in the year, and they need to get back to it.
Reasons To Watch
- Any game coming into the last month of the season is worth watching.
- Pekka Rinne looks to be back on track with his level of play. I expect him to make a Pekka-esque type save tonight.
- Mike Santorelli has been so close to getting a goal so many times for the Preds since joining the team. I expect him to notch his first one tonight.
Drink Of Choice For Game Time
Coffee, and only coffee. Why? Because it is a 9:30 start time.
Sights And Sounds
FS-TN for TV, and 102.5 The Game for radio. As I mentioned before, it's a 9:30 pm CST puck drop. Try not to fall asleep for this one.