This was one of the games that I had circled on my calendar when the schedule was released. This game, on paper, is set to be a thrilling bout between two Western Conference contenders.
As this young season unfolds, it seems like an exciting game might be too much to ask for at this point. The Preds are still trying to find their wa, and the Sharks have picked up right where they left off last year.
I think that Nashville will find their groove tonight and make a statement in San Jose.
The San Jose Sharks
As I mentioned before, the Sharks have picked up right where they left off last season. They continue to be in the discussion to win the Western Conference this year. During the offseason, they had one flaw that they wanted to address. That was speed. San Jose went out and signed Mikkel Boedker to add some much needed quickness to their roster. Boedker seems to still be figuring out his role with the team, but I expect him to be close to the top of their team in stats by the end of the season.
Other than Boedker, the Sharks still have the usual suspects leading the way. They are led by a couple of solid defensemen in Brent Burns and Marc-Edouard Vlasic. Both Burns and Vlasic continue to produce from the back end for the Sharks. Burns leads the teams in points and assists. He already has an impressive 3G, 6A, 9P in just eight games played. That is a great start to what I believe will be a Norris Trophy winning season for him.
While the defense on this team is something to be concerned about, the Preds can’t take their focus off the talented group of fowards. They are led by Joe Pavelski, who is tied for the team lead in points (with Burns). It also seems like the fountain of youth has found its way to San Jose, because veterans like Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau continue to be as productive as the last few seasons.
San Jose will be relatively rested for this game as they were at home for their last game on Thursday night. I expect them to try to get an early lead on the Preds. If Nashville can hold them off early, they have a chance to steal one tonight.
What can we say about this team right now. Yes, I know that it is still very early in the season, and yes, I am aware that it takes time for the new pieces to gel together. I am not going to lie, I had expected this team to mesh together right off the bat.
There are a few areas of concern for this team right now. The main concern, in my eyes, is the lack of goals from the top guys. Filip Forsberg, Ryan Johansen, and James Neal have all yet to register a goal this season. The one bright spot is that Forsberg and Johansen are still racking up assists. The problem for Forsberg is that he is only averaging 2.1 shots per game. It doesn’t take a genius to realize that he needs to start shooting more in order to get more quality chances.
One position that has performed surprisingly well is goaltending. Pekka Rinne is no where near his Vezina nominated year, but he is playing well enough to keep Nashville competitive in games. Other than the Anaheim game, where he looked absolutely horrific, he has made some quality saves at crucial times. They will need to get a lot more quality starts from him in order to have success this season. Especially considering that Marek Mazanec has not played well at all this season.
Reasons To Watch
- I think this is finally the game where we will see Forsberg break his scoring drought. Like I said, it’s only a matter of time before he starts getting pucks in the net.
- We get to watch two of the most dynamic defenseman in the league tonight in Brent Burns and P.K. Subban. I expect to see a high pace, action filled game with these two guys on the ice. That’s not even mentioning Roman Josi will also be out there.
- It will be the first time the Predators are back in San Jose since they played that stinker of a game 7 last year. I can only assume they will use that embarrassment of a game as motivation for tonight to play all out.
Drink Of Choice For Game Time
We have another late one tonight, so should I go with coffee or a cold refreshing beer? I think I will opt for a beer. I will be taking down a Sierra Nevada Nooner Pilsner tonight.
Sights And Sounds
As I mentioned before, it’s a late one tonight again. You can catch the game on FS-TN locally and listen to it on 102.5 The Game. You can also stream the game on the Fox Sports Go app. Puck drops at 9:30 pm CST.