The San Jose Sharks
Go through the score sheets and you will see a few Sharks players' names repeated over and over again: Joe Pavelski, Logan Couture, Brent Burns, and Joe Thornton. What do they all have in common? They are All-Star caliber players and they are all on the same powerplay unit. Look at the advanced stats and you will notice the team that won either led or virtually tied the other team in high-danger scoring chances.
I think the game plan should be pretty simple for the Predators defensively. Limit the big guys' time and space, avoid going on the penalty kill, and lock down the area in front of the net. It's easier said than done but if they do those three things they greatly increase their odds of winning this game.
You have to wonder if the Sharks are starting to doubt themselves. They have a history of going pretty far and not being able to close out. They had three chances to either virtually or actually put the proverbial nail on the coffin (game 3, 4, and 6) and they couldn't seal the deal. If you're the Preds: score early, and get in their heads.
The Nashville Predators
The Sharks' big guns have stepped up for them this series and, for the most part, the Predators' big guns have matched that effort. James Neal, Colin Wilson, Ryan Johansen, and Mike Fisher have produced when called upon and have been key players in this series. However, there is one player that has yet to really make the kind of scoring impact in this series (and in the playoffs in general) that you would expect: Filip Forsberg.
Forsberg has been pegged a player to watch for almost half the series after only scoring one goal and zero assists in the six games against the Sharks. In fact, that goal (scored in game 3) was his first goal since game 1 in the Ducks series. Quite frankly, that is not going to cut it for the Predators' top regular season goal scorer. He is way past due and he is the perfect player to snipe that oxygen tank out of the Sharks' mouths.
The other big key for the Predators will be Pekka Rinne. He has been solid this series and if there was ever a game for him to steal it would be this one; something that is completely within the realm of possibility.
LET'S GO PREDS!
The When and The Where
Check out the game on NBCSN or 102.5 The Game at 8 PM Central Time and get ready for the Predators to (hopefully) calm the waters in the Shark Tank!
Advanced stats obtained from War on Ice.