The season is young, but the Nashville Predators have already hosted the San Jose Sharks, in a game featuring a disappointing third-period collapse by the Preds. Now it’s the Sharks’ turn to host, and we can hope that the away team will win again.
The Sharks did not play last night, but beat the Calgary Flames 3-1 on Sunday in a fairly even but never close game. The Predators traveled from Anaheim, where they lost to the Ducks in a shootout in the small hours of the morning. If you went to bed before then, congratulations; you missed nothing and caught up on some sleep.
The San Jose Sharks:
The Sharks’ offense has been firing on all cylinders, not just the ones at the back. They’re taking a ton of shots, from the right point where Brent Burns and Erik Karlsson play all the way down to the netfront where the goals live. Their netfront defense is bad, but they’ve been doing so well everywhere else that they’re almost getting away with it—they’re controlling 5v5 shots better than anyone except the Carolina Corsicanes.
On special teams, their power play looks good and their penalty kill doesn’t, but looking at the actual conversion percentages it’s the penalty kill that’s above league-average (they’ve gotten some very good goaltending 4v5) and the power play that’s below league-average.
It’s goaltending that makes the story, as it so often is. The Sharks have been very unlucky—their team shooting percentage both 5v5 and 5v4 is bad, and neither starter Martin Jones nor backup Aaron Dell has been good at even strength at the other end of the ice. With average shooting and goaltending on the shots they’ve been taking and allowing, this team would be a lot more of a powerhouse than it is.
As it is, Brent Burns’s 20 points lead the team, while Timo Meier’s twelve goals are also impressive. Logan Couture has been setting up plays, and Joe Pavelski and Evander Kane have been scoring goals. Defensively, Erik Karlsson is shutting down opponent play, first with Marc-Édouard Vlasic and now with Brenden Dillon.
The Nashville Predators:
Viktor Arvidsson is back on IR, and we might or might not see Calle Järnkrok tonight. Last night’s game against the Ducks also featured some alarming-looking plays which might lead to some late scratches. The two most obvious things were that P.K. Subban looked to be battling injury throughout (and the Predators may have gone with 11F/7D as a precaution), and Kevin Fiala got tripped headfirst into Kyle Turris’s knee. Either of them, or both, might miss tonight’s game, depending on how they’re doing today.
Other than that, this should be roughly the same team we saw last night. They had a sloppy first period and a truly embarrassing second before rallying enough in the third to force OT. Hopefully, they’ll be able to play a more complete game tonight, or at least put a little more effort in. Playing the second half of a back-to-back on the road is a rough spot to be in, and the Preds haven’t had the best luck at the Shark Tank, but we’ve seen this team do harder things.
Reasons to Watch:
- Those defense corps.
- To get the taste of last night’s game out of your mouth.
- At some point, Filip Forsberg might score another goal.
How to Watch:
Puck drop is at 9:30 PM Central. You can watch the game on FS-TN or listen on 102.5 The Game.