There’s a little bit of “second verse, same as the first” as the Nashville Predators head south to take on the San Jose Sharks—hopefully the outcome is different than it was in Wednesday’s tilt against the Seattle Kraken.
The Sharks have been having a rough season, and it hasn’t improved lately, with only three wins since Erik Karlsson’s late-January arm surgery (he won’t be back until mid-March at the earliest). They’ve gotten solid oaltending from James Reimer, but Reimer is now week-to-week with an injury sustained in the Sharks’ most recent game.
Rookie backup Zachary Sawchenko has been great in the three games he’s played in, although he’s come in in relief for all three. Although Adin Hill hasn’t been awful (.901 sv% on the season), he’s also been on IR, and so with Reimer’s injury the Sharks opted to trade for Alex Stalock, who has been recovering from COVID-induced myocarditis and hasn’t played in the NHL since 2020. He’s had some pretty good seasons, as well as some okay ones; what the Sharks will get from him is a mystery. If I had to guess, I’d say tonight is likely to be Sawchenko’s first NHL start, but we might see Stalock instead.
On offense, Timo Meier leads the team with 53 points and 24 goals, while his 29 assists come in second. Tomas Hertl and Logan Couture are two of the other major contributors, with Hertl contributing 22 goals and 42 points, while Couture has added 40 points. Brent Burns’s goalscoring has fallen off, but he still has 32 assists on the season.
The Sharks have combined an anemic offense (at both 5v5 and on the power play) with bad shooting luck. Their defense has been a little bit subpar, but Reimer has made up for it; it’ll be interesting to see how that changes with the necessitated goalie changes. Although their power play hasn’t been great (it’s been fine), their penalty kill has been good—not that they spend much time on special teams.
This is a winnable game for the Preds, but they’ll need to do a better job than they did in Seattle. There are a few similiarities in gameplay as well as outward aesthetics between the two teams, so the Preds can look at it as a redemption arc if they’d like.
How to Watch
The game starts at 7PM Central and will air on Bally Sports South, with the radio call on 102.5 The Game.
Statistics from naturalstattrick.com. Additional background from hockeyviz.com.