Game Preview: Nashville Predators @ San Jose Sharks 2/23/23

The road continues bumpy.

The Nashville Predators’ spring continues to be a bumpy one. The team announced this morning that Ryan Johansen would miss three months after surgery, so Milwaukee Admirals forward Kiefer Sherwood will get another chance with the NHL club. Tonight’s opponent: the San Jose Sharks.

The Sharks’ season hasn’t gone well. Their first two games against Nashville, at the Global Series, pretty much set the tone for the rest of their year. They’ve had their struggles, but it’s worth remembering that they are also coming off a 4-0 win over the Seattle Kraken, so they can cause teams problems as well.

A lot of the problems they cause are for themselves, though. They have a decent penalty kill, but that’s about all they have going for them systemically. A just-okay defense isn’t enough to make up for bad goaltending—James Reimer and Kaapo Kahkonen, who’ve taken the lion’s share of the starts this season, have .898 and .884 sv%s respectively, and it’s due to their struggles with the shots they’ve faced, not really the shots themselves.

At the other side of the ice, an okay offense has crashed into bad shooting luck, maybe mixed with some bad execution. The Sharks skaters could be scoring more goals than they are, but they haven’t been. This probably goes for everyone except Timo Meier, whose 31 goals lead the team and who’s added 21 assists; if he could also be scoring significantly more goals than he is I think the Preds’ defense would like to opt out of tonight’s game right now.

Erik Karlsson is the team’s points leader, with 76—58 of them assists. Logan Couture (20G/28A) and Tomaš Hertl (15G/32A) round out the top four scorers. Marc-Edouard Vlasic is still playing shutdown defense for the team, but his offense has really declined; still, defense definitely isn’t hurting the Sharks, except maybe their lottery odds.

How to Watch

The game airs at 9:30 Central (10:30 Eastern) on Bally Sports South and 102.5 The Game.