Nashville Predators @ San Jose Sharks Preview: Into the Shark Tank
The Predators will look to rebound after a horrendous Thursday game.
In case you missed it, the Predators had a record-settingly awful effort against the depleted Colorado Avalanche on Thursday. Yes, the Avalanche played very well, and yes, the Preds still somehow managed to get four goals on backup Pavel Francouz despite being almost doubled up in shots on goal, but there is no NHL team so good that it should inherently be able to score nine on another NHL team—especially with two-thirds of its top line missing and the third leaving partway through the game. It’s not an insult to the Avalanche to say the Preds’ performance was underwhelming.
After the loss to the Avalanche, captain Roman Josi said, “This is a proud locker room, and we got embarrassed out there tonight. We have to show a reaction next game.” The good news is that they can show that reaction tonight.
I’d like to see them make a better effort in transition, since it seemed like a fair bit of Thursday night’s nightmare was due to not being able to skate the puck out, not being able to skate the puck in, and making some really questionable choices about preventing the puck from getting skated in against them. The Sharks don’t have the same transition game as the Avalanche or Golden Knights—both teams that have made the Preds suffer with theirs—do, but they still have some excellent players.
Tomas Hertl leads the team in points with 17 (6G/11A), while Evander Kane leads it in goals with 10 (and five assists). Brent Burns, Logan Couture, and Erik Karlsson round out the top five leading scorers for the Sharks.
What the Sharks do not reliably have is goaltending. Patrick Marleau is the only skater who has a +/- above zero, which says a lot more about +/- than it does about Marleau. Martin Jones has put together a save percentage of .883 on the season, while backup Aaron Dell’s has dropped to .878. In their most recent outing, Thursday night against the Minnesota Wild, they entered the third period with a 6-2 lead, Jones allowed three goals on the next three shots on goal, and they barely escaped with the win. Yes, I said the Minnesota Wild.
If your goalie can’t stop a shot, your skaters aren’t going to look good defensively. Though, actually, the Sharks are pretty well-equipped defensively to shut down any team that thinks the slot is lava:
It’s a good matchup for them and a bad one for the Preds in that respect. Hopefully, some of the Predators’ skaters will take the engraved invitation when it’s handed to them.
Speaking of the Predators’ skaters, Viktor Arvidsson left the Avalanche game in the third period after a collision with the goal cage. Arvidsson’s six goals are third on the team behind Nick Bonino’s eight and Filip Forsberg’s seven. Josi leads the team in points with 17 (5G/12A), while Ryan Ellis is right behind him with 16 (3G/13A). Matt Duchene and Ryan Johansen join Bonino among forwards in the team’s top five.
Juuse Saros has had a rough season, allowing four goals in 80s Throwback Thursday this week to trash his just-recovering sv% again—it’s back down to .876 on the season. Pekka Rinne, despite 80s Throwback Thursday, still has a .912 on the season, which is decent. Not great, but decent. Neither of the Preds’ goalies can be held fully responsible for that disaster, but it would have been nice if either of them had made at least one more stop, just to keep the phrase “franchise record” out of the recaps. (Six to nine more stops between them would have been super.)
As of press time, the Predators have not yet announced their starting goalie, nor do we know Arvidsson’s availability.
Reasons to Watch
- You know you want to get the taste of Thursday’s game out of your mouth
- What, were you planning to sleep on a Saturday night?/
How to Watch
The game starts at 9:30 PM Central (hey, at least it’s a weekend), and will air on FS-TN. You can catch the radio call on 102.5 The Game.
Statistics from hockey-reference.com, naturalstattrick.com, and hockeyviz.com.