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Game Day Blog: Preds at San Jose Sharks

Thursday, 03.11.2010 / 5:39 PM CT / Preview
By Tom Callahan  - Nashville Predators
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Game Day Blog: Preds at San Jose Sharks
Game Preview
Nashville Predators @ San Jose Sharks
9:30 pm CST
TV: FSTN Radio: 104.5 The Zone and the Predators Radio Network

Well, here we go! A serious three-game roller coaster that could determine Nashville’s post-season fate!

Okay, perhaps that’s a bit dramatic considering there’s still a lot of hockey left, but every game is definitely important. Tonight’s game against the Sharks will be yet another good measuring stick for where the Predators stand, and should Shea Weber play tonight (and all indications are he will) it will also be a good sign to get the big gun back on the point for the Preds. Hopefully being out a game or two hasn’t hampered his ability to contribute and ramp right up to game speed, and it probably won’t be much in the way of an adjustment past the first shift or two.

That said, the Sharks come into tonight’s game waving around some impressive numbers:
Team Offense – 4th 3.26 GF per game
Team Defense – 1st 2.33 GA per game
Power Play – 4th 22.2%
Penalty Kill – 2nd 86.2%

These guys can not only put the puck in the net, but keep it out, too. That’s going to be the big challenge for Nashville is defending the top six forwards for the Sharks while trying to figure out how to generate scoring opportunities. Ideally, tonight is a game where you might get a match for your top line here and there, check their top six closely, and get a chip-in goal from your third or fourth unit.

Dan Ellis will get a turn in net again for the Preds after a solid performance against Atlanta for the win on Tuesday night, and he will definitely need to be at his best to beat the Sharks. For those who remember, Ellis stood on his head last season when the Predators came out with an amazing overtime win at HP Pavillion. His 54 saves in that game is a Preds team record, and I’m sure one that he’d be happy going nowhere near in tonight’s contest.

The Sharks will get Scott Nichol back in the lineup tonight after he suffered a scary crash into the endboards following a hit by Montreal’s Maxim Lapierre that injured his shoulder, but his fears were alleviated after learning that the damage was much less severe than initially suspected. Nichol missed only one game, and considers himself lucky that he was able to see the hit coming out of the corner of his eye.

Notes:
  • The Sharks have had four days off, sitting idle since a 2-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets at home last Saturday. It was San Jose’s 11th straight home win over the Blue Jackets.
  • Dany Heatley has two goals and three points in his last three games, while Patrick Marleau has four points in his last two games.
  • Evgeni Nabokov’s win over Columbus was the 288th of his career, moving him into sole possession of 29th place for wins all-time among NHL goaltenders.
Keys to the Game
  • Stop the Sharks Swarm. Nashville has to be able to clear out the front of the net and win the battles along the wall, especially in the defensive zone. Scott Nichol said it best when he said the Sharks are most effective when they hang onto the puck. Time and space are everything.
  • Offensive patience. The Sharks aren’t just going to open up and allow shots, the Preds have to earn their chances. Look for them to have to wear down the defense with repeated cycling on shifts to generate some chances. The upside is that they’ve done a good job with that for the most part in recent wins against LA and Atlanta.
SMASHVILLE CENTRAL

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STANDINGS
 

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 z - ANA 82 51 24 7 228 221 109
2 y - STL 82 51 24 7 239 197 109
3 x - NSH 82 47 25 10 226 202 104
4 x - CHI 82 48 28 6 220 186 102
5 x - VAN 82 48 29 5 236 220 101
6 x - MIN 82 46 28 8 227 198 100
7 x - WPG 82 43 26 13 223 204 99
8 x - CGY 82 45 30 7 237 213 97
9 LAK 82 40 27 15 218 197 95
10 DAL 82 41 31 10 257 257 92
11 COL 82 39 31 12 209 223 90
12 SJS 82 40 33 9 224 226 89
13 EDM 82 24 44 14 193 276 62
14 ARI 82 24 50 8 165 267 56

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
F. Forsberg 82 26 37 15 63
M. Ribeiro 82 15 47 11 62
R. Josi 81 15 40 15 55
S. Weber 78 15 30 15 45
C. Smith 82 23 21 11 44
C. Wilson 77 20 22 19 42
M. Fisher 59 19 20 4 39
J. Neal 67 23 14 12 37
R. Ellis 58 9 18 8 27
S. Jones 82 8 19 3 27
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Rinne 41 17 6 .923 2.18
C. Hutton 6 7 4 .902 2.61