The San Jose Sharks (7-0-0) face-off against the Nashville Predators (2-2-3) in the last game of their 6-game homestand. In their last game the Predators defeated the Stanley Cup Champion L.A. Kings by the final of 2-1. San Jose is coming off of their win against the Edmonton Oilers which they won 3-2 in a shootout.
Nashville has struggled so far this season to to put points on the board with their leading scorer Martin Erat totalling just 2 goals and 2 assists for 4 points. Tied with him for points with 1 goal and 3 assists is right winger Patric Hornqvist but with an injured his knee is still probably a week or two away from coming back.
Their offensive struggles can at least be partly attributed to his absence considering he was their top goal scorer a year ago, but at some point someone will have to step up.
Compare that to San Jose’s big guns and this game looks favorably in their direction on paper. Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau are still tied with the team lead for points at 14. Thornton has 3 goals and 11 assists while Marleau has 5 assists to go with his league-leading 9 goals. ‘The Big Pavelski‘ and Logan Couture round out the Sharks’ players who already have 10+ points on the season.
Things to Watch For
For starters, I’d like to point out how much better the San Jose penalty kill has gotten these past few games which has not allowed a power play goal in 4 games, going a perfect 16/16 in that span. It seems like Larry Robinson has already gotten the penalty kill in order and it is paying off big-time. On the flip-side of things the power play has been unable to capitalize in their last few games, but I look for that to end tonight against the Predators.
Also great to see was the vast improvment in even-strength play over the last couple of games. Although the Sharks did not get many quality scoring chances last game they were still a lot better.
Unfortunately, they are still struggling to get the puck out of the zone and while the defense has been great if you are unable to get the puck out of your own zone and allow the opposition to have sustained pressure for shifts at a time, it will not matter how good your defense or goaltending is, you’ll get burned. We’ll see tonight how the Sharks plan on remedying that issue. Obviously the return of Brent Burns will help vastly, but until then they will have to figure it out.
While I don’t think this often, I think this is a game San Jose should win. I know in this league anybody can beat anybody on any given day, but this is a game the Sharks want to take, especially with the shortened season where wins are even more amplified.