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Game 62: San Jose @ Nashville – Stealing from the Teal


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Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

It has been a long time since the Predators and the Sharks have met of the frozen surface of Bridgestone Arena…October 25th in fact that saw San Jose skate to victory 3-1. They have met as recent as November 5th at HP Pavilion in San Jose where the Predators won in overtime.

Tonight, San Jose and Nashville are in the thick of the upper-echelon in the Western Conference. Two important points hang in the balance: for Nashville to get ever-closer to home-ice and overtaking the Blues in 4th; for San Jose to keep Phoenix and Dallas at bay.

Game time is 7 P.M. central…limited tickets remain.

This Year’s Series: 1-1-0 Home (0-1-0) Away (1-0-0)

Looking at the Sharks: February hasn’t been great for the San Jose Sharks with a record of 4-6-1. The Sharks are the definition of a sleeping giant…emphasis on giant. They bring size and skill and the ability to out-gun their opponent with talent like Couture, Marleau and Pavelski.

“Jumbo” Joe Thornton is leading the Sharks with 54 points and he is an assist machine with 41 helpers on the season. Niemi has 24 wins on the year with 4 shutouts but in his last 4 games, Niemi is 1-2-1. This needs to change soon with Phoenix tied in points with San Jose (Sharks have 2 games in hand).

Looking at the Predators: One period of solid effort allowed for the Predators to at least get one point out of the game against St. Louis Thursday night. Josi and Wilson would score, but the Predators were shutout in the shootout and St. Louis would capitalize on Rinne’s struggling shootout record in February.

The biggest news so far in the Predators camp was the trading of Jerred Smithson to Florida for a 6th round pick. Many feel that Smithson was not contributing as much as previous seasons but Smithson was dynamic in face-offs and played the lunch-pail game that is central to Nashville’s game plan. We’ll miss you Smithers.

For the Sharks to win: Play a strong forecheck. The Boston Bruins pressed the Predators not too long ago and took full advantage of an aggressive forecheck. The Sharks have capable forwards to do the same, namely Pavelski and Clowe. This pair can be dangerous and if the Predators can handle them then they’ll have to deal with high-octane scoring from Marleau, Thornton and Couture.

Niemi will have to clamp down and the entire Sharks team will have to be wary of taking penalties against Nashville. It’ll be a gritty game and the Sharks have many players that can punish the smaller Predators team. Even the addition of Hal Gill can’t stop bruisers such as Winchester and McGinn from running rough-shod over the Predators lineup.

For the Predators to win: Play a smart, balanced hockey game. The Predators are having success similar to the Kariya/Forsberg era of the 2007 season. That season ended in the first-round of the playoffs against…the San Jose Sharks, a teal and black wall that was the hottest team going into the playoffs that year.

Rinne may have been struggling lately in the shootouts but his play in regulation is what keeps the Predators in every game. Some goal support would be beneficial as the Predators are starting to echo their mantra from last season about “scoring three goals.” This simple and attainable goal amount greatly increases the chances of a Predators win and adding that 4th goal will send what should be a sellout crowd home happy and full of frozen Frosty goodness.

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Stay HardCore, friends