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Predatorial Pregame Warmup: December 14, 2013

pregame

Dec 14, 2013



Written by: Kristopher Martel

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Last updated: December 14, 2013 at 11:07 am

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Nashville Predators (15-14-3) vs San Jose Sharks (20-6-6)
Gametime: 7:00pm CT / 8:00pm ET
Television: FS-Tennessee, CSN-CA
Radio: 102.5 The Game

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Injuries

Nashville Predators - Pekka Rinne (hip), Filip Forsberg (day-to-day)

San Jose Sharks - Scott Hannan (upper body), Mike Brown (undisclosed), Raffi Torres (knee), Adam Burish (back)

Projected Goaltending Matchup

Carter Hutton, 6-3-1, 0 SO, 0.909Sv%, 2.83GAA

VS

Antii Niemi, 17-5-6, 2 SO, 0.916Sv%, 2.23GAA

Keep an eye on...

Nashville Predators -

Matt Cullen – On Thursday, I felt so strongly about Matt Cullen’s game that I nearly wrote him in as my selection for Nashville’s third star of the game, regardless of not being on the statsheet at all. Multiple chances, everywhere on the ice, Cullen’s game has stepped up a notch over the last handful of contests. This bodes well for an offensively-struggling Predators team.

San Jose Sharks -

Joe Pavelski - Scoring three goals in his past two games, Pavelski helped the Sharks get off their four-game losing streak this past Thursday night against the Minnesota Wild. Always dangerous against Nashville, San Jose needs his scoring touch to stay on track in the Pacific Division.

Main Storylines

Nashville Predators -

Winning two straight games changes a bit of the dynamic in a down-and-out locker room, especially on the heels of a five-game losing streak. Winning 4-1 on Tuesday against the Rangers and 3-1 against the Stars on Thursday, the Predators are finding new ways to win, including getting goals from unlikely contributors.

David Legwand’s four points (1g, 3a) in Nashville’s last two wins increases his team-leading point to 24 and puts him back on pace with the rest of the league. Currently, whenever Legwand registers a point, the Predators are 12-2 -1 on the season. When he doesn’t? 3-12-2. It’s obvious that Nashville needs Legwand to continue contributing, their success has been depending on it as of late.

After seeing Marek Mazanec start thirteen straight in net, Carter Hutton earned a second chance and has been taking full advantage of it. Looking stellar in net, Hutton has allowed two goals on 63 shots over the past two outings, helping Nashville slowly try to make their way back in the Western Conference playoff picture.

San Jose Sharks -

One of this season’s most consistent teams, the Sharks have had a bit of trouble as of late. Posting an 8-2-3 record in November, San Jose has only posted a 2-3-1 record so far in the month of December, including a recent stretch of 0-3-1 before winning this past Thursday night against the Minnesota Wild. Starting a three-game road trip tonight against the Predators, the Sharks will be looking for some type of consistency to stay on par with the Anaheim Ducks in the Pacific Division.

While Joe Pavelski has scored three goals in the past two games, San Jose’s offense is ladened with some of the NHL’s best talent. Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Logan Couture, and Pavelski all have 30 or more points so far this season. Rookie center Tomas Hertl and fellow centerman Tommy Wingels have 20 or more points each, as well. The Sharks have four players in the Top 20 in NHL scoring. That says it all.

Starting goaltender Antii Niemi has been one of the league’s best goaltenders, so far, this season. Winning 17 of his 28 starts and getting points in 23 of those, Niemi is 12th in the league for goals against average, tied for fifth in the league in shutouts, and sits second overall in wins.

Last time out...

Getting two powerplay markers from Dan Boyle and Joe Pavelski, respectively, the San Jose Sharks knocked off the Nashville Predators 2-1 on March 2nd, 2013.

One interesting fact...

The last four contests between the Predators and Sharks have been decided by one goal. A score of “2-1″ has been the final in three of those four meetings, two of those coming from shootouts. Of the four games, three went to at least overtime.

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Photo Credit: Sarah Fuqua