UPDATE (12:30 pm): Preds spend extra time on power play
I arrived to the arena at 10:00 am, 15 minutes before the Predators were scheduled to hit the ice for morning skate. At that time the team was already doing power play drills, something they haven’t had much time for due to the condensed schedule.
“We haven’t had a lot of power plays and we haven’t had a lot of time to work on it, so we’re just trying to get some rhythm,” head coach Barry Trotz said.
The Predators power play has struggled ever since Patric Hornqvist left the lineup with a sprained knee. The power play unit, which was ranked first in the NHL a season ago, is 2-for-29 over the last nine games and currently ranked 21st in the league.
When asked what he’s looking for out of the man advantage, Trotz kept it simple: “Some movement, some goals, some traffic, some good decisions. A lot of our indecisions are making us have bad decisions.”
Without Hornqvist in the lineup, the Predators trying out Paul Gaustad and Colin Wilson in front of the net to create screens, deflections or rebounds.
“When you have meetings with the guys, they say ‘I can do more, I can do more.’ Well I need guys that can do more right now and no one is really willing to take that job. It’s one that has a high reward if you’re willing to do it, but we don’t have enough guys that are willing to do it correctly,” Trotz said.
“This morning we worked on puck movement and just trying to get that flow,” Wilson added. “The power play is about feeling and having that chemistry and confidence, and that’s what we had last year.”
Two nights after facing Chicago’s top-ranked penalty kill, the Predators are going up against the league’s sixth-best penalty kill unit when they face off against San Jose.
7:00 PM CT – San Jose Sharks (7-3-2) @ Nashville Predators (5-3-4)
TV: FS Tennessee
Radio: 102.5 The Game
Last time out:
SJ- The Sharks’ winless streak stretched to five games last night in Columbus with a 6-2 loss. The Sharks actually fell behind by a 6-1 mark early in the third period, as backup goalie Thomas Greiss was lit up by the Blue Jackets. San Jose has not won since Nashville beat them in the Shark Tank on Feb. 2.
NSH- Sunday night, at the hands of the NHL-leading Blackhawks, the Predators were dealt their shutout loss of the young season. After a scoreless first period, Chicago scored twice in a span of 1:06 to take the life out of Bridgestone Arena. In the loss, Pekka Rinne surrendered his first even-strength goal since Jan. 28 in Phoenix.
Players to watch:
SJ- Joe Thornton
Similarly to the team, Thornton’s production has slowed down significantly of late. However, he ended a five-game pointless streak with an assist last night, and has owned the Predators over the years.
NSH- Mike Fisher
Fisher has just one point in his last 10 games and three points overall, though he has been getting more chances of late. The Predators need more from him offensively.
Projected starting goaltenders:
SJ- Antti Niemi (2012-13 stats: 6-1-2, 1.82 GAA)
NSH- Pekka Rinne (2012-13 stats: 4-3-3, 1.92 GAA)
Projected lineups from last game/practice:
|San Jose Sharks|
|Ryane Clowe||Joe Thornton||Joe Pavelski|
|Patrick Marleau||Logan Couture||Martin Havlat|
|James Sheppard||Michal Handzus||Tommy Wingels|
|Matt Pelech||Scott Gomez||Adam Burish|
|T.J. Galiardi||Andrew Desjardins|
|Marc-Edouard Vlasic||Dan Boyle||Antti Niemi|
|Brad Stuart||Brent Burns||Thomas Greiss|
|Douglas Murray||Justin Braun|
|Sergei Kostitsyn||Mike Fisher||Martin Erat|
|Gabriel Bourque||David Legwand||Colin Wilson|
|Craig Smith||Nick Spaling||Brandon Yip|
|Richard Clune||Paul Gaustad||Matt Halischuk|
|Scott Hannan||Shea Weber||Pekka Rinne|
|Roman Josi||Kevin Klein||Chris Mason|
|Hal Gill||Ryan Ellis|
*Lineups are subject to change
SJ- Andrew Desjardins (flu, questionable)
NSH- Patric Hornqvist (knee, out)
Keys to the game:
SJ- Play a simple game… On the second half of a back-to-back, the Sharks need to stop the bleeding. Chicago kept it simple in Nashville on Sunday and left town with two points. Tonight the Sharks will need to play a simple road game and not let the Preds gain any sort of momentum in front of their home fans.
NSH- Blitz Sharks from onset… The Sharks are reeling after a hot start, but the Predators aren’t happy with the results from this past weekend. Barry Trotz’s club needs to match San Jose’s desperation; doing so right out of the gates could put the Sharks on their heels less than 24 hours after a blowout loss. If the Preds can get a goal or two early, their confidence offensively may rise.
Numbers to know:
- Season series vs. San Jose: 1-0 Predators
- 2011-12 season series: Tied 2-2
- The Preds are 1-1-2 at home this season … San Jose is 2-2-1 on the road.
- Since Nov. 27, 2002, the Preds are 11-5-1 at home against the Sharks (not including playoffs).
- The Preds have picked up points in all but one of its last 9 games (4-1-3 record) against the Sharks.
- Pekka Rinne is 6-2-4 with a 2.17 GAA and .937 save percentage in 13 career games vs. San Jose. His counterpart, Antti Niemi, is 5-3-2 with a 2.31 GAA and .914 save percentage in 10 career games vs. Nashville.
- Shea Weber has 18 points in 24 career games vs. San Jose.
- Power play: Nashville (15.4%, 21st) … San Jose (23.3%, 8th)
- Penalty kill: Nashville (81.8%, 13th) … San Jose (86.5%, 6th)
Our flashback goes back to December of 2010, when the Predators scored twice in the last four minutes to top the Sharks, 3-2, on home ice…