The Nashville Predators and San Jose Sharks are all tied up at two games apiece in this series.
The Nashville Predators won the last two and have that momentum on their side but the Sharks feel as if they actually won the last game and were “overturned” by the referees.
This has been a very close series and should be a very close game. It could turn easily on a lucky bounce or defensive lapse by either team. With that in mind, we take a look at which teams should be able to make those lucky breaks or push the opposing defense.
There have been some pretty amazing stats quoted on Twitter by Ryan Porth Producer of 102.5 The Game. He showed where teams that have won a Triple OT game in a series have gone on to win nearly 75% of the time. They’ve also won 13 of 14 if the game goes past half way in the Third OT.
Unfortunately, you can pretty much throw those stats out the window. This is a best of three series and the San Jose Sharks have the home ice advantage. Let’s take a look at how it all shakes out:
San Jose Sharks
The Sharks had a huge advantage going into this series by being rested while the Predators were in a hard-fought seven-game series with Anaheim. The Predators have flown over 13,000 miles in the playoffs first by over 7,000 miles to the second place NY Islanders. That played out in the first game when the Preds looked tired and overmatched in the third period and lost that game.
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Since then, the Nashville Predators have basically outplayed the Sharks. The Sharks home ice advantage is a mirage. They had a losing record at home during the season and it looked like they couldn’t give away enough seats to fill the SAP Center in the first two games. I’ve been to funerals that were louder and more rowdy than the San Jose crowd.
The Sharks top scorers and players are over 30 years of age. Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton are 36. Brent Burns and Joe Pavelski are the youngest at 31. The Triple Overtime and same travel schedule as the Preds will affect them too. The Nashville Predators top players are much younger. Filip Forsberg is 21 and James Neal is 28. Ryan Johansen is 23. Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis, and Mattias Ekholm are all 25.
Martin Jones has played great but the Predators have found a soft spot up high, especially on the glove side in the past two games. He doesn’t have the defense in front of him to swipe away pucks that the Predators have.
The Predators are one of those teams that believe in themselves right now. They are ready to take the next step. Coach Laviolette has been starting five rookies although we think there is a possibility that Mike Ribeiro returns on fresh legs tonight. They are riding a red-hot goalie that in his last six starts has a 1.63 GAA and .944 save percentage.
They have momentum on their side by winning the historical Triple Overtime game. That is a gut-wrenching loss for the Sharks, especially the way it happened. They have won two in a row and believe they have out-played the Sharks for three games in a row. They are battle tested from playing in the Central all season and beating the Ducks in the first series.
Even though they are in San Jose, most of the pros are landing in the Nashville Predators column and most of the cons are falling in the Sharks column. Coach Peter Laviolette is the better coach and the Predators have the better defense and goaltender. The Preds have a chip on their shoulder. They have younger stars.
With all of this in mind, we are picking the Predators by a 3-1 score. We think it will be a game where both teams try to stay in control with the Predators getting an empty net goal at the end to pull away and let the Fat Lady start to sing. She may also be warming up for the series.
If the Predators can get an early goal, it will completely take the crowd out of the game. That could be huge. Go Preds!