With the season still in its infancy, the Nashville Predators are looking to get a big win against a Western Conference foe.
The Nashville Predators couldn’t stay unbeaten on the young season for too long after dropping Saturday night’s contest with the Detroit Red Wings. Now they continue their four-game homestand to open 2019-20 with an always fun meeting with the San Jose Sharks.
A surprising 0-3 start for the Sharks means the Predators are going to get an angry team in search of their first win. The Sharks have the talent to make a return trip to the Western Conference Finals, but they can’t dig themselves in too much bigger of a hole. To be fair, two of their three losses are to a very good Vegas Golden Knights team.
As for the Predators, they’re still working in Matt Duchene and a new-look power play, which connected for the first time this season against Detroit. The Sharks have only managed three goals through their first three games, while also going scoreless on the power play on their first 14 attempts. Says a lot about why they’re 0-3, but I wouldn’t expect that to last too much longer.
Who to watch for on the Sharks
Beginning with San Jose, they’re getting a big piece to their lineup back as Evander Kane returns from a three-game suspension to begin the season. He was suspended for an altercation with an official during the preseason. His energy and presence on the Sharks power play will be a big boost for them when they play Nashville tonight.
I would expect Martin Jones to be in net for the Sharks, but San Jose’s goaltender situation is pretty shaky right now. They also have Aaron Dell as an option behind Jones. Dell has a save percentage below 90 to open the season, while Jones just gave up four goals on 23 shots faced in his last outing. The Predators should have plenty of opportunities to pile up some goals in this game.
San Jose has a very formidable group of defensemen led by Brent Burns and Erik Karlsson. They can both strike as offensive threats despite their slow starts offensively to the season. You have to figure that they’re going to wake up offensively along with the rest of the team. Hopefully it takes them one more game to do that.
Who has the edge
The Predators definitely look like they have the more formidable top two lines. There’s been no lack of offense from the top six of the Predators roster, with both Filip Forsberg and Viktor Arvidsson having two goals apiece through the first two games. Even in the loss to Detroit, this group looked pretty good.
Duchene has five assists through his first two official games in a Predators uniform. That’s just one point short of a franchise record held by Steve Sullivan. We have yet to see him tally a goal yet, but he’s definitely doing a great job quarterbacking the offense. He’s also making the power play look so much more fluid. Don’t be surprised at all if Duchene connects for his first Predators goal in this one.
I would expect Pekka Rinne to start in net for the Predators as Juuse Saros started the last game. I’m expecting Rinne and Saros to come very close to splitting the starts 50/50 this season, with the exception of a lengthy injury. Rinne played well in his season debut in a win against Minnesota, with his two goals give up not really his fault.
When looking at who has the edge in this game, Nashville clearly has it in both goaltending and the top six skaters. Defensively, it’s a toss-up and both teams are solid. You have to figure that San Jose is ready to erupt after a horrible start, and Nashville has to be ready for that. If I was a betting man, I’d take the Predators to win in a 3-2 type game. No one is getting a shutout here. Forsberg had four goals against San Jose last season, and he continues his dominance in this series with another goal.
San Jose won the season series last season 2-1, but the teams tied in total goals at 12 apiece. It’s worth noting that the Predators look vastly different than what their roster looked like when these two met twice early last season, both ending in 5-4 San Jose wins. Puck drop is set for 7 P.M. CDT and will be nationally televised on NBC Sports Network.