San Jose Sharks at Nashville Predators: It's a Trap, Don't Take the Bait

San Jose Sharks (16-44-7) at Nashville Predators (39-25-4) is a matchup between two teams going in completely opposite directions.

Nashville Predators v San Jose Sharks
Nashville Predators v San Jose Sharks / Thearon W. Henderson/GettyImages
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You will be hard-pressed to find a matchup between two teams trending in more opposite directions than the Nashville Predators and San Jose Sharks, and that's what we'll see Tuesday at Bridgestone Arena.

The Sharks, who were fully expected to be near the bottom of the NHL this season, have lost 13 of their last 14 games with 11 of those losses coming in regulation. They are -120 in scoring margin on the season, which is by far the worst in the NHL.

On the flip side, the Predators are on a heater and starting to take notice all around the NHL as a team capable of pulling off an upset in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Most playoff odds predictors give the Predators over a 95 percent chance to make a return to the Stanley Cup Playoffs after missing in 2023.

This sets up a classic trap game for the Predators. Admittedly, I hate using the term "trap game" because it's often overused and cliche. But however, in this instance, it's valid. The Predators are buzzing, and the Sharks are drowning. This sets up for a game where the Predators could come in not 100 percent focused, and the Sharks play loose and free with no pressure.

Just pure domination for the Predators over the Sharks head-to-head over the last three seasons combined. Nashville has an 8-0-0 record and has outscored San Jose 34-9 in those eight wins.

The last time the Predators lost to the Sharks was a shootout loss on November 9, 2019. So naturally, tonight should feel like an easy win to tie the franchise record for a point streak at 15 games? Wrong. The Predators absolutely cannot come into this game on cruise control, and that's the message Head Coach Andrew Brunette has to be preaching in pregame.

Roman Josi Has Entered the Chat in the Norris Trophy Race

With 14 games remaining in the regular season, Roman Josi is reminding everyone who might have forgotten about him just how elite he is. Brunette recently called him "the best defenseman in the world".

We often hold Josi to these insanely high standards, so earlier in the season the captain's stock was down a bit. Not because he was playing horrible hockey, but because he wasn't playing Norris Trophy level hockey. Well, now he is and just at the perfect time to fuel the Predators through this point streak.

Josi is getting prasie and recognition all around the NHL now and fully in the Norris Trophy conversation again. Among defensemen, Josi is tied for third in points and tied for the most with Cale Makar in goals.

There's a strong chance Josi has another very productive night offensively against the Sharks, who give up the highest Expected Goals Against in the NHL per MoneyPuck.

Preds Hit Hard with Injuries to their Defensive Corps

Three injuries to starting defensemen in a week's time for the Predators will certianly be a difficult thing to overcome in the coming weeks to cap off this playoff berth.

The latest injury is to Jeremy Lauzon, who is considered "week to week" with an upper body injury. He joins Dante Fabbro and Spencer Stastney who are both also listed as "week to week".

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The depth is really being tested now, with the Predators turning to Marc Del Gaizo to fill in. Del Gaizo has a promising NHL future and made his NHL debut earlier this season logging three assists in five games.

Del Gaizo was drafted in the 4th Round of 2019's draft by the Predators and along with Stastney, is the most promising defensive prospect in the system.

Just looking at this matchup with the Sharks, the Predators should be able to overcome the injuries. Even with their defensive corps being shaken up, they face a Sharks team with the worst offense in the NHL to go along with the worst defense.

Only thing that can flip this matchup around and give the Sharks a chance to pull off the huge upset will be self-inflicted wounds by the Predators, including the bad giveaways in your own zone.

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