The Sharks and Predators will meet in Nashville on Tuesday night. The Predators have jumped out to the best start in the NHL this season with a 7-1 record. San Jose has started off this season with a 4-3-1 record, which has them in fourth place in the Pacific Division. I believe these two teams will meet in an exciting matchup on Tuesday night.
San Jose is coming off a season that saw them go 45-27-10. The Sharks finished third place in the Pacific Division. They faced the Anaheim Ducks in the first round and won in a four-game sweep. San Jose met up against the Vegas Golden Knights in the second round and lost in six games. The Sharks made some big moves in the offseason in hopes of making it further in the playoffs this season.
The Predators won the President’s Trophy last season with a 53-18-11 record. Nashville knocked the Colorado Avalanche out in the first round of the playoffs in six games. The Predators lost in seven games to the Winnipeg Jets. Nashville was in the Stanley Cup two season’s ago and I believe they are poised for another run this season.
Last Season’s Matchups
San Jose hosted the first game between these two teams last season. Mikkel Boedker and Joonas Donskoi each had a goal and an assist in route to a Sharks win. Martin Jones turned away 19 of 20 shots as San Jose pulled off a 4-1 win at home.
The second game of the season between San Jose and the Predators shifted to Nashville. The Predators absolutely dominated this time around. Viktor Arvidsson, Nick Bonino, Calle Jarnkrok, Ryan Johansen, Roman Josi and P.K. Subban all earned two points as Nashville cruised to a 7-1 win. Pekka Rinne stopped 33 of 34 shots.
The Predators and Sharks played their closest game in the final matchup of the season. Boedker had another goal and assist game but it was not enough. Filip Forsberg had three assists in Nashville’s win. Juuse Saros turned away 39 shots as the Predators won 5-3.
Nashville took the season series 2-1 last season. Each team took care of business at home. The Predators will look to pull off the win in front of their home fans on Tuesday night. I believe that this Sharks team, with a bolstered defense has a better chance against Nashville.
For the amount of success that each team has found early in the season, their special teams have not been super impressive. Nashville’s power play has struggled to get going this season. The Predators have only scored 3 power play goals on 27 opportunities. San Jose has only done slightly better. The Sharks have scored 5 power play goals on 30 power plays.
Nashville’s penalty kill has stopped opponents about 77 percent of the time to begin this season. The Predators have allowed five power-play goals to begin the season. San Jose’s penalty kill has been a bit better to begin the season. The Sharks have stopped 28 of 34 of their opponent’s man advantages, which is an 82 percent.
The Predators will need to improve their special teams if they want to continue their success this season. Nashville has dominated on five on five play, but the power play is when they should be taking over games. San Jose has struggled as well on special teams, but not as badly as the Predators. The Sharks will need to take advantage of this if they want to pull off the upset on Tuesday night.
I expect Juuse Saros to start in net for the Predators on Tuesday night. Pekka Rinne has been placed on IR, which means Saros will see plenty of time in the immediate future. Saros has posted a .945 save percentage and a GAA of 1.54 in four appearances to begin the season. Last season, Saros had a save percentage of .925 and a 2.45 GAA.
Martin Jones will likely start for San Jose. Jones has posted a .907 save percentage and a GAA of 2.36 to begin this season. Jones had a save percentage of .915 and a 2.55 GAA last season. Jones will get a serious test against Nashville on Tuesday night.
Nashville is coming home after a tough back to back road trip against the Flames and the Oilers. The Predators took care of business and extended their winning streak to five games. I believe that the Sharks have a real chance to end that streak. San Jose has picked up their game and won back to back games.
San Jose has struggled on the road so far this season. The Sharks have gone 2-2-1 on the road this season. A win in Nashville could really help fuel the three-game road trip they are starting. I believe that San Jose could pull off the upset on Tuesday night.
BetOnline has Nashville listed at a money line of -120. I believe that this is about right. The Predators are the better team, but San Jose could pull off the upset on Tuesday night. Not only does Rinne’s absence hurt in the goal crease, but he is a big leader on this team, which will sting in the locker room. I also believe that this is a good pick for the ending of the Predators winning streak.