Coming off a surprising win against the Kings in Los Angeles on Saturday, the Nashville Predators complete their California trilogy tonight against the Sharks in San Jose.
On paper, the Predators (7-7-1) again appear to be no match for the high flying Sharks (12-4-2). The Sharks have not lost in regulation on home ice this season in six games while the Preds have fared well on the road at 4-4-1.
The Sharks have a potent offensive attack with Patric Marleau (22 pts), Joe Thornton (22 pts), Dany Heatley (19 pts), and Dan Boyle (16pts) leading the attack. By contrast, the injured J. P. Dumont is the only Predator in double digits (11 pts).
The offensively challenged Predators, who have scored 30 goals this year, face a Sharks team that has almost double that number with 59 goals. Of the Preds 30 goals, 11 have come from the blue line. On the defensive side, the Sharks have only allowed seven goals in their last seven games.
On special teams, the Preds have slipped back into last place in the league on the power play with a 12.3% success rate, while the Sharks are third at 25.3%. A similar mismatch occurs on the penalty kill where the Preds are 24th at 76.8% and the Sharks are 3rd at 85.1%.
Indications are that Dan Ellis (3-3, .906, 2.75) will start in goal for the Predators. On Saturday, he stopped 27 of 28 Kings shots to gain the win. Evgeni Nabokov (11-3-2, .925, 2.14) will be in net for the Sharks.
Update: John Glennon reports that "Back-up Thomas Greiss (1-1-0, 1.38 goals against average, .957 save percentage) will make his second start of the season."
The Predators appear to be getting healthier with the probable return of leading goal scorer, Shea Weber. J. P. Dumont (back) and Colin Wilson (groin) will remain on the sidelines tonight.
The Sharks are expecting the return of Devin Setoguchi (7 g,2 a in 11 games) and Ryan Vesce (3 g, 1 a in 4 games). Each have missed the last seven games. Captain Rob Blake remains on injured reserve with an upper body injury.
This will be ex-Predators Scotty Nichol and Jed Ortmeyer's first game against their old team. Both have had good success in their new surroundings this year.
There appears to be a good chance for bad blood in tonight's contest as Jordin Tootoo and Brad Staubitz squared off in a really nasty bout last season when Staubitz used some mixed martial arts elbow moves on Tootoo that really bloodied him up and put him out of action for a few games with a nose injury. Jody Shelly is also a long-time Preds protagonists. The Preds have only been involved in two fights so far this season.
After tonight's game the Preds will travel to St. Louis to prepare for Thursday's match-up with the Blues. The Predators return home on Saturday to play Montreal. It will begin a streak of 12 of 15 games being played at the Sommet Center.
Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass