On February 15th. the Sharks will host The Tampa Bay Lightning and your pal Ian is going to be Breaking It Down! This is your semi regular officially unofficial game preview post that gives you some quick numbers and my opinions on not only our Sharks but their opponent of the night.
*All stats accurate as of 2/14/2015 6pm EST.*
Know Your Team - The San Jose Sharks
Current Record (W-L-OTL): 29-20-8, 65 Points and 2nd in the Pacific Division
Last 10 Games: 5-3-2
Power Play: 21.2% (7th.)
Penalty Kill: 80.6% (17th.)
Current Streak: Won their last game
Notes: I can't remember the last season where the Sharks had a losing record at home, but they do right now
Know Your Enemy - The Tampa Bay Lightning
Current Record: (W-L-OTL): 34-17-6, 74 Points and 2nd in the Atlantic Division
Last 10 Games: 5-3-2
Power Play: 17.4% (21st.)
Penalty Kill: 79.7% (23rd.)
Current Streak: Lost their last game.
Notes: The Lightning are 7-3-0 vs. pacific division teams.
Ian Breaks Down The Lightning: The Lightning have had themselves one hell of a year so far tied for 1st in the Eastern Conference with the Montreal Canadiens who hold the tie breaker. They have dominated much of this year going and impressive 25-7-2 against members of their own conference with most of their wins coming at the expense of division rivals. They have also broken the trend of the best Eastern Conference teams getting dominated by West teams. This is honestly a team that can be very fun to watch and one that I would like to watch more often if I had the time to do so. There isn't really anywhere that I find this team to be overly weak you have an offensive corps lead by probably the best pure goal scorer in the game in Steven Stamkos, the vastly underrated Victor Hedman on Defense and a top 5 goalie in the league in Ben Bishop and that the tip of the ice berg. The surprising thing about this team is the special teams futility both categories in the bottom third of the league. That said the Sharks will need to lock down their discipline and not tempt fate with a scorer like Stamkos on the ice. While Stamkos may get most of the spot light the one should not overlook the offence of guys like Tyler Johnson, Nikita Kucherov and even Ryan Callahan has on pace for a 20 goal season. Anton Stralman has been an offensive weapon from the blue line as well. In goal, sharks legend Evgeni Nabokov was made expendable and placed on waivers because of the promising play of Andrei Vasilevskiy who has gone 4-1-1 with a 2.00 GAA and a .932 SV%, however I expect the Sharks will see Ben Bishop who will be looking for his first victory against the Sharks with a 0-2-1 record with a 3.62 GAA and .904 SV% vs. team teal. Don't let those numbers fool you though he is 27-10-3 with a 2.47 GAA and .910 SV% on the season.
Ian Breaks Down The Sharks: The Sharks are coming off a big win, but I'd argue their second good game in a row because I liked their effort against the capitols for the most part. What I don't like is their early game efforts and spotting the lightning even a goal off the hop in this one could be a recipe for disaster. Sharks faithful are hoping that this will be the game we see the return of defensive rock Marc Edouard Vlasic or early season partner Justin Braun which would return the Sharks to respectability on a very thin blue line. In Vlasic's absence the Sharks have gone 1-3 with the defence looking down right brutal on many occasions. Even if neither return for this game I think the sharks can find success if the remaining defence plays more physically aggressive which has been an element that has really lacked from their game. The defenceman who I have noticed the most is probably Tennyson in that four game stand. Joe Pavelski is coming off a hat trick night that saw Thornton get 3 assists and they will continue to need help from their top 6 forward as well as their bottom six if this game is going to go in their favour. A team effort that last for a 60 minute hockey game.
My Prediction: Vlasic and Braun literally parachute into the arena as reinforcements and its enough to turn the tide as the sharks pick up a much needed home victory.
Remember if you have a question you would like me to answer in the Breaking It Down blog please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and if you want to read previous blogs please check out http://ianblogssharks.blogspot.ca
What are your thoughts on tonight's game?