On February 17th. the Sharks will visit The Nashville Predators 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.
Know Your Team - The San Jose Sharks
Current Record (W-L-OTL): 29-21-8, 66 Points and 4th in the Pacific Division
Last 10 Games: 4-4-2
Power Play: 21.4% (7th.)
Penalty Kill: 80.8% (17th.)
Current Streak: Lost one
Notes: The suddenly surging Kings are only 2 points behind San Jose for the last remaining western conference wild card and have 2 games in hand.
Know Your Enemy - The Nashville Predators
Current Record: (W-L-OTL): 38-12-6, 82 Points and 1st in the Central Division, and the entire NHL.
Last 10 Games: 7-2-1
Power Play: 17.8% (18th.)
Penalty Kill: 81.3% (14th.)
Current Streak: 5 game winning streak
Notes: Nashville is the 6th best 5 on 5 goal scoring team in the league and score most of their goals in the 2nd period.
Ian Breaks Down The Predators: In the offseason when we were all speculating about if TMac was safe or not a name that I would bring up in these conversations was Peter Laviolette, now keep in mind this was before the Sharks sat on their hands all summer but I always wondered if the sharks loaded up one more time and got a coach like Laviolette who gets fast results and diminishing returns could lead the Sharks to the promise land. That being said I like TMac mostly but these are fun rabbit holes to go down in the doldrums of the off season. To call Nashville a surprise would be an understatement. This is a team that many talking heads has finishing out of the playoffs all together and yet here they are. Nashville made a lot of off season moves and although in the off season they looked like the bridesmaid instead of the bride I think you can argue now that they did well enough. Rumors had them inquiring about San Jose's Joe Thornton before making some other moves like getting James Neal. The big story this year is the breakout season of probably Calder winner Filip Forsberg who has 19 G, 31 A and is a +22. They have this Shea Weber guy on the blue line who is pretty good at hockey, he is of course helping mentor Seth Jones who is only going to get better. The main reason that Nashville is where they are though is the reassurance of a healthy Pekka Rinne who will start tonight for Nashville who in my opinion is in the top 3 goalies in the league and has earned a record of (33-7-2, 1.97 GAA and .931 SV%) Forget the Vesina, Rinne should be in serious contention for the Hart. In his career Rinne has been a stone cold Shark killer, while his 7-4-4 record may not impress you the 1.94 GAA and obscenely good .943 SV% should.
Ian Breaks Down The Sharks: As I pointed out in the previous GBU, the Sharks did a lot of the things we have been asking them to do for quite a few games against the Sharks with the obvious exception being win the game. The Sharks are obviously looking to build on that effort despite some roster movement and a ton of rumors swirling around the club. First the roster moves, Justin Braun returns to the lineup tonight which means that Tennyson has been sent back down to the AHL. I appreciate this is because Tennyson is the only guy that is waiver safe but I can't help but be a little annoyed by this because I feel that he has had a real break out year and this means that Hannan will probably be in the line up every night with Mueller and Irwin rotating in and out of the lineup. I am however excited that Braun is returning. Now to the rumors which is in about 100 posts now with my own 2 cents all over many of them so I will try not to get too long winded here. Last night rumors surfaced that the Sharks are shopping starting goalie Antti Niemi who is set to become a UFA this spring.
Now before I go further please acknowledge that what I am about to say is rampant speculation so if that's not your thing this is where you get off... Still with me? Ok!
Further adding fuel to the fire is the Sharks decision to start Alex Stalock (5-6-1, 2.68 GAA, .903 SV%) against the league's top team tonight now there are a lot of ways you can take this it could be as simple as Nemo gets a night off after the Sharks racked up a few losses. However it is not uncommon for a player who has a deal in the works to not play in a game, obviously they are going to dress Niemi and sit him on the bench but I wonder if Stalock stays in net if the score goes really high in the predators favour. This is a real curious move by the Sharks, at this point in the season it's pretty clear that Niemi is the starter so the idea of going with a guy who has a losing record and a piss poor save percentage against the league's best team is either the greatest troll job ever or where there is smoke their might be fire. I think trading Niemi depending of course on the return is waving the white flag on the season, even if they increase their blue line I don't trust Stalock to be the guy that gets us in. Once we are probably getting smashed either way but if you were going to torpedo the season at the end why not do it sooner in such a deep draft when we are in the middle of a re-*enter buzzword here*.
My Prediction: Nothing in Sharksland makes very much sense to me right now, I don't know why we are going with Stalock in this game and this has all the signs of the Sharks being taken to the woodshed, which of course means we are going to blow them out and Stalock will be our new savior because our memories are so, so short.
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, unless you ask I will not post who asked the question so don't worry about how stupid you think the question may be because to me there is no such thing.
If you want to read previous blogs please check out http://ianblogssharks.blogspot.ca
What are your thoughts on this upcoming game?