Originally posted on Inside Smashville  |  Last updated 2/25/12

Season Records

San Jose Sharks 32-20-7

Nashville Predators 35-19-7

 

When the Nashville Predators host the San Jose Sharks on Saturday night at Bridgestone Arena, they will do so without Jerred Smithson. Smithson was traded to the Florida Panthers on Friday night for a sixth-round draft pick.

Smithson played in 497 regular-season games for the Predators between 2005-2012. He also scored Nashville’s first ever post-season overtime goal in game five between the Predators and the Anaheim Ducks last year.

The move could be to clear roster space for another addition up-front before Monday’s trade deadline. Both Nashville and Saturday night’s opponents could be viewed as looking to add to the roster and neither the Sharks nor the Predators have the most impressive records in their last 10 contests. With a 4-3-3 record, the Predators are four points behind St. Louis for the coveted fourth spot in the Western Conference standings, and nine points back of Detroit for tops in the Central Division.

San Jose, 3-6-1 in their last 10 games, remain in first place in the Pacific Division, but the gap has been closed by the surging Phoenix Coyotes. Both Phoenix and San Jose have 71 points, but since the Sharks have played two fewer games than the Coyotes, San Jose remains ahead in the standings.

While Nashville’s previous 10-game record is less than stellar, their play on home ice has been nothing but impressive. Unbeaten in regulation in their previous 10 games, the Predators are 8-0-2 at Bridgestone Arena, and are 15-2-2 in their last 19 contests at home.

Keys to winning the game on Saturday night include continued success on the power play, Hal Gill’s positive play, as well as Pekka Rinne having the ability to bounce back after a difficult shootout loss to St. Louis on Thursday night.

Nashville’s power play is tied for tops in the League with Vancouver at 21.6 percent. But the San Jose Sharks have the third best power play in the League just behind Nashville and Vancouver at 21.5 percent. This means for Nashville to succeed on Saturday, it isn’t just about scoring goals, it will also be about maintaining a strong penalty kill.

Nashville’s newest defenseman has made quite an early impact. Gill has been on the ice for five of the Predators eight goals in his first three games with the Predators, including Sergei Kostitsyn’s shorthanded goal against Vancouver on Tuesday night. While Gill’s on-ice presence when Nashville scores goals is good, his role is to keep pucks away from the Predators net. Nashville has not allowed a power play goal since his acquisition from Montreal late last week.

The Penalty kill is somewhere the Predators can really exploit and take advantage against the Sharks. Almost last in the NHL in regard to killing penalties, the Sharks only kill off 77.5 percent of penalties that result into power plays for their opponents. Nashville is ranked 15th in the League in killing off man advantage opportunities at a success rate of 82.2 percent.

Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne is 4-2-3 with a 2.47 GAA and a .931 save percentage against San Jose. The Predators are 1-1-0 this season against the Sharks. Saturday night’s game is the last time the Sharks come to town during the regular season.

On October 25th, the Sharks came to town and left with a 3-1 win. It has been a while since these two teams met. On November 5th, the Predators overcame a two-goal deficit to edge the Sharks by a 4-3 score. David Legwand scored twice in the Predators win, including the game-winning overtime tally.

The Predators wrap up their four-game homestand on Monday night when the Los Angeles Kings come to town with the newly acquired Jeff Carter. Carter scored a hat trick against the Predators in December for the Columbus Blue Jackets.

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