Keys to Watch
The Nashville Predators have always been known for their defensive corps. On Friday night, the Preds defense looked over-matched by the forwards of the San Jose Sharks. On multiple occasions, the Sharks were able to get breakaways and advantages on the rush. In most of those instances, Pekka Rinne was able to make big stops, but with eight minutes left in the game, he wasn’t able to be superman anymore. The defense has to get help for Rinne. He played exceptionally well, and it was not his fault that Nashville lost game one 5-2. The defense has to be stronger in game two.
Stay out of the Box
Of the five goals against Nashville gave up on Friday night, only one was an even strength goal (Joel Ward, 11:49, 3rd period). In the first two periods, Nashville only had one penalty (Eric Nystrom, 5:31, 2nd period). The third period was a different story with seven penalties, including five at the end of the game on Barret Jackman and Colton Sissons for fighting. The Sharks have the 2nd ranked team in the NHL on the powerplay with a conversion of 29.2%. San Jose had the 3rd ranked powerplay during the regular season converting 22.5% of their chances. Nashville has to stay out of the box. The series could be determined based on this statistic.
Calmer heads shall prevail
At the end of game one, Nashville allowed for their emotions to get the best of them when, after the final bell, extracurricular activities broke out. Barret Jackman was called for a misconduct and two roughing penalties against Matt Nieto. Colton Sissons received two roughing penalties against Brenden Dillon. Now, if the intentions were to set the tone for game two… mission accomplished. The game started out extremely tentative, but game two will not. Look for lots of physical play from both teams. The Predators have to be smart about their physicality and not take unneeded penalties.
The Predators will look to even the series up at the SAP Center in San Jose. Be sure to catch all of the action on NBCSN or you can listen live on 102.5 The Game. Puck drops at 7:00 pm!