Tonight the Sharks will play what in my opinion is a pivotal game five at SAP after dropping 2 games in Nashville against the Predators which saw them play their worst post-season game this year followed by an uneven effort that was mired by a questionable no-goal call in overtime. I’m going to try and break down what I think the Sharks need to do in order to get back on track. Nashville made some adjustments during their homestand including sitting Mike Ribeiro and I’m curious to see if the Sharks make some adjustments of their own. I don’t like to call games that are not real elimination games a must win but if the Sharks drop their third game in a row and head back to Nashville facing elimination I think the series is likely over. The useless statistic floating around right now is that when down 2-0 in a series the Predators have always won game three but have gone on to lose the series, so if you need something to cling to in order to maintain hope I guess there is that. There is also a first time for everything.
- Game four is over and needs to be treated as such. The only thing the Sharks should take from their game four experience is how well they played in overtime and carry that play into game five. The Sharks certainly have the right to be angry about the game four outcome and so do the fans. However, I think pinning the whole outcome of the game on a bad call is foolish as the Sharks played far from a perfect game. The Sharks lost faceoff after faceoff. They failed to get a shot on goal after the Brent Burns third period marker and failed to capitalize or even get shots on their power plays in overtime. The Sharks do need to look in the mirror and take their fair share of blame for not just losing the game but for the fact it had to go to overtime to begin with.
- As mentioned previously, the Sharks need to take control of the faceoff circle where they have been absolutely worked over the last two games. Peter DeBoer having last change should help in this regard as the Sharks fared ok in the faceoff circle in the first two games.
- Special teams have to be a difference maker in the right way. The Sharks power play has dried up a little bit over the past couple of game and the penalty kill has been a real Jekel and Hyde situation of late and having special teams work in the Sharks favor could be the difference between winning and losing the series.
- Finally, the Sharks need to find an answer fo the line of James Neal, Mike Fisher and Colin Wilson who had a combined seven points in game four alone and 15 points over the course of the series. They also need to do a better job of watching the criminally underrated Roman Josi who has been very good at creating solid offensive chances for the Predators.
Matchup by the Numbers
|San Jose Sharks||Nashville Predators||Advantage|
|6-3||Playoff Record||6-5||Series tied 2-2|
|(9/35) 25.7%||Power Play||(4/41) 9.8%||Sharks|
|(23/29) 79.3%||Penalty Kill||(31/39) 79.5%||Predators|
Predators Projected Lineup
Johansen – Forsberg – Smith
Neal – Fisher – Wilson
Arvidsson – Aberg – Jarnkrok
Salomaki – Gaustad – Sissons
Josi – Weber
Ekholm – Ellis
Bitetto – Jackman
Sharks Projected Lineup
Hertl – Thornton – Pavelski
Donskoi – Couture – Ward
Karlsson – Marleau – Nieto
Spaling – Tierney – Wingels
Vlasic – Braun
Martin – Burns
Dillon – Polak