The San Jose Sharks (15-10-5) head into the Bridgestone Arena tonight to face the high flying Nashville Predators (15-8-6) as the forecast calls for an ice storm to grip the area.
The Predators have cruised to shut out wins over the Panthers and the Islanders, two of the weaker teams in the Eastern Conference. Barry Trotz was worried about the "trap game" nature of the last two games.
Trotz has a completely different issue with the Sharks, finding a higher gear for the team's play. "We're going to have to have another gear. This is a real tough week for us. We have five games in eight nights from Saturday to Saturday. We've got travel and we've got a back to back."
"We've got to be mentally tough this week and if we get through the week really we'll get some time off on Sunday or Monday."
The Sharks are a formidable opponent and boasts two of the most dangerous offensive lines in hockey that led the team to the Western Conference finals last year. The team has had an inconsistent season so far but that does not diminish their strength on a given night.
The Sharks lost to Dallas 3-2 in a shootout on Monday at home in San Jose. San Jose is 4-2-1 in the month of December and all but two games have been played on the road.
Anders Lindback (7-1-2, 2.18, .931) will start for the Predators. It is unclear whether Antti Niemi (6-7-2, 3.16, .896) or Antero Niittymaki (9-3-3, 2.43, .908) will be in net for the Sharks.
On paper, the offensive statistics look like a mis-match. The Sharks boast seven players with 20 points or more, led by Dany Heatley and Ryan Clowe with 29. The Preds leading scorer is Cal O'Reilly with 18.
San Jose is sixth (22.1) in the league on the power play while the Preds are in 28th place (13.1). On the flip side, the Preds have moved to fourth (86.1) in the league on the penalty kill while the Sharks are in 15th place (82.7).
In summary, the game appears to be a match-up between the offensive firepower of the Sharks facing the stingy goaltending of rookie Anders Lindback with the improving Predator defense in front of him. It will be a stern test for the Preds as they seem to be hitting their stride as they have moved into the middle of the Western Conference playoff race.
Other game previews come from Amanda DiPaolo, Chris Burton, The Tennessean and Predators.com.
From California comes stories from The Mercury News, Inside Bay Area, SF Gate, Working the Corners, Fear the Fin, Battle of California, Blades of Teal, SharksPage, and Couch Tarts.
I was a co-host on Ryan Porth's RLD Hockey Talk yesterday. On as guests were Preds Radio guy, Tom Callagan, Sean Leahy from Puck Daddy, and DC CSN writer, Cory Masisak. It was a fast moving hour that is worth a listen. There was plenty of Preds, Caps, and Penguins talk along with a discussion about "disrespect" in the NHL.
In Pred Nation...
David Boclair has a post about the Preds' recent first period success.
Dirk Hoag was up early with his Breakfast Links with a complete roundup of the hockey world. Dirk also has audio of the Shane O'Brien interview on 104.5 The Zone yesterday afternoon.
Ryan Porth has a post on the Predators gaining steam.
Josh Cooper has a few leftovers from the locker room on Monday.
Robby at Hockey Night in Nashville hands out his end of the fall semester report cards to the individual Predator players.
Brian Mullen has news of a new "Smashville" tune. Dirk Hoag comes up with the actual song. I'm afraid I agree with Chris Chelios on his "hillbillyish" comment if the new opening video and the "Smashville" song is the new branding of the Preds.
3D Link has an excellent analysis of the new song at Puck and Punk.
AJ at PMFF takes on the bad music intro new video and begs to have "Run This Town" back. Go AJ!
Jim Diamond takes a look at the differences in the Eastern and Western Conferences.
Predators.com has the weekly Admirals Update. It's good that they got five of six points with Dekanich in Nashville.
Preds bloggers Ryan Porth, Amanda DiPaolo and Jeremy Gover appeared on Paul McCann's SlapShot Radio last night in a round table discussion.
Around the NHL...
I'm still bleary-eyed from staying up late last night to watch the City of Glendale pass the lease agreement between Matt Hulsizer and the city for Jobbing.com Arena which was the last piece that had to be in place for the sale of the Phoenix Coyotes to be completed before year end. There was a packed house that included NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.
With the Phoenix ownership issue mostly resolved, the Globe and Mail reports today that Atlanta may be the new team in the cross hairs of the Winnipeg group headed by Mark Chipman.
The Pittsburgh Penguins 12 game winning streak came to an end last night in a 3-2 loss in Philadelphia. Sidney Crosby's point streak did continue onward to 19 games.
A really cool thing happens in the Alexander Ovechkin NHL Film video when he is filming the crowd at the 2010 NHL Awards red carpet at the Palms. Our friend Launy "The" Schwartz and wife Dahlia Kurtz made the video with Ovechkin filming Launy filming him. Ryan Porth made the video snag here.
TSN has the final Team Canada that will compete at the World Juniors in Buffalo starting on Boxing Day. Ryan Ellis made the cut with no problem.
Kevin Allen explains the Devil's decision to place Brian Ralston on waivers actually means.
From @helenenothelen: Kings' acquisition of Marco Sturm is official and he's on his way to St. Louis to practice with the team on Wednesday.
The 24/7 Winter Classic series begins tonight on HBO. Puck Daddy spoke with a producer and has a preview. Craig Custance also has some ideas of seeing a different Sidney Crosby.
Chris Botta rants about the Islanders and then gets down to a solid look at their top 24 prospects for the future.
Jeremy Roenick, Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin will guest on The Price is Right next Monday.
Odds and Ends...
The Derby News Network has the Nashville Rollergirls nominated in the Most Improved category for the annual post season awards.
What about a shared "Family Plan" for data on smart phones and tablets? It could happen so says a Verizon executive.
It looks like the big new item for the Super Bowl this year my be the Motorola Android based Everest Tablet.
The Space X test flight last week was a real game changer for the private space business. There are big plans in store for the Dragon spacecraft in the near future. It is amazing how much quicker private business is than the government.
Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass