Sharks-Predators: What to watch for

Sharks-Predators: What to watch for
October 25, 2011, 6:28 pm
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. When the San Jose Sharks battle the Predators tonight, the game will feature the team with the best shot differential in the league against the team with the worst.

San Jose leads the league in shots per game (38.8), as well as shots against per game (25.3). The Predators? Its the exact opposite, as they are last in the league in shots (22.1) and shots against (33.9).

Of course, you can look at stats all day and they dont mean a thing in the standings. The Sharks (3-3) and Preds (3-3-1) each have three wins and three regulation losses.

All those numbers power play percentage, faceoffs, and all that type of stuff when they post the standings in the newspaper they dont talk about that at all. They talk about winning games and losing games, said Todd McLellan. Thats what were here to do.

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Marc-Edouard Vlasic said: Its a good stat, but were 3-3, so the shots weve been giving up have been good scoring chances. But, it also means were playing tight defensively, so it is a good sign.

McLellan conceded that the shot differential, if it keeps up, should help down the road.

All those little things lead, over time, to more wins than losses, I believe. But right now weve got to put more wins on the board.

Key players returning for Preds: Nashville should get a much-needed boost on offense tonight when Mike Fisher makes his season debut. Fisher, who was acquired via trade last season from Ottawa, has been out since left shoulder surgery in the offseason.

Furthermore, defenseman Francis Bouillon is also likely to play. Hes been sidelined since January with a concussion.

Just as the Sharks did when Martin Havlat got in the lineup, McLellan expects Nashville to get some energy from two good players returning.

They are both veterans that have played a ton of games in the league and they are excited about getting back in the lineup, he said. I think theyll have an impact on the game. They are two very talented players, and well have to be aware of them.

One guy who knows Fisher well is Havlat, as the two played parts of four seasons together with the Senators.

For sure, hes one of the hardest working guys in the league and one of the fastest ones, said Havlat. Hes got a great shot, too, so its nice to see him back.

The Predators could use a jolt, especially offensively. They have just 15 goals in seven games, and managed just four on a recently completed three-game road trip in Western Canada.
Mitchell still out: McLellan wouldnt confirm it, but Torrey Mitchell skated for about a half hour later than his teammates at the morning skate at Bridgestone Arena, so he wont be playing tonight. All signs point to the Sharks using the same lineup as they did in Saturday against Boston, meaning Jim Vandermeer and Justin Braun will be the third pair on defense.

The good news on Mitchell, though, is that he should be good to go by Fridays game in Detroit. He was able to partake in contact drills on Tuesday something he wasnt able to do the day before.

Definitely a good shot for Friday, he said. I feel really good.
Odds and ends: This is the first of four meetings between the Sharks and Predators. They split the four last season, although both of San Joses wins came in overtime. Pekka Rinne will faceAntti Niemi in net. Both goaltenders are coming off of strong games, as Rinne made 33 saves for a shutout win in Calgary Saturday while Niemis 37 saves helped the Sharks to a 4-2 win in Boston the same day.