NASHVILLE Whenever the Nashville Predators and San Jose Sharks meet, chances are the game is going to be pretty darn tight. In fact, 13 of the last 16 games between the two teams have been decided by one goal.
Predators head coach Barry Trotz met with the media just a few moments ago, and I asked him what he thinks makes these games so close.
We play a lot of close games with everybody, just to let you know. Very seldom to we blow anybody out, he said, laughing.
Both teams have good depth, and types of players than can cancel each other out, if you will. Our defensemen sometimes can do a good job with their top players. Also, the goaltender helps out in that. I think weve evolved; were a little deeper lineup than we were maybe a year or two ago. It just matches up pretty well."
Trotzs Predators are once again in the thick of the playoff race, sitting in fifth place in the Western Conference. With the Sharks in third, theres a decent chance tonights game could be a first round playoff preview.
The teams have split their two games this season, both early in the year, with the Sharks winning here 3-1 on Oct. 25 and the Predators claiming a 4-3 overtime victory at HP Pavilion on Nov. 5.
The Nashville coach was asked the keys to the game tonight for his club, which is 8-0-2 in its last 10 at Bridgestone Arena.
Youre going to need to make sure that you play real disciplined because theyve got a real good power play, Trotz said. Youre going to have to control their X-factor, their top guys. If you can control their top guys I dont necessarily know if youre going to stop them but if you can control them and make it hard on them then you have a better chance to win.
As for the Sharks recent struggles they are just 2-4-1 on their nine-game road trip so far that doesnt play a role in the Predators preparation.
To me, stumbling is just part of the NHL. Youre going to have that a couple times in a year. You never know when youre going to get out of it. I look at the San Jose Sharks as a very good hockey team, and you better be prepared for them, because they can hurt you.