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Trotz: Sharks, Preds match up well

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Trotz: Sharks, Preds match up well

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.

Sharks start training camp with familiar face elsewhere: ‘It’s kind of strange’

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AP

Sharks start training camp with familiar face elsewhere: ‘It’s kind of strange’

SAN JOSE — There was something familiar missing in San Jose when the Sharks opened training camp.

For the first time since 1996, the Sharks took the ice for their first training camp practice without Patrick Marleau on the team as the franchise's career leader in games and scoring left as a free agent for Toronto this summer.

"I've spent a lot of years with him. It is kind of strange," said Joe Thornton, who came to San Jose in 2005. "It's his birthday today too. It's a little weird, but he's going to do great up in Toronto."

Marleau had been with San Jose since being picked second overall in 1997 but left the Sharks to sign an $18.75 million, three-year deal with the Maple Leafs in July.

Marleau has 508 goals and 574 assists for 1,082 points. He had 46 points in playing all 82 games last season as he rebounded from a disappointing 2015-16 season by scoring 27 goals, including the 500th of his career. He ranks first in San Jose in career goals, games and points.

Only six players in NHL history have played more games with one team than Marleau's 1,493 in San Jose. The Sharks haven't played a game without him on the ice since April 7, 2009.

"Obviously Patty has meant so much to this organization and this group," captain Joe Pavelski said. "Everyone in this room has pretty much played with him and Patty has done something to help them out. He'll be missed. ... Just by committee somebody will step in and fill that kind of hole. That's what we'll need."

The Sharks made no major additions this offseason so will need to replace Marleau's 27 goals by getting development from younger players like Tomas Hertl, Timo Meier, Kevin Labanc and Danny O'Regan, as well as bounce-back seasons from veterans like Thornton, Mikkel Boedker and Joonas Donskoi.

Only Pavelski, Logan Couture and Brent Burns are back after scoring more than 12 goals last season.

"When I look back at last year we had key people either have down years or miss significant time with injuries or coming off injuries," coach Peter DeBoer said. "I think if we can stay healthy I think we've got a large group of guys that can really take a step this year and I expect a step out of them."

While the Sharks lost Marleau in free agency, they did manage to keep Thornton by giving him a one-year, $8 million contract despite dwindling production last season and offseason knee surgery.

He scored just seven goals — his fewest in an 82-game season since his rookie year in 1997-98 — and was a key part of a power-play unit that uncharacteristically struggled last season. But he still managed 43 assists, teaming with captain Joe Pavelski on San Jose's top line.

Thornton missed the final week of the regular season and the first two playoff games with a left knee injury before returning for the final four games of a first-round loss to Edmonton. Thornton then underwent surgery to repair his MCL and ACL after the season but was back skating in August and started ramping it up for training camp two weeks ago. Thornton believes the lower-body work he did in rehab this offseason will pay dividends on the ice.

"They feel real strong," he said of his legs. "I feel a lot of pop out there. They're probably as strong as they've ever been just because I had to rehab that knee so much."

Sharks Media Day highlights: Beards, smiles & cup checks

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Sharks Media Day highlights: Beards, smiles & cup checks

The boys were back together in San Jose on Thursday for Sharks Media Day, with plenty of smiles and moments of levity. Check out the highlights...

Hey Jumbo, you dropped something. 👖🤷‍♂️

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Martin Jones is pretty good at photobombs 📸💣

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🤳 Media Day #SJSharks

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New season. New commercials. 🕉🚌📺 #ComingSoon #SharksForLife

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