SAN JOSE — The Nashville Predators’ roster is just a bit different than they looked in Game 7 loss to the San Jose Sharks in May’s Western Conference Semifinals.
The biggest change is the departure of longtime captain Shea Weber, who was traded to Montreal in exchange for former Norris Trophy winner PK Subban. The two play much different styles, to say the least.
“Pick your poison,” DeBoer said. “Shea Weber was a beast to play against. Physically and defensively, also added some offense. He was a hard guy. PK brings some other things to the table that no one else really in the league does but a handful of guys.
“Their defense has always been a key part of their offense and that doesn’t really change much more with [Subban] there than it did with Weber, but he’s obviously a guy we have to be aware of.”
Joel Ward played with Weber for three seasons in Nashville, and said that he doesn’t expect to see a stylistic difference with Subban there in his place.
“It’s a team that we’re familiar with from last year,” Ward said. “[They’re] the same team, and we’ve done well with them before.”
Nashville has struggled through its first seven games of the season. After finishing the year second and fourth, respectively, in CF% and FF%, they’ve been the fourth-worst possession team by both metrics this season. Goaltender Pekka Rinne has kept them in games at even strength, and has the 13th-best even strength save percentage of goalies that have played 180 minutes (approximately three starts), according to Corsica.
But his save percentage sits at .909 because of an .833 save percentage on the penalty kill, as Nashville’s killed just 68% of its penalties season. That’s the second-worst rate in the league. Despite all of those struggles, DeBoer said that the Sharks know full well what the Predators are capable of when they are at their best.
“I see a very good team that’s finding their way like a lot of teams at this time of year. We were there a week ago,” DeBoer said. “The one thing you know about good teams is that they will find their way out of it, and hopefully we’re not the victim of that.”
Jones to start, lines unchanged at practice
Pete DeBoer said that Martin Jones will start tomorrow night against the Predators. The rest of the Sharks’ lineup looked like this:
Mikkel Boedker-Joe Thornton-Joe Pavelski
Joonas Donskoi-Logan Couture-Joel Ward
Patrick Marleau-Tomas Hertl-Melker Karlsson
Micheal Haley/Matt Nieto-Chris Tierney-Tommy Wingels
Marc-Edouard Vlasic-Justin Braun
Paul Martin-Brent Burns
Brenden Dillon-David Schlemko
Given Nashville’s speed, and that the fourth line posted the worst possession numbers of any Sharks last night, it’s possible that Nieto could draw into tomorrow night’s lineup. He and Dylan DeMelo were among the last players off of the ice at practice once again, while Haley was among the first.
With Jones in net tomorrow, Aaron Dell will have gone ten days without a start. DeBoer said they’d like to be able to work him in more, and will have an opportunity to do so soon thanks to the condensed schedule and the Sharks’ upcoming seven game road trip two weeks from now.
Coaching staff “making some plans” to attend Barracuda home opener
The San Jose Sharks’ coaching staff will “probably” be at the San Jose Barracuda’s home opener tonight against the Bakersfield Condors. 2015 first round pick Timo Meier will make his pro debut after being sidelined with mono for a month.
“I’m excited to see everybody down there, how they’re all going,” DeBoer said. “We’ve got a lot of potential guys. It’s great that Timo’s back, and this is the first step for him on the road hopefully to the NHL someday. We’ve got a lot of guys there I’m excited to see.”
Barclay Goodrow, Nikolay Goldobin, and Kevin Labanc were among the final cuts to San Jose’s training camp roster earlier this month. Goldobin is tied for the team-lead in points (3) after two games, while Labanc is tied for third (2). Goodrow is tied with the pair for second on the team in goals (1). Ryan Carpenter, who was called up for the Sharks’ road trip but did not suit up, will play in his second game with the Barracuda after leading them in scoring a season ago.