SAN JOSE — Predators defenseman P.K. Subban was still a Montreal Canadien when Nashville made its last visit to the SAP Center in a 5-0 game 7 loss to the San Jose Sharks.
“We haven’t talked about it much,” Subban said. “It’s a new season and the teams have made a couple changes. We’re just focused on this year now.”
Subban is easily the biggest change to either team since that Game 7, after the Predators acquired him in exchange for defenseman and former Nashville Captain Shea Weber. Mike Fisher wears the ‘C’ now, and Subban skates in Weber’s place in Nashville’s top four defenseman, but they’re largely unchanged from the team that pushed San Jose to the brink of elimination in the Western Conference Semifinals.
That series was so close, according to Sharks defenseman Brenden Dillon, is because there is not much difference in the way the two teams are constructed.
“Top to bottom, they’re a pretty similar team to us,” Dillon said. “They’ve got four balanced lines. They’ve got a good [defense] core, good goaltending. It wasn’t just the top versus top, it was everybody collectively.”
Dillon said the team still talks about the triple overtime Game 4, and that the series was a good “building block” for both franchises, noting that Game 7 of the Conference Semifinal was the farthest the Predators have ever gone in the postseason.
Predators head coach Peter Laviolette, on the other hand, views it as a missed opportunity.
“We needed to steal a game, and we didn’t get that done,” Laviolette said. “They played well, especially as the series went on.”
Like Subban, Laviolette downplayed the potential of any carry-over from that series. Brenden Dillon said he doesn’t expect any “line brawls or anything like that,” but does expect a higher intensity.
“This is a big game, and your first game back after a real tough seven game grind where it could have gone either way,” Dillon said. “I’m sure guys will be finishing their checks. Every shift will be a big, big part.”
Lines: Former Shark should draw in for Nashville
Sharks head coach Pete DeBoer said he will not make any changes to the lineup the Sharks used against Columbus on Thursday, meaning Matt Nieto and Dylan DeMelo will once again be scratched. San Jose’s lines will look as follows:
Mikkel Boedker-Joe Thornton-Joe Pavelski
Joonas Donskoi-Logan Couture-Joel Ward
Patrick Marleau-Tomas Hertl-Melker Karlsson
Micheal Haley-Chris Tierney-Tommy Wingels
Marc-Edouard Vlasic-Justin Braun
Paul Martin-Brent Burns
Brenden Dillon-David Schlemko
One former Shark will sit for the Nashville Predators, while another former Shark will suit up. Matt Carle was scratched against the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday, and was one of the last Predators off the ice this morning. Matt Irwin, meanwhile, will play in his second game of the season, and the first game of his career against the Sharks. Nashville’s lines, according to the Predators’ website, will look like this:
Filip Forsberg-Ryan Johansen-Kevin Fiala
Colin Wilson-Mike Fisher-James Neal
Craig Smith-Mike Ribeiro-Viktor Arvidsson
Calle Jarnkrok-Colton Sissons-Austin Watson
Roman Josi-Ryan Ellis
Mattias Ekholm-P.K. Subban
Matt Irwin-Yannick Weber
DeBoer impressed by Barracuda home opener
Pete DeBoer liked what he saw in the San Jose Barracuda’s home opening win over the Bakersfield Condors last night.
“It was an entertaining game,” DeBoer said. “A lot of skill, a lot of speed, a lot of talent there. And, they’re deep. I talked to [Barracuda head coach] Roy [Sommer] after the game and he really feels this is one of the deepest groups he’s had talent-wise, despite their youth.”
Nikolay Goldobin picked up two assists, while Kevin Labanc scored a goal and assisted on two others. As of this writing, Goldobin and Labanc are tied for the Barracuda lead with seven points, after the pair has each picked up two points in their afternoon game against the Condors. DeBoer said it’s not likely the team will call up a player on the one game trip to Arizona on Tuesday, but will consider it for their seven game road trip that begins in Washington a week from Tuesday.
Quotes of the Day
Both head coaches showed strong senses of humor this morning. First, Pete DeBoer was asked if he sat in a suite during last night’s Barracuda game and got some big laughs with his response:
“Yeah. No food though. Popcorn only. [They’re] on a budget down there.”
Following the Predators’ skate, Peter Laviolette was asked what he remembered about Nashville’s playoff series with the Sharks, and he responded with a playful question of his own:
“I mean, outside of losing?”