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Sharks vs. Lightning Preview: Let’s call it a Stanley Cup Final preview

That’s what I’m doing, anyway.

2015 Honda NHL All-Star Skills Competition - Bridgestone NHL Fastest Skater Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

You may recall that both I and RIch picked the Sharks to beat the Lightning in our preseason Stanley Cup Final predictions. I won’t speak for RIch, but I still feel pretty good about that pick. San Jose looks even better than I thought the squad would while Tampa Bay will prove dangerous in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

Here’s the deal, though: While the Sharks have been an excellent possession team with a so-so PDO, the Lightning have been a so-so possession team with an average PDO. What does this mean? Well, first off that the Sharks should have an advantage in this game in terms of the territorial advantage. Goaltending, though? That might be an area where Tampa has an edge.

Tampa has actually been only so-so in save percentage at 5v5 while the Sharks have been really quite poor. Martin Jones has shown signs of improvement over the last couple games and I assume he’ll start again tonight. Likewise, I would expect the pairing of Ben Bishop and Andrei Vasilevskiy ought to end up near the top half of the league.

This has traditionally been a pretty fun game. Both teams have high-end skill players like Steven Stamkos and Joe Thornton and both boast amazing defenders like Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Anton Stralman. Chip that in with pretty good goaltending and you’ve got a pair of teams that would be ratings death for the NHL despite playing very fun hockey.

Tampa’s penalty kill is one of the best in the league in the early going (so is the Sharks, which is weird). We’ll see how much special teams factors into this contest as the Lightning are currently third in the league in power play percentage after finishing 28th a season ago.

As usual, you can see this one on CSN-California or listen on the ole radio if that’s what you prefer. We’ll have our gamethread up at about 3:30 p.m. PT for your chatting pleasure. Let’s hang out. It’ll be fun.

Go Sharks.

Game 1
Saturday, Nov. 12, 4 p.m. PT
Amalie Arena, Tampa, Florida, USA
Get the Tampa Bay perspective at Raw Charge
How to Watch / Listen In San Jose
Stats and Figures
8-6-0 Record 8-5-1
3rd in Pacific Standings T-3rd in Atlantic
53.70% Even Strength, Score-Adj. Fenwick 49.58%
99.28 PDO 96.43
17.8 PP% 26.3
88.1 PK% 88.6