Nashville Predators vs. San Jose Sharks Odds, Pick, Prediction: Goalies Should Thrive
Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Juuse Saros
Predators vs. Sharks Odds
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The Nashville Predators travel to the Bay area to take on the San Jose Sharks on Saturday. It’ll be the second time these teams face off, as the Preds hold the only win back in October.
In a year where most thought they’d be an afterthought, the Predators are in the thick of things as the second Wild Card spot. Their current stretch hasn’t helped though, as they’ve lost two in a row, and have gone 3-6-1 in their last 10 games.
The Sharks haven’t exactly been world beaters either. This calendar year has been rough for them after a surprising start to the season. They’re 10 points out of a playoff spot, and have gone 2-5-3 in their last 10 games.
Predators Have Surprised Many
When Ryan Johansen and Matt Duchene underperformed after signing their $8M per year contracts, many wrote them off. However, both players have had a resurgent year, and have been crucial to the Predators’ success. Not only them but captain Roman Josi and Filip Forsberg are averaging over a point per game, and Tanner Jeannot has been a wonderful find for this team.
Nashville has done a fine job at driving play this season, and it’s shown. Though they’re not a great team at creating high danger chances, the Preds are about middle-of-the-pack in expected goals with a 50.52 xGF%. With a man advantage though, they’ve been incredible, scoring at a 24.1% rate — good enough for eighth.
Historically, Nashville has been a tremendous defensive team. They don’t allow a ton of goals per game (2.81), and do a wonderful job at preventing high danger chances. However, one would think with the defense on the roster they’d be a solid penalty kill team, but they only average a 79.5% success rate.
Juuse Saros has been one of the better goalies in the league, and could potentially be a Vezina finalist this year. The Finnish netminder has locked teams down with a .922 SV% and a +18.9 GSAx (Goals Saved Above Expected). Backup David Rittich hasn’t played much (only eight starts), but had a solid start against Florida on Feb. 22. Either way, I would expect Saros to play.
Sharks Can’t Drive Play
San Jose has certainly seen better days. A team that started off hot, but now due to injuries is quickly falling in the standings. The Sharks will be missing Kevin Labanc, Rudolfs Balcers, Mario Ferraro, Nikolai Knyzhov, Adin Hill, James Reimer, Erik Karlsson, and Jonathan Dahlen.
And while their top guys like Timo Meier, Logan Couture, Tomas Hertl, and Brent Burns are all healthy, the lack of depth has hurt this team.
With all the struggles that San Jose has been dealing with, the Sharks have lost the ability to successfully drive play. Currently 22nd, they have a 47.56 xGF%, but are ninth in creating high-danger chances.
One of the things that they do excel at is their defense, albeit that they allow 3.07 goals per game (partially due to mediocre goaltending). They’re 16th in allowing high-danger chances, but are phenomenal on the penalty kill with an 86.2% success rate.
Their goaltending hasn’t been good either. But both James Reimer and Adin Hill will both be out for at least a week with injuries, giving Zach Sawchenko a chance to shine. In three games in relief this season, the rookie net-minder has fared very well, with a .933 SV% and a +1.3 GSAx.
Predators vs. Sharks Pick
Both teams are rested so I expect a good effort on both sides. Both goalies should play well, too; Saros is among the best in the league and Sawchenko has shown some solid form in a limited sample.
Both teams aren’t real world beaters on the offensive end either, and even though Nashville is exceptional on the power play, the Sharks can lock it down with their elite PK. I think this is the perfect recipe for the under.
Pick: Under 5.5 (-110)