The puck drops on the NHL season with the Sharks and Predators facing off across the pond in Prague on Friday afternoon.
Let’s gear up for the fastest game on ice and evaluate this Western Conference showdown as we look to begin the season by cashing the first of our NHL picks this season!
San Jose Sharks vs. Nashville Predators
Friday, October 7, 2022 – 02:00 PM EDT at O2 Arena
The Sharks have plenty of work to do based on last season’s performance when they ended with a 32-37-13 record and didn’t even sniff the playoffs. But if the preseason is an indication of how they will fare this season, then their 4-1 record portends a successful future.
However, we shouldn’t put too much, if any, emphasis on any team’s preseason performance because it’s a different world when the boys play for keeps.
Timo Meier is coming off of his best statistical season (35-41-76) in 77 games played while Logan Couture can always be counted on to supply much-needed firepower.
However, the Sharks lost a top-flight, albeit aging, defenseman in 37-year-old Brent Burns who played all 82 games last season and registered 10 goals, 44 assists, and 54 points but a -15 plus/minus was indicative of the Sharks’ defensive lapses last year.
Predators on the Prowl
There is a lot of preseason buzz surrounding the Predators entering this 2022-2023 campaign. They ended last year with a 45-30-7 record, but had the unfortunate task of facing the eventual Stanley Cup champions in the opening round of the playoffs. The Colorado Avalanche were a wagon last season and will likely be the team to beat this year as well.
But what we should remember is that the Predators entered the playoffs without their starting goalie, Juuse Saros, who was lost to injury, while their backup, David Rittich, also went down after Nashville’s Game 1 loss to the Avs.
That left rookie netminder, Connor Ingram, in an untenable situation, and the rest is history as Colorado made it a four-game sweep, outscoring the Preds 21-9 over those four games.
But Saros is back in the saddle while the uber-talented triumvirate of Filip Forsberg, Matt Duchene, and former Norris Trophy-winner, Roman Josi, will be back to do it all over again. The biggest issue with Nashville is their depth, but adding former Lightning defenseman Ryan McDonagh and right-winger Nino Niederreiter should help the cause.
- Sharks are 1-6 in their last 7 games following a loss of 3 or more goals.
- Sharks are 1-8 in their last 9 vs. Central.
- Sharks are 0-4 in their last 4 when their opponent scores 5 goals or more in their previous game.
- Sharks are 0-4 in their last 4 Friday games.
- Predators are 7-1 in their last 8 after scoring 5 goals or more in their previous game.
Sharks vs. Predators: Pick and Prediction
The early NHL odds are revealing the Predators as heavy neutral ice favorites and it’s hard to argue with the top-rated sportsbooks on this one. Nashville has won the last four, and five of the last six, meetings between these clubs.
I’m not sure how to justify a bet on the Sharks other than hoping the Preds take this one for granted knowing these two will play again on Saturday and can get another bite at the apple.
However, there is plenty of anticipation and adrenaline to go around for the first game of the season so it is highly unlikely the Predators look at this game like an afternoon stroll around the ice at Rockefeller Center.
Naturally, the complexion of every team changes entering a new season, but the best we can do for the first few weeks of the season is review their stats from last year. And in this case, we have no choice as the puck hasn’t even dropped this year so let’s review what we know from last year.
- Predators Goals Scored Per Game: 3.20 (12th)
- Predators Power Play: 24% (6th)
- Predators Goals Allowed Per Game: 3.05 (17th)
- Predators Penalty Killing: 79% (18th)
- Sharks Goals Scored Per Game: 2.57 (30th)
- Sharks Power Play: 19% (22nd)
- Sharks Goals Allowed Per Game: 3.18 GPG (21st)
- Sharks Penalty Killing: 85.2% (2nd)
As we can see from the 2021-2022 statistics above, the one thing the Sharks do very well is kill penalties.
Well, a strong penalty-killing unit is always a good thing, but when your team can’t put the puck in the net, as evidenced by San Jose’s 30th-ranked offense averaging 2.57 goals per game, it’s tough to win.
Although Nashville was not a goal-scoring juggernaut last season, they’re not bad either averaging 3.2 goals per game, certainly good enough to top the Sharks.
Let’s lay it and like it with the Preds in their season opener against the Sharks.
Predicted Score: Predators 3 - Sharks 1
*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.