Niederreiter, McDonagh to Debut With Predators
There are road trips and then there are road trips. The San Jose Sharks and Nashville Predators will open the regular season with games on Friday and Saturday at the O2 Arena in Prague, Czech Republic.
Nico Sturm is day-to-day for the Sharks but, other than that, these teams are in pretty good shape in the injury department.
The Sharks added goalie James Reimer and defensemen Markus Nutivaara while defenseman Ryan McDonagh and Nino Niederreiter are among the newcomers with the Predators.
According to the NHL playoff odds, the Predators (+2200) are ninth in the odds to win the Western Conference title while the Sharks (+5500) are 13th.
Sharks Look to Defy the Odds
Expectations are pretty low in NHL circles for the San Jose Sharks.
San Jose has missed the playoffs in each of the last three seasons. And now, without star defenseman Brent Burns, who was traded to Carolina in the offseason, the Sharks are expected to miss the postseason for the fourth year in a row.
Unlike many of the other non-playoff teams in the Western Conference that have former top-10 picks ready to lead a resurgence, the Sharks have a veteran nucleus.
The 25-year-old Timo Meier set career highs with 35 goals and 76 points last season. Tomas Hertl and Logan Couture were the only other 20-goal scorers last year.
There are 13 players on the roster 28 or older. There are some talented young players to keep an eye on. Thomas Bourdeleau, Jonah Gadjovich and 2021 first-round selection William Eklund. James Reimer was brought in to compete with Kaapo Kahkonen in goal and try to help a San Jose team that allowed 50 more goals than they scored a season ago.
The Las Vegas odds total has gone under in four of the last six games against NHL Central Division teams.
Veterans Look to Help Predators Extend Streak
Nashville has made the playoffs in each of the eight seasons and many familiar faces are back to try to extend the streak to nine.
Forwards Matt Duchene, Ryan Johansen and Filip Forsberg as well as former Norris Trophy-winning defenseman Roman Josi are all back, as the Predators braintrust resisted the temptation to break up the nucleus after a fourth straight year without winning in the opening round in the playoffs.
Eeli Tolvanen and Tanner Jeannot are the leaders of the next generation of Nashville forwards. Fellow former first-round picks Cody Glass and Philip Tomasino are being asked to provide secondary scoring.
The Predators added veteran defenseman McDonagh, forward Mark Janikowski and five-time 20-goal scorer Niederreiter.
The NHL betting lines total has gone over in eight of the last nine games.
Sharks vs Predators Game Injuries
Sharks vs Predators Head-to-Head
Nashville has won the last four meetings with San Jose and six of the last seven. Five of those games have been decided by two goals or less.
The last win for San Jose in the series came in 2019.
The Sharks failed to score in both 2022 meetings. Duchene had three goals in the two matchups last season to lead four Nashville players with at least two goals.
Sharks vs Predators Game Information
- Game: Sharks (32-37-10 in 2020-21 season) vs Predators (45-30-5)
- Location: O2 Arena, Prague, Czech Republic
- Day/Time: Friday, Oct. 7th, 2 p.m. ET
- Sharks vs Predators Live stream: NHL.TV
Sharks vs Predators Betting Lines
Sharks vs Predators Prediction
Nashville finished 20 points ahead of San Jose in the 2021-22 standings and the Predators are favored in the first of the two games played between the teams in Prague.
There should be an extra jump from veteran San Jose forward Tomas Hertl, who will be playing in his hometown. Speaking of homecomings, Nashville’s Josi was able to play an exhibition game in his hometown.
— Willy Daunic (@WillyD1025) October 3, 2022
During the season, Duchene led Nashville with five assists and seven points while Meier topped the Sharks with five assists and six points.
San Jose finished last season by losing 14 of its last 17 games while Nashville has lost five games in a row. Both teams played well in the preseason, with Nashville posting a 3-0-1 record with three regulation wins while San Jose went 4-1.