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Predators need quicker pace against Sharks in Game 2

The Nashville Predators couldn’t adjust to the attacking style of the San Jose Sharks in Game 1 of their second-round series.

Unlike Nashville’s first-round opponent, the Anaheim Ducks, the Sharks throw different layers of players at a team’s defense, and this proved the difference as San Jose won 5-2 and took a 1-0 series lead. The Predators had one day to figure out how to counter the Sharks, and will try to use the knowledge they took from the first game towards finding a different path to victory Sunday at SAP Center in Game 2. 

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“Part of getting to know your opponent is getting through a game,” Predators coach Peter Laviolette said according to the Preds’ website. “We’ve done some things against them, and they’ve done some things against us. Now you can go back and look at the game as opposed to what we were doing against Anaheim or what they were doing against L.A., or a game back in game No. 68 or game No. 42. We’ll look to make adjustments and improvements and get better.”

The Ducks, ranked first in the NHL during the regular season allowing 2.29 goals per-game and prided themselves more on countering with an attack after breaking up an opponent’s offensive scoring chance. San Jose ranked fourth in the NHL at 2.89 goals per-game during the regular season. Their 30.4 shots on goal per-game was 11th in the NHL. 

In the first-round of the playoffs, the Sharks scored 3.2 goals per-game on the Los Angeles Kings in their five-game win. The Kings finished the NHL’s regular season as the third-best defensive team in the NHL.

Nashville beat Anaheim in Wednesday’s Game 7 then had to quickly shift gears to playing the Sharks in Friday’s Game 1, which proved difficult. 

"Playing Anaheim, they're such a tight defensive team," Predators defenseman Ryan Ellis said according to The Tennessean. "To swing back and play a different team two nights later with kind of a different mindset, they're a very high-tempo team. They play a lot of offense, the Sharks. For us, it was more of an adjustment. I thought we did well for the most part in the game." 

In Game 1 against the Predators, San Jose out possessed Nashville after Mike Fisher put the Predators up 1-0 early in the second period. Their overall (including power plays and penalty kills) CF was 59-33 in the last two periods. 

"Get on the attack, play on our toes, play with speed,” Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said of his philosophy according to the San Jose Mercury News. “My problem with the game was we didn't get that going until the third period. Partly credit Nashville for what they were doing, but I think we can do more to play that game consistently,” 

DeBoer attributed the slow start to the fact San Jose had a week between games.

“I think we'll be better on Sunday having a game under our belt here," he said.

San Jose won Game 1 without much offense from their first line when on the ice together. Tomas Hertl was the only member of the trio to score a goal and that was on the power play, away from Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski. 

Pavelski notched an assist on Logan Couture’s power play goal, but that was again on special teams. Pavelski scored five goals in five games against the Kings in the first-round as the Sharks’ first-line proved one of the major difference-makers in that series. They will likely have a better performance in Game 2, which could spell trouble for the Predators. 

"They have a lot of speed and a lot of offense they bring to the game," Laviolette said of the Sharks overall. "They throw a lot of pucks at the net. I thought we did a pretty good job the first two periods. They have a dangerous power play and we have to stay out of the box. Their players seemed to find some energy from that and the game turned a little bit."

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Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

 

 

 

 

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