San Jose and Nashville have provided fast-paced, action-packed hockey through four games so let’s see where things stand with the series tied at two.
Thus far, the series has provided everything any fan could want with fast-skating hockey, great goaltending, hard hits and plenty of scoring chances at both end of the ice.
As this series shifts back to the Bay Area for a pivotal Game 5, let’s take a look at where things stand after four games between these two evenly matched squads.
First and foremost, this series should be tied up at two based on the run of play thus far. San Jose took Game 1 with a convincing third period, while escaping in Game 2 despite being far-less than their best.
Meanwhile, Nashville fully deserved their Game 3 win, but were lucky to escape the Game 4 marathon with a victory. I know it’s frustrating for Sharks fans because of the Joe Pavelski controversial no-goal which will haunt San Jose if they fail to win two out of the next three, but the 2-2 series line seems how this should be.
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Also, this series hasn’t offered too many surprises from what many people expected heading in. The one big surprise has been the offensive explosion from Nashville over the past two games. The Predators seemed to open up their attack more on home ice and use their speed to create multiple chances that were absent in the first couple of games. After averaging just two goals per game for most of this postseason and games one and two, Nashville doubled their output in both games in Music City.
Other than that, this series has lived up to the billing. The Sharks have a deadly power play that can swing a game in their favor in the blink of an eye. San Jose has converted on 4-of-14 (28.6 percent) opportunities, with another goal coming one second after a penalty expired. Team teal needs to continue their production with the man advantage.
Meanwhile, Nashville relies heavily on their top-four blue liners to not only shut down the opponent’s best players but also be some of their best playmakers in the offensive zone. They were deadly in games three and four, and the Sharks have to be keyed in to their movements.
Both goaltenders have been really solid, including last night where they basically matched one another save for save.
Spinning things forward, it will be interesting to see how each team decides to play Game 5. There’s no doubt both teams will be exhausted after playing pretty much two hockey games last night. The games at the SAP Center were tighter-checking contests with Nashville clogging up the neutral zone, so will they resort back to that defensive shell or will they be more open-minded as they were at home.
For San Jose, they need to clean up their play in front of their net and cut out the defensive zone turnovers, which led directly to the final two goals of the night. The Sharks must also continue to rely upon their depth to try and wear down this Predators team.
Nashville has played a ton of hockey in these playoffs as they’re approaching their 12th game in a little more than a three-week period, with multiple cross-country flights thrown in. With the Predators leaning heavily on their top players in Game 4, the Sharks have to continue to push the pace as often as possible.
Forget about the 2-0 series lead and put last night behind you. It’s now a best-of-three series and the Sharks are still sitting in a pretty decent position all things considered.
This wasn’t expected to be a short series, and now is the time for this San Jose team to dig deep and put forth their best effort to take back control of this series.