Saturday, February 25, 2012

Preds host Sharks in first game after trading Smithson

The Nashville Predators will host the San Jose Sharks tonight at 7 p.m. at Bridgestone Arena. Tonight's game will be the eighth consecutive road game for the Sharks, who have posted a 2-4-1 record on their current roadtrip.

Nashville is coming off of a disappointing 3-2 shootout loss to the St. Louis Blues on Thursday night. They will be looking to keep pace with the Blues with a win tonight against the high-powered Sharks.

On Friday afternoon, the Predators traded Jerred Smithson to the Florida Panthers in exchange for a sixth-round pick in the 2012 NHL Draft. Tonight's game will be the first game without Smithson on the Nashville roster since the 2005-2006 season.

"We're going to miss (Smithson). He's been around this dressing room for a long time. He's a great person, a great player and we're definitely going to miss him in the room. It's tough when you lose your friend. I've just got to wish him good luck in Florida, and I'm sure he'll do well and fit in there," said Nashville Predators defenseman Kevin Klein.

"It's definitely tough to see a veteran guy like that go. He's a guy that I definitely looked up to from my time here, and he's definitely going to be missed in the room," said Predators forward Matt Halischuk.

San Jose will be a desperate hockey team tonight. They are trying to fend off the Phoenix Coyotes in the Pacific Division, who could take over the division lead today with a win in Edmonton if the Sharks were to lose to Nashville tonight. The Predators are prepared for a playoff-style game.

"It's going to be a hard, tight-checking game. Obviously, we want to make sure that we're not turning pucks over and giving them rush opportunities. It should be fun. The building should be great. It's Saturday so it should be fun," Halischuk said.

My player to watch for the Sharks is Logan Couture. He leads San Jose in the goal department, and is a rising young star in the NHL. Nashville will have to limit his time and space.

For the Predators, my player to watch is Ryan Suter. Suter, along with his partner Shea Weber, will likely see close to 30 minutes of ice time tonight against San Jose. The key in this game for the Predators, however, may be the power play. Suter does a good job of quarterbacking the power play, and that will be critical tonight against the Sharks.

(Photo Credit: Leanne Charles)

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