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5 Keys: Predators at Sharks, Game 1

Shot-blocking, fast starts could tilt Western Conference second-round series

by Shawn P. Roarke @sroarke_nhl / Director of Editorial

SAN JOSE -- The San Jose Sharks and the Nashville Predators play Game 1 of their Western Conference Second Round series at SAP Center on Friday (10:30 p.m. ET: NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports).

Here are five keys for Game 1:

Turning the page: The Predators had to switch focus rather quickly to prepare for Game 1 against the Sharks after winning an emotional and physically taxing Game 7 against the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday.

The Sharks have been off since last Friday after defeating the Los Angeles Kings in five games in the first round.

The Predators say it won't be hard to focus on a new opponent and a new challenge in less than 48 hours.

"Yesterday was back to business," Nashville defenseman Roman Josi said. "We started preparing for San Jose and that's when we forgot about the first round." 

Video: NSH@ANA, Gm5: Johansen roofs a backhander

Power up: Nashville scored one power-play goal in 26 opportunities against Anaheim.

The Predators believe there are more to come, but coach Peter Laviolette said Friday that the lack of time between series kept Nashville from practicing the power play.

"We'd like to have more success at it," Nashville forward Ryan Johansen said. "It's something that we have talked about a lot in the past couple of days.

"We had a bunch of chances, whether we missed the net, or he made a good save or we didn't execute fully. We're not going to worry about last series. We have a fresh start and it starts today and we want to make the most of opportunities when we get them."

Block party: The Sharks and Predators are extremely good at blocking shots.

Nashville blocked 24 shots in its Game 7 victory and had 110 in the series, averaging 15.7 per game. San Jose blocked 115 shots against the Kings, an average of 23 per game.

"We blocked a ton of shots [against the Kings]," San Jose coach Peter DeBoer said. "We got out on them quickly and didn't give them time. I think Nashville is similar. They maybe don't sling as many pucks to the net, but definitely their defensemen get pucks to the net and that is something we have to pay attention to."

Video: LAK@SJS, Gm4: Burns buries Ward's great feed for PPG

Defense never rests: Each team is driven by its defense. San Jose has Brent Burns and Paul Martin leading the attack, but also has Marc-Edouard Vlasic, a solid two-way player with offensive flair, and hard-hitting Roman Polak.

Nashville has perhaps the best defense pair in the NHL with Shea Weber and Roman Josi, and they have been complemented by the emerging pair of Ryan Ellis and Mattias Ekholm.

The defensemen from both teams will have a huge impact on this series in each end. Burns led the Sharks with eight points in the first round and Weber tied for the Nashville lead with five points.

Start fast: Both teams know the important of this; in the first round, Nashville won the first two games in Anaheim, while San Jose won the first two games in Los Angeles.

The Sharks scored first in four of their five games against the Kings and scored on their first shot three times.

"We got a couple of big wins in L.A. and that was helpful," San Jose forward Joel Ward said. "I think they did the same thing in their series, but getting off to a good start will helpful for sure."

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