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Sharks 'ready to get series going' after long break

San Jose hasn't played since April 22; will play Nashville in Game 1 on Friday

by Eric Gilmore / Correspondent

SAN JOSE -- The San Jose Sharks didn't find out they would be playing the Nashville Predators in the Western Conference Second Round until late Wednesday.

After watching Nashville defeat the Anaheim Ducks 2-1 in Game 7 to win that first-round series, San Jose knows it can't afford a slow start in Game 1 at SAP Center on Friday (10:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports), when they will play for the first time in a week.

"I think the guys are ready to go," Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said after practice Thursday. "You can sense a little bit of nervous energy. I think they've had enough practices and are ready to get the series going."

DeBoer watched the Predators take four of seven games from the Ducks, who won three of four against the Sharks during the regular season.

"One, the way they started the series going on the road and winning two right off the bat," DeBoer said of Nashville. "Obviously the way they reset after they lost the lead and were facing elimination twice and really played their best hockey at that point. That's impressive.

"I've been on the other end of that. When I was in New Jersey, [2012] first round, we played Game 7 double overtime to eliminate the [Florida] Panthers before moving on to play [the Philadelphia Flyers]. We faced elimination in Game 6, won in overtime, double overtime in Game 7, and kind of rolled that into the second round and showed up with a lot of confidence. I'm very aware that this is a dangerous team coming in here."

That year, the Devils made the Stanley Cup Final.

The Sharks clinched their first-round series against the Los Angeles Kings with a 6-3 victory in Game 5 on April 22. Since then, they've rested, practiced and waited while the Predators and Ducks continued playing.

Video: NSH@ANA, Gm7: Rinne stones Perry twice of tying goal

"There's advantages to both," Sharks forward Tommy Wingels said. "When you play every other day, you get into a bit of a routine of having a day off and bringing it the next night. So, in that aspect, I think they'll be ready to go.

"On the other side of it, we appreciated our rest. All season long, rest has been a big key for this team. So the fact that we can get a week here of rest and recover and refresh has been very good for this group. So we'll be ready to go as well."

The Sharks, who were 1-2-0 against Nashville in the regular season, are aware of the Predators' strengths.

"Their back end is just solid, their goaltender (Pekka Rinne) is playing really well, and they've got some skill up front, some high-end skill," Sharks center Logan Couture said. "So they're a challenge.

"They defend well. They're really tight in their D zone. They drop five guys low. They protect the danger areas in front of their net and they block a lot of shots."

Rinne stopped 26 of 27 shots in a 3-1 victory against Anaheim in Game 6 and 36 of 37 in Game 7. He went 2-0-0 with a 1.50 goals-against average and .941 save percentage this season against San Jose. In his career against the Sharks, he's 10-5-4 with a 1.80 GAA and .945 save percentage.

"He's a goalie that can steal games," Couture said. "He's proven that over his career. We've got to get traffic. That's the main thing with him. If you look at the goals that Anaheim scored throughout the series, they had traffic, they had guys in front of him. So we're going to need to do that."

The Sharks will also have to contend with one of the NHL's top defensive units, led by captain Shea Weber, Roman Josi, Mattias Ekholm and Ryan Ellis. Josi ranked second on the Predators in points during the regular season with 61, Weber fourth (51), Ekholm seventh (34) and Ellis ninth (32). They combined for 52 goals.

"They move pucks really well," Sharks forward Joe Thornton said of Nashville's defensemen. "Last series we had to deal with Drew [Doughty]. This series we have to deal with Shea. They just have three or four guys who skate really, really well. We have to burn our legs in this series."

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