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Tonight! Game 3 in San Jose

by Staff Writer / Nashville Predators


Nashville Predators vs. San Jose Sharks (Series is tied 1-1)

WHEN: 9:30 p.m. CT

WHERE: HP Pavilion at San Jose, San Jose, Calif.


TELEVISION: FSN South (Comcast Ch. 28 in Davidson and Williamson counties) 

WGAP 1400-AM (Maryville, TN),
WATO 1290-AM (Oak Ridge, TN),
WKVL 850-AM (Knoxville, TN),
WLOD 98.3-FM (Sweetwater, TN);

LISTEN: Pete Weber and Terry Crisp preview tonight's game (Streaming Windows Media audio)

San Jose, Calif. - Tonight the Nashville Predators will attempt to regain home-ice advantage when they square off against the San Jose Sharks in Game 3 of the clubs' best-of-seven first-round playoff series at the HP Pavilion at San Jose. The series, which opened with two games in Nashville, is split 1-1 after the Predators took the first game 4-3 last Friday and the Sharks grabbed Game 2 by a 3-0 score Sunday afternoon.

Tonight's game, which starts at 9:30 p.m. CT, will be televised locally on FSN South and broadcast on 104.5-FM The Zone.

The Predators' charter touched down in San Jose shortly before 11 a.m. Pacific time Monday, and within hours of arrival the team was on the ice practicing at the HP Pavilion at San Jose--commonly known as the "Shark Tank."

Near the end of the 45-minute session, members of the Predators staff stumbled upon Sharks assistant coach--and onetime Predators player--Rob Zettler tucked away in a suite taking notes. "Everybody's looking for our adjustments," Predators head coach Barry Trotz said. "I mean, Rob Zettler was hiding up in a suite today. We caught him, 007-ing us. That's part of it."

While the practice was closed to the public, there is no rule that prohibits the home coaches from attending. It was the air of secrecy surrounding Zettler's duties that seemed to pique the interest of Predators staff.

"I'll have to call him '007' [Tuesday]," Trotz said.

Adjustments are the name of the game during a seven-game series. San Jose's strong pressure on the point men during Nashville's power plays, for example, was a strategy change that limited the Predators' effectiveness with the man advantage. The power play unit that went four-for-seven in Game 1 was zero-for-nine in Game 2.

"We weren't caught off guard [by San Jose's adjustments]," Trotz said. "One of the things as a coaching staff that we talk about is we ask each other, 'What do you think their adjustments are going to be?' And we thought they would adjust those areas. And we weren't able to adjust during the game quick enough to make it happen. They did a real good job. There were a couple of things that surprised us, but not as many as you would think."

Though Trotz is scarce with the details, he alluded to a few changes he had planned for Game 3. "We were identifying areas where they had success last game, and we'll try to tweak that a little bit," he said.

"Obviously [the Sharks] are going to stick with a lot of things they did on their penalty kill," he said. "We'll make slight adjustments and see how they react. As you play a team more and more, there will be less and less adjustments because everybody's pretty well got it figured out."

Regarding the power play specifically, Trotz said success starts at the opposing blue line. "We've got to enter the zone," he said. "They killed a lot of zone time by not allowing us to enter. We have some things that we're going to try to do to see if we can enter it a little bit better. Once we get zone time, I think we're going to get some more opportunities and some chances."

Now that the series shifts to the opposing team's rink, the Predators will no longer have the option of matching any line the Sharks send out on the ice for a face-off. The home team has the final change, which could make it a challenge for the Predators to contain San Jose's big line of Joe Thornton, Jonathan Cheechoo and Nils Ekman. But road matching is an issue that any NHL club has to deal with for 41 games of the regular season.

"We always do certain things on the road differently than we do at home [to get favorable matchups]," Trotz said. "So we'll have some different types of things that we do. I won't expound on them, if you don't mind."

Another key area of focus for Nashville is discipline. The number of penalties committed by the Predators has been climbing after a slight downturn in the final stretch of the regular season. To this point the calls have been fairly evenly distributed between the two sides--each team has had 16 power play opportunities over the first pair of contests.

"We've seen two games," Trotz said. "We've seen how they're going to call it. OK, now you have to adjust. You have to adjust your personal game. You have to adjust your team game and go from there. It's become very clear that they're going to continue to call them and obviously [NHL Commissioner Gary] Bettman will be here [Tuesday] so there will be lots of pressure on the referees to call lots of penalties. You've got to understand that. We've talked about it already [Monday] and we'll talk about it [Tuesday]. It goes into [the players'] hands really. On the ice you have to make choices."

Though he stuck with an identical lineup for games 1 and 2, Trotz conceded that he is considering juggling things up for Game 3. Naturally, that's as much as the tight-lipped coach would say.

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