|11:00 AM PT12:00 PM MT1:00 PM CT2:00 PM ET18:00 GMT2:00 11:00 AM MST1:00 PM EST22:00 UAE14:00 ET15:00 BRT, October 7, 2022
O2 Arena, Prague, Attendance: 16,648
Predators, Sharks open NHL season in Prague
San Jose Sharks at Nashville Predators
- The Predators won all three games they played against the Sharks last season (two in Nashville, one in San Jose), outscoring them 12-1. Juuse Saros was in goal for Nashville in all three games, while San Jose used four goaltenders, including three different starters. The Sharks have not scored more than one goal in any of their last five games against Nashville.
- The Sharks averaged 3.52 goals scored per game in 2018-19, tied for second-highest in the NHL, but they've averaged only 2.58 goals per game over the three seasons since then, third-lowest of any team, ahead of the Red Wings (2.36) and Ducks (2.56).
- Prague native Tomas Hertl played in all 82 games for the Sharks last season, tallying 30 goals and 34 assists. Hertl ranked second in the NHL in 2021-22 in goals, assists and points (64) among players born in the Czech Republic, behind Boston's David Pastrnak (40-37-77).
- Nashville led the NHL with 1035 penalty minutes last season, 134 more than Tampa Bay, the team with the second-highest total. The 2021-22 Predators were the first NHL team with 1000 or more penalty minutes in one season since 2015-16 (Anaheim 1023, Arizona 1009).
- Roman Josi led NHL defensemen last season in both assists (73) and points (96). Josi's point total in 2021-22 was the highest by an NHL defenseman in one season since Phil Housley tallied 97 points for Winnipeg in 1992-93. Josi's 73 assists were the most by an NHL defenseman in one season since Sergei Zubov had 77 for the Rangers in 1993-94.
- Juuse Saros led NHL goaltenders in games played last season (67) but he did not appear in the playoffs due to an ankle injury suffered in Nashville's third-to-last regular-season game. Saros ranked third in wins last season (38), one behind co-leaders Andrei Vasilevskiy and Sergei Bobrovsky.
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The 2022-23 NHL season is set to get underway on the other side of the world when the San Jose Sharks play the Nashville Predators as part of the 2022 NHL Global Series on Friday in Prague.
The teams will also play on Saturday at the same venue, O2 Arena.
The Predators upgraded their roster in the offseason by trading for veteran defenseman Ryan McDonagh and signing skilled forward Nino Niederreiter.
McDonagh, 33, spent the past 4 1/2 seasons with the Tampa Bay Lightning following 7 1/2 seasons with the New York Rangers.
"We were looking for a potential top-four defenseman going into the offseason, but to get a guy like Ryan was really special and something we jumped at the chance to really do," Nashville coach John Hynes said.
As a shutdown defenseman, McDonagh doesn't have stats that jump off the page. However, he has appeared in 185 playoff games, including the past three Stanley Cup Finals, winning two championships with Tampa Bay.
It's an experience he hopes to bring to Nashville, which is still looking for its first Stanley Cup title after several close calls.
"There's no greater feeling. It's hard to describe," McDonagh said of winning the Cup in 2020 and '21. "As soon as you do get a taste of it, you definitely want to repeat that again and go through the process and through that journey with the group of guys and feel that reward at the end of all that hard work."
Like the Predators, the Sharks have never won a Stanley Cup title, but they didn't work nearly as hard as Nashville in the offseason to end that drought.
Brent Burns won't be in the San Jose lineup for the first time in 12 seasons after the Sharks traded him to the Carolina Hurricanes over the summer.
The Sharks will continue to lean on the veterans who are left, however. Timo Meier, Tomas Hertl and Logan Couture are still comfortably in their prime and coming off solid seasons.
Erik Karlsson and Marc-Edouard Vlasic provide irreplaceable experience on the defensive end, though both have come up short of recent expectations.
Karlsson, 32, put up at least 62 points in five straight seasons with the Ottawa Senators before he was traded to the Sharks in a multi-player deal in September 2018.
In San Jose, he hasn't logged more than 45 points in any of his four seasons.
Vlasic, 35, saw his plus-minus tumble to minus-22 last season, and his average ice time fell to a career-low 15:13.
David Quinn was hired as San Jose's head coach on July 26 after Bob Boughner was fired earlier in the month.
Quinn is intent on turning things around but said the first game has come up fast.
"There's a lot that we haven't touched on, but at the end of the day, if we play at the pace and the tempo we've been playing at, with the mentality, that can cover a lot of mistakes," Quinn said. "That's all we've really focused on. We've been implementing structure and systems that we're going to need to be good at."
The NHL's first game in Europe since 2019 nearly ran into a snag when the Czech Foreign Ministry informed the NHL that Russian players were not welcome in Prague due to Russia's invasion of Ukraine. But the Czech government reversed their stance on Sept. 29.
The Sharks have two Russian-born players, left wingers Alexander Barabanov and Evgeny Svechnikov, and the Predators have Russian center Yakov Trenin on their roster.
--Field Level Media
Updated October 7, 2022