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San Jose Sharks Vs Nashville Predators

WESTERN CONFERENCE:

Nashville Predators (Seed 4)

After years with the Ducks and a brief stop in Colorado, winger Paul Kariya took his hustle and drive to Nashville. The former Hoby Baker winner, who played in 82 games, led the team in points (85), goals (31), assists (54) and shots on goal (245). His 85 points are a club record.

On right wing, Steve Sullivan matched Kariya’s 31 goals, making them a potent one-two punch. Yanic Perreault, center, accumulated 57 points, while the teams two top defensemen, Kimmo Timonen and Marek Zidlicky contributed 39 and 37 assists respectively.

The Predators lost their top goalie Tomas Vokoun just prior to the playoffs. Vokoun was 36-18 in 61 games, with a 2.67 GAA and a .919 SAV%. Chris Mason (12-5, 2.54 GAA, .913 SAV%) will most likely replace Vokoun.

Despite all that Kariya brings to the ice, the loss of Vokoun will be difficult to compensate for and could spell disaster for the club’s playoff hopes.

San Jose Sharks (Seed 5)

Boy, what a difference a trade can make. Joe Thorton was sent fron the Bruins to the Sharks part way through the season. Suddenly the talented center found his stride—Thorton finished as the scoring champ, is an MVP candidate, and the Sharks in the playoffs, while the Bruins are playing golf.

It seems to be the year of the rookie goaltender with yet another first-year man in the net. Vesa Toskala (23-7, 2.56 GAA, .901) replaced struggling veteran Evgeni Nabokov (16-19, 3.10 GAA, .885 SAV%) and has been a big improvement.

At the end of the season, the Sharks won a club record 8 straight games in a row. The team is hot and should continue their winning ways in the playoffs.

First Round Playoff Series Prediction:

San Jose over Nashville in 5 games

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