The NHL’s Global Tour Continues
In 2019, Chicago and Philadelphia opened their regular seasons in Prague. Two years later, the San Jose Sharks and Nashville Predators return to the Czech Republic in the same building. The NHL Global Series is back as the 2022-23 NHL regular season starts. Nashville is favored in both games per the online sportsbook.
Both teams are already playing in Europe. Nashville defeated SC Bern in Switzerland while the Sharks beat the Eisbaren Berlin in Germany. The Sharks also have experience opening their regular season in Europe, which they did in 2010 in Sweden in a back-to-back series against Columbus. As for the Predators, this is their first regular season game outside of North America since the 2000 Predators-Penguins series in Japan.
Czeching Out the Sharks and Preds
The Sharks and Predators are two NHL teams rich with recognizable European talent. San Jose has two Czechs on their roster: defenseman Radim Simek and forward Tomas Hertl.
“I am very excited to be playing in my country next year,” said Hertl. “It is my home and where I started my pro hockey career and I can have all of my family and friends in the building watch me play an NHL game with the Sharks.”
Hertl had 30 goals and 64 points in 82 games with the Sharks last season. Expect the crowd to cheer him, who was born in Prague, when he is introduced or whenever he touches the puck. He also had a goal and five points in 10 games for the bronze medal-winning Czech team in the 2022 Ice Hockey World Championships.
Hertl had 30 goals and 64 points in 82 games with the Sharks last season.
As for Nashville, the team has a bevy of European stars like Juuse Saros and Mikael Granlund from Finland, Filip Forsberg from Sweden, and Roman Josi from Switzerland. But the team is one of the few NHL teams without a Czech player on the roster when the NHL regular season starts.
Can Nashville Smash the Sharks?
Like Tampa Bay in 2019, Nashville is favored in both games against San Jose. Technically, it’s supposed to be a home-and-home – meaning each team has one “home” game. But both games take place in the O2 Arena so it will be neutral ice and leaning slightly on San Jose due to Hertl’s presence.
The Lightning defeated the Sabres as the favorite in their two games at the Ericsson Globe. In San Jose and Nashville’s case, the Predators are playing the role of Tampa Bay. This team is a playoff contender at the minimum while San Jose is not expected to make the playoffs and could be in a rebuild. The NHL betting stats also support Nashville.
Nashville swept San Jose last season in what was their most lopsided matchup. The Preds outscored the Sharks 12-1 with one game being an 8-0 blowout for Nashville. It was their biggest win of the season as Saros posted his third shutout. He owns a 7-2-1 record against San Jose with .935 save percentage. Two of the three games went ‘under’ the total thanks to San Jose being unable to score.
Pragmatic Results in Prague
This will be the fourth time the NHL plays regular season games in Prague. Two of the first three times were a two-game series that split: each team won a game. The New York Rangers and Tampa Bay Lightning split their series in the 2008 NHL Premiere. Two years later, the Phoenix Coyotes and Boston Bruins did the same for the NHL regular season start of 2010-11. In 2019, Philadelphia defeated Chicago.
If the trend continues, San Jose and Nashville should split their series. This could be a lucrative betting opportunity for Sharks fans as the team is an underdog in both games. The teams also play on a back-to-back (no rest). San Jose is 3-5-2 on the second night of a back-to-back while Nashville is 5-6-3.
Also, expect to see four different netminders during this series. Saros and James Reimer should man the pipes for Nashville and San Jose in the first game, respectively. Then it will likely be Kevin Lankinen and Kaapo Kahkonen the next night barring a netminder going on the NHL injury report prior to the games. It’s sports bettors favorite time of the year, it’s time for the NHL regular season to start!
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