The San Jose Sharks start the season on the road in Alberta, Canada as they travel to ‘The Great White North’ to battle the Calgary Flames. After watching most teams open their season yesterday both of these Western Conference teams will get a chance to start their seasons off on the right foot.
San Jose will start the game today with a few key defensemen out due to lingering injuries acquired either last season or playing abroad during the lockout. Jason Demers will be out with a wrist injury and Justin Braun is also out due to an issue related to his hand. Still considered questionable according to the NHL website is Brent Burns who is still recovering from offseason sports hernia surgery.
On the plus side these injuries will give young blue-liners Nick Petrecki and Matt Irwin a chance to step in early and prove themselves at the NHL level. It will be interesting to see how they perform early on and if they prove themselves will definitely be on the radar in games to come. Another defenseman to keep an eye in will be Brad Stuart who was brought in during the offseason to help sure up the defensive end of things for the Sharks.
Things to Watch For
1. Since it is only game one of the 48-game season it’s hard to have a few things to key on. With that being said I would like to see how the line combos shake up. In particular those top two lines are going to have to get some chemistry going early and I want to see what McClellan comes up with for the third and fourth lines as well. He’ll have a whole slew of guys to choose from and we will want to see who impressed him during the short one week of training camp.
2. One guy I will be watching closely all game will be Ryane Clowe. This is the final year of his contract and the Sharks are hoping he can rebound from an uncharacteristic campaign. Hopefully he can gel quickly with linemates Marty Havlat and Logan Couture and have a strong second line which at times struggled mightily last year and really had no continuity with the absence of Havlat as well.
3. As a team San Jose was absolutely awful on the penalty kill last season. In previous years this was definitely a strength and in the last couple of season the Sharks have lost their touch win the man down. Part of the issue seemed to be the passive type of penalty killing unit they have been deploying. When we look at the top teams in the league while on the man-disadvantage they have one thing in common; they are aggressive with their sticks and movement to take away time and space. Look for San Jose’s approach to be similar in order to right the ship.
All in all I will just be excited Sharks hockey is back and hope for a great game. Look for it to be fast-paced because the players are just excited to get back onto the ice as the fans are. Here’s hoping the San Jose Sharks can start the season off with a bang!