Sharks Travel To Edmonton For Second Straight Game In Alberta: Game Preview


April 16, 2012; San Jose, CA, USA; San Jose Sharks right wing Martin Havlat (9) skates with the puck against the St. Louis Blues during the first period of game three of the 2012 Western Conference quarterfinals at HP Pavilion. St. Louis defeated San Jose 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Jason O. Watson-USA TODAY Sports

The San Jose Sharks face the Edmonton Oilers this season in their second game in Alberta, Canada.  Edmonton is coming off of a shootout win against the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday where they tied the game late to send it into overtime.

For years the Edmonton Oilers have been a bottom feeder of the National Hockey League, but are looking to turn that around this year.  After another great draft for them they have amassed a laundry list of great, young talent (Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Nail Yakupov to name a few) and could be one of the best teams in the league in a few years.  For now they are working on the continued development of those young players and even they have a shot during this short season to make it to the playoffs and possibly farther.

San Jose got off to a slow start in their season opener against the Calgary Flames but finished strong as they dominated the second period and the latter half of the third.  However, first they had to weather a first period firestorm from the Flames that kept the Sharks back on their heels.  Luckily for them, Antti Niemi was in net and when all was said and done San Jose came out on top.  I’m sure head coach Todd McClellan will be looking for his team to have a stronger start to the game this evening so they won’t have to dig themselves out of another early hole.

Things to Watch For

1. Like I said earlier the Sharks stumbled mightily to begin the game in Calgary.  San Jose will want to fix that issue, and quickly, before it becomes a long-term problem and has a big impact on the shortened season.  Look for them to come out much more aggressively and looking to put the Oilers on their heels rather than the other way around.

2. Look for the Sharks to cut down on defensive and neutral zone turnovers that plagued them throughout their first game.  Nobody was immune to mistakes in that first game as even guys like Boyle and Thornton made bad passes in their own end that wound up going straight to back to Niemi in the form of scoring chances.  A team that wants to go deep in the playoffs can’t make those kinds of mistakes.

3. The Sharks will definitely be looking to build on their win a couple days ago and if things continue to gel well things could be very good.  The first two lines look very good on the offensive side of things,  but the bottom two seemed to be lacking any continuity.  Obviously this is only game two of the season and I’m definitely being nitpicky, but the top two lines can’t win every game.  Teams look for their role players to step up in key situations as much as the stars, so look for the 3rd and 4th lines to find a little more chemistry this evening.

Again, it is early in the season and only so much can be gained and learned from playing just one game.  But, every chance at improvement as a team is a good one.  If the Sharks key on these things tonight they will be looking at another win.