The San Jose Sharks will open their 19th NHL season at the Pepsi Center on Thursday, Oct. 1 against the Colorado Avalanche. The team will play their first home game of the season on Thursday, Oct. 8 against the Columbus Blue Jackets. The 2009-10 Sharks schedule consists of 82 games – 41 home and 41 road contests.
The home opener won't be nearly as exciting as last season against Anaheim, but San Jose does get a crack at the Ducks the second game of the season. More on that later.
As mymclife mentioned, October 1st will likely be Joe Sakic night in Colorado.
The Sharks "at large" opponents are compromised of Buffalo, Philadelphia and Washington.
I was a little bummed we played Philadelphia twice last season, seeing as that would likely rule out any chance of San Jose facing Chris Pronger twice again next year. Turns out the scheduling committee answered the bell and gave Plank what he wanted*.
*Yes, I'm speaking in the third person. Jimmy likes this a lot.
Buffalo will also be cool to see twice, as Craig Rivet remains one of Plank's favorite players to this day. Washington has had some real trouble winning in San Jose (including last year's thrashing), but they bring a lot of firepower to the table which should be exciting.
Jump for a more in-depth look.
October 3rd: The Sharks head into Anaheim for their second game of the season. Since it is a Saturday, I'm planning on attending if anyone is interested.
October 15th-25th: A long road trip on the East Coast, but the level of talent here isn't anything particularly imposing. I like that the Sharks get a big road trip out of the way early against borderline playoff teams.
November 1st: Time to ditch church boys and girls- Carolina hosts San Jose at 10:30 AM PST.
November 5th: Sharks are in Detroit. Cue the concern.
November 7th: The Pittsburgh Penguins come into town. Make that two years in a row facing the Stanley Cup finalists back to back.
December 1st-11th: A five game homestand, the first of three that will occur during the season.
January 21st-February 2nd: The second five game homestand, this one filled with some fairly noteworthy teams- Anaheim, Buffalo, Chicago, Minnesota, and Detroit. Should be a good test to see where the Sharks stand.
February 2nd-13th: San Jose finishes their pre-Olympics schedule at home against Detroit and then a six game road trip. Looking at the teams on the docket it's not especially brutal, but taking 9 points before going into a two week Olympic break would be solid. The majority of those teams play San Jose well at home.
March 14th-23rd: Anaheim, Dallas, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Minnesota. All potential playoff teams, all on the road.
April 10th: Season wraps up at home against Phoenix.
Month By Month Difficulty (1-7 Scale)
Home Games By Month: Oct.– 5, Nov.– 5, Dec–9, Jan.–11, Feb.– 1, March–8, April – 2
Road Games By Month: Oct.–9, Nov.– 9, Dec.– 4, Jan.–3, Feb.– 6, March –7, April – 3
1) November: Lots of good teams, most of which the Sharks play on the road. Only four of these games contain clubs who missed the playoffs last season. By far the most difficult month of the year.
2) February: Detroit twice, and a road trip before shutting it down for the Olympics.
3) March: Not necessarily a difficult month in terms of opposing squads, but the fact that San Jose has to play very well during the homestand immediately after the Olympics in order to avoid must win games in Calgary, Anaheim etc. concerns me a bit. I do like the lack of East coast travel during the month however.
4) October: More road than home games, but not an especially difficult number of teams.
5) December: Starts off a two month stretch where the Sharks are primarily at home.
6) April. The last games of the regular season.
7) January: An exorbitant amount of home games, with San Jose only going out of state once (Phoenix). If the Kings get good goaltending however, this month could be more difficult than it seems.
Western Conference Superpowers & Rivals
Anaheim: October 3rd (A), November 21st (A), December 17th (H), December 26th (H), January 21st (H), March 14th (A)
Dallas: November 12th (H), December 11th (H), December 21st (A), March 16th (A), March 25th (H), March 31st (A)
Calgary: December 5th (H), January 18th (H), March 19th (A), April 6th (A)
Detroit: November 5th (A), January 9th (H), February 2nd (H), February 11th (A)
Chicago: November 15th (A), November 25th (H), December 22nd (A), January 28th (H)
Vancouver: November 29th (A), March 18th (A), March 27th (H), April 8th (H)
I tend to break up the regular season during an Olympic year into two segments. Obviously every point counts throughout, but the games after the break always ramp up the intensity as teams are jockeying for playoff position.
I'm not too fond of the schedule in this regard- lots of away tilts chunked up in February, a five game homestand immediately after The Games, then a quick turnaround to play a slew of potential playoff teams on the road. If they struggle in February like last season, things could get dicey in March- something tells me the Sharks will not have the division in the bag two months into the season like 2008.
December and January will hopefully be the time where they stockpile points and allow McLellan to rest his guys down the stretch.
On a side note, HNIC could possibly cover the game vs. Calgary December 5th, vs. Edmonton January 2nd, vs. Edmonton January 16th, and vs. the Canucks March 27th. Every one of those games is at home.
Full schedule can be found here.