After 274 brutal days, the Sharks will finally play an NHL hockey game again as they open the season in Calgary at 3PM.
I could tell you that it's been 274 days since the San Jose Sharks last skated on NHL ice. I could tell you that the last time they did so, they were dismantled by a St. Louis Blues team that handed them the quickest postseason exit in their history. I could tell you the Sharks have had nine long months to chew on that bitter disappointment and likely return motivated to make sure history doesn't repeat. But none of the standard storylines or narratives seem to matter right now. Today is about one thing alone: the Sharks are back. After an incredibly frivolous labor dispute, the lockout is over in earnest and we once again get to see the greatest team in the history of forever do their thing. And by "their thing," I obviously mean ill-paced, sloppy, turnover-filled hockey if yesterday's games are any indication. But you won't hear me complaining.
|0-0-0, 0 points
||0-0-0, 0 points|
|T-8th in Western Conference||T-8th in Western Conference|
Projected Sharks Lineup
Patrick Marleau - Joe Thornton - Joe Pavelski
Ryane Clowe - Logan Couture - Martin Havlat
T.J. Galiardi - Michal Handzus - Tommy Wingels
James Sheppard - Andrew Desjardins - Adam Burish
Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Brad Stuart
Matt Irwin - Dan Boyle
Douglas Murray - Justin Braun
Scratches: Frazer McLaren, Nick Petrecki, Brent Burns
Projected Flames LineupCurtis Glencross - Alex Tanguay - Jarome Iginla
Sven Baertschi - Mikael Backlund - Mike Cammalleri
Roman Horak - Matt Stajan - Lee Stempniak
Blake Comeau - Blair Jones - Tim Jackman
Mark Giordano - Jay Bouwmeester
Chris Butler - Dennis Wideman
Derek Smith - Cory Sarich
Scratches: Steve Begin, T.J. Brodie
The opponent feels almost inconsequential considering the circumstances but let's talk Calgary. Obviously this isn't the heated rival the NHL vaguely promised every team would open its season against, unless you still recreate Ray Whitney's double-overtime winner in your backyard or cry yourself to sleep to the thought of what could have been a Sharks/Lightning Stanley Cup Final in 2004 (or relive Torrey Mitchell's 5-on-3 goal from Game 2 of the 2008 Western Conference Quarterfinal, I suppose).
The Flames haven't been getting much respect from the people dumb enough to make predictions for a 48-game season (*raises hand*). Their center depth is lacking, their best players are old as balls, no one up front can handle tough minutes at this stage of their respective careers and, outside of Bouwmeester, none of their defensemen are all that reliable in their own end. But the Flames always seem to bridge any sort of talent gap between themselves and the Sharks when these teams meet. They frustrated San Jose in 2011-12, going 2-1-1 against them. On the other hand, the Flames were woeful at controlling the flow of play for much of last year and generated just 52 scoring chances to San Jose's 66 over that four-game series. If the Sharks play the way they can, they should be able to dictate the pace of this opener and pick up some early, valuable standings points.
The puck finally drops on the 2013 season today. Go Sharks.