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The Opening Night Roster (Maybe)

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Last night's final home pre-season game against Phoenix was a thoroughly enjoyable affair.  Although the defense has some gaffes leading to Coyote odd-man rushes which they converted more than once. the aggressive attacking style was far more entertaining than the sixty minutes of alternating between either playing hot potato with the puck and all shots on net immediately disqualifying you from the game or all defensemen believing it was illegal to cross the blueline on their end of the ice.  Obviously one pre-season game does not a season make, nor does it allow firm conclusions to be drawn.  Nonetheless, it was great to see.

Before getting into what I suspect will be the opening night roster, a few additional observations from last night:

  • In the "take it for what it's worth" category, which is a nice way of saying probably not much, neither Derek Joslin nor Mike Moore struck me as being quite ready for prime time yet.  Joslin seemed the weaker of the two, spending an alarming amount of time being faked out or blown past far too easily.
  • About the only bad thing you can say about Joe Thornton's game is how he's fallen into patterns too easily, doing the same thing again and again such as setting up shop just outside the near faceoff circle.  Last night he was making plays all over the place and being aggressive while doing so.  Very good stuff indeed.
  • Devin Setoguchi looked terrific on the line with Thornton and Patrick Marleau.  Something tells me we could be seeing this become a regular rotation.

And now, based on last night what I suspect will be the lines and parings come opening night, everyone's health permitting:

Marleau

Thornton

Setoguchi

Michalek

Pavelski

Cheechoo

Clowe

Goc

Grier

Shelley /

Friesen

Roenick

Plihal /

Friesen

The first line is every other team's nightmare.  On the second line, the hope is Michalek will pick up on Pavelski's gritty work ethic and not disappear for games at a time.  Should this happen it could put up some points.  Clowe and a rejuvinated Grier make the third line a true lunchpail crew.  Given how thin the Sharks are at right wing, my hunch is depending on the opponent you'll see Plihal and Friesen take turns at the position despite both being primary left wingers until it becomes clear which one is better suited for which side.  Shelley will be in games where his enforcer services might be required with again either Friesen or Plihal on right wing depending on which one plays the position better.

Now, the defense:

Lukowich

Boyle

Vlasic

Blake

Ehrhoff

Murray

Lukowich and Boyle have been a tandem for a long time.  Vlasic and Blake complimented each other nicely last night, leading me to think they'll be paired together.  It'll never be dull when Ehrhoff and Murray are on the ice.  I imagine Semenov will be the seventh defenseman.

Only Todd McLellan and Doug Wilson really know, and for some strange reason neither one has dropped me a line letting me know their plans.  Go figure.  Anyway, the above is my best and hopefully at least semi-educated guess.  Chip in a comment with your thoughts.