One week into the 2014-15 NHL season, there are three teams with a perfect 3-0 record and two of them, the San Jose Sharks and New York Islanders, will meet this afternoon on Long Island. It'll be the Sharks' final visit to Nassau Coliseum before the Islanders move to Barclays Center in Brooklyn next year and it should be a memorable one as either San Jose or a revamped Isles side will finish the night with their first loss of the season.
After years of neglecting to upgrade his goaltending, content to place the corpse of former Shark Evgeni Nabokov in net for years on end, Islanders GM Garth Snow finally addressed a franchise sore spot this summer by picking up demonstrably above-average starter Jaroslav Halak in free agency. Snow also added fancystats All-Star Mikhail Grabovski, his Toronto sidekick Nikolai Kulemin and legitimate top-four defensemen Nick Leddy and Johnny Boychuk over the course of an offseason that many believed reshaped the Islanders from perennial doormat into playoff contender. So far, with some help from youngsters Brock Nelson and Ryan Strome finally coming into their own, it appears to be working. When blueliners Lubomir Visnovsky and Calvin de Haan return, it might not be ridiculous to suggest that the Islanders are capable of challenging for the Metropolitan Division crown.
If you're a believer that teams on a winning streak claim a few somewhat undeserved victories before actually losing, there might be reason for concern about the Sharks. They were territorially dominated for much of the game against Washington and while some of that was the result of protecting a lead for nearly all of regulation, they'll need to do a much better job of breaking out of their defensive zone with pace to have a chance at beating a mobile Islanders blueline. Alex Stalock gets the call in net as Todd McLellan continues to alternate between his goalies.
|3-0-0, 6 points
||3-0-0, 6 points|
|1st in Pacific
||2nd in Metropolitan
Projected Sharks Lineup
Tomas Hertl - Joe Thornton - Joe Pavelski
Patrick Marleau - Logan Couture - Matt Nieto
Tye McGinn - Chris Tierney - Tommy Wingels
John Scott - Andrew Desjardins - Adam Burish
Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Justin Braun
Mirco Mueller - Brent Burns
Matt Irwin - Jason Demers
Projected Islanders Lineup
Cory Conacher - John Tavares - Kyle Okposo
Mikhail Grabovski - Brock Nelson - Ryan Strome
Josh Bailey - Frans Nielsen - Nikolai Kulemin
Matt Martin - Casey Cizikas - Cal Clutterbuck
Nick Leddy - Johnny Boychuk
Thomas Hickey - Travis Hamonic
Griffin Reinhart - Brian Strait