Both the San Jose Sharks and New Jersey Devils entered Thursday undefeated but ended the night in defeat. New Jersey was routed 6-2 by the Capitals while the Sharks dropped a 4-3 shootout decision on Long Island; both clubs will look for a bounce-back tonight as they face each other in Newark for the Devils' home opener.
Like the Sharks, the Devils were a top-five puck possession team last season but unlike San Jose that wasn't enough for New Jersey to qualify for the playoffs. The reasons for that range from a dismal 0-13 shootout record to an insistence on feeding Martin Brodeur and his putrid .901 SV% starts over the vastly superior Cory Schneider to a sub-par team shooting percentage. With Brodeur gone, their bad luck in the shootout unlikely to repeat and sniper Mike Cammalleri now on board, it seems like a much sounder bet that the Devils' record will more closely reflect their underlying numbers this season. They also have former Shark Ryane Clowe healthy from the start of the season this time around while fellow ex-Shark Marty Havlat, signed in the offseason by the Devils in their continued raid on aging Czech players after San Jose bought him out, is...well...
Yes.— Is Havlat Injured? (@IsHavlatInjured) October 17, 2014
On the Sharks' side of things, there's certainly a lot to work on after a loss to the Islanders that would have been much uglier if not for the play of Alex Stalock. San Jose was outshot 45-23 with their bottom six in particular bludgeoned; when Tommy Wingels (who the coaching staff shuffled between pairs of linemates as the game progressed) was on the ice at even-strength on Thursday, the Sharks registered just 5 shot attempts to the Islanders' 26. It's still far too early in the season to draw conclusions based on that or any other number but San Jose could sure use injured play-driving wingers James Sheppard and Tyler Kennedy right about now. They'll have to figure out a way to get a better performance out of their third and fourth lines tonight without those forwards.
|3-0-1, 7 points
||3-1-0, 6 points|
|2nd in Pacific
||3rd 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 Devils Lineup
Mike Cammalleri - Travis Zajac - Jaromir Jagr
Dainius Zubrus - Patrik Elias - Damien Brunner
Ryane Clowe - Adam Henrique - Michael Ryder
Tuomo Ruutu - Stephen Gionta - Jordin Tootoo
Andy Greene - Damon Severson
Bryce Salvador - Marek Zidlicky
Eric Gelinas - Jon Merrill