After announcing home openers yesterday, the National Hockey League unveiled the rest of its 2014-15 regular season schedule today. The Sharks will begin their campaign on October 8th in Los Angeles (thanks again for that, schedule-makers) and conclude it on April 11th, also in Los Angeles.
We usually roll out top ten games of the season lists when the schedule comes out but that's somewhat difficult to do with so much up in the air for the Sharks this offseason. For example, Dan Boyle's return to the Tank certainly belongs on that list but it's hard to predict when that will be since we still don't know who he's going to play for next season (other than that it probably won't be the Islanders). Same deal in the event of a Joe Thornton or Patrick Marleau trade. So instead, here are some highlights of the 2014-15 Sharks schedule:
Sharks will play 16 of their first 21 games on the road
After opening the season in Los Angeles on October 8th, the Sharks will return home to host the Jets on the 11th before heading out on a five-game East Coast road trip. It's one of three road trips on the schedule that last five or more games, the second of which begins just two weeks after the first ends. The Sharks will make up for the home games they won't play to start the season in part with a seven-game homestand in January and February.
The outdoor game will probably be February 21st against the Kings
The Sharks are one of the very few teams still in the running for a Stadium Series game next season but since nothing has been confirmed, none of their games are marked as such on the schedule. It doesn't take a lot of detective work to guess that the February 21st home game against the Los Angeles Kings is the most likely candidate to be played at Levi's Stadium or AT&T Park instead of SAP Center. It's the Sharks' only weekend home game against the Kings (heavily rumored to be their outdoor opponent) in 2015 and it's scheduled to be broadcast on Hockey Night In Canada, a rarity for indoor games not involving Canadian teams. Granted, the league's deal with Sportsnet expands their Saturday-night hockey coverage so games like Sharks vs. Rangers on January 10th are also part of the HNIC package. Nothing is set in stone but, to be safe, don't make other plans on the 21st of February.
Mid-November through December is when the Sharks will (should?) make their hay
From November 16th through December 20th, the Sharks will play 11 of 15 games at home, with those 15 games including three contests against the Edmonton Oilers and two against the Calgary Flames in addition to games against Buffalo, Florida, Carolina, Nashville, Philadelphia and Arizona. It might be the softest patch of the Sharks' entire 2014-15 schedule and it's one they'll likely have to capitalize on after a brutal stretch of travel to start the year. Of course, the Sharks' tendency to play down to their level of competition makes it far from a sure thing.
Annual February road trip has been pushed back to March
While the SAP Open, and the annual February-long road trip the Sharks were forced to go on because of it, is dead and gone (R.I.P.), that doesn't mean the Sharks won't have a lengthy trek through the Eastern Conference in the new year. San Jose will spend the entire second half of March away from home, with games against all three Eastern Canadian teams, both Pennsylvania clubs, Detroit and Winnipeg.
Sharks won't face the Ducks after January
In an odd scheduling quirk, the Sharks will play the last of their five games against the Anaheim Ducks on January 29th, never to face them again prior to a potential playoff matchup. If the Pacific Division comes down to the Ducks and Sharks, as it did last season, we won't be treated to a high-stakes showdown like we were this past April.