Game two of the season for the San Jose Sharks and there are already some questions. The team’s depth was tested in the first game of the season and it came up lacking. The Sharks (0-1-0) lost to the Vegas Golden Knights (1-0-0) by a score of 4-1 in the season opener.
Tonight, the Golden Knights pay a visit to the Shark Tank and Sharks’ fans are hoping that there’s a little home ice advantage.
These two teams obviously don’t like each other. That was very apparent in the final preseason game of the 2019-20 season game when Evander Kane got into it with a bunch of the Golden Knights players. Amazingly, it was what Kane did to a referee that earned him a three-game suspension.
The first regular season game between the teams was a little tamer, but there were still big hits on both sides. The NHL was spot on in bringing this rivalry to a head early and I expect to see more of the physical play tonight.
Since it’s early in the season, there’s not much to look at that we haven’t already in our season previews, so I’ll get to the key questions of the day.
Will Erik Karlsson be in the line up?
EK65 missed game one because of a “personal matter.” It left fans in a frenzy, wondering if the defenseman, his family and his health were okay.
Turns out, it was a happy kind of personal matter.
View this post on Instagram
To my beautiful wife for doing everything in her power to bring our beautiful little baby girl in to this world, never have I met a more determined or stronger person than you. It hasn’t been easy but after the rain finally our little rainbow arrived. Love you both more than I could ever imagine.
The Sharks’ defenseman and his wife welcomed a beautiful baby girl into the world, their first child. As you can see, father and mother are thrilled.
Karlsson is expected to play in tonight’s game. After a night with the newest addition to his family, he was on the ice for this morning’s skate.
Erik Karlsson is here and will take part in the morning skate— Kevin Kurz (@KKurzNHL) October 4, 2019
What to do with that bottom pairing defense?
Karlsson will be a big difference in tonight’s game. It will certainly give the Sharks more options on defense and add in a guy who can eat up some minutes. However, it’s hard to believe that in game two of the season, Head Coach Pete DeBoer really wants to have Brent Burns and Karlsson logging heavy minutes. It’s just bad management.
The minutes will need to be eaten by the bottom pairing defense and that’s shaky at best. On Wednesday, the team went with Tim Heed, Dalton Prout and rookie Mario Ferraro who filled the slot presumably opened up by Karlsson’s absence. None of them proved reliable and set themselves apart. We’ll see if it’s different tonight.
Jacob Middleton was called up this morning and Prout was placed in injured reserve. I’m taking a flying guess here, but Heed isn't DeBoer’s favorite defenseman. I’d guess DeBoer chooses to go with Middleton and Ferraro for the bottom defense pairing tonight and will try to shelter the kids’ minutes.
Will the Sharks’ forwards please step forward?
Wednesday night’s drubbing can’t be completely laid at the feet of the Sharks’ defense. The forward group that was so good at driving play and possessing the puck last year failed to do so in game one of the season.
Those young kids that General Manager Doug Wilson felt were ready to step forward haven’t done it just yet. They’ll be in the lineup tonight and they’ll have a chance to prove themselves once again. Meanwhile, the vets need to step it up. They know it and I expect we’ll see more from them tonight.
If there’s a silver lining, Sharks fans would do well to remember, it took a little time for Timo Meier and Kevin Labanc to find their grooves as well and the later took a few trips back to the AHL before he did.
It’s not time to hit the panic button yet.
It’s going to be a disappointing night for Sharks fans. I’m sorry.
Drop your prediction below.