The NHL released regular season schedules for all 31 teams this afternoon, which includes our good teal boys, the San Jose Sharks. The Sharks open the season on October 2 on the road with the first part of a home and home series against the Vegas Golden Knights which, combined with the pre-season, amounts to three in a row against everyone’s favorite gambling roustabouts. Hosting the Knights at home on October 4 is therefore San Jose’s home opener, before they head right back out onto the road for a three-game road trip.
Interestingly, after a home game against the Knights on December 22, the Sharks are not scheduled to meet them again until the postseason, so if this season shakes out similarly to last season (not likely), there will be precious few opportunities for either club to make up ground against each other.
At first glance, the schedule looks rough, as the Sharks have 12 back-to-back games, seven of which require travel in between, but only a few of those are long trips. Discounting quick trips from, say, St. Louis to St. Paul, or Tampa Bay to Sunrise, there are three back-to-back sets that jump out as particularly tricky:
On October 24 and 25 the Sharks play the Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs on the road. While that’s a pretty short trip, the Leafs are expected to remain Cup competitors, and playing them on the second of two nights in a row after a flight could be tough.
On January 4 and 5 the Sharks play road games visiting the Columbus Blue Jackets and Washington Capitals in two weekend afternoon games. After the expected losses of Matt Duchene, Artemi Panarin, Sergei Bobrovsky and Ryan Dzingel, the Blue Jackets could be a shell of their former selves, but teams losing star players have surprised us before (I see you, New York Islanders) and afternoon games are tricky for any team, especially while traveling.
On February 14 and 15 the Sharks travel between games against the Winnipeg Jets and Minnesota Wild. Again, not a huge trip, but players are people, too, and traveling over Valentine’s day with just 22 hours between puck drops could, shall we say, preclude restful sleep patterns?
Long home stands
The Sharks will check in at home a lot between road games this season, as their longest trip is just five games, and early in the season, from October 22 through 29. Alternately, there are plenty of lengthy home stands for live hockey addicts, including a seven-game home stand from December 12 through 28 and two six-game stands. For the highest density of home games, look no further than November, where the Sharks play nine of 11 within the comfortable confines of our SAP Center.
While November and March have the most games at 15, the most crowded are probably December and January, owing to Christmas break, and All-Star break/bye week, respectively. Both months feature stretches of five games in eight nights, three of which are on the road.
As far as making ground in the Pacific, there are two notable streaks against intra-division opponents. From January 18 through February 10, the Sharks play six of seven against Pacific division opponents, hosting the Tampa Bay Lightning right in the middle of the stretch. Also, in a pattern that the NHL seems to have settled on, the Sharks close the season with six of seven games against Pacific opponents from March 23 through April 4. If the standings look anything like last season at that point, the stretch of Calgary Flames, Vancouver Canucks, Edmonton Oilers, Arizona Coyotes, Los Angeles Kings, Dallas Stars, and Anaheim Ducks to finish the regular season could provide the Sharks with some runway to gain momentum heading into the ‘yoffs.
Mark your calendars
There are a few notable games on the schedule that look interesting already, before we’ve even seen what free agency brings come July 1.
October 4 vs. Vegas Golden Knights: The Sharks’ home opener against what has become one of their biggest rivals is sure to draw a crowd. San Jose will have to be very careful not to draw the attention of the officials, as we’ve learned that any penalty longer than two minutes is actually impossible not to score on.
October 15 vs. Carolina Hurricanes: Will this be the last time Patrick Marleau plays in San Jose? It seems likely that Carolina buys Marleau out before the season starts so that he can come home in some capacity, but if he stays, his last visit in a hockey jersey would be appointment viewing.
October 27 @ Ottawa Senators: Fresh off of a shiny new eight year, $92 million contract, Erik Karlsson visits what was once home in the capital of America’s hat. Ottawa fans have long been supportive of Karlsson, and he will almost definitely be welcomed warmly back into the arms of the faithful.
December 21 vs. St. Louis Blues: The Stanley Cup champions will visit San Jose for a one night rematch of the Western Conference Final just before Christmas. The Sharks would do well to gear up for this game, by which I mean wear full suits of body armor.
Here’s the full schedule, and here it is in all its printable glory:
And here it is in a handy dandy table:
San Jose Sharks 2019-20 Schedule
|DAY||DATE||OPPONENT||PUCK DROP (PT)|
|DAY||DATE||OPPONENT||PUCK DROP (PT)|