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Dan's View From Center Ice - 1/13/2013

Sunday, 01.13.2013 / 4:29 PM
By Dan Rusanowsky - Sharks Radio, Play-by-Play Broadcaster / The Daily Chomp

Welcome to the 2012-13 NHL season! It’s really great to be talking about the sport of hockey, the NHL, and the pursuit of the Stanley Cup which begins for the Sharks on Sunday, January 20th on the road in Calgary.

At this writing, the Sharks are on the ice for their very first practice with Todd McLellan, Larry Robinson, and Jim Johnson directing traffic. From the start, a high-tempo, intense series of practices are scheduled, with lots of skating, little time for rest and recovery, and a few twisty surprises thrown in.

That’s the way it’s going to be for all 30 NHL clubs, beginning this week and sprinting all the way to June, and when I say “sprinting,” I mean it. The Sharks are going to have to party like it’s 1995, the last time that a 48-game schedule was played. For those who remember it, it proved to be a topsy-turvy year with many curves of differing cambers, straightaways featuring blazing speed, and surprises for which few could possibly prepare.

One thing that is different this time around is that the biggest unknown factor will be the existence of the three-point game and how it will affect the inevitable losses of momentum that occur in any NHL season. Back in ’95, the Sharks started the season 5-1-0, and then held on for dear life to make the playoffs with a 19-25-4 record, and 42 points. With a three-point game, it could make a standings turnaround all the more difficult in a shortened season.

If one were to extrapolate the last 48 games of the most recently played season, the Sharks would have a record of 24-18-6 and 54 points. Something tells me that mailing in that number right now would produce a result that will look pretty good in the standings, but who can really tell?

As training camp began, the Sharks had 28 players in camp, and the thin area appears to be on defense for the moment. With Brent Burns and Jason Demers not taking part in the first practice because of injuries, that left 15 forwards, 11 defensemen, and 2 goaltenders participating.

There really weren’t any surprises up front on the first day:

12 Patrick Marleau – 19 Joe Thornton – 8 Joe Pavelski

29 Ryane Clowe – 39 Logan Couture – 9 Martin Havlat

21 TJ Galiardi – 26 Michal Handzus – 57 Tommy Wingels

68 Frazer McLaren – 10 Andrew Desjardins – 37 Adam Burish

43 John McCarthy – 15 James Sheppard – 38 Bracken Kearns

On defense, the 8 skaters all switched around:

3 Douglas Murray, 7 Brad Stuart, 22 Dan Boyle, 42 Matt Pelech, 44 Marc-Edouard Vlasic, 52 Matt Irwin, 54 Nick Petrecki, and 80 Matt Tennyson all shared time on the practice drills. In goal, familiar standbys were wearing their sweaters: 31 Antti Niemi and 1 Thomas Greiss.

By now, you’re undoubtedly noticing that there have been a few number changes to the roster. Add in Demers changing to #5 and Burns donning his familiar #88, and you have the full contingent of skaters who are in camp.

One of the difficult parts of the camp schedule is that the participants from Worcester are departing their team in the middle of a season. Back in the AHL, that means that coach Roy Sommer was working with an entire defensive corps that was not in place at the start of the campaign, and a few valuable forwards out of the lineup. In part, that “crisis” has provided an “opportunity” for the likes of defenseman Michael Wilson and left wing Patrick Rissmiller, two former Sharks prospects who have returned to the AHL on tryout contracts in recent days.

Regardless of the length of the regular season, the playoffs have not changed, and the goal is the same: win the Stanley Cup. The Sharks have a few decisions to make regarding their roster, and like the other clubs, won’t have a significant amount of time to accomplish it. But they should feel very good about the core of their team, which has worked together for a number of years now, and should be able to synch right up and get going.

It won’t be a “normal” season in any way. Back in ’95, the Sharks finished with a 19-25-4 record and 42 points. They were seeded seventh and faced the heavily favored Calgary Flames in the first round of the playoffs. It was the year that Ray Whitney tipped a Sergei Makarov shot past Trevor Kidd in double overtime of Game Seven into playoff legend, and with goaltender Wade Flaherty making 56 saves, San Jose wound up getting that most dramatic victory.

Of course, the ultimate result in Round Two was the “Tennis Series” against the Detroit Red Wings, and I’m not talking about a series played entirely on the road because of the SAP Open. No, this particular playoff series gains that moniker because of the scores of the games:

Six-love, six-two, six-two, six-two, all in favor of the Red Wings.

That particular year, the Wings were exacting revenge for their defeat to San Jose the previous year. Detroit advanced all the way to the Stanley Cup Final, where they were ousted by the New Jersey Devils, a team that had Martin Brodeur in goal, Jacques Lemaire behind the bench, and Larry Robinson on the coaching staff.

Hmmmm...a veteran team, with an excellent goaltender, playoff experience, great coaches, and lots of desire to win it all? That sounds like a recipe that Sharks fans can identify with as good old fashioned home cooking.

I think that we’d all mail that recipe in, if you know what I’m saying.

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 z - ANA 82 54 20 8 266 209 116
2 y - COL 82 52 22 8 250 220 112
3 x - STL 82 52 23 7 248 191 111
4 x - SJS 82 51 22 9 249 200 111
5 x - CHI 82 46 21 15 267 220 107
6 x - LAK 82 46 28 8 206 174 100
7 x - MIN 82 43 27 12 207 206 98
8 x - DAL 82 40 31 11 235 228 91
9 PHX 82 37 30 15 216 231 89
10 NSH 82 38 32 12 216 242 88
11 WPG 82 37 35 10 227 237 84
12 VAN 82 36 35 11 196 223 83
13 CGY 82 35 40 7 209 241 77
14 EDM 82 29 44 9 203 270 67

STATS

2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Pavelski 82 41 38 23 79
J. Thornton 82 11 65 20 76
P. Marleau 82 33 37 0 70
L. Couture 65 23 31 21 54
B. Burns 69 22 26 26 48
T. Wingels 77 16 22 11 38
D. Boyle 75 12 24 -8 36
J. Demers 75 5 29 14 34
T. Hertl 37 15 10 11 25
M. Nieto 66 10 14 -4 24
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
A. Stalock 12 5 2 .932 1.87
A. Niemi 39 17 7 .913 2.39
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