Douglas Murray, Joe Pavelski, Patrick Marleau, and Dany Heatley prepare for a preseason, split-squad game against the Coyotes.
The San Jose Sharks are 1-3 on the 2010 preseason, but unless you are among the most ardent of Sharks fans, or happen to live in Canada where hockey is taken seriously, you would never know it.
Where as one could argue the NFL preseason gets more publicity than even the regular season (by virtue of the fact that local crews cover the games rather than the bland, generic national coverage), the NHL preseason is an afterthought in the American sporting scene.
For all the extent that fans claim not to care about the NFL preseason, given the disparity in coverage, they must be angry the NHL preseason exists. Almost no telecasts exist outside of Canada, and even in San Jose—a fervent hockey-only market—the games are not even available via radio broadcast. If you cannot attend in person, live web blogs are the only option for following the action.
Therefore, most Sharks fans are likely unaware that the Sharks have already taken to the ice and lost home and away to the Anaheim Ducks, lost on the road to the Phoenix Coyotes, and beaten those same desert dogs at HP Pavilion.
Neither Antero Niittymaki nor Antti Niemi has looked particularly strong in net, but then again forward and defense combinations have more closely resembled those which might be seen in Worcester than San Jose, so the overall potential of the team is difficult to gauge based on performances to date.
On Sunday, the Sharks reassigned 11 minor leaguers—10 to the AHL and one (goaltender Harri Sateri) to Finland. The cuts leave the Sharks with a roster much more representative of what fans can expect to see throughout the regular season.
The Sharks now have two exhibition games remaining against NHL competition (home and away against the Vancouver Canucks) to tweak lines and finalize pairings before heading to Europe to face Alder of Mannheim, Germany in one final tuneup for their opening series in Stockholm against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Can Nitty and Niemi replace Nabokov? Can Andreas Lilja fill the defensive void? We will soon find out.
Keep the Faith!