Its too early to call this a make-or-break road trip for the Sharks. Thats not to say it isnt important, though. The 1-3 Sharks will face some tough competition on their 13-day, six-city tour of mostly East Coast cities, so lets take a look at what they can expect to see from their opponents as they try to get their season on track.
FridaySharks at New Jersey Devils
San Jose opens the trip with its only game against the New Jersey Devils this season, and Joe Thornton is scheduled to play in his 1,000th NHL game. Martin Brodeur is battling a shoulder injury and has not been able to practice, so veteran Johan Hedberg will likely get the start. The game also marks the return of Colin White, who spent his first 11 seasons with the Devils, and its expected that Martin Havlat will make his Sharks debut.
SaturdaySharks at Boston Bruins
The defending Stanley Cup champs have struggled out of the gate, going 2-4. In fact, like the Sharks, the Bruins have already started shuffling their top lines to generate some offense -- theyve scored just 11 goals in six games. They could be getting a major piece back by Saturday, though, as playoff hero David Krejci is recovering from a core injury.
TuesdaySharks at Nashville
San Jose will play the first of two games against Western Conference clubs when it visits the Nashville Predators. Nashville is the youngest team in the league, and is once again anchored by a strong defense corps led by Shea Weber and Ryan Suter. The Preds are also struggling to score, and in a recent 3-1 loss to Edmonton, generated just 12 shots in a game which goaltender Pekka Rinne called embarrassing.
Friday, Oct. 28Sharks at Detroit
The Red Wings, as usual, already look like one of the best teams in the Western Conference, winning their first four games. They have surrendered just five goals, and goaltenders Jimmy Howard and Ty Conklin each have a shutout. Along with their big guns of Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg and Johan Franzen, the Sharks will see another familiar face in Detroits lineup -- defenseman Ian White, who signed with Detroit in the offseason. White as been paired with Nicklas Lidstrom and has a goal and two assists. If theres one area with which the Red Wings have struggled its the power play, where they're just 1-for-19.
Saturday, Oct. 29Sharks at New York Islanders
The Sharks will conclude their road trip with two games in New York. The first, against the Islanders, could be a very compelling one as Evgeni Nabokov may get to start against his old team. Nabokov has played in one game with the Islanders, stopping 18 of 20 shots and beating the Rangers. You would have to think hell be lobbying to play in this one. As for the rest of the team, the Islanders have a good group of young forwards led by former first overall pick John Tavares, whose eight points have helped the team to win three of its first four games.
Monday, Oct. 31Sharks at New York Rangers
A visit to the self-titled Worlds Most Famous Arena pits the Sharks against the Rangers. New York was a big winner in free agency over the summer, convincing former Dallas Stars forward Brad Richards to ink a long-term deal. Richards has a goal and three assists in his first four games with the Broadway Blueshirts, but New York is just 1-1-2. Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist is still one of the best in the game, though, and led the Rangers to a 4-0 shutout of Vancouver on Tuesday night for their first victory.