Historically, very few teams have started off a National Hockey League season as successfully as the 2013 San Jose Sharks.
And the home team hopes to extend that success tonight at HP Pavilion in San Jose when the Anaheim Ducks come calling.
The Sharks (5-0-0, 10 points) lead the Pacific Division, and the Ducks (3-1-0, six points) are not that far behind. But these two teams -- much like the rivalry between the Vancouver Canucks and San Jose, only juicier -- don't like each other much, so the Sharks would love to get an early edge on their division rivals.
And what a division it is!
The Pacific also houses the defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings (2-2-1, five points) and the always-tough Dallas Stars (2-3-1, five points).
Not to mention the defending division champs, the Phoenix Coyotes (2-4-0, four points), too, currently in last place.
Thus, it's easy to see why the Sharks need every point they can get this season, even with this amazing start: according to the Associated Press, San Jose is only the third team in NHL history to win its first five games by at least two goals each.
But if the Sharks lose tonight, suddenly they have only a very slim lead in the division.
To beat the Ducks, San Jose would be well served to get some power-play chances. Anaheim is struggling on the penalty kill, snuffing out only 63.2% of opportunities this year in their four games.
Meanwhile, the Sharks are on fire when a man up, converting 37.5% of their special teams chances. Considering the Ducks take almost 13 penalty minutes per game this year, San Jose should have some good looks at the net tonight in HP Pavilion.
As a result of their poor penalty kill, Anaheim is giving up 3.5 goals per game right now. The Sharks will need to take advantage of that weakness to win tonight, and San Jose has no trouble scoring, of course.
Linemates Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton are tied for the league lead in scoring, with 13 points apiece. Joe Pavelski is fourth with ten points, and Logan Couture is ninth with eight points.
Marleau leads the league in goals scored (nine), while Thornton leads in assists (ten).