The San Jose Sharks open their 2013 preseason schedule with a visit to the Vancouver Canucks Monday, Sept. 16. One of the newest members of the Pacific Division will start 2013-14 against the team that ended their 2013 Stanley Cup dreams in a Western Conference quarterfinals sweep.
Both teams have almost identical rosters to that series but will be varying degrees of different.
The Sharks should be very close to the same team that was not quite good enough to reach its fourth Western Conference finals series in the last nine Stanley Cup playoffs. But this team was better than 90 percent of the NHL at home in 2013 and the best team in the Pacific Division after trading away Douglas Murray. Home ice for one more round would have gotten them back to the final four.
Still, it is hard to see them being better than the Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks. They still might not be better than the Los Angeles Kings. They are not the favorite or even the top contender, but the dark horse.
They also will eventually have either Martin Havlat back or another scoring-line winger to replace him. But then they are also likely to have one forward out when that happens, so by and large this team is expecting more out of the same group.
The Canucks did not make major roster changes, either. However, they brought in the tough, abrasive John Tortorella to get this team that was one win away from a Stanley Cup to end the underachieving they have been doing since (1-8 in postseason).
They are almost certain to get more out of the same group. Expect them to be a grittier, more physical team. Watch for growing pains as they adjust, but also to end the season as another dark horse candidate in the Western Conference.
The list of major things to watch for the Pacific Division rival San Jose Sharks can be reduced to five.