Because of the realignment, this will be an annual affair now. Under the old schedules, the Sharks did not even play the Rangers since Halloween night of 2012. That 5-2 loss in the middle of the first of three 15-game runs that got San Jose to the Stanley Cup playoffs was followed by captain Joe Thornton saying New York was "the softest team we've played."
Then-New York coach John Tortorella called him out in response, especially for his lack of championship acumen. At the time, the acerbic Stanley Cup winner in 2004 with the Tampa Bay Lightning was building a team that would fizzle out after being the second-last team eliminated from the 2012 playoffs. The Sharks looked like a team that already had fizzled out by that same time.
This contest will feature a different but familiar opposing coach. The Rangers and Vancouver Canucks traded coaches when each was dismissed following first-round exits. Alain Vigneault has only coached two games since the Sharks swept him out of the playoffs in May.
Two games into each team's season, San Jose looks like a much stronger team. While both games were at home, they were convincing wins over good teams—including one that soundly beat the Rangers to open the season.
However, the only way to examine teams this early in the season is to look at personnel. The photos show how each unit on each team compares.