The San Jose Sharks host their second Eastern Conference team Saturday, October 12. The Ottawa Senators come to town for their first visit in almost 21 months, but there will several familiar faces on their bench nonetheless.
Former Shark Milan Michalek is still with the team, as is long-time Pacific Division rival forward Bobby Ryan. Craig Anderson was a force in net for the Colorado Avalanche through five games against San Jose in the first round of the 2010 Stanley Cup playoffs.
Ironically, the next meeting between these teams will be in Canada's capital near the end of the month. It is thus quite possible they will not see each other again until the 2015 calendar year.
Nevertheless, realignment has allowed San Jose fans to see not only a former fan favorite, but great players like Erik Karlsson and Jason Spezza twice a year and once in person. Even though the Sharks now must travel more than any other team in the league during the 2013-14 NHL season, the difference in travel means Eastern Conference teams now have less of an advantage over Western Conference teams—i.e. Ottawa might not travel as much, but the margin between the teams is narrower.
Right now, they are on the fourth game of their road trip to start the season and have a solid four points. The Sharks are still perfect on the season, scoring a minimum of four goals each game and giving up no more than two. Two wins over Eastern Conference teams would help to establish Western Conference supremacy so far in the 2013-14 NHL season. However, early-season returns are too small to put faith in over their personnel when examining how two teams match up.