The San Jose Sharks will have a difficult time moving on from their first regulation loss of the 2013-14 NHL season against the Boston Bruins Thursday, October 24. This has less to do with losing it in the last second of the game than the Eastern Conference road trip that pits them against the Montreal Canadiens Saturday and the Ottawa Senators Sunday.
The Pacific Division-leading Sharks arrived in Quebec hours after that heartbreaking loss and have been acclimated to the time change through two previous games during which they out-played their opponents. They are rested enough at the moment with the standard 45-hour turnaround.
San Jose (8-1-1) should thus be able to represent the Western Conference well against Montreal (6-4-0). It is the game hours west in Ottawa that will come with under 20 hours of turnaround that will be toughest. There will be almost as much hockey over that 25-hour period as sleep, and it means three games in under 70 hours.
Knowing that may affect personnel decisions for coach Todd McLellan for both games, from the starting goalie to young players he can use for one game then send on a short ride to AHL Worcester for the other. Expect to see more than one forward rotated onto the fourth line between Mike Brown, Freddie Hamilton, Matt Pelech, Bracken Kearns and John McCarthy.
Andrew Desjardins or James Sheppard may even get their first rest of the season to give the Sharks more fresh legs. Then again, neither is likely to sit if Tommy Wingels is unable to go after being hit in the head by Boston captain Zdeno Chara. While Martin Havlat has rejoined the team, he is not expected to play this weekend.
No matter what, the checking lines will play a greater role as McLellan looks to ease the burden on the top players over the two games. The photo list depicts the personnel comparisons of the healthy players and coaching staff.