The San Jose Sharks play their last game of the month at the SAP Center against the Calgary Flames Saturday, October 19. It will be their first confrontation since realignment put them both in the Pacific Division.
Of course, these teams have seen each other three times in the Stanley Cup playoffs and routinely four more each year in the Western Conference. Familiarity remains with several players from those teams and T.J. Galiardi was a member of the Sharks for more than a season and now plays for his hometown Flames.
It will be up to them to carry the torch, so to speak. Gone are Jarome Iginla, Miikka Kiprusoff, Robyn Regehr, Cory Sarich, Dion Phaneuf and several other key rivals.
Sharks like Joe Thonton, Dan Boyle, Brad Stuart, Scott Hannan, Joe Pavelski, Logan Couture and Marc-Edouard Vlasic played key roles in one of the playoff contests. Patrick Marleau was part of two of them. This game will mean something to them, and that makes it mean something to the rest of the team.
Having suffered defeat because of the emotional hangover of the hit on Boyle, San Jose will be hungry. Many players may be angry given Maxim Lapierre was given just five days—only two more than Stuart did for a bad hit, not a reprehensible assault.
Add this to the huge intangible of having the best home record in the NHL in the 2013 calendar year and this would be a tough game for Calgary to win. Add the personnel advantages outlined in the photo list and this game could be Antti Niemi's first shutout of the season, 3-0.