Four games into the season and no season preview from me as I had promised. All I can say is sorry, but I have been very busy and could not find time to get it done before the start of the season. Since it is too late to do a preview, we will call this an Octoberview. I am going to get into a few different categories based on what has happened up until now. I am not going to game breakdowns for the first 4 road games, I'll save that for my monthly review blog.
After a very bitter lose to the Detroit Redwings in last seasons playoffs, San Jose was left with a question that mostly had to do with heart. The team played a very physical first round with the Nashville Predators that saw the Sharks moving on in just 5 games. After that series the team looked as if it would be very hard to stop. It seemed that evaluation was dead on, as San Jose jumped out to a quick 2 game lead in the series against the Red Wings. Well we all know what happened after that, and for the sake of the San Jose faithful I am not going to dig that back up. Many fans wanted to see a bit of a shake up this summer. Patrick Marleau found his name in the rumor mill all summer long. Talks of San Jose making a big pitch for Sheldon Souray ran rampant. While all the rumors were being drawn the Sharks watched some key players jump ship and sign as free agents with different clubs. Scott Hannan signed with Colorado and trade deadline addition Bill Guerin signed with the Islanders. Goalie Vesa Toskala was traded along with Mark Bell on the day of the entry draft to the Toronto Maple Leafs for their 1st and 2nd round draft picks in 07' and a 4th rounder in 09'. As the summer went on it looked as if the spots were going to be filled from within. This drew wide skepticism from the San Jose fan base, who was calling for a big free agent signing. It seemed as though the fans would riot in the town square if San Jose did not sign at least one of this summers big name free agents. Well everyone knows that did not happen, the signing or the riot. San Jose did however lock up 3 key players in this line up. Joe Thornton was resigned, signing a 3 year deal worth $7.2 million per year, a huge bargain for a player of Joe's caliber. Next up was Milan Michalek, who signed a 6 year deal worth $26 million. When it seemed as though Marleau and San Jose may have parted ways, Doug Wilson got the extension done. Marleau will be a Shark for 3 more years. Defenseman Craig Rivet who was added at the trade deadline was the first to be resigned. Rivet will be in San Jose for another 4 years at $16 million. One other last minute addition was the signing of veteran Jeremy Roenick. At 500k for 1 year with no incentives, why not add a 9 time all star. These were the most significant dealings that took place during the summer.
San Jose entered training camp with a ton of young talent once again. Rookies Devin Setoguchi and Torrey Mitchell had very impressive camps, each making the opening night roster. Setoguchi however was scratched for the season opener due to injury. Goaltenders Dimitri Patzold and Thomas Greiss had to go toe to toe for the back up job. It seemed as though Greiss had won the spot, but San Jose decided to go with Patzold. I believe this was simply a move to give Griess a chance to keep playing as Nabokov will make nearly every start unless there is an injury. Patzold will not see much time between the pipes in San Jose. The Sharks also invited veteran Sandis Ozolinsh to training camp on a tryout basis. A decision on whether or not he will be signed should be made in the next few days. The defensive situation was still not settled in training camp, and looks as though San Jose may have to make another addition unless these guys show they can get it done as is.
Stanley Cup Dreams
Nearly every media source has San Jose as the favorite to win the cup this year. With the talent, speed, and size who could blame them. The feeling here in San Jose is much the same. This team is very well put together and has all the makings of a very strong contender. The players and staff want it, and so do the fans. Many have brushed the predictions aside and still think this Sharks team is lacking, mainly on the blueline. Until this team proves otherwise, the critics have the upper hand. The Sharks have seemed in the past to let one big play be the death of them in the playoffs, Stanley Cup winners can not be thrown off so easy. This team must prove it can fight through adversity and reach the next level.
Wow ! The fans. Stop me if I'm wrong but these San Jose fans want this season bad. We want a parade through the streets of downtown, and I'm not talking about a Christmas parade, but one with a big shinny thing we call Lord Stanley's Cup. If I had the time to write out some of things the fans have said on message boards around the net, you would think they were calling the shots. This is a very passionate fan base and also a very anxious fan base. They want to see this team win and win big this year, not that they do not any other year but it feels like there is a sense of urgency from the fans. I have not quite understood this though, mainly because the core of this team is locked up for a few years to come. It will be an awesome feeling walking back into the tank for a game that counts. The season opener this Saturday is going to be rowdy and the fans will be waiting for their team to take the ice in San Jose for another season, and another chance at a cup. So to all the fans, get loud and get pumped because this is going to be a season to remember. Let our boys hear it Saturday night, I know I will. Give them the energy to play a strong game for a full 60 minutes, and let it infect them. This team just needs to swim in the Tank. In front of a full house of rabid fans and all the uncertainties felt in the first 4 games will drown beneath the ice. Come one and come all and support your 2007-2008 San Jose Sharks.
Have a good weekend and enjoy the festivities of opening night at the Tank. GO SHARKS !