9 of 12.
That's how many regular season away games the San Jose Sharks will be playing in the month of October. It's 11 of 14 if you include the final two pre-season games. For a team being forced to seek out a new identity, or any identity at all, it's not an easy start to a grueling 82-game campaign.
With, presumably, new leadership guiding the ship, the Sharks roster is going to be tasked with finding a way to win away from home early and often. Here's a look at the opponents for the month of October.
Last year the Sharks gained 48 points on the road, leaving 34 on the table for a point percentage of 58.5%. For lack of seeing into the future let's say that percentage doesn't change for October. That leaves the Sharks with 10.5 points out of 18 on the road for the starting month of the season. I'm going to round down for the lack of leadership right now and make it an even 10. Let's go with 4-3-2 as the road record for the month, not exactly a hot start for a team that had 111 points last season. Throw in a 2-1 home record for the month and we're entering November with a 6-4-2 record.
Pro-rate that record over 82 games and the Sharks finish with 95 points, which last year would have been good enough for the last wild card playoff spot, but not by much. To put it even more in perspective, the Sharks would have to go 8-4 or 7-3-2 in the first twelve games to gather points at close to the same pace as their 111 point season. That's not that far off my suggested October record, but there is nothing to suggest the Sharks will be a better road team this year than last. Is it ridiculous to shoot for the same point mark this year? I don't think so, not much has changed in San Jose. Losing Dan Boyle would have matter a few seasons ago, but not right now.
Truth is, no one knows what any teams point totals will be at the end of the season, but I do know that 95 points doesn't make me extremely comfortable in the Western Conference. The Sharks need to find this new-found identity, and do it fast. If the scale tips further south on the 6-4-2 October record it makes the rest of the season that much tougher out West. 9 of 12 on the road is significantly different than 6 of 12.
This team needs to put the Thornton/Marleau situation on the back burner when the puck drops and focus on the task at hand, and that's winning games early. The new leadership will have to figure out a way to hit the reset button after each game in October, win or lose, and really buy into a one-game-at-a-time mentality. If they can't, it could be a long season and they might just end up staring down the barrel of a snapped playoff streak.
That's all for now, thanks for reading!