Three takeaways from the Sharks’ 2-1 win over the Kings in their season opener on Wednesday night…
1 – Balanced attack
Although they only scored two goals, including one on the power play, all four of the Sharks lines were effective. The new second line of Logan Couture, Mikkel Boedker and Joonas Donskoi was San Jose’s best, and it seemed like it was only a matter of time before they generated a goal. It finally happened early in the third period, as Couture and Donskoi assisted on Burns’ game-winner. The fourth line’s performance was also encouraging, with Tommy Wingels adjusting to playing center and Matt Nieto (three shots) showing some flash after those two had to fight to keep their jobs in training camp.
Ice time was evenly distributed, too, as no forward played more than Tomas Hertl’s 17:47.
2 – Schlemko fits in seamlessly on D
After some early nervousness in their own zone, the Sharks settled down and allowed just 22 shots on Martin Jones. A shorthanded Los Angeles offense had only a few prime scoring chances, and Jones was his steady self.
The game marked the Sharks debut of defenseman David Schlemko, who skated with Brenden Dillon. In fact, that pair surprisingly had more ice time through two periods than the shutdown pair of Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Justin Braun (the latter pair finished the game with slightly more).
Coach Pete DeBoer complimented his new cog after the game.
“I thought Schlemko was fantastic was tonight,” said the coach. “That pair with Dillon and him looked really good.”
3 – The crowd is back
Not that there was any doubt that the Sharks would sell out their home opener, but the crowd on Wednesday night brought a playoff-type atmosphere with it, too. Several players commented about it after the game.
“It was a lot of energy in the building tonight, so it was a lot of fun,” Jones said.
DeBoer said: "It felt like four months ago and the playoffs were still on.”
It’s a drastic difference from the start of last season, when many in the fan base felt that the window of opportunity was closed following a playoff-free 2014-15. Empty seats routinely speckled the arena throughout the season. If the first game is any indication, the San Jose area is back in full support of the Sharks – once again a legitimate threat to win the Stanley Cup.