Top five Sharks games to watch in 2018-19 season
Circle your calendars
The NHL announced its 2018-19 schedule on Thursday, and with it the Sharks' 82-game slate is officially set. San Jose will have plenty of challenges, including 14 back-to-backs (nine on the road), two four-game road trips in the span of a month, and a pair of five-game trips before the New Year.
The full schedule can be found here, but which games stand out the most? With the offseason only just getting started, here are the five most intriguing games (and five more worthy of an honorable mention) that the Sharks should circle on their calendars.
- Nov. 15 vs Toronto: Any time Patrick Marleau returns to SAP Center, you have to circle it on the calendar. This has the potential to be his second-to-last trip back to San Jose. Plus, there's potential for more beard-pulling.
- Dec. 8 at Arizona: The Coyotes took part in the offseason's biggest trade (so far) in acquiring Alex Galchenyuk, and figure to be much better than last season. Goaltender Antti Raanta's health will go a long way, as Arizona was 21-19-6 in games in which he started, and just 8-22-6 when he didn't.
- Jan. 12 vs Ottawa: Is Erik Karlsson going to make the trip for the Mikkel Boedker Revenge Game?
- Feb. 26 at Detroit: This would be San Jose's first game following the presumed trade deadline, so there's potential for a player to make their Sharks debut in this one.
- March 14 vs Florida: Will Mike Hoffman get a video tribute?
5. March 16 vs Nashville
San Jose's season-series finale with the Predators should serve as a litmus test before the postseason begins. The Sharks still play six of 10 at home after this one, including two against the Golden Knights, but a potentially retooled Predators ($12 million in salary cap space as of this writing) may be San Jose's toughest challenge down the stretch.
4. Oct. 8 at N.Y. Islanders
It's rare to see the Sharks playing in an early October matinee, but this one's all about whether or not John Tavares makes his return to Barclays Center playing with San Jose in the thick of a five-game road trip. If it's his first game against the Sharks after a failed free-agent daliance, or if Tavares isn't on either team, there's still plenty of intrigue to be had in the makeover Lou Lamoirello and Barry Trotz will ultimately supervise this summer.
3. Nov. 24 at Vegas
It was on this same date in 2017 that the Sharks played their first game against the NHL's newest franchise, officially learning that success in Sin City was no desert mirage following a 5-4 overtime loss. A game on the second night of a back-to-back, on a holiday weekend, will give us a good idea about the strength of Vegas Flu II: Electric Boogaloo compared to the predecessor.
2. Jan. 22 at Washington
In the Sharks' last game before San Jose hosts All-Star Weekend, they'll play their first game against the reigning Stanley Cup champions. Given the timing, this game should provide some insight into whether or not Capitals West can follow in the footsteps of Sharks East a year later.
1. Oct. 3 vs Anaheim
The SAP Center hosts its first meaningful hockey game in 150 days, and it's a playoff grudge match to boot. The Sharks and Ducks combined for 86 penalty minutes in San Jose's four-game sweep, so the new season should start with plenty of intensity.