April 16, 2012; San Jose, CA, USA; San Jose Sharks left wing Ryane Clowe (29), defenseman Douglas Murray (3) and center Logan Couture (39) during the national anthem before game three of the 2012 Western Conference quarterfinals against the St. Louis Blues at HP Pavilion. St. Louis defeated San Jose 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Jason O. Watson-USA TODAY Sports

Season previews: San Jose Sharks

Games have started, and rosters have been set.  We are ready to go.

Most all the major sports providers have given their season previews.  ESPN and NBC Sports have written their preview pieces on our beloved San Jose Sharks.  Problem is, going to ESPN for hockey coverage is like asking for a glass of water and getting a thimble full.  And the coverage they do provide is terrible.  Deadspin did a whole series on this exact topic.  The NHL Network is good but their “expert coverage” includes EJ Hradek, who’s experience includes a whole 2 years working as a scout in the 90s.  He is the NHL’s Peter King.  He has the predictive power of postgame coverage.

As for NBC Sports, their coverage of the opening games was a joke.  For those of us on the west coast we were stuck watching most of a lousy Kings/Blackhawks game and couldn’t even access the blacked out of the better Pens/Flyers game on the NHL package channels.  With 5 minutes left in the Kings game, someone decided to flip the switch but the damage was done.  NBC Sports, your NHL coverage is officially terrible.

So leave it to the Canadians for us to get our hockey fix.  TSN’s online presence for the NHL is unparalleled, and Sportsnet and The Hockey News have also put out their preview issues in print.  Here’s a quick synopsis:

Sportsnet Magazine: 8th in the Western Conference.  Their analysis is short but sweet and focuses on the tempered expectations we all have in San Jose.  True.

The Hockey News: 7th in the Western Conference.  Not surprisingly, the world’s leading publication for NHL coverage does go a bit more in-depth.  Maybe the best angle they take: after the last lockout, Joe Thornton promptly came back after tearing up the Swiss league and won the Hart and Art Ross.

Sports Illustrated: 6th in the Western Conference.  Yes they’re not Canadian and sure their coverage was relegated to a segment within their “Scorecard” pages, but the folks at SI usually do a good job on hockey. So even though there’s no explaination we’ll post it here.

So there you have it.  Consensus is that the Sharks are playoff bound and likely 2nd or 3rd place in the Pacific Division.  Slightly different than our editors poll last week, but gives us room for some hope.  Once your dancecard for the playoffs gets punched, it’s anyone’s tournament.


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