Much like last year, the San Jose Sharks begin their season against the Los Angeles Kings at the Staples Center tomorrow night. The Sharks, as it turns out, played perhaps their best game of the entire 2014-15 season in shutting out the Kings 4-0 on their banner raising night.
The story surrounding the season opener was all too familiar for Sharks fans. San Jose was coming off an excruciating first round playoff series loss against Los Angeles, where the Sharks blew a three games to nothing lead.
After an offseason of Doug Wilson going nuts followed by the John Scott signing, I thought the Sharks didn’t have a chance in this game. The Kings were playing with emotion and raising their second Stanley Cup championship banner in three seasons. That along with them being the top possession team in the NHL the prior season (and in 2014-15) had me convinced the Sharks would lose.
What I forgot to factor in was the Sharks were playing with emotion of their own. They didn’t forget what Sharks fans had forgotten years ago. That feeling of vengeance allowed for every bounce to go the Sharks’ way as they dominated the Kings.
Antti Niemi showed potential as the Sharks’ future franchise goaltender by shutting out the defending Stanley Cup champions while Jonathan Quick was pulled. This wouldn’t have happened without Marc-Edouard Vlasic being himself and not injured. Also, fans weren’t accustomed to seeing Tommy Wingels score a Torrey Mitchell-like breakaway goal. This was the best I had seen the Sharks play in a long time.
Not only that, Mirco Mueller looked like an NHL player and the Sharks held a 3-0 lead and won. Despite what happened the rest of the season, this team must’ve felt some sort of accomplishment in starting the season on a high note and avenging some of their previous shortcomings.
But now this team looks ahead to a familiar situation, opening on the road against a good Kings team. Lets hope this game isn’t the high point of the season, and simply is the start of something special. Fans don’t want to see the Sharks throw another season away, especially as Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau’s days in teal continue to dwindle.
But I, like other fans, feel better about this offseason. Adding a top-four defenseman, forward depth and a starting goalie will help any team.
As for now, we will have to wait and see where the magical journey of 2015-16 takes us. A win on Wednesday night would make for a great start.