Welcome to our offseason initiative — 30 teams in 30 days.
From July 16 until Aug. 14, we’ll be dedicating each day to a new team by recapping the offseason and looking ahead to 2012-13.
There will also be a series of posts looking at key stories, player profiles and burning questions regarding each squad.
Today, we move on to the San Jose Sharks.
After making it all the way to the Western Conference finals in each of their previous two campaigns, the San Jose Sharks posted their worst record since the lockout and ended up losing in the first round of the 2012 playoffs.
The Sharks have advanced to the postseason in 13 of their last 14 campaigns, but they’re still searching for their first Stanley Cup. Joe Thornton celebrated his 33rd birthday in July and Patrick Marleau will turn 33 in September.
That’s not reason enough to panic, but at the same time it is fair to say that some of the Sharks’ core players are slowly exiting their prime and if they want to take full advantage of their services, they need to act swiftly. Despite that, the Sharks decided to largely maintain the status quo this summer, with their only major change being the acquisition of Brad Stuart.
Is that enough to push the Sharks over the edge? Stick with PHT today as we examine that and other questions.
Talk about getting thrown into the fire.
Antti Niemi is expected to be the starting goalie tonight in Dallas when his Stars host Sidney Crosby, Phil Kessel, Evgeni Malkin and the rest of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Niemi has, not surprisingly, been given the assignment over Kari Lehtonen, the latter of whom struggled badly during the preseason, allowing 15 goals on 84 shots.
Not that Niemi was razor sharp himself. He allowed eight goals on 65 shots, for a save percentage of .877.
Considering the Stars have a combined $10.4 million in cap space tied up in those two veteran netminders, it’s no wonder the number-one question facing the club is whether the goaltending has indeed been fixed.
We’ll start to find out tonight.
Marc-Andre Fleury will undoubtedly be in goal for Pittsburgh, though that hasn’t been confirmed.
— Craig Anderson, the goalie the Senators decided to keep, versus Robin Lehner, the one they traded to the Sabres.
— Cam Ward will start for Carolina when the Hurricanes visit the Predators, who will obviously go with Pekka Rinne. The consensus is that Eddie Lack will eventually supplant Ward as Carolina’s starter, but that apparently hasn’t happened yet.
— Brian Elliott goes for the Blues versus Cam Talbot for the Oilers. Elliott was excellent in the preseason, stopping all but two of the 57 shots he faced, while Jake Allen allowed six goals on 60 shots.
— Steve Mason for the Flyers versus Ben Bishop for the Lightning.
— Ondrej Pavelec for Winnipeg versus Tuukka Rask for Boston.
— Devan Dubnyk likely for the Wild versus Semyon Varlamov for the Avs.
Jakub Voracek totally understands why nobody’s expecting much from the Philadelphia Flyers. When a team finishes 14 points out of the playoffs the year before, that’s typically going to be the case.
“We weren’t good enough last year, let’s face it,” Voracek told CSN Philly.
So, no, it doesn’t upset him that the Flyers aren’t considered among the Stanley Cup favorites.
That being said, “it makes you feel you want to prove them wrong.”
The Flyers get going tonight with a tough game against the Lightning in Tampa Bay. They also play Saturday in Florida against the Panthers, before a rematch with the Panthers Monday in Philadelphia.
“My biggest concern would be getting off to a good start,” GM Ron Hextall said. “That’s one thing that we need to do.”
That’s something they didn’t do last year. In fact, they won just once in their first six games. By the end of November, they were 8-12-3 and in a big hole — one that proved too deep to climb out of.
Related: Flyers to start season with seven defensemen