The Sharks will venture away to Southern California Wednesday afternoon for their initial preseason game of the year. Everyone is looking to make an impression from the vets, to the youngsters who skated in Worcester last year to a tryout veteran like Andreas Lilja.
“It’s really exciting,” said Lilja. “I don’t have too much time to get in game shape so it’s exciting to play tonight.”
While Todd McLellan is still the same person Lilja remembers from Detroit, the hockey style in San Jose requires some adjustments.
“He has a lot of things he does different,” said Lilja. “It’s similar to Detroit, but he’s got his own twist on it.”
Perennial All-Star center Joe Thornton
is as ready as anyone to drop the puck.”
“You want to get in a couple of games to get your timing back with the regular season right around the corner,” said Thornton. “You want to get the first one in just to get back into it.”
So what is the ideal amount of games to prep for the regular season?
“I don’t care,” said Thornton. “If they want me to play six, I’ll play six. If they want me to play two, I’ll play two. It really doesn’t matter to me.”Torrey Mitchell
is ready to start seeing some fresh faces instead of just a different colored practice jersey.
“I’m very excited to play,” said Mitchell. “I was hoping I would be in this game because I want to get in the full swing of things as quickly as possible. It will be fun and exciting and good to be able to hit and compete against someone not in your own organization. It will be a good test for us.”
That it’s division rival Anaheim to kick things off in the exhibition season could add fuel to the fire.
“It’s a nice little rivalry with them and I’m sure it’s not going to be any different in the first preseason game.
McLellan had previously mentioned the shortened training camp and it is time for anyone dressing tonight to start making their statements.
“I really believe so,” said McLellan about being able to tell a lot in the first game. “We’re going into a building against a rival that has already played one game. They may be a little more up to speed than some of our guys, but it will be interesting how we handle the first period and then how we handle the whole night.”
After the weekend contests, the Sharks roster could be drastically paired down.
“There are players competing for jobs and (the opportunities) are going to dry up pretty quick,” said McLellan. “Visa versa for the (regulars). They don’t get much of an opportunity to find themselves either. I want us to be competitive. There are a lot of times I’d like to see guys one more time, but we don’t have that. I told the guys last night just to remind them again, that on Sunday, unfortunately, there are going to be a lot of people that are going to have to leave San Jose and that is just the way it is. We have seven or eight more skates and we’re flying (to Europe).
It looks like Antero Niittymaki could be the man in the pipes against Anaheim.
“It’s good to start playing the games,” said Niittymaki.
Niittymaki says adjusting to the Sharks defensive system has not been difficult.
“Everybody has their system, but I’ve been around enough to see a couple of different systems,” said Niittymaki. “It’s not a whole lot different. I’m learning what the guys want to do and how they are going to do it.”
COUTURE UPDATELogan Couture
was scheduled to make the trip to Anaheim, but will take time to rest up after a hit in the Teal and White game which took place last night at HP Pavilion for season ticket holders. The odds are that Couture will be skating and “right back at it” as soon as Thursday.
The Sharks sent Matt Irwin and Joe Loprieno to Worcester of the American Hockey League.