Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Sharks Gameday: Who says preseason doesn't count?

San Jose Sharks (0-0) @ Los Angeles Kings (1-1), No TV

As a disclaimer, It's unlikely I'll be able to get up a gameday post for every Sharks game this season (What do you think this is? Battle of California?), but when I have time on my hands or a particularly marquee matchup is upcoming, I'll try to post one.

I neither have much time nor does an exhibition game against the Kings constitute a marquee matchup, but seeing as this game will mark the first time our beloved Los Tiburones take to the ice in NHL competition in four-and-a-half months, it's probably worth noting.

But what's even more notable is the general stigma that pre-season is meaningless, a sham, an artificial construct to drive up revenues. While that may be true in that pre-season success doesn't necessarily translate to regular-season victories and players who tear it up in September don't always go on to have big years, where the pre-season is very relevant lies in the determining of roster spots.

One could argue that Marc-Edouard Vlasic would not have made the Sharks had it not been for an outstanding preseason. Vlasic impressed the Sharks brass enough during exhibition season to claim a roster spot, and was consistently the Sharks' most reliable defenseman for the rest of the year. Many other of my training camp queries will likely be answered as the pre-season rolls on. A Mercury News article earlier this week featured a Ron Wilson quote that implied Evgeni Nabokov would start 3-4 preseason games, with the remainder to be divvied up between Dmitri Patzold and Thomas Greiss.

So while the Stanley Cup isn't won in September, the pre-season is extremely significant to depth players jostling for roster spots and with the Sharks still uncertain on who will claim both their sixth and seventh defense slots on the depth chart as well as their backup goaltender, exhibition games this year will definitely be worth paying attention to. But above all, hockey's back, which in and of itself is a reason to celebrate.

1 comment:

Earl Sleek said...

Good points about preseason--it certainly matters to some individuals, and can cement some things into place before the regular season gets underway.

I remember last year the key things the Ducks achieved in preseason were (a) cementing the Pahlsson-Niedermayer-Moen stopper line, and (b) demonstrating how the Niedermayer-and-Pronger minutes would work.

Didn't seem too crucial at the time, but 16 games later with zero regulation losses, you gotta say that the preseason did matter, despite an overall feeling of meaninglessness.