The San Jose Sharks kicked off their 2022-23 season in an underwhelming fashion as they dropped back-to-back games to the Nashville Predators. Both games took place in Prague as a part of the NHL Global Series. Tomas Hertl, native of Prague, was able to net himself the Sharks’ first goal of the season in front of many of his friends, family, and Czech hockey fans.
However, aside from Hertl scoring in front of his hometown crowd, there were not many positives to be drawn from the Sharks’ first two games of the season.
James Reimer got the start in net in the opening game of the NHL season where he stopped 28-31 shots from the Nashville Predators. In spite of decent performance from the veteran netminder, the Sharks’ offense was not able to keep up with that of the Predators’ as they managed only one goal on 31 shots. Goals from Sherwood, Tolvanen, Niederreiter, and Duchene allowed Nashville to defeat San Jose rather comfortably with the final score being 4-1. Late in the third period, down 3-1, it looked like the Sharks had already thrown in the towel. They had no urgency in their game, no drive to get back in it. The Sharks’ offensive struggles and general lack of intensity late in the game against Nashville is definitely something that will have to be addressed by head coach David Quinn and the rest of his staff.
The following night, the Sharks once again laid down their sticks to the Nashville Predators by a score of 3-2. Goals from Luke Kunin and captain Logan Couture were not enough to propel San Jose past Nashville. Kaapo Kahkonen had the start in this tilt where he was able to save 15 of Nashville’s 18 shots. Kahkonen’s lackluster start to the season does not bode well for San Jose, as he and James Reimer will be expected to steal some games for the Sharks if they have any chance of being competitive this season.
Rookies William Eklund and Thomas Bordeleau were both assigned to San Jose’s AHL affiliate the San Jose Barracuda. These young offensive talents will look to continue to grow and develop their game at the AHL level. However, if the Sharks offensive struggles continue, these rookies could be brought up and relied upon sooner rather than later. Both have huge upsides and some brief experience playing at the NHL level. Bordeleau tallied five assists in eight NHL games last season and Eklund recorded four assists in nine games.
San Jose looks to right the ship tomorrow night as they are set to open their season at home against the Carolina Hurricanes. Although, it will be no easy task as Carolina went 54-20-8 last season and reached the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs where they lost to the New York Rangers. Carolina’s core players have been together for some time now and they have only improved over the offseason adding long time Sharks’ defenseman Brent Burns as well as bonafide goal scorer Max Pacioretty. Pacioretty will be out for six weeks to begin the season with a torn achilles, but Brent Burns is set to play in his return to San Jose. Matching up against a stacked Hurricanes squad will be difficult for the struggling Sharks. If they want to have a shot at opening their season at home with a win, they will have to bring a different mentality and gameplan from what they had in Prague.