SAN JOSE -- There’s only one real negative when it comes to a long East Coast road trip so early in the season, according to Logan Couture.
“You’re not enjoying the California weather, because it’s nice right now,” Couture said.
He’s right about that, as the Sharks will fly into a damp and rainy Washington, D.C. on Monday afternoon, where they will kick off a five-game slate against Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals Tuesday at Verizon Center. The trip continues to the New York area where they will play the Islanders, Devils and Rangers this weekend, and concludes next Tuesday in Boston.
Weather aside (and the Sharks should still see some enjoyable, brisk fall climates by the time it’s over) the Sharks’ first six weeks of the season presents some real hurdles, not the least of which is how many games will be away from the friendly confines of SAP Center. When a tilt in Buffalo concludes on Nov. 19, the Sharks will have played 16 of their first 21 on the road.
The trip may very well be by design, as NHL teams often have at least some input in how their schedule unfolds. Early in the offseason, indications were that San Jose could have a drastically different club, so getting them all together on the team charter, in hotels and at dinners early would have been productive.
As it turned out there was hardly any roster turnover, and the only new guys are John Scott, Tye McGinn, and rookies Chris Tierney, Barclay Goodrow and Mirco Mueller.
Pavelski said: “We have a lot of the same faces, but guys are just excited to get out there and get playing some games. Any time the season is in front of you like that, you want to get it going.”
The 20-year-old Tierney admitted he’s happy just playing NHL games right now, wherever they are. Still, he’s still looking forward to his first multiple-city road trip and getting used to what life is like in the best hockey league in the world.
“It’s cool just to play NHL games right now. It’s new to me, and a couple of the guys here, and it will be fun to go on a road trip and get to know the guys a bit more and getting a full experience,” Tierney said.
Despite just about everyone returning from last season, there hasn’t been a shortage of distractions after some of the comments from management over the summer suggested the team needed to fix some fissures in the dressing room.
That’s already started, but should continue and even accelerate on the road. General manager Doug Wilson doesn’t seem to have a problem with the schedule.
“That, I think I like. They’re going to spend a lot of time together. I like the fact that our group started the team by spending some time together, which I give them a lot of credit for,” said Wilson, whose team got together for a trip to Lake Tahoe before training camp.
“We’ve made some pretty good steps I think, doing some things together,” Pavelski said. “Now, it’s just about really challenging each other every day to keep getting better, and that’s the main goal.”
Should they get through the next few weeks with their heads above water, the Sharks will enjoy 21 of the following 30 games at SAP Center, where they have thrived in recent seasons.
Tierney said: “It’s not necessarily a bad thing that you’re going on the road early. That means you’re going to have more home games at the end, so hopefully we can string some wins together on the road.”