Another disheartening loss in San Jose. By my count, the Sharks are 1-3-0 at this early point in the season. Starting goalie Antti Niemi looked pretty solid in the 5-2 loss tonight. That's how bad the Sharks' play was. The Hurricanes had been on a skid so they came to play hard and they outmatched the Sharks from the start. The first goal of the game was a short-handed goal against, leaving us all feeling like we were picking up right where we left off against the Thrashers. Sometime in the second period the Sharks got their act a bit more together. They kept giving up the odd-man rushes, but successfully got in the way of the Hurricanes' passes across. Also Marleau scored two goals to bring the Sharks within a goal of tying. That kept the game interesting for most of a period.
I like the new lines! Rather, I really like seeing Marleau/Thornton/Setoguchi back together. I still like seeing Couture getting time on the second line. McGinn/Pavelski/Mitchell aren't loooking too bad. It is, however, at this time, when Mayers is injured and McLaren is scratched, that I can't help but fantasize just a little about how monumentally super bad-ass it would be to have Owen Nolan trolling the bottom two lines for under a million dollars right now.
I also can't help but feel that we may have lost our Home Ice Advantage. We miss Nabby. He was key to our home ice advantage. He was steady, homegrown (if drafting someone from Kazakhstan makes makes them homegrown), and fans loved to cheer him. Sid feared him and he was the last goaltender Ovie had never scored on (right up until he did it twice in 24 seconds). For the first time in a while, expectations seem to be lower than the year previous and the fans are a little more hesitant. Some of them are still cheering for Nabby from the rafters. The line juggling has also cost us some familiarity. In the end it means we lost our first two home games and looked bad doing it. And a big part of what made the HP Pavilion the most vaunted arena in the league* was not just the travel or the noise-level of the fans; it was the knowledge that it is the home of the Sharks and they will beat the crap out of you and take your two points.
We'll get the Advantage back, but we (the Sharks and the fans together) will have to earn it back.
*based on a sampling of 272 players by Sports Illustrated