Sharks talk: Predictions for 2013

Sharks talk: Predictions for 2013
January 20, 2013, 8:30 am
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Joe Pavelski and Logan Couture led the Sharks with 31 goals apiece last season. (USA TODAY IMAGES)

As the Sharks embark upon their 48-game sprint today, I thought it might be fun to make some bold predictions on the team and the NHL season in general.  After all, the unconventional nature of the schedule has left even players and coaches guessing on how all the variables will fall into place.  Should make for an interesting and entertaining journey!  

Here are those predictions... which I will be touting, for every single one which holds true!

This condensed season: One team that normally wouldn't make the playoffs will, and one team that normally should make the playoffs, won't.
It's just the nature of momentum, and a shorter schedule.  A perfect example are the Phoenix Coyotes who were 12th in the West after 48 games last year.  They would've been toast this year.  But after 82 games they finished third in the Western Conference, won the Pacific, then went on to advance to the Western Finals before losing to the Kings.  Just goes to show you how some teams could greatly benefit -or- lose out depending on their immediacy.

Joe Pavelski will score the first Sharks goal of the season on a rebound out front.
Am I saying this because he played against the best competition (Russia's KHL) during the lockout? No.  Am I suggesting this because he now sports the just-released-and-very-exclusive Easton Mako skates which are indeed light as a feather?  No.  I'm predicting this, because I had a dream about this two months ago, and I've already watched this goal happen. Seriously.    

There are going to be some rusty hockey games and players for at least a week.  
For example, look at performances by the Kings, Red Wings, and Canucks on Saturday.  Whether it is chemistry, conditioning or simply lack of timing with teammates, we are bound to see certain individuals and teams struggle in their first 2-3 games until everyone is truly feeling "right".  There's a reason teams are usually in camp for three weeks with 6-7 exhibition games.

Adam Burish, TJ Galiardi, and Tommy Wingels will be annoying to play against this year.
I'd like to think an infection of feisty, gritty, energetic play will spread through this particular trio in the coming 48 games.  Galiardi and Wingels are likely to corner the third line with Burish flanking on the fourth, but all of these players are similar in build and potential.  They have each shown the prior work ethic to finish checks, win battles in the corners, and flat out frustrate the opponent.  It would be a good collective reputation for the three players to carry, this season.

When the puck drops for the playoffs, this shortened season will be forgotten.
Let's face it, we are going to be thinking and re-thinking and over-thinking all the dynamics of this truncated schedule until the end of April.  However, a 48 game span is generally enough time to determine 16 quality teams to compete for Lord Stanley's Cup.  Once we arrive there in 98 days, the horrible lockout which lasted 113 days, will be for the history books.