A 48-game schedule for the San Jose Sharks begins Sunday with a visit to the Calgary Flames.
The abbreviated NHL schedule, announced Saturday night, leaves all clubs playing only conference opponents. San Jose plays in Edmonton on Jan. 22 before beginning a six-game homestand at HP Pavilion on Jan. 24 at 7:30 p.m. by taking on the defending Pacific Division champion Phoenix Coyotes.
Coach Todd McLellan, beginning his fifth season behind the Sharks’ bench, welcomed 28 players to the first practice Sunday. The club took the ice twice, spending the second session working on the penalty kill.
The coach noted that three goals were established for the seven days of practice leading up to the start of the condensed schedule.
“Bringing everybody up to game speed, refining the system that we have and introducing the new ones,” McLellan said.
Both the coach and the team leaders emphasized that, with an experienced group of returning players, the Sharks should be ready to get into the schedule in game condition quickly.
“With seven days of camp, we have a lot to get done,” said McLellan. “The system hasn’t changed that much. I would like us to be a faster team, to be a harder team to play.”
“With a 48-game schedule, it’s important to stay focused,” defenseman Dan Boyle said. “We need to play one game at a time, don’t let it get away from us.”
San Jose has the best record in the NHL in the four years under McLellan, 195-92-41. The Sharks have made eight consecutive playoff appearances.
“We’ve all been waiting for this day,” center Joe Pavelski said of the start of camp.
Adam Burish, one the few veterans added to the roster, was more direct when questioned about the start of the new year.
“It’s the best I’ve ever felt in January,” he deadpanned.