The San Jose Sharks are ready to go, at least most of them are. Aside from an injury here or there, the team is set to get their 2011-2012 run at the Stanley Cup underway, and they'll do so at the Shark Tank, HP Pavilion in San Jose, hosting the Phoenix Coyotes. Unfortunately, "an injury here or there" refers to starting goalies Antti Niemi and Antero Niittymaki, who are both recovering from offseason surgery.
Niemi is supposed to be ready to go soon, and the team feels good about his situation, considering the second game of the season doesn't happen until next Friday. So instead, Thomas Greiss will get the start in goal. He's a player the organization has faith in, but again, he's a far cry from Niemi, who was perhaps the main reason the Sharks had a comeback and surged into the playoffs last season. It makes sense not to rush him for this game with such a long break after the first game, though.
They'll also be without offseason acquisition Marty Havlat, who is also recovering from surgery, which he received on his shoulder in the offseason. Havlat will be replaced by Tommy Wingels on the second line for this game, and the team remains confident that he'll be back soon. But an awful lot more people will be watching Greiss than will be watching Wingels, and the pressure is certainly on.
Phoenix is healthy and looking to shatter expectations with another trip to the playoffs. Not much is expected of them and a win over the Sharks right off the bat would be great for them, not only for their own confidence, but because it would stick the Sharks with a loss to sit and stew over for a week before the next game. As such, it's important for Todd McLellan and his team to get things going early and have confidence right out of the gate. Keep an eye out for newcomer Brent Burns and what he can bring to the team early on.