The Sharks started their 2010-2011 in Stockholm, Sweden, exchanging "home," contests with the Columbus Blue Jackets. A week later, and they're ready to host their home opener as the Atlanta Thrashers come a'knockin'. The Sharks went 1-1 in Sweden, and answered few of the questions they had coming into the season.
The magnifying glass was on the goalie situation, a position filled with free agent signings Antti Niemi and Antero Niittymaki. Niemi started the opener and allowed two goals on thirty-two shots on goal, good for a .938 save percentage in the Sharks 3-2 victory. Niittymaki started the second, and allowed three goals on twenty-five shots with a .880 save percentage, as the Sharks fell to the Blue Jackets to the tune of 3-2.
None of the goals looked particular detrimental for the Sharks 2010-2011 season, but neither were the saves all-that spectacular. They were both far from shutout, but they were both far from hopeless, to go along with that.
There's a bit of unrest coming out of San Jose right now in regards to the long layoff in between games. When the schedule came out, it was worth noting that a week off was probably a good thing for the Sharks after the flights to and from Sweden. Now that the teams are back and practicing, they're uneasy and restless. Much like Sharks fans themselves, it seems.
Niemi will be in net for the Sharks at home, his first time in a non-hostile environment, but it wasn't so long ago that he made two starts in San Jose en route to a Chicago Blackhawks playoff sweep of the team to end the Sharks 2009-2010 campaign. He'l be in charge of holding down the fort for a Sharks team that had the third-best home record in the NHL last year. He's made one start against the Thrashers in his career, a 5-4 shootout victory last season.
New Sharks team captain Joe Thornton generally plays the Thrashers well and has two goals over two games in his 2010-2011 campaign.
The Thrashers have never beaten the Sharks in San Jose in five meetings at the HP Pavilion. In their last meeting, the Sharks came away with a 4-3 win and have won five straight games against the team, and will look to make it six.