Opening day in the NHL is finally here! The last game of the day will feature a pair of playoff contenders in the Pacific division, the Anaheim Ducks and San Jose Sharks. The Ducks enter the season already hobbled by injuries. Corey Perry joins Patrick Eaves and Ryan Kesler on injured reserve and is expected to miss up to five months. Ondrej Kase was a prime candidate to receive extended playing time in Perry’s absence, but he suffered a concussion during preseason action. His absence will make the already thin secondary scoring even thinner for the Ducks.
Things are looking a lot brighter in San Jose. Already considered a playoff team by most, they pulled one of the biggest blockbusters in recent memory to acquire All-Star defenseman Erik Karlsson from the Ottawa Senators, establishing themselves among the top Stanley Cup contenders this season. Karlsson will join Brent Burns to form arguably the best blueline duo in the NHL. Most people are aware of their offensive prowess (both scored over 60 points), but it’s easy to forget that they’re also among the elite away from the puck.
Here’s a look at how both teams fared last season at even-strength in a number of key areas.