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Preview/Lines #1: What Did Kahkonen Do To Separate Himself From Blackwood?

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Credit: Hockey Shots/Dean Tait

Kaapo Kahkonen just looks different, according to David Quinn.

Quinn has noticed from the first day of training camp.

“He really came into camp ready to go,” the San Jose Sharks bench boss said. “He looks more square, he looks more confident. He’s not second-guessing himself. He just looks different.”

That clear confidence, along with an outstanding pre-season, has earned Kahkonen the nod to be the team’s opening night starter, over Mackenzie Blackwood. It’s the first time in the 26-year-old’s NHL career, parts of four seasons with the Minnesota Wild and San Jose Sharks, that he’s had that honor.

“He stopped a lot of pucks in practice and in games,” Quinn said. “His work ethic was outstanding and his attitude, he just really put a lot of work in this summer.”

Kahkonen won both of his exhibition starts, stopping 50 of 52 shots. They were also the 2-2-2 Sharks’ lone pre-season victories. In contrast, Blackwood had a good camp, according to Quinn, but he finished his pre-season 0-1-1 with an .885 Save %.

Anyway, it’s time for the games that count. And Blackwood will get his shot soon.

Kahkonen has talked plenty about some of the alterations that he’s made to his game going back to last season.

“When you try to learn a new skill or learn to do something, it takes 10,000 hours to get it right,” Kahkonen quipped. He was making the point that it took some time to restructure his game – and it appears to be bearing fruit now.

“It’s maybe more on the structure side of playing goal,” he said, echoing Quinn. “Being able to move your body around, across, being more efficient, being square, being there before the shot’s taken.”

We’ll see tonight – Kahkonen’s new-found game will face a stiff test against the defending champion Vegas Golden Knights.

San Jose Sharks (0-0-0)

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Kahkonen

Vegas Golden Knights (1-0-0)

Where To Watch

Puck drop between the San Jose Sharks and Vegas Golden Knights is 7:30 PM PT at SAP Center. Watch it live on NBC Sports California. Listen to it on the Sharks Audio Network.

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