SAN JOSE -- The Sharks will host the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday in their first 1 p.m. game at HP Pavilion in nearly four years, and players' thoughts on the unusual start time are varied.
But even though an early afternoon game might mess with the players' routine, for Doug Bentz, the Sharks' director of marketing and digital media, it's something fans have requested for years.
"We hear from season ticket-holders that have young families that the games at 7:30 p.m. are sometimes a challenge," Bentz said Friday. "Afternoon games really give them a chance to come out during the day. You do see much more of a family atmosphere with the 1 p.m. games."
Saturday's tilt is the first of four Saturday 1 p.m. home games for the Sharks in this abbreviated 48-game season. The others are Feb. 9 vs. Phoenix, March 9 vs. St. Louis and April 7 vs. Dallas.
The Sharks play Vancouver on Sunday at 5 p.m., a more typical weekend start time. As of Friday afternoon, Bentz said both weekend games were close to selling out.
"It really satisfies the needs of a broader audience," Bentz said of the afternoon games. "The fans definitely appreciate those earlier starts."
The players' usual game day routine for games that start at 7 or 7:30 p.m. include morning skates, team meetings, a team meal for road games and a pregame nap. For early afternoon games, though, the process is simplified.
"Guys have different feelings on those. Personally, I enjoy them," Sharks forward Ryane Clowe said. "I like to get up, get some breakfast, get to the rink and play a game."
The last time the Sharks played a 1 p.m. game at home was March 21, 2009, when they beat Dallas 5-2. Forward Joe Pavelski had four points in that game as he, Brad Lukowich and Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle were each a plus-4.
"Some guys like it. I'm not one of those guys. I actually don't like afternoon games," Boyle said. "It's different. We have a 1 p.m. game and a 5 p.m. game. You have to find a way to get ready, but I'm not a fan."
Bentz said the Sharks, in the past, have requested at least two 1 p.m. games per season from the NHL. But the league cannot always accommodate because of television, building availability and the schedules of the visiting teams. It worked out for Saturday mainly because Colorado played at home Thursday and did not have a Friday game.
Along with a public relations plus, Sharks assistant general manager Wayne Thomas said there can be a competitive advantage. The 1 p.m. games in February, March and April come right before the team goes on the road, which gives the Sharks a chance to arrive in the opposing city before the wee hours of the morning.
Saturday's 1 p.m. start also gives the Sharks more time to prepare for Sunday's game against Vancouver, which played Friday in Anaheim.
"We couldn't play an afternoon game if the other team played the night before," Thomas said. "When a team like Vancouver comes in and is going to be rested -- we play Saturday and they don't -- it gives us an extra few hours to get ready for a 5 p.m. on Sunday."
Thomas said the Sharks should almost be used to unusual start times by now, with a 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. (Mountain time) starts in Calgary and Edmonton, respectively, in their first two games. Thursday's game against Phoenix was a 7:30 p.m. start, and now they'll have games at 1 and 5 p.m.
"The important thing the night before those games is to get a good meal and try to get to bed early because you're not going to have a pregame nap," Clowe said. "But we look forward to afternoon games because I think the fans really enjoy them."
Colorado (2-1-0) at Sharks (3-0-0), 1 p.m. CSNCA