I've been thinking about this long and hard, and in the light of the flipping out of the fanbase after Coyote Ugly 2.0 and the team meeting yesterday, I feel now seems like a good time to let this out. It's an observation I've noticed over the season from the fans, and it intrigues me a bit to see how everyone was reacting at the start of the season compared to now.
When this season started, the general consensus of both the Sharks and their fans was that what mattered was not the regular season, but the playoffs - everything they'd do in the first 82 games wouldn't matter one whit if the team screwed up in the second round again. Even as the Sharks shot off intro the stratosphere and became a Presidents' Trophy contender, Sharks fans on any medium you could say were saying, "Yeah, but the real test will be in the playoffs." Supposedly no matter how well they played in the regular season, it was generally accepted that the playoffs have always been a different animal (especially for the Sharks) and that we shouldn't be taking the results then as any indication of how they would do in the second season. A cautious tack to take, but a reasonable one as well.
Now, the team is suffering through their worst stretch of hockey this season, and all of a sudden every Sharks fan with access to a forum or a commenting system is going "How can they play like this? They'll never succeed in the playoffs when they play like this in the postseason!" And all I can think of when I read every one of these posts saying this is, what happened to "the regular season doesn't matter"? Now I'm not denying this team has been stinking up a lot of joints lately, but what I thought everyone in the fanbase agreed that the regular season had no bearing on postseason success - but that was back when the Sharks were giving the beatdowns, not receiving them. Now that the team has been showing they're human, fans are acting like every game is a damn crystal ball into how these guys will play into April and May (because obviously these games indicate they won't make it to June ;)
Really, it's absolutely bizarre to me how quickly Sharks fans have dumped the "the playoffs are the only thing that matters" mantra as soon as the team's play inevitably went south (I say inevitably because even the best of the best have rough patches - see the Red Wings' brutal February last year). I can't possibly be the only one who noticed this shift, right?