Sharks Gameday: Game 7

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6:00 PST
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Series
Television
CSN-CA, Versus, TSN
Radio
98.5 KFOX, Sjsharks.com
Antagonists
Winging It In Motown
Abel To Yzerman

Tonight we watch a team that is expected to fail because it has been expected to succeed.

Never mind the woebegone teams who annually occupy the dregs of the NHL standings, teams who have struggled to find even the slightest semblance of respectability over the last five years. They are unobserved by our collective eye, comfortable in their mediocrity. They are the unseen and unheard. They are the forgotten.

The San Jose Sharks receive no such luxury, nor do they deserve or expect it. The spotlight of North America is upon them now, the stage prepped and set. Two blown third period leads have given the Red Wings new life. Only last week did game seven look like a mirage, a figment of the imagination. It was a runaway thought that gradually built momentum as it led to this point. Joseph McCarthy's last stand as he warned of the terrors coming to our shores, the horrors invading our ports.

A game seven loss will define a generation. But a win will define an organization. Three losses in a row drove San Jose to this point, but three wins in a row filled up the tank and purchased the map. There is no disputing this fact. The San Jose Sharks are playing tonight not just because of their failures but also because of their successes.

And therein lies the simplicity of the situation. A shot at salvation. A night when they burst from their shackles and gave themselves the fate they deserved. A night they became synonymous with disappointment and gave themselves the fate they earned. There is no middle ground. There is no uncertainty. Tonight is it. Tonight means there is no tomorrow, there is no next year. Tonight is permanent.

It is madness. The vivid outline of the Grim Reaper tends to do that to a fanbase. For as much as we grow weary of the fatigued choker label that will relentlessly orbit our world today, there is still an open wound here. It breeds insecurity, and with that insecurity comes unrelenting optimism and unrelenting pessimism. You can go through the entirety of the Bay Area and split it down the middle, herd believers and infidels into two separate camps and watch them tear each other limb from limb as they fight in the name of conviction. Two opposing forces convinced in their ability to claim the crown of King.

Game seven is not that simple, nor is it that black and white. Game seven is the life-shattering climax of what has been mere foreplay through games one and six. Game seven is not just what is remembered in the record books. It is a record book that lives and dies right before your very eyes. Game seven breathes color and darkness, love and hate, pain and triumph into these soon dusty pages of what was and what will never be again. Game seven makes those pages come alive.

And for the briefest of moments you will experience that. You will experience something that transcends any rational thought and you will grab that flicker of light and try to explain it and you will fail. You will fail because that moment is yours and yours alone. It is infinite. And as you grow old and reflect upon your life, a life that has been blessed with precious few of these moments, that flicker of light will remind you of what it meant to be alive.

And we will live and die by the Sirens song. The sisters of Destiny, Luck, and Opportunity. Oh what cruel mistresses they will be. They will sing hymns of chaos as they send the puck an inch to the right or an inch to the left. They will make their presence known in ways we cannot fully understand. Neither locker room possesses the ability to control these creatures, to grasp their consequence or mitigate their effects. It is only the third, she of Opportunity, that one can find solace in.

I do not believe in heart, guts, gore, a will to win. I do not believe in these adjectives because they are used to explain an outcome that is dependent upon a myriad of factors. Hockey is a game that is subject to so many breaks and bounces; hockey deserves a much wider brush than the narrow bristle it will inevitably be painted with. A game such as this deserves to be played again and again until the end of time. That is why I do not believe in heart, guts, gore, a will to win.

But I believe in them tonight. Because tonight, these are the things the players must believe controls their fate.

Tonight we witness a battle that will define the wars this organization has waged throughout the course of its twenty year history. It has a road that runs from Calgary to Edmonton, from Dallas to Anaheim, from Chicago to San Jose. This road is littered with outposts that pay homage to the monuments that could have been. Ghosts populate these outposts today. But as we speak you can feel the lumber and nails slowly awakening, yearning to be used once again.

The fourth and final fury, the greatest battle of our time. Tonight is the night they show the world what they are made of.

Tonight is the night this franchise is born.

Prediction: Sharks win 2-1. Goals by Pavelski and Marleau.

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