Over the years, the Sharks have been no stranger to adversity, anxiety, and doubt. Some will say that "ghosts" of the past continually haunt the house that is HP Pavilion. Having been gathered from past failures, past defeats, and past mistakes, they culminate and roam the hallways of this building. And during the playoffs, they seem much more visible and proactive. The moans of a 2006 collapse against Edmonton pour out of the speakers and ricochet through the concourse, flooding it with fear. The tears from a Lone Star 2008 quadruple-overtime defeat run through the taps of its bathroom sinks. The warmth of anger and urgency from an early 2009 exit prickles the necks of each fan that walks through the entryway. The confusion of a 2010 springtime sweep sweeps its staircases on a nightly basis. These ghosts, while perhaps not seen every night, lurk and lie in waiting, poised to strike so that the moment a hint of a letdown enters HP Pavilion, they are ready.
And tonight, May 12th, 2011, these ghosts will come pouring into HP Pavilion full force, pounding at the walls, choking the air out of the rafters and seeping through the veins of every fan and player of this organization. These ghosts will especially be haunting the souls of the 17,562 people that walk into that building Thursday night, to once more drag them back into the hellish depths of despair, uncertainty, and chaos that plagues them every Spring. The odds have never been higher than they will be Thursday night. But 2011 has been a special year. This is a Sharks team that has bounced back from once-crippling adversities looked the pundits and tabloids in the eye and saying "That's for us to do, and you to write about." Thursday serves as yet another test of faith to these men, both in each other and to their fans. This two-way affair will be put to the ultimate test. A 3-0 series lead, coming down to a pivotal Game 7. Nowhere to hide. Every inch of this stadium will shriek and rattle with raw doubt, pressure, and uncertainty.
Tonight, twenty exorcists take to the ice to face these demons head-on. Tonight, Twenty exorcists fight with their faith, their will, their determination. Tonight, twenty exorcists will look at these poltergeists dead in the eye and confront their empty, sorrowful stares. Tonight, we see, at the highest odds, at the highest risks, if this team can use its faith to proper itself back from the grasps of their plaguing spirits. The Sharks will be battling with everything on the line, but so will these demons.
Tonight, we possess in our hands the greatest, perhaps the only opportunity for these Sharks to rid this building of these ghosts, to not let the past claim victims once more. Tonight, blood will be shed. Spirits will be grappled with. From the crowd, souls will scream in agony and joy. Those cries will harmonize this haunted orchestra of ice and men to create what could be the greatest worship of hockey this city has ever seen. Old spirits will be faced, with the potential to create some of the greatest spirits this city has ever seen.
Tonight, we do not doubt. We do not look back. We do not look ahead. We look at each other. We look at the ice. We look around at what we have. We live in the moment, and stay in it for sixty minutes. We do not collapse into excuses or anxiety. We charge at these gates of hell and fear and throw ourselves at them with every raw inch and fiber of endurance we have.
Tonight, demons will be slain.