Well here it is. A game seven, filled with a peculiar form of detached drama and intrigue that comes hand in hand with non-Shark playoff games. Tonight has the potential to determine San Jose's season, it has the potential to be a footnote in a march to the Western Conference Finals.
It's funny how things seem to work in San Jose. Following game one the boo birds were out in full force at The Tank, your mother up in arms over the' loss, the Bay Area media having a field day preying on familiar emotions. People were pissed. Now there's a subset of the population that wants to take Detroit head on, shove a grenade right into that Winged Wheel and send it rolling back on Interstate-80. They're old, they're aging, they're tired, they're looking past the Sharks.
Love the confidence. A little concerned about the conclusion.
San Jose played some of their best hockey of the season against Colorado. It's a noble notion to have, the one that states this team is ready for any competitor. And they most certainly are-- you don't achieve first place in the Western Conference by floating through important games. The Sharks locker room will tell you there isn't a difference between either of the two teams playing tonight, state that they will both be huge forces to be reckoned with. And that locker room is unequivocally correct in that mindset-- as I mentioned yesterday, a seven game series with either team is an extremely likely possibility. No easy roads through the Western Conference.
But there some that are easier than others.
At any rate, I think it's safe to say everyone is aware of where I stand on this philosophical question. The first chapter of that novel gets written in stone around 9:00 PM tonight, and I won't be the one chiseling away. Let em' fall as they may.
Looking ahead, how huge is game one going to be? With The Eagles concert at HP Pavilion this weekend it's likely the Sharks get a Thursday-Sunday matchup with two days of rest in between. A bit of a blow considering their opponent will be coming into the series with less rest, and therefore more time for recuperation, which makes jumping right into the swing of things from the drop of the puck all the more important. Go for the jugular.
Couldn't tell you what a game one loss feels like in the locker room, but I can tell you this-- if four games felt like four months against Colorado, those two days would feel like two years. Biggest game of the series.
Until game two of course.
Whatever the future holds, it's important as a fanbase we don't let that first round victory over Colorado get to our heads. With all due respect to the, the eight teams comprising the Western Conference playoff pool this season were really a case of 1A (San Jose through Nashville) and 1B (Colorado). Colorado played above their heads all throughout 2009-2010, but it was clear throughout the series that it will be another year or two until they become legitimate contenders. The injuries didn't help. You can make the same case for Nashville, but that's a much more mature team compared to Colorado. The Avs were green, and for the most part, San Jose handled them as such. Handled them as they should.
Thursday is a whole different type of animal.
The Sharks haven't proved all too much at this point, despite overcoming some really unfortunate bounces and the adversity that comes along with that. The true test begins later in the week in front of 17,562 lunatics who, through the power of sport, all become best friends for a couple hours. Beautiful stuff really.
And lest I forget-- so nice to meet you again, Monsieur Deuxieme Ronde. It's been far too long.
Prediction: Wings win 4-3 in overtime. Goals by Datsyuk (x2), Bertuzzi, and Rafalski. The Evil Empire doesn't fall quite yet.