Across the SB Nation NHL network this week, NBC Sports is sponsoring a series about playoff hockey and superstition. Here's our contribution, which also serves as our Friday night playoff open thread:
I'm not superstitious. At least not consciously, and at least not when it comes to the Sharks. I'm not necessarily knocking it and literally every professional athlete I've ever talked to seems to have some sort of pre-game ritual or quirk that they honestly believe helps ensure success.
Anyway, that doesn't mean that I've never been superstitious. As a kid, I wore a hopelessly worn-out green t-shirt with the number 12 emblazoned on the back to the first Sharks playoff game I ever had the chance to attend. I have no idea why I wasn't donning Sharks gear but it was April 2004 and San Jose took a 2-0 series lead over the St. Louis Blues on the back of a hat trick from Patrick Marleau, who had switched from No. 14 to No. 12 just a few seasons before. Clearly, it was a sign and from that day forward, I never failed to wear that shirt on Sharks playoff gamedays, for whatever reason never assuaged by their eventual losses to Calgary and Edmonton and Detroit in the years to come.
I have no idea what happened to that shirt. It certainly wouldn't fit me today but if I could somehow find it, maybe it would be worth straining to put on for the entirety of the Sharks' upcoming second-round series. With the Blackhawks' win over Minnesota last night, San Jose will have to travel to either Chicago, Los Angeles or St. Louis, all extremely formidable opponents who are easily capable of winning the 2013 Stanley Cup. The Sharks will need all the luck they can get but after the way in which they vanquished Vancouver, maybe the hockey gods are finally on their side this spring.
Regardless, we could know the identity of the Sharks' next opponent as soon as tonight. If Anaheim and Los Angeles both win their games, we'll have a triple-California second round in which the Ducks and Kings do battle and the Sharks face the Blackhawks. Feel free to chat about the games (Ducks/Wings begins at 5PM on CNBC, Kings/Blues at 7 on the NBC Sports Network) or about your own hockey superstitions in the comments.