I love hockey. It's something I say pretty often after watching a great Sharks' victory, but it's just as evident after a devastating loss. And I know I'm not alone.
The fact we can put so much passion into following a team, and have so much riding on the bounce of a puck is beautiful. The power it has is almost magical. Personally, I know I've never been more sure about spending my career covering this sport.
Wins can turn even the crappiest days a bit brighter. And the losses can hurt just about as much. And game 2 hurt. A lot. It may have hurt more than any game since the quadruple-overtime thriller in Dallas back in the 2008 playoffs. Game 2 was able to turn bright to dark in about 22 seconds. It was quite the punch to the gut.
But did a loss like that make me want to stop watching? No. Quite the opposite, in fact. After watching game 2, game 3 couldn't come soon enough. I couldn't wait for another opportunity. I would have watched another game that night, if I could. Bring on another gamble. Bring on another rush. Bring on game 3.
Projected Sharks Lineup
T.J. Galiardi - Joe Thornton - Brent Burns
Patrick Marleau - Logan Couture - Martin Havlat*
Andrew Desjardins - Joe Pavelski - Tommy Wingels
James Sheppard - Scott Gomez - Tim Kennedy
Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Justin Braun
Matt Irwin - Dan Boyle
Brad Stuart - Jason Demers*
*If we all close our eyes and wish really hard, maybe both of them will be cleared to play. If one of you doesn't believe hard enough, then just refer back to the lineup for the last game.
Projected Kings Lineup
Dustin Brown - Anze Kopitar - Justin Williams
Dwight King - Mike Richards - Jeff Carter
Dustin Penner - Brad Richardson - Trevor Lewis
Jordan Nolan - Colin Fraser - Tyler Toffoli
Robyn Regehr - Drew Doughty
Rob Scuderi - Slava Voynov
Jake Muzzin - Alec Martinez
With Adam Burish hurt for the series, and Raffi Torres suspended for the series, depth has become an issue for the Sharks. But they might be getting some reinforcements soon. According to Kevin Kurz, Martin Havlat may be very close to returning. From the sounds of things, it wouldn't be surprising to see Havlat skating in warm-ups tonight whether he'll be playing tonight or not. But let's hope he does. Bringing Marty back into the fold gives the team so many more options. And he may provide the spark the team needs to finally put them over the top against this strong Kings team.
Prediction: Sharks win 3-2. Goals by Havlat (x2) and Shepard. Meanwhile, 17,562 Sharks fans blow the fucking roof off the Tank. Go Sharks.