By the end of game two, all one had to do, anywhere within 10 miles of HP Pavillion, was open your window to hear the prolonged groan of frustration.
Conduct a little survey of people who watch the games, and you’ll get a variety of perspectives as one might expect – everything from optimists to apologists, and downright bitter puckheads.
Like other games that the Sharks have lost in this playoff season, things had been going well on Sunday. But then things slip away, because of a lost skate edge, a poorly-timed hop, or a moment of indecision. Most Sharks fans are beginning to get that all-too-recognizable feeling, a pang in the gut region, a pitied reflection on past playoff runs gone awry.
I’ll do my best not to be the first to raise a fearful alarm of another second round vanishing act. The Sharks, not known before this season for really being a comebacker club, has shown some grit.
This is a team that bounced back after the all-star break, found a new stride, and rode it to a club-record points streak. This is a team that learned how to play in the third period with more ferocity than the first two. While no record is perfect, and no line unblemished, Team Teal has come a long ways from the beginning of this campaign and the seasons prior.
I really hope they win game three. Dallasis a difficult team that can make you pay for any and all mistakes – even slight ones – and steal games despite large SOG differentials and spotty play in the neutral zone.
Team Teal has a tough road ahead. But they do like the ice in Dallas, and if they can rattle Turco, they can roll the whole team with some consistent play.
If they don’t win, well, they can’t be counted out. There’s still game four. But this is a club that isn’t known for its mental toughness.
Win or lose tonight, the Sharks only have so many chances to prove to the fans that they have the fortitude and tenacity to fight for every minute of play. Even if they don’t escape the clutches of defeat, they have an opportunity to show the world that they have entered a new stage in San Jose hockey history.
This team needs to play like a team that wants to look back with pride on its playoff history, win or lose – but hopefully with a lot more wins.
Otherwise, there won’t be many apologists left.