This season hasn't been too up or down, really. There was a bad losing stretch on the Tennis Road Trip; there was a nice win-streak when Marty Havlat first joined the line-up. In fact, after 81 games, the Sharks have a regular season record of 33-33-15. They are dead even! This final game of the season will determine whether the Sharks end the season with a winning, losing, or even record!
I've had to remind myself the past week or so that this is how I wanted it. After watching the Sharks coasting into the playoffs with a strong team, only to have weak starts to the post-season, I welcomed the opportunity to enter the playoffs, riding a hot streak. I was going to be happy to be the underdog--to have a lesser burden of expectation. Only, I had forgotten what it looks like to be the underdog. It looks kinda like the other team is going to win. The Sharks are very likely be playing a team that they have not been able to beat this year, either the Canucks or the Blues. The Sharks, this year, are 0-3-1 against the Canucks and 0-4-0 against the Blues.
Normally, this is where it is said that regular season match-ups don't matter, once the playoffs start, but, the last two years, the Sharks have been eliminated in the Semi-Finals by teams against whom they had gone 1-3-0 and 0-3-1 (Blackhawks and Canucks, respectively, both from memory). Lop-sided regular season records such as those give me pause.
But this year, I don't care. This is what I wanted. A tight race to the finish. Something we can ride into the playoffs. I really am not concerning myself about what the records say, because they're depressing. Also, because this team is just now coming together; I can tell myself that this is not the same team that lost all those games earlier in the year. They're hitting people. They're fighting. The deadline-acquired players are looking more and more at home. Most importantly: they're winning games and, from here on out, that's pretty much all I ask of them. Go, Sharks!