It's OK, Ron...I know just how you feel.
After watching the San Jose Sharks tear through the end of their regular season schedule, picking up at least one point in 20 straight games, Thursday night's debacle against the Los Angeles Kings left me scratching my head and rolling my eyes.
At a time when the NHL's top teams are refining their games in preparation for the playoffs, the Sharks have looked razor sharp and ready to take on all-comers for weeks. But after last night's lackluster effort that looked VERY MUCH like the first half of the season, I can't help but wonder...did the Sharks peak too soon?
You know the feeling. Every sports fan does. The feeling that this just might be the year that their team wins it all. Early in the season, after the first few wins, there's always talk that this is the year! This has got to be the year!
Well, Sharks fans have been feeling that way since the team's inception. And team Teal has come close a few times, only to have it all fall apart when it counts the most. It's an Oscar-worthy sob story, really.
But this season has been different for the Sharks. Fans have watched two rookies in Devin Setoguchi and Torrey Mitchell shine, while veteran players and top goal producers struggled...and struggled...and struggled.
Then, with the addition of Brian Campbell, everything seemed to completely turn around.
Captain Patrick Marleau and Rocket Richard winner Jonathan Cheechoo came alive and remembered how to score.
The Rissmiller-Mitchell-Grier line started to click.
Evgeni Nabokov remained solid and had less work to do thanks to strong defensive play from Craig Rivet and Christian Ehrhoff.
Secondary scoring gave the Sharks a huge boost.
Everyone looked excited to play. They were playing their game...and more importantly, they were making other teams play their game.
Since acquiring Campbell during the mid-season trades, the Sharks hadn't lost a single game in regulation. Last night's loss to the Kings marked the team's first since Campbell came aboard. Before that, they'd lost five in a row with most everyone looking sluggish. If that's not a "total 180 degree turn", I don't know what is.
But here's the thing: did that "total 180" happen too soon?
With the playoffs starting next week, every Sharks fan out there has to be thinking "Will this season end like every other ones? Can they turn it around?" Any Sharks fan knows that the team can be VERY streaky...win a few games here, lose a bunch there, score points in twenty in a row here... You get the picture.
Let's just hope that last night's half-assed performance against the Kings isn't the start of a slide in the wrong direction. Losing games in the playoffs gets you one thing: an early tee-time.
That said, I really feel that this is the year! This has GOT TO BE the year!
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