Battle of the Western Conference Extremes
Ain't the Ducks a bunch of sweethearts? I mean, some fans are forced to watch their team get a season's first victory on TV, but the Ducks have managed to work things out so that I can come experience it in person. That's right, it's time for another Sleek sighting at the ol' Honda Center, sporting the lucky green shirt and drunk-yelling "Positivity!" from Row B. If you're attending the game and want to say hi, you can probably catch me during the intermissions in the lower-level concourse furthest from Katella Avenue.
Now you might think that I'm terrified or worried about tonight's game, but to tell you the truth, I've already attended it -- five years ago, if you can believe it. (Uh-oh, flashback.) If you recall, optimism was very high back in the start of the 2003-04 season. The Mighty Ducks were fresh off an upstart Stanley Cup G7, and even though Oates and Kariya had departed during the summer, their vacancies seemed decently filled with the signings of Fedorov and Prospal. High hopes came crashing back to earth early, however, as the 03-04 Mighty Ducks began their post-Finals-appearance season with a horrific 0-4 start, getting outscored by the whopping margin of 12 to 2 (!).
I don't recall how I managed to score tickets to the fifth game, but I do remember conflicting feelings about the start of the season. Was this Ducks team, such a giant-killer last spring, all of a sudden the worst team in the league? How was I supposed to react to the team's horrid start in my first Pond visit since the miracle run?
For the record, the Mighty Ducks ended up with a mixed result in the game I attended. They did pick up their first standing point of the season, but fell in overtime to Joe Thornton's
Now I'm not exactly sure why I decided to bring up that story -- it's certainly a very different Ducks team than it was five years ago, and I don't even think the parallel 0-4 records signify the same problems. One thing that I do notice, however, is that I'm a much less panicked fan this time around. Maybe I've grown up a bit, maybe I'm disillusioned a bit, who knows? I do think that one of the Ducks' TV guys (Bill MacDonald, maybe?) brought up a helpful point after the Oilers loss, though. It wouldn't be that difficult to shrug off a 4-game losing streak if it happened in the middle of the season, and I'll add it's preferable to mourn in October than in April.
So regardless of early-season records, I figure I'll be in good spirits tonight. Sure, I'll be drinking (it's still me), but instead of a drown-my-sorrows attitude from five years ago, tonight's just an exciting matchup on what promises to be a crazy-season roller coaster ride. Oddly enough, I think the 0-4 start has actually been a little bit liberating; I'd probably be more stressed about tonight's result if the teams had identical records.
Anyways, if you're following the game on TV, feel free to join Mr. Plank's interactive liveblog over at We Bleed Teal. Sharks fans, Ducks fans, wayward Kings fans, disheartened Angel/Dodger fans -- all are welcome, I'm sure. If the puck goes near the Ducks' penalty box and you spot a green shirt on the bottom of your TV set, though, make sure to give him a "Positivity!" shoutout. Every little bit counts.
Prediction: Sleek manages to hold onto his wallet this time, and that makes all the difference. Ducks 4, Sharks 3. Goals by Carter, Getzlaf, Pahlsson, and Pronger.