As I talked about with Eric Simons right before the playoffs started, I've been trying to take a different approach to watching these playoffs. I've been avoiding getting too invested in any particular outcome. They win? Great. They lose? Oh well, let's see how they play next time. So far, that's been working out pretty well.
Except we're now into way uncharted territory here: hockey in June. I also had a set of milestones for this Sharks team. I honestly didn't think they'd beat the Kings, especially in 5 games, but I knew they'd play them tough. Getting out of that round was a genuine success. I thought they could very well beat the Predators, and if Pavs OT goal in game 4 wasn't waived off, that could have been an even shorter series than it was. So, two rounds: that's a pretty good season, really. The Conference Finals, the Blues probably didn't scare me enough, but I've seen enough playoff hockey to know that how their team looks doesn't mean they won't beat you because of luck and nonsense. I thought, "don't go down in less than 6, and I'll be happy." Hitchcock getting in his own way with his matchups and goalie decisions made it easier, though. It all felt kind of unreal.
Now I'm feeling the lurking presence of reality, a Motherfucker if there ever is one. I've set relatively modest expectations, and this team has vastly exceeded them. This Sharks team has been easy to cheer for. But I'm also a Giants fan, and I laughed and cheered while watching Madison Bumgarner personally, and with extreme prejudice, crush the hopes and dreams of the Kansas City Royals fans (for a year at least). Pretty much nobody outside the Bay Area wanted the Giants to win their 3rd ring in 5 years in 2014. The Royals winning was a much better story.
I'm worried, guys. We're off the map and beyond what any reasonable expectations should be.
Better soothe myself with a picture of Patrick Marleau looking uncomfortable.
He looks more relaxed with that...uh...furry stormtrooper? than next to his teammates. Godammit.
Sharks @ Penguins
5:00 PM Pacific
Prediction: Patty methodically takes out every Penguin forward with 2 minute penalties.