You all may have noticed that the Edmonton Oilers are shaking off their owner’s creepy behavior, their tone-deaf bunker-command style of management, and their decade+ of shitty personnel decisions, and have suddenly become “exciting” in the minds of casual sports fans and NHL-wide commenters.
This is because they made the playoffs and Conor McDavid scored 100 points (only one of these things should be considered a great accomplishment). It’s the same franchise that traded Taylor Hall for Adam Larsson. The same one that signed Kris Russel. The same one that shredded through years and years of top-10 and 1st overall picks. But McDavid delivered a Hart-worthy season and all that gets pushed aside.
I’m here with this stinky, rotting albatross called “expectations” around my neck to grab you motherfuckers by the shoulders and tell you that the narratives do not determine reality.
The Sharks, meanwhile, have faded in the minds of the same opinion-class writers, deservedly, I guess. They stunk down the stretch, looking bad and injured and bad and bad. “Jeremy Roenick” can solemnly explain that our window is closing and fast, almost a year after he was ostensibly all-in on the Sharks when they made the Finals. Roenick is a stupid douchebag, so don’t put any credence into his proclamations, but rather take what he says as a clear indication of what the Lukewarm Hockey Fan AND Beige Mainstream Hockey Analyst thinks.
It’s entirely true that this is likely the last hurrah for the Sharks as they’re currently constructed. Marleau and Thornton are free-agents after this year. An early playoff exit pretty much guarantees that one or both will not be re-signed.
But I’m here with this stinky, rotting albatross called “expectations” around my neck to grab you motherfuckers by the shoulders and tell you that the narratives do not determine reality.
I’ve seen what a top-heavy McLellan-coached team can do in the playoffs, and it’s not anything to get excited about.
Marc-Eduard Vlasic did not have a good season, which is surprising considering how steady he’s always been. But last year he quietly neutralized, almost completely, every single opposing top-line he was matched against. The Sharks lost to the Penguins not because Sydney Crosby was annihilating us, but because their 2nd line was winning their matchup against a Hertl-less Sharks team. As good as McDavid is, I woudn’t bet against a healthy Vlasic keeping McDavid relatively bottled up.
I think we can count on Milan Lucic having a meltdown at least a couple times this series, and if Peter de Boer occasionally throws Couture out there, the Sharks will be guaranteed a few more power plays.
I don’t feel like this series is the slam-dunk for the Sharks it appeared to be in February, considering the key injuries and sorta poor play from Martin Jones lately. But it’s winnable, and for once the spotlight is going to be on the other guys.
I’d love to throw this festering, stinking bird around some other fucker’s neck so they can breathe in the stink of expectations.
Sharks @ Oilers
7:00 PM Pacific
Prediction: Hubris, followed by rash acts, followed by tragedy, followed by regret.