I'm going to be completely honest with you, just as I always have been and always will be. I had a dream last night that the San Jose Sharks lost Game 1 to the Colorado Avalanche, 2-1. As the final buzzer sounded, Evgeni Nabokov slammed his massive goal stick over the crossbar no less than four times, smashing it into a million pieces. Patrick Marleau hung his broad-chinned head in stunned disbelief. Dan Boyle's face turned a disconcerting shade of magenta. Joe Thornton grinned as if he had just won the Powerball lottery.
I watched as children stumbled out of HP Pavilion with tears streaming down their innocent cheeks, clutching their mother's hands as they moaned and wailed about another catastrophic playoff collapse. Each of their sobs were audible amid the silence of the teal-clad crowd, trudging out into the night air with slumped shoulders, their sullen eyes focused on the cold ground as they followed one another with small, shuffling steps. Sure my nightmare sounds grim, but take it with a Semenov-sized bag of salt, Shark fans -- I once had a dream that I gave birth to a litter of pumpkins.
There are more questions than answers as the Sharks open their first-round series against the Avalanche tonight at HP Pavilion. How is Thornton going to perform with the eyes and weight of the hockey world on his shoulders? Which Nabokov are we going to see, the one that can snuff out the most dangerous offense in the league or the one that can make any opponent appear to have the most dangerous offense in the league? Is this the year Marleau performs to his capabilities in each playoff round, not just the comfortable ones? What in the name of all that's good and holy is Todd McLellan thinking playing Jason Demers at forward?
We'll begin receiving the answers tonight, and HP Pavilion should be rocking as playoff hockey returns to the Bay Area. The Sharks could win or lose by a half-dozen, and neither outcome would shock a disillusioned group of fans that have plumbed the depths of misery each year since the NHL lockout. No excuses, no apologies, no second chances. It's playoff time, which means shut your mouth, keep your stick on the ice, and prove you can produce when it matters most. Either the Sharks do that or my nightmare could become a reality sometime between now and June.
We're going to have a lot to talk about, so join me on the SharksBuzz Postgame Show once the final buzzer sounds. You know the drill by now, so tune in or drop us a line at (724) 444-7444, talkcast ID# 74909.