El Estoque

From the stands: This is Sharks playoff territory

Christian Fatoohi

The Sharks make the playoffs every year with a similar, disappointing end result.

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It happens every year. The Sharks have an extraordinary regular season. The fans have high expectations for the Sharks in the playoffs. And then the Sharks just choke early in the playoffs as always and disappoint everyone yet again. But I hope to soon see this curse undone.

I went to game one of the first round of the playoffs for the Sharks on April 16. After an outstanding season that earned them the first seed in the West, the Sharks took on the eighth-seeded Anaheim Ducks. Excitement built up as the Sharks were one of the top contenders for the Stanley Cup.

But what the Sharks had built up through 82 regular season games was once again ready to be smashed in one playoff series. The entire Sharks crowd, generally known to be incredibly loud, was as passionate and pumped up as I was going into the game.

Before the game started, loud cheers and chants of "Sharks" resonated throughout the stadium. I joined in at the top of my lungs, but I could hardly even hear my own voice. Everyone was waving their white complimentary Sharks towels they'd received upon entering the stadium, causing the entire crowd to appear as one giant sea of white. Just like every year, no one expected the pitiful performance that the Sharks sunk to.

Upon scanning the stadium, I couldn't spot a single Ducks fan. That changed the moment the Ducks scored a goal in the third period after the Sharks had dominated the first two periods of play. The crowd broke out in "boos", except for the few scattered Ducks fans throughout the stadium who stood up and cheered for this unexpected upset.

Sharks fans found several opportunities to urge their team on and create some momentum with continued support. One such instance occurred when the Sharks managed to get their sixth power play of the game after five consecutive unsuccessful tries. Unfortunately this power play had an even worse end result than the others. Soon after the Ducks player made his way out of the penalty box, they scored one more time to take a 2-0 lead.

Following another round of booing, many Sharks fans made their way out of the Shark Tank after the beginning to a playoff that seemed to cement their reputation as the biggest chokers in the NHL. I remained in the stadium for the last few minutes of the game watching in pain.

Roles in the water may have reversed unexpectedly as the Ducks ate the Sharks. The Ducks won the playoff series four games to two. But I still show pride for my team even in their difficult times as I have the towel that I received in my room declaring "THIS IS SHARKS PLAYOFF TERRITORY."

There is an NHL playoff superstition in which fans and most players on each hockey team begin to grow a beard when the playoffs start and don't shave it until their team is removed from the playoffs. This year, I took part in this tradition, but unfortunately the Sharks didn't last long enough for me to grow out my beard much. I'd like to see the Sharks keep winning next year in the playoffs for me to grow something more noticeable. Hopefully that means they'll bring the Stanley Cup to San Jose.