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No Fear
Or loathing in Los Angeles
4/27/14 - By Ryan Hall -

I'm probably dating myself a bit, but does anyone out there in reader land remember the late 1990's? If you were older than 10 years old, there's a good chance you might recall a brand of T-shirts that ran with the tag line: No Fear. Usually, they featured over dramatized saying like "Bottom of the Ninth, Bases Loaded, 2 Out… No Fear!! Cheesy I know, but man were they popular.

What's that got to do with anything at all? Let me tell you.

As the fortunes of the Sharks have started to trend downwards in their series versus Los Angeles, an almost palpable sense of dread and fear has started to grow among the fan base. Only 5 short days ago it was a celebration, as San Jose looked posed to sweep the Kings - or at the very least end things in a short 5 games. Yet here we are, on the cusp of Game 6 back in LA, and all of a sudden the Sharks look very, very vulnerable.

So I understand why the fear is there; and I hope you understand why I'm telling you that this is not the time for that emotion.

Let's start by looking at this in segments. Fear is a natural reflex, and it helps sharpen the mind and body to deal with a dangerous, or unknown, situation. Is this dangerous? Maybe. Unknown? Not a chance. The Sharks and Kings are so well acquainted they could write each other's biographies.

However, there is another side to fear, and it causes people to panic and stop thinking clearly. Fear makes a fan base forget that winning 4 games in a row against any team in the NHL is dang hard. Fear also stops people from understanding that if it is hard for San Jose to beat LA 4 times in a row, it's also just as hard for Kings to beat the Sharks 4 straight. The odds still favour San Jose, and all fear does is hide that truth.

But what about the eye test, where it looks like the Kings have suddenly become the much better team, and the Sharks appear to be wilting yet again?

Once again, that's fear talking. Fear says that a reversal is impossible. Fear says that this is all heading down hill. Fear says 'bail out now and minimize the pain that is coming'. Truth is, the Kings have been better in the lasts 2 contests, but in the 3 before that the Sharks were vastly superior. Fear says we'll never see that dominant Sharks team again in this series, even though they are a veteran squad who knows exactly what they need to do to close things out. Fear says Stalock can't hold the fort. The Sharks speed won't even be a factor again. Fear says that this is already a fait acompli.

What I am trying to say is, this is not a time for fear. This is a time for belief, and a time to take that step forward as a franchise from being the cute, little squad from California that never could get it done. It's a time for bravery, and to expect the team to rise from the dust and take care of business. This is the time to stop being pessimists, and start being optimists. To show the gritty confidence that champions - and their fan bases - all possess.

It's time to leave the fear behind and just believe. It's time for the Sharks as a team to take that next step, and for the fans to be waiting there for them because we actually were confident they would make it. I don't know about you, but I'm tired of expecting the worst. After all… Game 6, Sharks up 3-2 in the series, already won in LA, Kings facing the fatigue of non-stop desperate hockey… No Fear.


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