The "Surfer Series" has been a wipeout so far for the Sharks. They were held scoreless on their beloved home ice and got manhandled by Anaheim, 2-0. They start the seven game series down 0-1, and the home ice advantage is blown.
The eighth-seeded Ducks came out and played like a team that's made it through the Stanley Cup playoffs before. The Sharks, meanwhile, played like a team playing careful and trying not to lose. Joe Thornton in particular played down to his playoff reputation, with no points and no shots on goal until the game's final minutes.
San Jose fans might be panicking now -- I know I am -- because this series has started exactly according to the worst-possible nightmare script. Anaheim's previous playoff experience is feeding their determination, San Jose's previous playoff experience has them worried and playing more tentatively. Barry Melrose nailed it afterwards on SportsCenter, saying, "The Ducks push everybody around. San Jose wants to be a physical team, but they're not."
How do the Sharks get back this series' momentum? Once you lose Game 1, you know that series is going to be longer and more difficult than you'd hoped.
San Jose has to accept that the "Surfer Series" will be too close for comfort the rest of the way. But they've beaten Anaheim plenty of times this year, twice on the Ducks' ice. And the Ducks, frankly, shot like you'd expect the lowest-ranked team in the playoffs to shoot -- inconsistently at best.
And think back to last year, the Sharks lost their first round Game 1 to Calgary at home and still pulled that series out.
Then again, maybe analogies to last year's playoff aren't what this team needs to hear.
Joe Kukura is a freelance writer who will be a bitter person to be around for the next couple of days.