Diary of a Last Place Fan

San Jose Sharks' Luke Kunin and Calgary Flames' Brayden Pachal watch the play during first period NHL hockey action in Calgary, Thursday, Feb. 15, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Larry MacDougal

What is it like being a fan of the second-worst team in the league? I will give recaps of the last game through the eyes of a fan and not that of a writer. Here we go, highlights of last night’s San Jose Sharks vs. Calgary Flames game.

Coming off the less-than-inspiring 1-0 loss in Winnipeg the previous night, the Sharks took to the ice at the Scotiabank Saddledome to play a desperate Calgary Flames team. Calgary took this game so seriously that they recalled their third goal, Dustin Wolf, to get some seasoning without risking too much. The first period started out as you would figure a 14-33-5 team to start off. The Sharks chased the puck around and couldn’t seem to get out of their own zone. Much like many games the Sharks play, the first period is one of the hardest to watch. They chase the puck around, and when they finally get out of their own zone, they skate uphill. The Flames were only able to get one past Mackenzie Blackwood, and the Sharks went into the break down 1-0.

Then, a miracle happened. I didn’t know what was happening. I went outside to check if three wise men were coming, bringing gifts of a win, a goal, and an impromptu break. At 4:15 of the second, the Sharks were actually tied and had scored a goal. Then, three minutes later, the sea parted, and the Sharks scored again, making it 2-1. This can’t be real. We’ve been shut out seven times on the road this year, and we actually have two now? Wait…we aren’t done. Luke Kunin scores off Dustin Wolf on a play that took 35 seconds to stop (the impromptu break). Toronto awards us a goal, and we are up 3-1. As a tear rolled down my cheek, I could not believe the joy I had witnessed. Thinking they were going into the locker room with a 2-goal lead, the hockey gods decided to slap me back, and Backlund scored for Calgary with 20 seconds to go, and the Flames sent us into the break 3-2.

We raised a toast to actually having a lead going into the third period. You can only imagine the euphoria that was spreading throughout the land as Filip Zadina scored 2 in 42 seconds to put us up 5-2. This wasn’t real. This never happens. This is just the hockey Gods messing with me because they knew I had almost given up on watching another one of these games. “Nope…not quite,” said the Gods as Luke Kunin pots his second. We have matched our highest goal total for a game, and we are up 6-2. I can hear Randy Hahn crying through the TV. That man has been through enough this year. The Flames score late to make it a 6-3 game, but who cares?

The Sharks win 6-3. I don’t even know where to begin. I light up a cigar and just enjoy the moment. The Sharks probably started the Flames fire sale for the season. They actually looked like an NHL team for two periods this game. It was heartwarming to know we are closing in on the Ducks for 30th place.

The next game is Saturday against the Columbus Blue Jackets, on Saturday at the tank. Good sections are still available, by the way. Can the Sharks win two in a row? Can they score more than three goals in a game again? Can they make us believe that they have some actual idea of what they are doing? Tune in on Saturday to find out.

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