I think it helped that I avoided reading/watching analysis after the Game 5 postgame. It was different from 2007, when I pretty much knew that the Sharks were going to come back to lose Game 6 at home, but this year I was leaning towards the Sharks winning Game 7 given the Wings' mounting injuries, and that nothing really seemed to break with the Sharks--it was just the Wings playing really well. If you swap the results of Game 3 and Game 5 (games that the home teams "deserved" to win, respectively), you end up with a much more reasonable pattern of wins and losses, as opposed to the (misleading) lopsided 3 consecutive wins from each team.
The games played between the Sharks and Red Wings were so good this season, and that persisted into this playoff series. I think what gave me confidence was remembering the 2009 SCF. I'd assumed it was going to be an easy win for the Pens because of all the key Wings injuries, but they took it to 7 anyway... and that was as far as they could go. So I saw the same kind of scenario with last night. I didn't expect Bertuzzi to break himself hitting Heatley (doubly good scenario), nor Hudler to kill Cleary with what would have been a suspendable hit--if it had happened to someone on another team. But that put yet more strain on the already hurting remaining players.
I am kind of love with Demers this playoffs. He is the anti-Error. :P The problems we had in past seasons was with the personalities of the players: Milan, Bernier, Goc, Error, etc. Not really any less skilled/talented than the guys we have now, but I think they viewed themselves as #2s after the "stars" on the team and didn't have that cockiness to them that Logan and Devin have, or the responsibility of Pavelski. I watch Logan and Pavelski give it their all on every shift and I think, this is what was missing in the past. So proud that the special teams came through last night, too. :)
I love that Patty played a good game. I don't take issue with JR's "gutless" comments because I know it comes from a place of concern and love and really wanting him to show what he can do. I knew the moment he said it that it was going to become a thing though (partly why I avoided reading/watching stuff). But I do like that Patty got a chance to sort of disprove it. We'll see how he does next series.
Other than our games against the Wings, I really enjoyed the games this season against... the Canucks, hahaha. So I expect some really good games. I would say that in the regular season the Canucks outplayed the Sharks, but the games were close (sound familiar?) so we'll see how it goes.
How huge was finishing with 1 point more than the Wings in the regular season? I think having home ice made a difference in this series.
Lightning/Bruins: Err, I guess because they were my dark horse and they're still around, I should pick the Bolts. But I also hear this Patrice Bergeron person is out of the playoffs with a concussion so perhaps it's not so crazy? Lightning
Sharks/Canucks: Hahaha. Guess what? Only one team will be able to lose this series! :P No doubt it will go to 7 because neither team will be capable of finishing the other one off. With other teams it's about who can rise to the occasion, but with this series it's all about who can lose harder. *chortles* If I was going to be rational about this, I would pick the Canucks, but if I was going to be rational last series, I would have picked the Red Wings. Sharks