The boys are back in town

OH MY GOD IT’S SHARKS SEASON!!!

Yeah, that’s right. Nothing less than all caps and three exclamation points can accurately convey my state of ecstasy. My heart is doing jumping jacks inside my chest right now. It feels like I’m hyped up on 14 Four Loko’s just thinking about it.

I love hockey. LOVE. IT. Damn, there goes the caps lock again. It’s an obsession that grabs hold of me in a way no other sport has. Maybe it’s the speed that makes my eyes rapidly dart around, trying to keep up with the players or locate the black speck of a puck. Maybe it’s the fact that play is continually live, leading to nonstop and oftentimes unpredictable action. Maybe it’s the fact that it’s so unique — what other sport combines graceful agility and brute force so seamlessly?

I don’t know if I’ve ever really loved anything as intensely as the San Jose Sharks. Maybe the beach. Maybe Chibrotle. But that just goes to show you how high I’m stacking this pedestal. I use players’ nicknames like I know them personally. I say “we” instead of “they,” like I’m a actual member of the team. They have the power to make my heart pound and drop seventy floors inside my chest. The Sharks are relatively young — 20 years in the making — yet they quickly became a powerhouse in their own right.

How excited was I for their game on Saturday? By the time they lowered that shark head down onto the ice and the team skated out, I was an overeager mess. I was intermittently shaking with excitement and squealing at the screen, both of which caused my roommate doing her homework nearby to look over in concern.

And that enthusiasm kept up full throttle straight through the postgame analysis. My Sharks took home a 6-3 victory in their first game of the 2011-12 season and made the Phoenix Coyotes look like AHL amateurs.

To be honest, everything that happened was exactly what I anticipated. From Joe Pavelski’s first goal to the two roughing penalties in the third period, this game didn’t exceed my expectations so much as completely fulfill them in the most epic way possible.

We’ve got something we lacked last year, and that’s wicked strength across all four lines. It starts with the Marleau-Thornton-Pavelski front line, all the way down to Michal Handzus and Andrew Desjardins. As soon as an athlete dons that teal and white, it seems like something magical happens. Like they become a mythological Titan, a superhero. How deep do we go, you ask? The bench can’t even handle us right now.

But can that see us through til the end?

The answer is simple and easy. Why not? When the winners of the Stanley Cup lift that trophy in the air, it will be beneath a sea of teal. We have what it takes this year. I know everyone says that every year, and come May we’re always disappointed and a little disillusioned. But this year it really is different.

There seems to be something heavier to this answer, as if something more than blind faith weighs it down like lead. There’s certainty from more than just the diehards. It’s an answer backed up by professional opinion, power and potential.

So I’m calling it right now: We are going to win it all.

That’s fandom, right there. The We. That’s all there is to it. That’s love, something an infinite number of Chipotle burritos can’t satiate.

God, I’ve missed this team. It’s going to be a good year.