Tag:2011 WC Playoffs
Posted on: May 25, 2011 1:17 pm

Video: Canucks celebrate after Game 5 win

Ever wonder what an NHL locker room is like after a series clincher in the postseason? Take a look at the Canucks after Game 5 Tuesday night against San Jose.

Quite a contrast from the baseball world, where every step up the ladder is celebrated the same as the last for most every team -- with champagne goggles and beer-soaked jerseys. Instead, this is a team that is certainly thrilled to be moving on, but realizes the goal is still another series away.

It is nice to see, though, that perhaps the happiest man in the room is Manny Malhotra, the last in the receiving line. Malhotra, of course, hasn't been playing since he took a puck to the eye near season's end.

If the Canucks are lucky enough to get one more series win, it's unlikely to be as subdued.

-- Brian Stubits

Posted on: May 25, 2011 3:54 am
Edited on: May 25, 2011 4:37 am

Sharks fall short again, but core remains

Different species, but the venom stung the same.

The San Jose Sharks were snake-bitten in Game 5 of the Western Conference finals as the Vancouver Canucks advanced to the Stanley Cup Final for the third time in team history with a 3-2 victory in the second overtime on Tuesday night.

Instead of the inability to win at home (see Calgary Flames in 2004) or failure to win anywhere (see a sweep by the Chicago Blackhawks last season), the Sharks saw their best chance to advance to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in club history end when Canucks defenseman Kevin Bieksa -- in what seemed like a hidden-puck trick -- bounced a slap shot past San Jose goalie Antti Niemi in midway through the second overtime.

Of course, it wasn’t that clean-cut as a 3-2 double OT loss, as described by The Mercury News’ Mark Prudy:

It happened when the puck seemed to mysteriously disappeared for a few seconds after Vancouver defenseman Alexander Edler tried to flip it behind the net but instead sent it bouncing high off a metal dividing stanchion in the glass above the boards. It left the eyesight of everyone -- until Canucks' teammate Kevin Bieksa saw the rubber disc suddenly drop in front of him and whacked it with a crazy bounce into the net while Shark goalie Antti Niemi was looking in another direction.

"I thought the puck was out of play," Sharks center Joe Pavelski said. "I think the only guy who saw it was the guy who had it on his stick."

That was Bieksa, who bounced the puck home.

“It's one of those things that you absolutely have no control over,” Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. “We can talk about it all we want. It went off a stanchion. When you watch the replay, the officials didn't know where it was, Nieme didn't know where it was, Vancouver, San Jose, nobody knew where it was. It came right to Bieksa. One more bounce he probably whiffs on it we're still playing. Nothing we can do about it”

That freakish bounce is probably why we won’t see major chances in Silicon Valley. GM Doug Wilson and coach Todd McLellan have a good thing going in San Jose, even if they came up short.

Had they had a bounce go their way in a 54-save effort by Vancouver goalie Roberto Luongo, we could be heading to Game 6. Still, it’s hardly to fault Niemi. There are a few others on the Sharks who may need to look inward.

Dany Heatley, who made $8 million this season, was a ghost in this series. He had one point (an assist) through the five games. He was the lone superstar on the Sharks that was lacking, although you could fault forward Patrick Marleau -- at least a little -- for not knowing the Canucks had pulled Luongo in closing seconds --- who could have sealed a Sharks win in regulation.

“I think that's ridiculous,” McLellan said when asked if the window was closing the Sharks to win their first Cup. “We have some very talented players that are under contract. We have a real strong core. We've learned a lot of lessons along the way. We've grown as a team. In my opinion, there's absolutely no reason why we can't be an elite team again next year, as we were the last three, four, five years. We expect to be there. That's the standard we live by.”

Maybe no player set that standard on Tuesday like captain Joe Thornton. He missed the final 11 minutes of Game 4 with an undisclosed injury --- at least it was undisclosed until after the Sharks were eliminated. Thornton apparently suffered a separated shoulder on a check from Canucks bruiser Raffi Torres.

“Obviously, that's a very courageous game for him to play,” McLellan said. “He did separate his shoulder last game. It was very painful. Our training staff and doctors did a tremendous job in preparing him to play.”

The Sharks could have a roster very similar to what they put on the ice on Tuesday. Devin Setoguchi is a restricted free agent, San Jose’s only star that could be plucked this offseason. Role players Scott Nichol, Jamal Mayers, Kyle Wellwod, Ben Eager, Kent Huskins, Ian White and Niclas Wallin will be unrestricted free agents come July 1. Expect Wilson to keep the core together for at least one more run.

“It's hard to find passengers today,” McLelland said. “But we obviously didn't get the win, and that's what we came here before. The series itself, we lose a game possibly because of fatigue. We ran out of gas in Game 1. We lose our composure in Game 2. We get to Game 4 and it's a matter of about four minutes' worth of penalties. Tonight was bounces, in my opinion. We got better as the series went on. “

It just ended after five games. Now, the Sharks will have to play another 82 before they can prove they belong.

-- A.J. Perez

Photo: Getty Images<span class="Apple-tab-span" style="white-space: pre;">

Posted on: May 23, 2011 12:40 pm
Edited on: May 23, 2011 1:00 pm

Julien: Kaberle not only Bruin struggling

BOSTON --- Boston Bruins coach Claude Julien had a message for reporters who continue to question the prowess of one Tomas Kaberle.

He’s not the only one screwing up, so lay off the defenseman.

“I don’t know why we decide that we should be taking him out of the lineup when there’s other players too that have struggled,” Julien told reporters before Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals at TD Garden on Monday. “We haven’t talked about that. And that’s because we have patience and we believe in those guys.”

Kaberle lost the puck behind the net moments before Tampa Bay’s Sean Bergenheim tied it midway through the second period of Game 4. Julien said that had as much to do as other players not supporting Kaberle on the play.

“So, according to our system, he’s not the only one to blame,” Julien said. “The last winning goal, he blocks a shot, makes a great play, and he’s trying to get off the ice, and we turn the puck over. So do we keep blaming Kaberle?”

Probably for plays like the eventual winner in Game 1. Kaberle, with no Lightning play bearing down, fumbled the ball to the side of Bruins’ net, where Lightning forward Teddy Purcell tapped it in.

“I think people are a little hard on this guy and I’m one of those guys that’s going to support him,” Julien continued. “I’m one of those guys that’s going to keep him in the lineup in case you want to know. And he’s going to be a good part of our hockey team.”

The Bruins gave up plenty to get Kaberle, who spend his first 12 seasons in Toronto . Boston dealt prospect forward Joe Colborne and the Bruins' first-round pick at next month’s draft. The Leafs will also receive a second-round pick at next year’s draft if the Bruins make the finals.

Kaberle has no goas and six assists in the playoffs, three assists coming in this series. He’s a mainstay on the power play that has scored twice in 15 chances entering Game 5. He’s also even on the plus-minus.

Julien wouldn’t confirm any lineup changes, but he did say 23 skaters --- presumably including defenseman Steven Kampfer, who is back from a knee injury --- would take part in the warm-up and the lineup would be cemented immediately afterward. 

-- A.J. Perez
Posted on: May 22, 2011 9:29 pm
Edited on: May 22, 2011 10:26 pm

Sharks' Thornton status unclear for Game 5

SAN JOSE --- Joe Thornton’s gear sat in his locker minutes after the conclusion of Game 4 of the Western Conference finals, but the San Jose Sharks captain was nowhere to be found.

Thornton was sent out of the game after he absorbed a check from Canucks forward Raffi Torres. Off-balanced as he tried to play the puck, Thornton didn’t see Torres coming with 11 minutes left in regulation.

Thornton appeared to favor his right shoulder after the hit. He played one more shift, but was absent for the final 8:30 of the game and was not made available to reporters after the game. 

“I just noticed he wasn’t there,” Sharks forward Ryane Clowe said. “I don’t know what happened. I hope he’s alright.”

Sharks coach Todd McLellan told reporters after the Canucks’ 4-2 victory that he had no update on Thornton’s status. Thornton (17 points) is tied for second in playoff scoring.

The Canucks lead the best-of-7 series, 3-1, as it shifts to Vancouver on Tuesday. 

Vancouver was without Christian Ehrhoff and Aaron Rome, who were injured on checks delivered by Sharks forward Jame McGinn. Keith Ballard, who flipped McGinn in a hip check early in the second period, and rookie Christopher Tanev filled in for the injured blue liners.

-- A.J. Perez
Posted on: May 21, 2011 4:51 pm
Edited on: May 21, 2011 6:01 pm

Sharks' McGinn not suspended for boarding Rome

San Jose Sharks forward Jamie McGinn will not face supplementary discipline for a check that forced Vancouver Canucks defenseman Aaron Rome out of Game 3 of conference finals on Friday night.

“I’m getting ready to play tomorrow,” McGinn said. “I think I looked at the hit 100 times. I can’t stress enough that I don’t want to hurt anyone. I hope for a quick recovery for Rome. It’s too bad he got hurt on the play. I was closing, I tried to slow up and I hit him with my left shoulder. It’s just one of those freak accidents where he hit his head on the glass.”

The NHL announced that McGinn had a hearing Saturday, but opted not to suspend McGinn. He received a boarding penalty and his second game misconduct of the playoffs. His was not subject to an automatic suspension since his game misconduct, called in the first round against the Los Angeles Kings, was for charging. Friday's penalty (boarding) is in a different class of penalty, so he was not considered a repeat offender.

Canucks coach Alain Vigneault didn't comment on the lack of a suspension of McGinn, but Vancouver defenseman Kevin Bieksa hinted that McGinn deserved something.

"Obviously my opinion doesn't matter a whole lot," he siad. "You just look at the injury that happened from the play, and obviously Aaron was pretty banged up after that hit. The league did what they felt they had to do, I guess." 

Rome and fellow Canucks defenseman Christian Ehrhoff were not on the ice for practice on Saturday, although several others were missing since it was an optional skate. Rome, who had to be helped off the ice after the hit from McGinn in the third period, may have suffered a concussion, while Ehrhoff -- who went down earlier in the game after a (non-penalized) hit from McGinn -- suffered an upper-body injury.

"He pulled up and came across the ice, so I just finished my check," McGinn said of the Ehrhoff collision. "It was shoulder to shoulder."

Vigneault refused to discuss the status of either player.

The injuries to the blue line will likely mean the return of both Andrew Alberts and Keith Ballard, although the team also flew in rookie defenseman Chris Tanev to San Jose Saturday morning. Ehrhoff, who is the Canucks' top scoring defenseman in the playoffs (11 points), will be especially tough to replace. 

Ballard played in 65 regular-season games, but has not seen time since Game 2 of the second round. Alberts has played in three playoff games.

“I haven’t been told yet, but this is an exciting opportunity,” Ballard said. “I’ve been sitting for a couple weeks and it’s been tough watching and not being able to contribute.”

Viegnault said Tanez was brought in to give the team a healthy seventh defenseman.

“It’s playoffs and it’s faster, tougher and more physical,” said Tanev, who was with the AHL’s Manitoba Moose before they were eliminated from the playoffs earlier this month. “If I get the chance, great. If not, I’ll be rooting the guys on.”

-- A.J. Perez

Posted on: May 20, 2011 10:50 pm
Edited on: May 20, 2011 11:10 pm

San Jose has its own Orange, Teal Men next to box

SAN JOSE --- The San Jose Sharks have their own dudes clad in spandex next to the penalty box --- and they did the Vancouver ‘s two Green Men a few better.

There were five --- three in orange and two in tight-fitting teal, although none appeared to be as acrobatic as the Vancouver crew  --- and they even had their own PR person from a Silicon Valley company that paid for their seats at Game 3 of the Western Conference finals at HP Pavilion on Friday night. The seats cost at least $350 each, so Barracuda Networks --- a Sharks sponsor  --- spent some good money to spoof Vancouver.

“We are just looking to go out there and have some fun,” said Mitch Vacation of Saratoga, Calif. (Yes, that’s the name he gave and here’s appears to be his Facebook page.) “We are here to represent the Sharks and everything that has to do with orange and teal. “

Barracuda Networks was behind the promotion that handed every person who walked into the arena orange t-shirts, although only at best half wore them.

Being sponsored has its advantages. The Green Men said on their Twitter account that they were unable to make Game 2 because “tix are a little too pricey and Nashville put us in debt.” They promised to be back in Game 5.

A certain fan made up for their absence in Game 2 by putting on her own display.

Of course, not everybody was pleased with these five.

“You guys are copycats,” said one Canucks fan in a Ryan Kesler jersey. “Why don’t you do something original?”

-- A.J. Perez
Posted on: May 20, 2011 9:21 pm

Sharks' Ben Eager a scratch in Game 3

Fiery forward Ben Eager was scratched from the San Jose Sharks lineup for Game 3 of the Western Conference finals at HP Pavilion on Friday night.

Eager racked up 20 penalty minutes, including a controversial boarding minor on a check of Vancouver Canucks MVP candidate Daniel Sedin in the second period of Game 2. Eager also netted a tripping call that cost the Sharks a power-play goal in the third period and added a the final maker in the 7-3 Sharks’ 7-3 Game 2 loss --- and Eager proceeded to talk some trash to Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo.

“I thought Ben Eager was one of our better players as far as forecheck, creating scoring opportunities,” Sharks coach Todd McLellan said in Thursday. “He had a number of shots on goal. He played with an energy and passion that was required of him. As I said last night, he took penalties that we cannot take.Is he an asset or a liability? He was both (in Game 2).”

Earlier today, McLellan said possible lineup changes were still being discussed among coaches.

“We could shuffle things up a little bit,” McLellan said.

Rookie forward Andrew Desjardins was inserted into the lineup in place of Eager. It’s Desjardin’s first career playoff start.

-- A.J. Perez
Posted on: May 20, 2011 3:01 pm
Edited on: May 20, 2011 3:22 pm

Sharks look to stay composed, out of the box

SAN JOSE --- San Jose Sharks coach Todd McLellan’s verbal jabs at some players after his fell to an 0-2 deficit in the Western Conference finals weren’t a harsh as the statistics.

The Sharks have lost eight consecutive games in the Western Conference finals, a stretch that includes the final two games of the 2004 west finals and a sweep at the hands of the Chicago Blackhawks last year. San Jose is 0-5 in this round of the playoffs at HP Pavilion, site of tonight’s Game 3, and has yet to beat the Vancouver Canucks in regulation or overtime in six meetings overall this season.

“It's not always about rubbing their noses in it,” McLellan said on Thursday. “Everybody responds differently. Some guys need to see it and they quite frankly need to be pushed. Other guys need to be sat down and their progress needs to be reviewed.”

This time it isn’t the team’s Stars like Patrick Marleau or Joe Thornton that are having a down series, although more could be expected out of Dany Heatley. It’s others on the Sharks’ top two lines --- like Ryane Clowe, Joe Pavelski, Devin Setoguchi --- who have been lacking as San Jose dropped the first two games of the best-of-7 series in Vancouver.

“You know, it's frustrating,” said Clowe, who has yet to get a goal or an assist in the series. “I don't think it's a lack of people not caring. Still, at this time of year, it's funny how you can say that we need more guys, we got some passengers. You're in the Western Conference final, and you got a taste of it last year. You know how hard it is. You figure you push harder.”

And “push” within the reason. The Sharks became unhinged in Game 2 after Sharks forward Patrick Marleau, a skill player not know for fighting, dropped the gloves with Vancouver’s Kevin Bieksa in the second period. Sharks forward Ben Eager took a run at Vancouver star Daniel Sedin late in the second period and the Sharks would go on to net nine penalties for 42 minutes. The Canucks scored twice in the man-advantage over the final 20 minutes as they put the game away.

“I don't know what they were thinking,” Canucks defenseman Dan Hamhuis said. “We took advantage of the power plays. We were happy with our focus.”

Some of the penalties this series were fairly easy calls for the referees to make, like Eager’s boarding of Sedin and his trip of Mason Raymond in the third period. Then there are some borderline calls, including a too many men on the ice penalty that allowed Sedin to make it a three-goal game. Sharks captain Joe Thornton also appeared to take a high stick early in the game that went uncalled.

The Sharks have been called for 18 penalties for total of 63 minutes over the first two games; the Canucks have been whistled for nine penalties for 45 minutes.

“Whether they're looking (closer at the Sharks) or not, we have to stay out of the box,” Pavelski said. “It's hurt us. We're not drawing enough penalties the way it is. We're better off playing a five-on-five game. If we do, our power play has been somewhat dangerous so far. We've been able to get on the board, get a little bit of momentum going.”

-- A.J. Perez

Photo: Getty Images 
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