Tag:2011 NHL Playoffs
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 
Posted on: May 20, 2011 12:40 am
Edited on: May 20, 2011 1:24 am

Bergeron: Latest concussion 'behind me'

Patrice Bergeron didn’t net a point in consecutive games for the first time in the playoffs, but the Boston Bruins center snapped another string.

He came out of Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals on Thursday night unscathed. It was his first game back since he suffered his third career concussion on May 6, an injury that kept him out of the first two games of this series.

“Yeah, obviously I wasn't very happy,” Bergeron said in his first comments since he suffered the concussion on a check from Philadelphia Flyers forward Claude Giroux in Game 4 of the second round. “I was pretty disappointed, especially at that time of the year. You know, you want to be out there, you want to help your team.”

Bergeron, playing as the No. 2 center, won 64 percent of his faceoffs in his 19 minutes and 13 seconds of action. He had two shots on net, blocked one, gave the puck away once and drew a penalty in the Bruins’ 2-0 victory as Boston took a 2-1 lead in the best-of-7 series.

Bergeron returned to the ice Saturday to skate on his own and began to practice with the team on Monday.

“I thought I stayed pretty positive in the process again,” Bergeron said. “Obviously, it's behind me. I'm looking forward and I'm happy it was mild like it was.”

He was a game-time decision on Thursday and Bruins coach Cladue Julien reiterated after the game that Bergeron wouldn’t have been allowed back if he wasn’t completely symptom-free.

“When we decided to dress him he was 100 percent and we felt confident about that,” Julien said. “My first question to him was, ‘Are you comfortable coming back?’ There was no doubt in his mind. He said ‘I’m fine, I’m ready to go.’”

-- A.J. Perez

Photo: Getty Images 
Posted on: May 19, 2011 8:36 pm
Edited on: May 19, 2011 9:24 pm

Eager comments on fan's revealing display

SAN JOSE --- Not all the talk that centered around San Jose Sharks forward Ben Eager was about his check of Vancouver Canucks star Daniel Sedin.

There was a certain female Canucks fan who raised her jersey and flashed Eager as he sat in the penalty box during the third period of Game 2 of the Western Conference finals on Wednesday. The display was shown live on CBC, although Versus viewers here in the states missed out.  

"I saw it, yeah," Eager said on Thursday. "I got a few text messages with the picture after the game, too. It was an interesting night, for sure."

Canucks spokesman Ben Brown told CBSSports.com the fan was removed from Rogers Arena immediately.

-- A.J. Perez

Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: May 19, 2011 4:48 pm
Edited on: May 19, 2011 7:50 pm

Sharks' Eager not suspended, remains defiant

SAN JOSE -- Ben Eager wasn’t suspended and clearly the San Jose Sharks forward’s tongue didn’t receive a ban either as he again took verbal runs at Vancouver Canucks defenseman Kevin Bieksa.

Eager responded to Bieksa squaring off with San Jose forward Patrick Marleau by boarding Canucks star Daniel Sedin, a collision that drew a two-minute minor. After the Sharks fell 7-3 in Game 2 of the Western Conference finals on Wednesday, Eager called Bieksa “a phony” and he didn’t back down at the Sharks’ practice rink on Thursday.

“You can’t blame him really,” Eager said of Bieksa. “You can take a good player off the ice, go for it. That’s the way he plays. That’s fine with us.”

Eager said he’s asked Bieksa to fight over the years, but he was turned down each time. The fact that Eager was on the Chicago Blackhawks -- who dispatched the Canucks in the previous two postseasons -- has added some to the disdain he feels for Vancouver.

“If you play three years in a row now, there’s going to be some dislike,” said Eager. “When it’s in the conference finals, it’s going to be that much more intense. Sometimes games end up like last night.”

The Canucks didn’t score as he sat in the box for the boarding call, but they made it 4-2 after he was called for tripping Mason Raymond eight minutes into the third period. The Canucks hold an 2-0 lead heading into Game 3 at HP Pavilion on Friday.

“The tripping penalty I’d like to have back,” Eager said. “It cost the team. It kind of (made) the game out of hand. The hit on Sedin was a penalty, but I think in the playoffs a good team will kill those penalties. The guys did a great job killing the penalty off. Putting the team shorthanded again with a tripping call is something I can’t do.”

Earlier Thursday, Canucks coach Alain Vigneault wasn’t too happy the league chose not to suspend Eager, who told reporters that the league didn’t even contact him over it.

“Well, you know, there's really nothing we can do about that,” Vigneault said. “In our mind anyway, he went out and tried to hurt our player, the (potential) NHL MVP. That's how their coach wants him to play. He ran our goalie. I guess that's how they want him to play”

That basically has been the plan, Sharks coach Todd McLellan said, as long as Eager doesn’t cross the line. Eager saw more ice time in Game 2 (10 minutes, 59 seconds) than in any game since the third-to-last regular season contest.

“I thought Ben Eager was one of our better players as far as the forecheck, creating scoring opportunities (and) he played with an energy and a passion required of him,” McLellan. “As I said last night, he took penalties that we cannot take. Is he an asset or a liability? He was both last night. If we can limit the liability part, we’ll have one heck of a player.”

Eager scored the game’s final goal to go along with is six penalties for a total of 20 minutes. Even then, Eager didn't leave it at that as he gave Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo an earful.

“It was just heat of the moment,” Eager said. “It would have been nice to score the goal at a different time, but it made it 7-3. It didn’t mean much in that game. Hopefully, we can carry some of the momentum over to the game tomorrow.”

-- A.J. Perez
Posted on: May 19, 2011 3:08 pm
Edited on: May 19, 2011 4:38 pm

Samuelsson out for playoffs after surgery

Vancouver Canucks forward Mikael Samuelsson is out for the rest of the playoffs  undergoing surgery to repair his adductor tendon and sports hernia, the team announced Thursday.

“After consultation with our physicians it was decided that surgery was the best course of action,” Canucks GM Mike Gillis said in a statment. “The best long term decision for Mikael and our hockey club was to have the surgery immediately.”

Samuelsson, who has been plagued by injuries in his two seasons with the Canucks, hasn’t played since Game 5 of the second-round series against the Predators. He had a goal and two assists in 11 playoff games.

Coach Alain Vigneault confirmed that Samuelsson will be out for the rest of the playoffs.

-- A.J. Perez

Posted on: May 19, 2011 2:32 pm
Edited on: May 19, 2011 7:42 pm

Bergeron back in Bruins' lineup for Game 3

Patrice Bergeron took the wamr-up as the Boston Bruins center will play in his first contest since he suffered a concussion on May 6.
Earlier in Thursday, Bruins coach Claude Julien that if Bergeron takes the ice before Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals, he'd be in the lineup.

“He’s feeling pretty good,” Julien said. “Again, not totally up to the coach to make the final decision. I think a lot of other things have to happen and again, I can only give you the same answer I gave you the other day. If he’s in the warm-up, it’s because he’s ready to go.”

With Bergeron back, veteran forward Shawn Thornton, who played the fewest minutes (4:46) among any forwards in Game 3, was scratched. Rookie Tyler Seguin had three goals and three assists after he took over Bergeron's spot in the roster for the first two games of the series. 

“Everybody wants to play,” Julien said. “I think what has to happen is he needs to understand. And whoever that may be, it’s about the team right now and through a long series you see changes all the time.”

-- A.J. Perez
Posted on: May 19, 2011 1:37 am
Edited on: May 19, 2011 4:19 am

Marleau fight leads to trouble, not rally

Patrick Marleau threw down his gloves for the first time in three seasons as the San Jose Sharks forward took on Vancouver Canucks defenseman Kevin Bieksa in the second period of Game 2 of the Western Conference finals on Wednesday night.

Marleau’s seventh fight and first in a postseason game was at a disadvantage against Bieksa, much more experienced in the fisticuffs department. Marleau absorbed a few punches and he would have lost the fight had it been judged, but he held his own overall.

The problem for the Sharks, who were trailing by a goal at the time, it did nothing to spark the team heading into the third period as the Canucks won, 7-3.

“It was a heat-of-the-moment type of thing,” Marleau said. “It happens in hockey. We exchanged hits and decided to drop the gloves. At that point, we were still trying to get things going.”

Instead of sparking a rally, however, it may have unnerved the Sharks.

“I thought maybe at that point we got a little frustrated because we wanted to even the score,” San Jose coach Todd McLellan said. “That was Ben Eager taking a run at one of the Sedins. It probably grew from there a little bit.”

Eager placed a well-placed elbow into the Vancouver’s Daniel Sedin in the closing seconds of the period, resulting in a boarding penalty and possibly a look at the collision by NHL officials in Toronto.

“I turned my back,” Sedin said “I didn't realize he was coming that hard. But it's going to happen in a game. I'm fine. So that's all that matters.”

McLellan said he doesn’t expect a suspension forthcoming.

“Absolutely, 100 percent available for Game 3,” McLellan said. “Didn't see him cross the line at all.”

Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault, with his tongue firmly planted in his cheek in the wake of a diving penalty in Game 1 called against the Canucks, said “obviously, Danny embellished that.”

The Sharks took 53 minutes of penalties, 42 minutes coming in the third period. Chris Higgins and Sedin scored power play goals in the first eight minutes of the third period for a three-goal margin that all but put the game away.

-- A.J. Perez

Posted on: May 18, 2011 4:36 pm

Lightning confident Game 2 was an anomaly

The word “structure” was tossed around so much by Tampa Bay Lighting players you’d have thought you were at a civil engineers convention rather than a locker room.

That’ll happen after an eight-game winning streak gets snapped, largely due to a disjointed second period in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals led to a 6-5 loss to the Boston Bruins at TD Garden on Tuesday night. The Lightning allowed five goals on nine shots as goalie Dwayne Roloson was chased from the game.

"We got away from our system and structure as a team the first two periods,” Roloson said on a conference call with reporters on Wednesday. “We came out in the third, played our system a little bit better and our style a little bit better. So for us it was just not sticking to what we had to do win a hockey game.”

The Lightning employ a 1-3-1 system defensively, which forward Steven Stamkos admitted the team didn’t always stick to as the Bruins evened the best-of-7 series 1-1. The series resumes at the St. Pete Times Forum on Thursday. 

“It didn't look like we were all on the same page,” said Stamkos, who had a goal and two assists in Game 2. “For whatever reason that was the case and that's something we need to address right away. I have full confidence that we're going to put the negative stuff that we did in that game behind us, focus on the positives and be ready for Game 3.”

The Lightning's previous loss was against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 4 of the first round on April 20. 

“It was something that you have confidence and you get used to,” Stamkos said of the streak. “But I think our team did a great job of not being content with it and always wanting more. You have to be a realist. You're not going to go from the second round of the Stanley Cup Finals and win every single game.”

Down 6-3 after two periods, the Lightning grabbed a little momentum back in the third as they cut it to a one-goal game and had several chances at the equalizer. Combine that comeback attempt with a victory in Game 1 that stole home-ice advantage, the Lightning arrived at Florida at around 4:30 a.m. Wednesday with a decent sense of accomplishment.

“We've reloaded emotionally throughout the first series and the second series,” Lightning coach Guy Boucher said. “So I don't see this one being any different. As a matter of fact, we should have more experience rebounding, maturing from that. Having said that, (it) doesn't necessarily mean we're going to win games, but we're for sure going to be more aware of the weaknesses we presented in the last game. We don't need to give them any more chances than they deserve.”

Boucher said that the Lightning could soon see defenseman Pavel Kubina --- out since Game 1 of the second-round series with a concussion --- back practicing soon. Boucher said earlier in the week that Kubina had suffered some setbacks in his recovery.

“Obviously we're not expecting him to play in the next game, but things might have progressed,” Boucher said.

-- A.J. Perez
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com