Tag:2011 NHL Playoffs
Posted on: May 10, 2011 3:39 am
Edited on: May 10, 2011 4:03 am

Predators done in by lack of scoring punch

The Nashville Predators scored more than two goals just once in the second round, which makes the fact they made it to six games all the more remarkable. 

Goalie Pekka Rinne showed why he’s a finalist for the Vezina Trophy and Shea Weber anchored the Predators blue line, although --- as predicted -- defense wasn’t the problem as the Vancouver Canucks dispatched the Preds with a 2-1 victory on Monday night. 

Nashville just couldn’t score. 

"Yeah, I mean we were one of the best teams in the league defensively again this year," Weber told The Tennesean’s John Glennon. "Sometimes, that can only get you so far. We had a lot of different guys step up this year and I think that helped get us to where we are. But obviously that little extra boost might help."

Only three Predators forwards had goals in the series, led by David Legwand and Joel Ward with four each. Matt Halischuk, who scored in Game 2, was the other. 

Here’s some more form The Tennessean’s Glennon: 
"We can't just leave it all on Leggy and Wardo to score," forward Patric Hornqvist said. "It's not going to work in the long run. It was close every game, but myself and some of the other guys didn't play as well as we know we can."

Some of the Predators who came up short on the offensive production front against Vancouver included Martin Erat (0 goals, 3 assists), Mike Fisher (0 goals, 1 assist), Hornqvist (0 goals, 0 assists) and Sergei Kostitsyn (0 goals, 1 assist).

The Predators had expected more offensive pop from the playoff-tested Fisher, whom they picked up in exchange for a first-round draft pick before the trade deadline. He had six points in the first-round series win over Anaheim, but fell silent against a stronger Vancouver defensive team.

"Yeah, we had some chances," Fisher said. "We just didn't bury them. That's the way it goes sometimes. It would have been nice to get a few, but it wasn't going."

Maybe the uptick in excitement around Nashville -- not to mention the revenue generated from six home playoff games -- will allow the Predators to be a little more generous this postseason. It’s probably doubtful the Preds will be in the running for Brad Richards, but other forwards like Erik Cole could possibly be within reach. Marcel Goc, who not available for the playoffs after he underwent shoulder surgery in February, and Steve Sullivan, who suffered a lower-body injury in Game 3 and missed the rest of the series, will be unrestricted free agents. 

Nashville coach Barry Trotz hinted after the series may have gone differently if those two -- along with Cal O’Reilly, who suffered a broken leg earlier this season -- healthy.

“We’ll never know,” Trotz said. “That’s for another day. The guys that were there were Nashville Predators and they grew a little.”

That they did. The Preds advanced to the second round for the first time in franchise history and they also won their first game while facing elimination, a 4-3 victory over the Canucks in Game 5. 

“This is very special group,” Trotz said. “I’ve been coaching a long time (and) this group had great intangibles. If this group would have beaten the Vancouver Canucks, it wouldn’t have surprised me a bit.”

-- A.J. Perez
Posted on: May 10, 2011 12:17 am
Edited on: May 10, 2011 2:34 am

Canucks have Kesler to thank for series win

The Vancouver Canucks’ playoff push would have stalled (again) in the second round minus the efforts of Ryan Kesler

The gritty forward had assists on both Canucks’ goals in Monday’s series-clinching 2-1 victory over the Nashville Predators on Monday night. He finished the series with 11 points (five goals, six assists), making him a factor in all but five goals scored by the Canucks in the series.

“He obviously decided to drive the bus,” Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said. “He obviously was our dominant force on the ice. He played real strong on both sides of the rink. We needed that performance. We needed some other guys to come on board here. It’s not going to get easier.”

Kesler (pictured above, center)  instigated the first goal Monday after he stripped Preds defenseman Ryan Suter and fed the puck to Mason Raymond. His second assist came after banging the puck off Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne on a power play later in the opening period, allowing Daniel Sedin score to score first goal of the series. 

Twin brother Henrik also had only one goal during the series and the combined the Sedins were a minus-9. 

“They didn’t get a lot of production out of the Seinds,” Trotz said. “They concentrated on shutting down our guys. We concentrated on shutting down their guys. We just had (trouble) shutting down one extra guy. . . . (Kesler) had one of the most in incredible six games you are ever going to see.”

Even after running his goalie, Pekka Rinne, in the opening period, Kesler drew the respect of Nashville coach Barry Tortz (above right) and he conveyed the sentiment during the traditional handshake. 

“He had one of those series that is absolutely remarkable for one player,” Trotz said. “I said when I was going past him (in the handshake line) that if he doesn’t play that way, we are probably going to a Game 7 and we might win the series. He played to a level that few people can reach.”

Kesler made a name for himself at the 2010 Winter Olympics for Team USA’s drive to the gold medal game, and the fact he basically carried the Canucks to the conference finals for the first time in 17 years certainly raised the hardnosed forward’s stock some. 

-- A.J. Perez

Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: May 9, 2011 3:20 pm
Edited on: May 9, 2011 4:04 pm

Preds or Wings? Who has best shot at a Game 7?

The Nashville Predators get the first crack tonight. The Detroit Red Wings follow on Tuesday.

But which team is more likely to extend their second-round series to seven games?

My vote would be for the Predators, although I believe it’s possible both could go the distance. The Vancouver Canucks have already allowed the Chicago Blackhawks back from a 0-3 deficit to force a Game 7 in the first round and the Preds are the a little healthier than the Red Wings, who face the San Jose Sharks in their Game 6 on Tuesday. 

"We want to make them think as much as we can," ,” Predators defenseman Shane O’Brien, who spent two seasons with the Canucks, told The Vancouver Sun. "They obviously have had a little bit of trouble closing series out for whatever reason.

"We are kind of taking the attitude we have nothing to lose. No one probably thinks we're going to come back other than the guys in this room. We believe. We have come back all year. You hear Trotzie use the word resilient, we have been resilient all year. There are a lot of good guys in here and we want to keep playing. We have nothing to lose and will have our fans behind us tonight. We'll give it our best shot and hopefully we can force a Game 7."

The Preds and Wings are each on home ice, although that hasn’t always been advantage for Nashville. The Predators enter tonight’s contest 2-3 at home in the playoffs, including losses in Games 3-4 in this series. Nashville has allowed an average of 3.6 goals per game at Bridgestone Arena. 

“We haven’t played great hockey at home so far this series,” Preds forward Jerred Smithson said. “Tonight would be a good night to get things started.” 

The Canucks will have the services of forward Chris Higgins, who took a shot off his foot in the first period of Game 5. He left Monday’s skate early, but told reporters afterward he expected to play. 

That’s good news for the Canucks since Higgins has one more goal (two) than both the Sedin twins in this series. Daniel Sedin is looking for his first marker and Henrik has scored just once through the first five games. Each has two assists. 

Meanwhile, the Red Wings have bigger injury issues to deal with as they look to become the fourth team in NHL history to battle back from an 0-3 deficit. Johan Franzen (ankle) appears to be question mark. But, as it often does this time of year, will Detroit's goalending backstop another victory? Jimmy Howard made 39 saves in Game 5, including several key stops late as the Wings rallied to win 4-3. 

It could take another effort like that if the Wings want to force the series back to the Shark Tank. 

-- A.J. Perez
Posted on: May 9, 2011 3:20 pm
Edited on: May 9, 2011 3:21 pm
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Posted on: May 9, 2011 2:14 am
Edited on: May 9, 2011 4:52 pm

Ailing Datsyuk leads Wings; Franzen forced out

Pavel Datsyuk’s sore wrist prevented him from taking faceoffs in Game 5, but the Red Wings center still had the passing touch. 

Datsyuk had three assist as the Red Wings extended the second-round series again, this time with a 4-3 comeback victory over San Jose Sharks on Sunday night. 

His final assist came after he swiped the puck from Sharks forward Patrick Marleau, danced around the ice for a bit then hit an open Nicklas Lidstrom, whose blast was deflected in by Tomas Holmstrom for the game-winner. 

“Pav was really good,” Detroit coach Mike Babcock said after the game. “I don’t think he was great early, but he was outstanding in the third period. He really dug in and competed.

"It’s interesting. As you watch the playoffs, there are lots of nice players in the regular season and they have good skill level and all that. But if you don’t have a drive train and if you don’t compete at the highest level, you aren’t going to compete this time of year.”

One of the Babcock’s usual playoff stalwarts, Johan Franzen, wasn’t able to grind it out the entire game. 

An ankle injury suffered in Game 2 of the first-round series against the Phoenix Coyotes again made Franzen, known as  “the Mule,” all but immobile on the ice, although he did move pretty quickly when he thought Sharks captain Joe Thornton targeted his injury in the first period. Franzen got two minutes for slashing, while Thornton went off for unsportsmanlike conduct after he embellished the swipe. 

Here's a look at the incident:

And here's a more humorous look at Thornton's dive you "Star Wars" fans will appreciate. 

“It’s been hard for the Mule,” Babcock said. “The Mule is a star at playoff time. Playing on one leg has been hard for him. “

Franzen’s last shift came midway through the second period and Babcock was forced to shuffle his lines even more. He had already scratched Jiri Hudler in favor of the quicker Drew Miller before the game. 

Babcock said it’s up to Franzen whether he'll play in Tuesday’s Game 6.

“I don’t know what will happen there,” Babcock said. “He’ll just tell me if he’s going or not. If he can go, we’re going with him.”

If he can’t, we might see veteran Mike Modano. Modano has played in only one game in these playoffs, Game 4 in the first round, and missed half of the regular season after wrist surgery. 

-- A.J. Perez


Posted on: May 9, 2011 1:22 am
Edited on: May 9, 2011 3:35 pm

Roenick: Sharks' Marleau 'gutless' in Game 5

At the very least, the San Jose Sharks’ Game 5 loss allowed Jeremy Roenick to take another run at Patrick Marleau

Roenick, the former NHLer turned Versus analyst, called Marleau’s performance in the Detroit Red Wings’ comeback victory on Sunday night “gutless,” but the rips kept coming. 

“All in all 19 players of San Jose Sharks came and grinded it out and played very good game,” Roenick added. 

Here's a look at the video: 

Roenick then took to Twitter to defend his remarks, with explanation marks galore.

“Everyone can be mad at me for my comments. That's fine!!” Roenick wrote. “My opinions are mine and I’ve always voiced them! Classless? I’ve had worse said of me!! 

“Marleau has his fans and that's great! I am not one of them and won't pretend to be! I love the Sharks with a passion and think the fans deserve a better effort than Marleau has given in this series!!!”

It was a harsher assessment than when the Sharks took on the Wings, also in the second round, a year ago. 

“When is Patrick Marleau gonna come out and hit somebody in a playoff game?” Roenick said on a Candian radio station. 

Bitter much, JR? He played his final two seasons of his career with San Jose, the last on the Sharks’ Presidents’ Trophy-winning team of 2008-09. That run was cut off in the first round by the Anaheim Ducks in a series where Marleau was chided for doing the “double flamingo” as jumped out of the way from a slap shot. 

Marleau’s captain’s “C” was yanked that offseason, but he remains one of the classiest players in the NHL and never outwardly sulked as Joe Thornton took over the captaincy. Marleau also didn’t stand out in Game 5, which I guess maybe you could note. He didn’t have any points, but he also finished even, although he did have two giveaways -- one less than Thornton. Sharks defensemen Ian White and Niclas Wallin, by the way, were both minus-3. 

"Jeremy Roenick only cares about furthering his broadcasting career," Sharks' broadcaster Randy Hahn said on Twitter . "His Marleau take was WAY over the line. Many bridges were burned."

Roenick, however, wasn’t the only former NHL player/broadcaster to rip the Sharks, but give Aaron Ward credit for not going the personal route. 

“Another case of 'Sanjoseitis'?” Ward, also a Versus analyst, wrote on Twitter . “New strand similar to ones seen in years past. Symptoms include choking and restlessness.”

-- A.J. Perez
Posted on: May 7, 2011 11:41 pm
Edited on: May 7, 2011 11:41 pm

Legwand scores equalizer from behind net

The Nashville Predators found success again by tossing pucks from behind the Vancouver Canucks’ net.

Preds center David Legwand flipped the puck from behind net in the opening minute of the second period and the puck bounded off the arm of Canucks defenseman Alexander Edler then past goalie Roberto Luongo. Legwand, who also scored the game’s first goal, tied the game with the trick tally and the Preds went on to win, 4-3, on Saturday to force a sixth game in the second-round series. 

“That second goal is the type of goal you don’t see too often,” Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault said.

Here’s a look at it:

Nashville forced overtime in Game 2 when defenseman Ryan Suter’s centering pass from end boards banked off Loungo’s stick and in with just over a minute left in regulation. 
-- A.J. Perez
Posted on: May 7, 2011 11:04 pm
Edited on: May 8, 2011 1:03 am

Canucks' Salo delivers questionable hit

Sami Salo could be the latest Vancouver Canucks player to have a hit reviewed by league officials. 

The Canucks defenseman delivered a hit that drove the head of Nashville Predators forwad Nick Spaling into the boards late in the second period of Game 5 of the first-round series on Saturday night. 

Here's a look at the collision:

Spaling, who appeared to favor his shoulder as he left the ice, returned for the closing minutes of the Preds’ 4-3 victory at Rogers Arena to force a Game 6. No penalty was called on the play.

“He’ll be fine,” Predators coach Barry Trotz said after the game. “He’s a tough kid.”

The Canucks played without forward Raffi Torres for the final two games of the regular season and the first two contests of the playoffs after he was suspended for a hit to the head of Edmonton Oilers rookie Jordan Eberle. The league also looked at a hit Torres made on Chicago’s Brent Seabrook in the first round, but the NHL chose not to suspend Torres for that collision. 

-- 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