Tag:2011 NHL Playoffs
Posted on: May 1, 2011 8:21 pm
Edited on: May 1, 2011 11:04 pm

Red Wings look frazzled as Sharks take 2-0 lead

The Detroit Red Wings were on their way to losing their sixth playoff game over the last seven against the San Jose Sharks and it showed. 

Tomas Holmstrom negated a crucial Wings power play with a roughing call drawn by Sharks defenseman Jason Demers early in the third period. That penalty put a serious crimp on a chance to answer the eventual game-winning goal by Niclas Wallin as the Sharks earned a 2-1 victory at the HP Pavilion on Sunday to take a 2-0 series lead. 

“We are ready for them,” Demers told reporters after the game. “It’s the playoffs. Everybody is hit. Everybody is contributing to the physicality side of it. It’s good to see tonight that we pushed back when we are being pushed.”

The Red Wings have made the playoffs 20 seasons in a row, but these Sharks are by no means intimidated by the winged wheel. Nor should they be. They are much deeper than the Phoenix Coyotes -- who the Wings swept in the first round -- and the Sharks seemed to have shaken out the uneven play from their first-round matchup against the Los Angeles Kings

Beyond Holmstrom’s penalty, Todd Bertuzzi was also called for roughing, but at least he took Shark Ben Eager with him to the box in the second period. Wings goalie Jimmy Howard also got a few whacks in on Sharks forwards, usually after when snow showers were shoveled his way by Joe Pavelski. Both Howard and Pavelski were called for roughing for similar behavior in Game 1. 

Sharks coach Todd McLellan, a former Red Wings assistant, isn't a fan of those antics as a means to unsettle Howard.

"When it comes to snow showers, I have no time for gimmicks or crap like that,” McLellan said (via CSN Bay Area ). “If our players do that, they’re going to hear it from me, but they’re going (to hear it) from me if they don’t go into the blue paint and look for the puck. But this is not a circus, it’s not a clown show.”

Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom told CSN Bay Area that Detroit has brought the snow flurries to the attention of officials. 

“That’s up to the refs,” Lidstrom said. “It’s obvious they are trying to do it. We spoke to the refs about it several times. They have to do something about it. You have to get away from that.”

A key for Wednesday’s Game 3 is for the Sharks not to try to overdo the physical play and take some unnecessary penalties of their own. The Wings are still potent with the man-advantage and their only goal Sunday came on a Henrik Zetterberg maker on the power play with six minutes left in regulation.
  “We have played each other (the last two) years in the postseason,” Sharks captain Joe Thornton said. “With good teams comes a little bit of hatred in the game. There’s nothing real cheap, but guys are playing hard. That’s what you expect in the playoffs.”

-- A.J. Perez
Posted on: May 1, 2011 4:14 pm
Edited on: May 1, 2011 7:03 pm

Snoop Dogg wears Ovie jersey at concert

Snoop Dogg is used to rocking arenas. Now he's Rocking the Red. Or at least he did.

The burgeoning hockey fan was sporting an Alex Ovechkin jersey at a recent concert in Baltimore. You know your sport is picking up in popularity when Snoop is hopping on board.

It's not uncommon for artists to play to the local fans and wear a jersey of the local team. But it's still cool to see somebody from the rap world going with a hockey sweater instead of, say, a Ravens jersey.

It's not his first dip into hockey, either. In the last year or two he's made multiple appearances around the sport, including going to a Ducks game because his son wanted to. Heck, he's even tried playing.

And who can forget when Snoop Doggy Dogg -- as he was known then -- sported a Mario Lemieux jersey in the Gin and Juice video?

Yes, it's Beautiful to see Snoop Dogg getting closer to hockey. It's great to see him in the jersey of one of Amerikaz Most Wanted because he's Dropping it Like it's Hot. OK, we'll stop.

-- Brian Stubits

-- Photo courtesy of Andy Hsu

Posted on: May 1, 2011 2:20 am
Edited on: May 1, 2011 4:39 am

Rinne's acrobatics allow Predators to tie series

Henrik Sedin was done in by the Pekka Rinne’s glove hand. Kevin Bieksa had most of the net open before Rinne swung across and used the backside of his blocker to stop the sure goal. Rinne even did snow angel to stop Daniel Sedin’s game-winning bid.

Rinne, the Nashville Predators’ Vezina Trophy-finalist goalie, piled up the spectacular saves in the two overtime periods of Game 2, which allowed Matt Halischuk to score the game-winner as the Preds eked out a 2-1 victory at Rogers Arena on Saturday. Thanks to Rinne, the Pred return home with the series tied, 1-1.

“It’s just one of those things,” Rinne told reporters afterward. “Sometimes, you come up big when needed.”

Rinne finished with 32 saves, the only blemish on the night coming on Alex Burrows’ shorthanded goal early in the second period. And Rinne wasn’t just making stops, but he also controlled most of his rebounds -- even on the saves he had no business making in the first place. 

On a 3-on-2 Canucks break with two minutes left in the first overtime, Daniel Sedin faked a shot then slid the puck between two Predators defenders and over to Bieksa. Sure, Bieksa had most of the net to shoot at and his one-timer was headed to the center of the net, but give Rinne credit for putting himself in any kind of position to make the save. He stopped the shot then fell on top of the puck for the whistle. 

Here’s a look at the sequence: 

“I got a little bit fortunate there with the Bieksa save,” Rinne said. “It was a nice pass to Bieksa and I was able to get my stick any my blocker there.”

Bieksa tipped his hat to Rinne in an interview with the CBC's Tim Wharnsby:

“He was the difference,” said Vancouver defenceman Kevin Bieksa, one of Rinne’s victims in overtime. “He was their best player, no doubt about it.

“We didn’t get enough on net [in regulation] and we didn’t get enough traffic in front of him in overtime. It’s unacceptable to have only what, 14 shots, after three periods.”

Rinne actually saw one more shot than that in regulation, but the Canucks' sputtering offense -- including the Sedin twins who totalled 198 points in the regular season and no points in this series -- combined with a some solid Preds defense resulted in few challenging situations for Rinne through the first three periods. 

That changed once the game surpased regulation, where he made 18 save.

Rinne wasn’t always so solid this postseason. He allowed 16 goals on 98 shots (0.837 save percentage) in the opening four games of the first round against the Anaheim Ducks. Rinne was even pulled in Game 2 of that series. 

That’s why his save percentage just rose above the NHL goaltender equivalent of Mendoza line for the playoof. He's just above a .900  save percentage after a one-goal-allowed, 30-save effort in Game 1 combined with Sunday’s stellar effort.

-- A.J. Perez

Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: May 1, 2011 1:25 am
Edited on: May 1, 2011 1:29 pm

Luongo does his part, Canucks offense doesn't

OK, Roberto Luongo, you're off the hook for now. There's no way to blame you at this point.

The Canucks goaltender was taking almost the entirety of the tremendous heat that was sweltering the Canucks last series as they coughed up a 3-0 lead to Chicago. Rightfully so. In the latter half of that series, Luongo was dreadful.

But not anymore. No, the only thing dreadful about the Canucks right now is the offense.

This is a team with more firepower than any in the NHL. It's a team that led the league in scoring.

And now it's a team that has scored just three goals in regulation in the last three games.

Let's give credit where credit's due. The Predators are a great defensive club. Moreover, Pekka Rinne is an outstanding goaltender. Just go back and watch the overtimes on Saturday for proof. I object to the cliché of a goalie standing on his head as it's used too often, but Rinne turned in a performance worthy of the superlative. It will be tough to find a better performance by a goalie this postseason. In overtime the Canucks had multiple excellent scoring chances that he turned aside. Without him, the Predators aren't here.

"I thought we responded well in OT [to the game-tying goal]," Canucks coach Alain Vignault said after the game. "We had some chances to win the game. We weren’t able to beat a real good goaltender. It was a great goaltender battle tonight.”

In short, the Game 2 classic showed why both goalies were nominated for the Vezina.

But for Luongo, Game 5 against Chicago seems like an eternity ago.

Since he was demoted after struggling mightily in consecutive games, he's been stellar. What was looking like the reason why the Canucks would fall short after such a great season has quickly transformed into the reason why they can win. Because right now it's certainly not the offense.

Since getting the start in Game 7, Luongo has allowed just three goals in three games, and that includes a double-OT goal.

In Game 1 against the Preds, it was a relatively easy night for Luongo. They only hit him with 20 shots. But Game 2 brought a much more aggressive Nashville approach, crashing the net at every opportunity. The result was a peppering of 46 shots, none of which beat Luongo until a terrible break snuck past him in the final minutes. It was a puck thrown toward the crease from behind the cage that ricocheted off the inside of his outer skate.

“That tying goal was sort of lucky break. Sometimes those are things are going to happen," Vignault said.

It was a goal the will likely get Luongo crushed again in Vancouver. It was a terrible goal to allow, certainly. But this time he shouldn't be the scapegoat. He did more than enough to win. The winner from Matt Halishuck was just a bullet above the glove and under the crossbar that almost no goalie, including Rinne on this night, saves. He kept Vancouver in the game long enough to win.

More importantly, Luongo appeared to have his confidence back. He was making saves in style, flashing serious leather and doing all he could to keep the Canucks around.

My question is where have the twins gone? Where are the last two Art Ross Trophy winners? There were some good shifts in there for them, but the most part, they were very quiet. The only goal Saturday came while short-handed from Alex Burrows.

"They [the Sedins} are our top players and obviously we need them to perform like top players," Vignault said. "I know they are working really hard. Sometimes, you have to give the opposition some credit."

Right now there are two reasons why Vancouver is heading to Nashville all square: Pekka Rinne and the Canucks' offense.

-- Brian Stubits

Posted on: April 30, 2011 7:31 pm
Edited on: May 1, 2011 5:32 pm

Lightning's Gagne, Kubina to miss Game 2

Tampa Bay's Game 1 victory in Washington came with a hefty price.

Winger Simon Gagne and defenseman Pavel Kubina will miss Sunday's Game 2 and are listed as day to day after taking hard hits two days prior. Particularly scary was Gagne's fall as he stayed down a while, leading the stretcher to come out onto the ice. In the end it wasn't needed, but that didn't make the moment less frightening. Kubina was checked into the end boards by Jason Chimera in the second period.

“I remember everything, I remember the hit,” Gagne told The Tampa Tribune  on Sunday. “It looked a lot worse than people think. I felt good yesterday and I feel good today, too. And we’ll go day by day.”

Lightning coach Guy Boucher said at Sunday's morning skate that both could be back soon.

"Right now, my understanding from the doctors is it's day to day," Boucher said (via nhl.com ). "There's a possibility maybe for one of them for Tuesday, maybe for both. It's really day to day."

Kubina will be replaced by Randy Jones, who himself is coming back from injury. Blair Jones will dress in place of Gagne.

Tampa Bay has already achieved what it would have liked, getting at least one game in D.C. before returning home. As much as the Bolts would like to take a 2-0 lead, that first win might have bought them just a little bit of room to play things safe, not rush anybody back. Plus, they already showed they can win without either Gagne or Kubina.

-- Brian Stubits

Posted on: April 30, 2011 7:15 pm
Edited on: April 30, 2011 7:57 pm

Boucher yanked, Flyers' goalie search continues

It took all of one game -- actually, not even two periods -- to restart the Philadelphia Flyers' goalie carousel. 

Flyers goalie Brian Boucher was yanked with less than four minutes left  the second period after he allowed his fifth goal (on 23 shots) in the Boston Bruins’ 7-3 victory in Game 1 of the second-round series at Wells Fargo Center on Saturday. In came rookie Sergei Bobrovsky, who allowed the final two goals over the final 10 shots. 

They combined ot allow the most goals in a postseason game against the Bruins since May 4, 1978. 

“It wasn’t a good afternoon all around for all of us,” Boucher told CSN Philadelphia.  “We didn’t get any breaks and we certainly didn’t play all that well. At the same time, I don’t see the need for a change (in goal), but we’ll see what happens.”

The Flyers began the first round with Bobrovsky in net, but his tenure ended after he allowed three goals on seven shots. Boucher came into the game in relief as the Flyers battled back to win Game 2 against the Buffalo Sabres. Boucher eventually had his owns struggles and Michael Leighton --- who was limited to one regular-season game ---- played part of Game 5 and got the start in Game 6. Boucher finished off the series and entered as the No. 1 goalie for this round. 

One bright spot for the Flyers defense and special teams is that they killed all five of the Bruins’ 5-on-4 opportunities. The Bruins still haven’t scored on the power play and they sunk to 0-for-26 with the extra man. 

-- A.J. Perez
Posted on: April 30, 2011 2:31 am
Edited on: April 30, 2011 2:59 am

Preview: No. 2. Flyers vs. No. 3 Bruins

The Boston Bruins had to wait a mere 12 months to attempt to purge one of the game’s most historic collapses from their system. Boston led the Philadelphia Flyers 3-0 --- both in the series and then in Game 7 in the second round --- a season ago. The Bruins squandered both advantages as the Flyers became the third team in NHL history to advance despite losing the first three games of the series. Each team is coming off a seven-game series as Boston dispatched Montreal and the Flyers outlasted Buffalo.

“A lot of people are going to want to bring up the past,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said this week. “If anything, it’s like (playing) Montreal, all the stats were against us and how the Bruins fared against them in the past. Those odds were against us and we overcame. It’s a new situation. It’s a new opportunity  . . .  to get past these guys and hopefully win a series.”

Here’s the breakdown:  
Forwards: Milan Lucic, the Bruins’ top goal scorer in the regular season, got closer to a suspension for boarding Montreal’s Jaroslav Spacek than scoring a goal in the series. He finished the series with two points (both assists). Fortunately for Boston, there were players like Andrew Ference, Chris Kelly and Nathan Horton to pick up the slack. (Even at 43 years old, Mark Recchi has been a frequent contributor as well.) Another plus for the Bruins is that they are healthier overall than this time a year ago. Claude Giroux made a name for himself in last year’s playoff run with the Flyers and he continued the charge, leading Philly in scoring (one goal, eight assists) in the first round. Danny Briere, who had five goals and five assists, in that playoff series against the Bruins a season ago. Briere has six goals and an assist so far in these playoffs. Jeff Carter, the Flyers’ top goal scorer in the regular season, missed the last two games of the first round with a knee injury, but should be available at some point in the series. 

Edge: Flyers

Defense: This series again features two the game’s best (and tallest) defenseman. Boston’s Zdeno Chara, 6-foot-9, and 6-6 Chris Pronger will each see significant ice time as they not only attempt to shut down the opposition's top line but also quarterback the power player. Chara, who missed a game in the first round due to dehydration, saw an average of 28 minutes, 48seconds of ice time in the first round. Pronger missed the first five games of the first round due to a hand injury, which also kept him out of action the final month of the season. He’s still not 100 percent and his injured hand has limited the effectiveness of shots on net, but even a hobbled Pronger can make a difference. The Flyers are also arguably deeper on the blue line with the second defensive pairing of Braydon Coburn and Kimmo Timonen eating up a ton of minutes.

Edge: Flyers

Goalies: Give it to the Bruins; at least they finished the first round with the same goalie they started with. Tim Thomas, a finalist for the Vezina Trophy after he paced the league in save percentage (.938) and goals-against average (2.00), didn’t get much support as the Bruins dropped the first two games of the first round. There was little consideration of replacing Thomas with Tuukka Rask, who got every start in the Bruins net a season ago. Thomas posted a .925 save percentage and a 2.25 goals-against average in the first round. It was quantity -- with a little bit of quality --- in the first round for the Flyers as they started three goalies: rookie Sergei Bobrovsky, Brian Boucher and Michael Leighton. Boucher, however, has emerged as the starter after he posted a 4-1 record (two of those wins coming in relief) along with a 2.10 GAA and .934 save percentage. Boucher also was the No. 1 goalie as the Flyers faced the Bruins a season ago before multiple knee injuries forced him out of the lineup. While Boucher is a fan favorite and one the most personable players in the game, Thomas is the more likely of the two to steal a game with his athleticism.

Edge: Bruins.

Special teams: This could be the facet of the game that could sink the Bruins’ shot at redemption. Boston didn’t score a single goal on their 21 trips to the power play in the first round. It was the first time in more than 50 years a team went scoreless on the power play in a seven-game series. The Bruins, however, didn’t see any 5-on-3 time. Their penalty kill was only slightly better. The Flyers were just about as lost on the man-advantage in the first round before they rebounded to score three goals on the power play over the final two games of the series. They went 3-for-29 (10.3 percent) on the power play in the first round. 

Edge: Flyers.

Prediction: This has all the makings of a brutal, hard-hitting series. The teams have history and a lot of the same strengths. The Bruins have better goaltending. The Flyers have a few more hot forwards plus they have home-ice advantage, something they lacked a year ago. It’s a tough call, but I think Boston will win this one in seven games.  

No. 2 Philadelphia vs. No. 3 Boston - Series tied, 0-0
Date Site Time/Result
April 30 at PHI 3 p.m.  
May 2 at PHI 7:30 p.m.  
May 4 at BOS 7 p.m.  
May 6 at BOS 8 p.m.  
* May 8 at PHI 3 p.m.  
* May 10 at BOS TBA  
* May 12 at PHI TBA  

  -- A.J. Perez

Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: April 30, 2011 1:51 am
Edited on: April 30, 2011 3:04 am

Joe Pavelski singles in equalizer for Sharks

Joe Pavelski lists the Milwaukee Brewers as his favorite baseball team, although they were hardly contenders as he grew up in Plover, Wis. 

The San Jose Sharks forward may have picked up a few pointers anyway. He batted the puck out of midair off a rebound to send the game to overtime, where the Sharks won, 2-1, to take Game 1 of the second-round series against the Detroit Red Wings on Friday night. 

Pavelski, who leads the Sharks with five goals this postseason, had his prints all over the equalizer, which came midway through the third period. He drew the penalty -- a boarding minor called on Red Wings forward Todd Bertuzzi -- that put the Sharks on that power play. Pavelksi’s head bounded off the boards on the collision, but he took his normal spot on the power play as he directed the puck into the net after a blast by Joe Thornton wasn’t controlled by Wings goalie Jimmy Howard

Pavelski became a marked man in the second period for the snow shower he gave Howard, who froze the puck a moment earlier. Howard took exception and shoved Pavelksi in the head a couple times. Each were called for roughing. 

David Pollak of The Mercury News chatted with Pavelski about his action-filled night at the Shark Tank: 
The part about batting the rebound into the net was improvised, but Pavelski resisted the usual notion that childhood baseball training came in handy.

“Maybe ping-pong,” he said.

As far as his run-in with Howard, here’s what Pavelski had to say:

“I don’t know if he had a chip on his shoulder, but he’s played well. We knew we had to go and get traffic there.

“I didn’t really think anyone was probably going off. They said I clipped him in the head there. Whatever happens, we were just going to the net and there’s going to be times like that.

Howard had a similar view of the encounter.

“That’s just the playoffs and emotions,” he said. “I’ll leave it at that.”

-- 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