Tag:2011 Conference Semifinals
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
Posted on: May 2, 2011 3:10 pm
Edited on: May 2, 2011 9:41 pm

Complaint launched against Vancouver Green Men

Could the green be going in Vancouver?

The green, of course, are the famed Green Men, “Force” and “Sully”, who sit clad in spandex next to the opposing penalty box at Canucks games. They have gained plenty of attention in the last two seasons with their taunting tactics when opponents enter the sin bin, including such things as handstands, Wild dances and cutouts of famous opposing fans in Canucks clothes.

Check out this most recent one with Carrie Underwood, wife of Nashville’s Mike Fisher, with a Vancouver sweater on.

Well, news has leaked out that a complaint has been filed with the NHL to curb the duo’s dancing and actions. Many are speculating the complaint came from the Predators considering the timing of it all. TV analyst and former goaltender Glenn Healy is saying the complaint did, in fact, come from the Predators.

Courtesy of Jason Botchford:

But Healy, who has become the point man on this story, was again incredulously discussing it on TEAM 1040 Monday morning. Still offended with [the Green Men], he said Nashville issued a former complaint and, as a result: "The rule has been laid out."

So what have the two now controversial men been told? Apparently to back off on the glass touching and to stop the handstands.

Now, Botchford says the two are headed to Smashville for Games 3 and 4, although no word on where they will be sitting.

If this complaint did, indeed, come from the Predators, then mission accomplished for the superfans. Admittedly, they are trying to get the other team out of sorts with their antics, take them “out of the zone,” as one says.

I say no harm, no foul. They are paying customers and aren’t crossing any lines from what I can tell. It’s no different than fans slapping the board every single time the puck is played in front of them. Every time .

There’s a Facebook group to save the Green Men. If you want to see what makes the men tick, check out this video.

-- Brian Stubits

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 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 29, 2011 9:56 pm
Edited on: April 29, 2011 10:33 pm

Chalk one up for 'underdog' Lightning

All Tampa Bay coach Guy Boucher wanted to tell everybody about this series is that it’s his team that’s the underdog, David to the Capitals’ Goliath. Classic mind games being played by a rookie head coach.

"If they don't win, it's a failure," Boucher said before Game 1. "It's Goliath against David. That's what it is. We'd better get our slingshots ready."

Not sure anybody’s buying it. I’m certainly not. The Bolts have players, they have talent, and they seem to have finally solved their goalie riddle with the ageless wonder Dwayne Roloson . Let us remind you the Lightning, despite being the fifth seed, only finished four points behind Washington this season.

Hardly the stuff of fairy tales.

He wasn't willing to concede much after the game, either.

"We won the game, but there's going to be a lot of work ahead. And we know that team is going to come out flying next game and take it to us, like they did the rest of the teams," Boucher said.

But if the Lightning are David, then – to mix classic stories – they might be the little engine that could. And we really do mean little.

The team not only boasts diminutive Hart finalist Martin St. Louis -- 5-feet-8 off skates -- but had to play the majority of Game 1 short, with just 10 forwards. That’s because Simon Gagne left early in the first period and didn’t return after a hard fall to the ice after a hit from Scott Hannan . The Bolts later took a loss to the blue line when Pavel Kubina left and didn't come back.

"We were going through a lot of short shifts, 15-20 second-shifts. It was very exhausting for our guys," Boucher said. "Especially with back-to-back games coming up at home on Tuesday and Wednesday, it's going to be tough."

It didn’t matter. Tampa Bay was good enough -- and a little lucky -- to win its fourth game in a row, taking a 1-0 lead on the Capitals.  It was also the Lightning’s fourth consecutive road playoff win. Not too shabby.

The luck, you ask? Check out Steve Downie's goal . It qualifies in the fluke variety. With the Lightning catching the Caps on a line change, Downie chased down a puck to the right of the cage and just tried to backhand it across the crease, but the pass was intercepted by Hannan. That's when fortune struck as the puck redirected right on goal and over the shoulder of Michal Neuvirth for the game-tying score.

But Boucher is right about one thing. There is a ton of pressure on the Capitals to win. Bruce Boudreau’s future behind the bench could be on the line with Washington’s run this year.

The fans in Verizon Center know it, too. On more than one occasion the locals showed their restlessness, jeering the Caps with boos both at the end of the second period and during an anemic third-period power play.

Boudreau wasn't too pleased with how his team played either, intimating they returned to the style of hockey they went away from this season.

"You can't play river hockey. That's how we played. You can't revert back to an older day."

The pressure will only mount after this.

We’ll let Boucher use whatever tactics he wants. If it gets to the Capitals and their fans, all the better. Let’s just say if he insists on calling his team David, then let's concede that slingshot is filled with something stronger than stones.

-- Brian Stubits

Posted on: April 29, 2011 7:42 pm
Edited on: April 29, 2011 10:05 pm

Lightning's Gagne helped off ice after hard fall

In what has become an all-too common occurence in the playoffs, we had another scary moment in the first period in Washington.

With the puck in the corner, Simon Gagne was checked into the boards by Capitals defenseman Scott Hannan, whose hit lifted Gagne off his skates. The hit itself into the boards wasn't the issue, it was the fall as Gagne came down and smacked his head on the ice, staying down for a few minutes.

The stretcher was brought out but eventually Gagne got up with help and skated off the ice. It's worth noting that on his way toward the bench, Hannan came over and gave Gagne an encouragement tap.

Tampa Bay entered the game with only 11 forwards suited up for Game 1, going with seven defensemen. Well, Gagne is surely done for the night, so the Lightning will have to endure longer shifts and more ice time.

If Gagne was concussed -- and it's hard to imagine he wasn't after seeing him on the ice -- it could keep him out for the rest of the postseason. He has a history of concussions, taking one in 2007 while with the Flyers.

Gagne scored 17 goals and had 23 assists this season for Tampa Bay, his first. In the first-round win over the Penguins, he had two goals and five assists with a plus-2.

UPDATE (7:50 p.m.): The Lightning say Gagne is alert and being evaluated by the team doctors. At this point, his status is undetermined.

UPDATE (8:20 p.m.): A team spokesperson says Gagne will not return for the rest of Game 1.

-- Brian Stubits

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