Tag:2011 NHL Playoffs
Posted on: April 22, 2011 6:16 am

Should Canucks go away from Luongo?

Vancouver Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo has allowed 10 goals over the last 30 shots he's faced, but he will find himself back in the net for Game 6 on Sunday . 

Is that the right call?

Canucks coach Alain Vigneault told reporters that he’s not going away from Luongo after a 5-0 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 5 on Thursday night. He was pulled for the second game in a row as the 'Hawks staved off elimination again.

Luongo told The Chicago Tribune that he’s not about to change how he goes about things:

"I've been at the top of my game for the last five months. I feel good in what I've been doing. Just make sure you apply that process in a game. Obviously you don't lose something like that in a game or two. For me, nothing changes. The work is going to be there and I'm going to be focused to play the next one."

While Luongo has had his struggles in the postseason, the Canucks haven’t had a viable backup the past couple postseasons. That changed this season as Cory Schneider went 16-4-0 with a healthy .929 save percentage, although he did let in the first shot he faced when he came into the game in relief on Thursday. 

-- A.J. Perez
Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: April 22, 2011 2:14 am
Edited on: April 22, 2011 5:42 am

Murray: Heatley's trip in third period 'gutless'

LOS ANGELES --- Los Angeles Kings coach Terry Murray called  San Jose Sharks forward Dany Heatley's actions “gutless” minutes after his squad fell 6-3 in Game 4 of the first-round series at Staples Center on Thursday. 

Murray took issue with Heatley’s trip of Kings defenseman Alec Martinez that occurred with about three minutes left in the third period. Heatley was called for a tripping minor, although Murray said it was actually a slew foot – the act of using a leg or skate to kick another player’s legs out from underneath him. 

“That’s a very dangerous play,” Murray said. “That’s where you break your leg. That’s where you blow your knee out. I hate that play. That’s a gutless move in my mind. You just don’t do that in hockey.”

Slew-footing can result in a major penalty, an ejection and can subject a player to fine or suspension; the act can also be reviewed under the league’s supplementary discipline guidelines even if it's not called duirng the game.

San Jose Sharks coach Todd McLellan, who spoke to reporters immediately after Muray’s news conference, said he couldn’t comment on the alleged incident since he hadn’t seen the replay. 

And Murray wasn't done talking about Sharks players and penalties. 

He credited Sharks forward Scott Nichol for drawing Kings defenseman Drew Doughty into a coincidental rouging minor penalty in the second period. (Replays showed that Nichol was upset after a near knee-on-knee collision.) Ryane Clowe and Jason Demers scored on the ensuing 4-on-4 as the Sharks took a 2-0 lead. 

“You can’t lose Doughty to Nichol,” Murray said. “Give him credit. He’s the reason they won tonight. . . . You just don’t want to lose your top defenseman to a player of that stature.”

Doubt that was a knock on Nichol’s 5-foot-9 frame. Nichol is a fourth-line center with no points in the series. Nichol also drew a double minor when Kings defenseman Matt Greene clipped him with a high stick. Clowe scored his second goal of the game on the power play. 

--- A.J. Perez
Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: April 21, 2011 11:19 pm
Edited on: April 22, 2011 2:35 pm

Ference gives Montreal crowd a salute, fined

Boston Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference was fined $2,500 for his post-goal celebration in the second period of Game 4 on Thursday. 

Cameras caught Ference flip the Bell Centre crowd the bird after he scored to make it a one-goal game. The Bruins eventually won the game, 5-4, in overtime to even the best-of-7 series at 2-2. The NHL announced the fine -- the largest allowed under the collective bargaining agreement -- on Friday. 

The Globe and Mail reports what what CBC analyst Glenn Healy said after the gesture and whether punishment was warranted: 
“It’s what he does after he scores the goal that enrages me,” Healy said. “Andrew Ference, you better get ready to open up your wallet because this little act here after you scored the goal ... isn’t called for.”

There's also the possibility of a suspension. The NHL suspended Canadiens defenseman James Wisniewski, who was then with the New York Islanders, two games for an obscene gesture in October.

Since this is family website, let's just say Wisniewski's gesture was just slightly more graphic than what Ference did Thursday. 

Here's a look:

-- A.J. Perez
Posted on: April 21, 2011 5:31 am
Edited on: April 21, 2011 5:55 am

Can Kings regroup from Game 3 breakdown?

LOS ANGELES --- The man who capped the most dramatic playoff comeback in NHL history tried to put one of the game’s biggest collapses in perspective.

“Sometimes you need a little bit of a slap,” said Daryl Evans, who scored the game-winning goal in OT as the Los Angeles Kings overcame a 5-0 deficit in the third period against the Edmonton Oilers in 1982’s Miracle on Manchester. “You hate to say you need a wake-up call in the middle part of April in the playoffs, but sometimes you need that. I think the Kings have been a resilient team all year.”

Exactly how resilient is the question as the Kings take on San Jose Sharks at Staples Center for Game 4 of the first-round series tonight. The Sharks became the fourth team in playoff history to overcome a deficit of four or more goals on Tuesday en route to 6-5 overtime victory. 

“The bottom line, in the playoffs, is that we embarrassed ourselves,” Kings coach Terry Murray told reporters (via Rich Hammond of L.A. Kings Insider). “We played a terrible game. Now what you have to do is, how do you deal with that kind of performance? We have to bounce back (Thursday) and we have to play our best game. It’s as simple as that.”

Evans, a broadcaster with the Kings for more than a decade, said it was fairly clear Los Angeles went away from their game plan that not only resulted in a 4-0 victory in Game 2, but a 4-0 lead early in the second period of Game 3. 

“They chased the puck,” Evans said. “That’s not the way the Kings usually play. Terry Murray has them very structured defensively, but they started to chase the puck and chase the game. . . . You have to give San Jose a lot of credit. They could have packed it in early and they didn’t. That goes to show you the experience they have and the veteran players they have.”

Now, it’ll be up to Drew Doughty, Dustin Penner, Dustin Brown and the other Kings players can get past Tuesday’s defeat. A victory tonight, while it won’t erase what happened Tuesday, will get the series back up to the Bay Area tied 2-2. 

"I think we learned our lesson. I'd like to believe we have," Kings defenseman Willie Mitchell told The Los Angeles Times.

-- A.J. Perez

Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: April 21, 2011 12:32 am

Caps' Boudreau gets last word at MSG

Maybe, Washington Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau was right. 

Those fans at Madison Square Garden were quiet -- at least after the New York Rangers squandered a three-goal lead in the third period as the Washington Capitals seized a 4-3 victory in the second overtime of Game 4 on Wednesday. 

On TV, that third period sounded a lot like what I heard -- or didn’t hear -- at Staples Center as the Kings fumbled a 4-0 lead in the second period en route to a 6-5 OT loss to the San Jose Sharks. The MSG fans gave it Boudreau and the Caps at the beginning, chiding the coach they call “Gabby” with “Can you hear us?” chants. 

And as The Washington Post’s Katie Carrera reports Wednesday night, it went beyond that as well: 

Earlier this week while making a radio appearance, Coach Bruce Boudreau said Madison Square Garden, the NHL’s oldest building, was “nothing” and “not that loud.” Whether it was intended to create a stir was irrelevant, because the comments provoked the New York faithful to make themselves known.
A sold-out Garden was raucous when the teams hit the ice. Rangers fans quickly turned to their new enemy, chanting “Boud-reau Sucks!” in unison. They even replaced Denis Potvin’s name with the coach’s in the famous ‘Hot Cross Buns’ tune that Rangers fans have been singing, regardless of opponent, since 1979.

Just as the Kings became the fourth team in playoff history to squander a four-goal lead, the MSG crowd quieter as the Caps scored three third-period goals. The parallels didn’t escape Boudreau between the two games, who mentioned in a post-game interview that he had the Kings-Sharks Game 3 on his mind. 

Still, it’s probably not advisable to call out opposing fans --- even if all the taunts went for naught.
  It’s one thing to intimate the New York Rangers were targeting Caps defenseman Mike Green, who missed the final weeks of the regular season due to a concussion. That’s gamesmanship and a long-established practice by coaches to plant the seed in the mind of officials.  
 This fan stuff just seems reckless. 

-- A.J. Perez
Posted on: April 20, 2011 3:27 am
Edited on: April 20, 2011 5:55 am

The other side of Miracle on Manchester

LOS ANGELES ---Miracle on Manchester meet Failure on Figueroa.

Twenty-nine years after Marcel Dionne and the Los Angeles Kings in those purple and gold jerseys overcame a five-goal deficit against the Edmonton Oilers, the Kings returned the favor --- or at least very close to it. Long gone from their Forum digs on Manchester Avenue in nearby Inglewood, the Staples Center here on Figueroa Street was the site of a four-goal collapse, or comeback depending on your viewpoint. 

Devin Setoguchi shoveled the puck into the net three minutes into overtime to seal a 6-5 victory for the San Jose Sharks Tuesday, a game the rival Bay Area team trailed 4-0 at one point. It was the fourth time in NHL history a team has overcome a deficit of four or more goals in the playoffs and the first time in 26 years. 

“It was crazy,” Setoguchi said. “Before the game, I was looking at the TV and it was a ‘History will be made” commercial. It was the 5-0 (Kings) comeback. So, that it was kind of ironic we came back from 4-0 tonight. I give these guys a lot of credit. We worked hard.”

There was certainly a commercial in there somewhere. It’ll just be a little grating for the Kings, who looked like they were 40 minutes away from easing to a 2-1 lead in the best-of-7 first-round series.  Up 3-0 after the first period, Kings forward Bard Richardson chased Sharks goalie Antti Niemi with a marker 44 seconds into the second period. (Niemi allowed four goals on 10 shots.) 

In came Antero Niittymaki, who hadn’t seen a playoff game in five years, and Sharks forward Joe Pavelski said afterward there was still plenty of time left.

“We were talking and the feeling was that we were going to (come back),” Pavelksi said. “We just wanted to keep it simple and stay together. We talked about how much we needed to rely one another out there.”

Patrick Marleau, Ryane Clowe and Logan Couture scored 10 minutes apart and suddenly it was a 4-3 Kings lead. And the momentum didn’t sway after Ryan Smyth made it 5-3 as the Sharks answered with another Clowe tally followed by Pavelksi’s equalizer with 31 seconds left in the period. 

“That’s as bad as it gets in the second period for sure,” Kings coach Terry Murray said. 

Five goals in one period and the Sharks had the momentum and another promising season may have been salvaged from another postseason disappointment. 

“You could feel it on the bench,” Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. “The more we did it, the more we believed it could happen. It ended up on our favor.”

-- A.J. Perez
Posted on: April 19, 2011 2:10 pm
Edited on: April 19, 2011 2:12 pm

Kunitz, Downie suspended one game apiece

The verdict is already down on Steve Downie and Chris Kunitz from their Game 4 elbows to the head. Each player will be suspended for one game .

In Game 4, the Lightning's Downie flattened Pittsburgh's Ben Lovejoy on the boards behind the net. Lovejoy clearly wasn't aware of the hit coming and it came up high, a very dangerous combination.

A little later in the game, Kunitz threw a clear and undeniable elbow at the head of Tampa Bay's Simon Gagne. He was penalized on the play two minutes for elbowing. While the damage potential wasn't incredibly high, the intent is what matters here, and there's little way to say there was no intent to throw an elbow to the head.

The decision comes down a day after the NHL elected not to punish the Canucks' Raffi Torres for a questionable hit on Brent Seabrook of the Blackhawks, who will miss tonight's Game 4 in Chicago.

The hits are exactly what the league has been trying to eradicate in recent years. It's been a touchy subject with a lot of gray area, but anytime it seems clear there was an intentional shot to the head, the suspension is likely to follow.

In the playoffs there seems to be an uptick in the amount of the big, dangerous hits, something you can likely attribute to the playoff brand of hockey, a more physical and intense brand.

-- Brian Stubits

Posted on: April 19, 2011 1:38 pm
Edited on: April 19, 2011 1:50 pm

Boudreau doesn't think too highly of MSG

If Bruce Boudreau isn't familiar with a Bronx cheer, he soon will be.

Apparently the Capitals coach doesn't get the aura of Madison Square Garden. In an interview with a Washington radio station, Boudreau shared a few thoughts on the "World's Most Famous Arena." Here's betting he didn't make any friends in New York.

"Its reputation is far better than the actual building," Boudreau said in an interview on the station. "It's nothing. The locker rooms are horrible. The benches are horrible. There's no room for anything. But the reputation of being in Madison Square Garden is what makes it famous. Our building is a lot louder, too. They can say what they want, but it's not that loud in there."

Did you leave anything out, coach?

Apparently. Here's what he had to say about the Rangers' approach to Caps defenseman Mike Green, who just returned from an absence from concussion.

"It was to the side of the head, and it was a dirty shot. I hope the league looks at it," Boudreau said of a hit in Game 3 from Marc Staal. "That's exactly what we're trying to get out of the league and out of the game. Staal comes in, there's no puck, he takes his arm, he swings it at his head, but it's all forgotten because we score a goal to tie the game up.

"It shouldn't be forgotten and it wasn't the only time they targeted Mike's head."

As if the New Yorkers needed a reason to get more riled up. Just ask Pedro Martinez how it can be after saying anything bad about either New York or its teams.

MSG will surely be as loud as Boudreau has ever heard it before from here on out, especially if the Rangers are able to stay toe-to-toe with the Caps in the series. As for the other charges, well, they might be on target, but that won't matter much to the patrons. If he wants loud, he'll get it.

-- 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