Tag:2011 WC Playoffs
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 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 16, 2011 12:08 am
Edited on: May 16, 2011 2:56 am

Torres sells elbow, keys Canucks' Game 1 win

Raffi Torres sold it better than (enter the name of a has-been actor here) pushes reverse mortgages on your grandparents.

The Vancouver Canucks forward -- who plays on and often over the line -- acted as if the elbow of Sharks forward Dany Heatley was encased in concrete as the two battled along the boards in the third period of Game 1 of the Western Conference Final on Sunday night. Torres flailed to make sure the referee didn’t miss it, which he didn’t as an elbowing minor was called.

Henrik Sedin scored on the ensuing power play as the Canucks came away with a 3-2 victory at Rogers Arena. Torres wasn’t on the ice for Sedin’s second goal of the playoffs, but give him an assist anyway.

Here’s a link to the collision, which can be found 2:56 in.

You wouldn’t think Torres would get the benefit of many of those sorts of calls. He was suspended the final two games of the regular season and the first two contests of the playoffs for a hit to the head of Edmonton Oilers rookie Jordan Eberle. Torres' collision with Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook in the first round was also looked at by the league, but NHL officials decided not to suspend him.

Torres wasn’t called for a dive on Sunday, but teammate Maxim Lapierre -- who is no stranger to flopping -- took the minor. He went off for two minutes as he embellished a hold by Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle, who also went to the box.

In total, the Canucks got four power-play opportunities to the Sharks’ one. Maybe it was a good indication of how the night would go for the Sharks in the call department as captain Joe Thornton was tossed out of the circle on the opening faceoff.

The Detroit Red Wings had complained that Thornton was jumping the faceoffs in their second-round series. Apparently, the Canucks were the beneficiary of those gripes.

-- A. J. Perez

Posted on: May 15, 2011 2:46 am
Edited on: May 15, 2011 12:05 pm

Preview: No. 1 Canucks vs. No. 2 Sharks

Well, we're guaranteed one thing: one of two teams that have been carrying burdens of playoff disappointments will make the Stanley Cup Finals.

Both Vancouver and San Jose can probably understand each other's plight pretty well. The two squads have entered the last few postseasons with very high expectations, local fans dreaming of their organization's first Stanley Cup title, only to fall short of the Finals. San Jose has had perhaps the biggest label of playoff underachiever, but the Sharks were in the conference final last year. This is Vancouver's first trip since 1994, when it lost in seven games to Mark Messier's Rangers.

"It's always fun playing in the playoffs. I mean, it's the conference finals," Daniel Sedin said. "It's going to be extremely tough games. Everyone keeps saying that Nashville plays tight defensively. I think San Jose is equally as good defensively. They probably have more firepower up front. It's going to be a tough series, equally as tight."

Ironically enough, the top two seeds in the Western Conference have taken similar, albeit reversed, paths to get this far. In the first round it was the Canucks playing a Game 7 after holding a 3-0 lead on Chicago whereas the Sharks had the same scenario against Detroit in the second round, holding off the Red Wings in Game 7.

In the four games played between the two this season, the Canucks had plenty of success, taking seven of a possible eight points. The Sharks picked up three.

"It'll be interesting. We'll enter a series as the underdog. That hasn't happened before. Maybe there will be a little pressure taken off us there and we can go play free," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said.

Here's the breakdown:

Forwards: When you look at the list of players on both sides, you begin to understand real fast why these are the top two seeds in the West. With these two, it's really pick your poison. The Canucks have a Hart Trophy winner (Henrik Sedin last season) and one in the running this season (brother Daniel) and perhaps the hottest skater in hockey right now (Ryan Kesler). Going into Round 2 against Nashville, there were questions about how much would the Canucks score as the offense was struggling some and the Predators are stingy. For San Jose, the names Thornton, Pavelski, Marleau, Heatley, Setoguchi, Clowe and Couture are enough to scare any opponent. It's an elite and deep group of forwards the Sharks throw out on the ice. But much like Vancouver with the Sedin twins, the Sharks are looking for a little more production out of their top players, namely Marleau. The Sharks star was criticized by Jeremy Roenick among others during the series against the Red Wings, but perhaps his Game 7-clincing score will be the boost he needs to start producing like he does annually in the regular season.

Edge: Hate to cop out, but it's a push.

Defensemen: When you start looking at the two units, there is a troublesome stat/note for both. For San Jose, it's concerning that they surrendered 40-plus shots to the Red Wings in Games 3, 4, 6 and 7. That's asking a lot from your goaltender night in, night out, especially against a team with the skill of the Canucks. Vancouver, meanwhile, has had just one pairing of defensemen stay together through the whole of the first two rounds, luckily for them it's their top shutdown duo of Dan Hamhuis and Kevin Bieksa. When you compare the meaningful sample size of the regular season, you start to see an appreciable difference. The Canucks were the toughest defense to score on in the NHL at 2.20 goals against a game compared to San Jose's 2.54, good enough for 10th. Talking offensive production, the two teams look pretty similar with one standout racking up 50 points this season (Dan Boyle for the Sharks, Christian Ehrhoff in Vancouver) and a pretty steep drop off to the next.

Edge: Canucks

Goaltenders: Again, the two goalies, like the teams, have had similar postseasons so far. Both Roberto Luongo and Antti Niemi struggled mightily in their respective first-round series with each being pulled at one time. In the second round, however, each was spectacular, recording save percentages above .930 (.933 for Luongo, .931 for Niemi). Luongo was the center of a heaping of criticism for his play against Chicago, adding on to what has always been a subpar postseason resume. Perhaps that's behind him after he finally got past the conference semifinals for the first time in four tries. For Niemi, there's been no such perception problem when it comes to playoffs. With the series win over Detroit, Niemi is a perfect six-for-six after leading the Blackhawks to the Cup last year. Keep this one in mind: against the Canucks this season, Niemi was 1-2-1 with a 3.64 GAA and .896 save percentage. But also remember he beat the Canucks last year in the playoffs.

Edge: Ever-so-slightly to Canucks, Luongo.

Special teams: After detailing the firepower both teams possess, it should come as no surprise that these were the NHL's two most efficient power-play units. The Sharks are in a little rut with a man up coming out of the Detroit series as Devin Setoguchi's Game 7 tally was their only goal in the last 13 tries. It's worth noting, though, that the Sharks have five players on the roster who recorded nine goals or more with a man up compared to just two for the Canucks, so it's safe to say San Jose can throw two solid power-play lines on the ice. Perhaps the biggest mismatch in the series, though, comes in the battle between Vancouver's power play and San Jose's penalty kill. In that department, the Sharks were ranked 24th in the league this season at a 79.6-percent kill rate. In the playoffs it has been a little better, killing off 82.7 percent. Vancouver, meanwhile, has kept pretty consistent with its third-ranked regular-season penalty kill percentage of 85.7, including their current run of just one goal allowed in the last 26 short-handed attempts.

Edge: Canucks

Prediction: This was the better matchup of the two possibilities for the Canucks, not to mention they had to love the Wings pushing the Sharks to the limit and helping exhaust them before getting this series under way. Believe it or not, this is the first time the perennial playoff teams have met in the postseason. But as has been the norm in the West the last few weeks, expect every game to be close, with every loose puck being fought for with the utmost tenacity. Although the Canucks got almost every edge from me, the differences aren't large, except some when talking defense. I'm inclined to say the Canucks will prevail in six games.

-- Brian Stubits

Western Conference Finals
No. 1 Vancouver vs. No. 2 San Jose - Series Tied, 0-0
Date Site Time/Result
May 15 at VAN 8 p.m.  
May 18 at VAN 9 p.m.  
May 20 at SJ 9 p.m.  
May 22 at SJ 3 p.m.  
* May 24 at VAN 9 p.m.  
* May 26 at SJ 9 p.m.  
* May 28 at VAN 8 p.m.  

Posted on: May 14, 2011 1:24 am
Edited on: May 14, 2011 1:30 am

Sharks' White's wife goes into labor before game

We all know hockey players are tough. But how about a little love for the ones they love?

In attendance at the Shark Tank before Game 7, Sharks defenseman Ian White's wife Tess felt the onset of labor contractions, at which point she sent a text to the team with a clear message: We need to go to the hospital ... when the game is over.

According to the Oakland Tribune, the Whites went straight to the hospital after the Sharks beat the Red Wings 3-2 and Tess gave birth to daughter Gracelyn Sophia on Friday morning.

So while her husband was going through the agony of a Game 7, she was going through the agony of early labor. Hardly seems like a fair tradeoff. But kudos to Mrs. White for getting in the playoff spirit and toughing it out.

White logged 14:12 of ice time, recording two shots and a plus-1 rating. Little did he know then, but his wife was recording her own plus-1 for the family.

-- Brian Stubits

Posted on: May 13, 2011 1:02 am
Edited on: May 13, 2011 1:20 am

Marleau scores key goal, silences biggest critic

Patrick Marleau shoved more than just the puck into the net with eight minutes left in regulation of Game 7 on Thursday night.

The San Jose Sharks forward tossed aside --- at least for one night --- the allusion that he is a playoff no-show, something that former NHL player tuned broadcaster Jeremy Roenick hammered home days earlier and a theory carried on as he failed to score in the series. But Marleau made his one goal --- and only point in the second-round series --- count as his tally off the scramble in front of the Detroit Red Wings’ net turned out to be the game-winner in a 3-2 victory.

“The job isn’t finished yet,” Marleau said in interview on Versus. “I like the way (the series) ended, that’s for sure.”

It wasn’t too pretty the last few days for the Sharks and for Marleau in particular. The Sharks lost three games in a row and were in danger of becoming the fourth team in NHL history to blow a 3-0 series lead. Marleau was called “gutless” --- twice --- by Roenick, a former teammate of Marleau’s in San Jose.

But even the outspoken Roenick could do nothing but applaud Marleau’s performance, although he hinted that his play in the second period was a little off. You can’t argue with that assessment, especially as Marleau failed to clear the puck on multiple occasions late in the second frame.

In the playoffs, however, it’s all about how you finish. Marleau not only scored the decisive goal in the decisive game, he also cleared the puck from his knees as time ticked down. He also drew a slashing penalty on a whack by Niklas Kronwall.

“This is the kind of play you need at the end of games and Patrick Malreau was there to make them tonight,” Roenick said. “Listen, I have no problem telling somebody when they did something bad. I have no problem when they come back at me and show something good. The only reason I'm tough on Patrick Marleau is because I know how good he is. I know what’s he capable of doing. He showed me tonight by getting the big goal, making the big plays when it was needed and that's why the San Jose Sharks won.”

Here's a look at the video via Yahoo! Sports' Puck Daddy blog:

It looked like Marleau proved some of critics wrong last year when he scored on overtime of Game 3 and tacked on the game-winner in Game 5 in the second round against the Wings last year. He was also the rare Shark to play well against the Chicago Blackhawks in the next round, compiling five goals and an assist as San Jose was swept.

Let’s see how long Thursday’s performance stays fresh in the minds of pundits.

-- 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