Tag:Conference Final
Posted on: May 25, 2011 3:57 pm
Edited on: May 25, 2011 3:58 pm

Boucher 'very aware' of ref set to work Game 6

Tampa Bay Lightning coach Guy Boucher sounded like he’s not only going up against the Boston Bruins in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals tonight.

He also inferred that he’ll have an obstacle in stripes at the St. Pete Times Forum.

Boucher said he’s “very, very aware” that referee Eric Furlatt --- one of two refs set to call tonight’s game --- has called 24 penalties on the Bolts versus nine on the opposition in the four Tampa Bay games he’s worked this postseason.

“It has been a part of our discussions quite a few times in the last game, the last games we did have that particular ref,” Boucher said. “And it is lopsided, but the only thing we can control is what we do on the ice and hope that things will be fair like it is with everybody else.”

Furlatt, who Boucher never mentioned by name, called Game 2 of this series, a 6-5 Bruins victory. The Bolts were whistled for eight penalties --- two more than the Bruins --- and Boston converted on two of their six power-play chances.

“You want to ignore it, but you're right, after repetition, it is a concern,” Boucher said. “But we're planning on being strong mentally and forcing whoever is a ref to see that we're very disciplined.”

-- A.J. Perez

Posted on: May 25, 2011 3:54 am
Edited on: May 25, 2011 4:37 am

Sharks fall short again, but core remains

Different species, but the venom stung the same.

The San Jose Sharks were snake-bitten in Game 5 of the Western Conference finals as the Vancouver Canucks advanced to the Stanley Cup Final for the third time in team history with a 3-2 victory in the second overtime on Tuesday night.

Instead of the inability to win at home (see Calgary Flames in 2004) or failure to win anywhere (see a sweep by the Chicago Blackhawks last season), the Sharks saw their best chance to advance to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in club history end when Canucks defenseman Kevin Bieksa -- in what seemed like a hidden-puck trick -- bounced a slap shot past San Jose goalie Antti Niemi in midway through the second overtime.

Of course, it wasn’t that clean-cut as a 3-2 double OT loss, as described by The Mercury News’ Mark Prudy:

It happened when the puck seemed to mysteriously disappeared for a few seconds after Vancouver defenseman Alexander Edler tried to flip it behind the net but instead sent it bouncing high off a metal dividing stanchion in the glass above the boards. It left the eyesight of everyone -- until Canucks' teammate Kevin Bieksa saw the rubber disc suddenly drop in front of him and whacked it with a crazy bounce into the net while Shark goalie Antti Niemi was looking in another direction.

"I thought the puck was out of play," Sharks center Joe Pavelski said. "I think the only guy who saw it was the guy who had it on his stick."

That was Bieksa, who bounced the puck home.

“It's one of those things that you absolutely have no control over,” Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. “We can talk about it all we want. It went off a stanchion. When you watch the replay, the officials didn't know where it was, Nieme didn't know where it was, Vancouver, San Jose, nobody knew where it was. It came right to Bieksa. One more bounce he probably whiffs on it we're still playing. Nothing we can do about it”

That freakish bounce is probably why we won’t see major chances in Silicon Valley. GM Doug Wilson and coach Todd McLellan have a good thing going in San Jose, even if they came up short.

Had they had a bounce go their way in a 54-save effort by Vancouver goalie Roberto Luongo, we could be heading to Game 6. Still, it’s hardly to fault Niemi. There are a few others on the Sharks who may need to look inward.

Dany Heatley, who made $8 million this season, was a ghost in this series. He had one point (an assist) through the five games. He was the lone superstar on the Sharks that was lacking, although you could fault forward Patrick Marleau -- at least a little -- for not knowing the Canucks had pulled Luongo in closing seconds --- who could have sealed a Sharks win in regulation.

“I think that's ridiculous,” McLellan said when asked if the window was closing the Sharks to win their first Cup. “We have some very talented players that are under contract. We have a real strong core. We've learned a lot of lessons along the way. We've grown as a team. In my opinion, there's absolutely no reason why we can't be an elite team again next year, as we were the last three, four, five years. We expect to be there. That's the standard we live by.”

Maybe no player set that standard on Tuesday like captain Joe Thornton. He missed the final 11 minutes of Game 4 with an undisclosed injury --- at least it was undisclosed until after the Sharks were eliminated. Thornton apparently suffered a separated shoulder on a check from Canucks bruiser Raffi Torres.

“Obviously, that's a very courageous game for him to play,” McLellan said. “He did separate his shoulder last game. It was very painful. Our training staff and doctors did a tremendous job in preparing him to play.”

The Sharks could have a roster very similar to what they put on the ice on Tuesday. Devin Setoguchi is a restricted free agent, San Jose’s only star that could be plucked this offseason. Role players Scott Nichol, Jamal Mayers, Kyle Wellwod, Ben Eager, Kent Huskins, Ian White and Niclas Wallin will be unrestricted free agents come July 1. Expect Wilson to keep the core together for at least one more run.

“It's hard to find passengers today,” McLelland said. “But we obviously didn't get the win, and that's what we came here before. The series itself, we lose a game possibly because of fatigue. We ran out of gas in Game 1. We lose our composure in Game 2. We get to Game 4 and it's a matter of about four minutes' worth of penalties. Tonight was bounces, in my opinion. We got better as the series went on. “

It just ended after five games. Now, the Sharks will have to play another 82 before they can prove they belong.

-- A.J. Perez

Photo: Getty Images<span class="Apple-tab-span" style="white-space: pre;">

Posted on: May 24, 2011 3:01 am
Edited on: May 25, 2011 8:12 pm

Lightning's Bergenheim scratched for Game 6

TAMPA -- Tampa Bay Lightning forward Sean Bergenheim, the top goal scorer of the playoffs, did not skate in warm-ups and was scratched from the lineup for Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals on Wednesday night.

"We have to wait," Lightning coach Guy Boucher said before the game. "The doctors are looking at him now, and we have to wait until tonight."

Bergenheim didn't play in the final two periods of Game 5 after he suffered an undisclosed injury early Monday's contest, a game won by the Bruins, 3-1. Tampa Bay entered Game 6 trailing 3-2 in the best-of-7 series.

Center Dana Tyrell, who has played in five playoff games, was tapped to replace Bergenheim, who has nine goals in the postseason and two in this series.

"Well, obviously when you take somebody out that's been a big part of our playoffs," Boucher said when asked what Bergenheim's abscence would mean. "It does take some chemistry out. And I gotta find that." 

Blair Jones was put on the Bolts’ third line with Moore and Downie. Jones and Downie each had scoring chances in the third period, but Bruins goalie Tim Thomas made both stops.

“We are prepared to lose a guy here or there,” Bolts forward Ryan Malone said after Game 5. “We are prepared from all angles. We know injuries are going to happen. I’m not sure if he is injured. I haven’t seen what happened, but we are prepared for guys going down.”

-- A.J. Perez

Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: May 23, 2011 1:00 pm
Edited on: May 24, 2011 2:33 am

Mike Smith gets start in Lightning net for Game 5

BOSTON --- Mike Smith --- spectacular in relief during the Eastern Conference finals – was only solid in his first career playoff start for the Tampa Bay Lightning, not that their coach second-guessed his decision to bench veteran Dwayne Roloson in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals.

“It's a decision I don't regret at all,” Guy Boucher said after the Boston Bruins’ 3-1 victory at TD Garden on Monday night. “I've done it in the past and it worked. I've had it done against me and it worked. . . . It wasn't something emotional at all. It was something thought of methodically and it was unanimous as a staff, that we wanted to give a breather to Roli and give a chance to Smitty to participate in something he's been a part of.”

Since Boucher didn’t give a clear answer even to Smith until lunchtime on Monday, it’s not clear what the Lightning will do in Game 6 as Tampa Bay faces elimination at St. Pete Times Forum on Wednesday.

“I have no expectations, right now,” Smith said. “The game just ended and I am kind of taking a deep breath. It is up to the coach now. I will be ready to go.”

Smith allowed two goals on 19 shots, neither routine as Nathan Horton and Bard Marchand scored in the second period.

“Just kind of a pass from the sidewall there to the high slot,” Smith said. “Horton got a pretty good shot on me. I think I could have gotten a better push across, but it was a tough play.

Roloson started the first 15 playoff games for the Lightning, although he was yanked in two of the last three games. Smith stopped 29 shots he faced in relief.

“We all have confidence in each of our goaltenders,” Lightning forward Steven Stamkos said. “It definitely wasn’t anything that Smitty could have done for us to win it. It falls on us. We had some defensive break downs. Smitty made some big saves when he had to and kept us in it. It is a coach’s decision and we are really confident with both.”

-- A.J. Perez

Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: May 23, 2011 12:40 pm
Edited on: May 23, 2011 1:00 pm

Julien: Kaberle not only Bruin struggling

BOSTON --- Boston Bruins coach Claude Julien had a message for reporters who continue to question the prowess of one Tomas Kaberle.

He’s not the only one screwing up, so lay off the defenseman.

“I don’t know why we decide that we should be taking him out of the lineup when there’s other players too that have struggled,” Julien told reporters before Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals at TD Garden on Monday. “We haven’t talked about that. And that’s because we have patience and we believe in those guys.”

Kaberle lost the puck behind the net moments before Tampa Bay’s Sean Bergenheim tied it midway through the second period of Game 4. Julien said that had as much to do as other players not supporting Kaberle on the play.

“So, according to our system, he’s not the only one to blame,” Julien said. “The last winning goal, he blocks a shot, makes a great play, and he’s trying to get off the ice, and we turn the puck over. So do we keep blaming Kaberle?”

Probably for plays like the eventual winner in Game 1. Kaberle, with no Lightning play bearing down, fumbled the ball to the side of Bruins’ net, where Lightning forward Teddy Purcell tapped it in.

“I think people are a little hard on this guy and I’m one of those guys that’s going to support him,” Julien continued. “I’m one of those guys that’s going to keep him in the lineup in case you want to know. And he’s going to be a good part of our hockey team.”

The Bruins gave up plenty to get Kaberle, who spend his first 12 seasons in Toronto . Boston dealt prospect forward Joe Colborne and the Bruins' first-round pick at next month’s draft. The Leafs will also receive a second-round pick at next year’s draft if the Bruins make the finals.

Kaberle has no goas and six assists in the playoffs, three assists coming in this series. He’s a mainstay on the power play that has scored twice in 15 chances entering Game 5. He’s also even on the plus-minus.

Julien wouldn’t confirm any lineup changes, but he did say 23 skaters --- presumably including defenseman Steven Kampfer, who is back from a knee injury --- would take part in the warm-up and the lineup would be cemented immediately afterward. 

-- A.J. Perez
Posted on: May 22, 2011 9:29 pm
Edited on: May 22, 2011 10:26 pm

Sharks' Thornton status unclear for Game 5

SAN JOSE --- Joe Thornton’s gear sat in his locker minutes after the conclusion of Game 4 of the Western Conference finals, but the San Jose Sharks captain was nowhere to be found.

Thornton was sent out of the game after he absorbed a check from Canucks forward Raffi Torres. Off-balanced as he tried to play the puck, Thornton didn’t see Torres coming with 11 minutes left in regulation.

Thornton appeared to favor his right shoulder after the hit. He played one more shift, but was absent for the final 8:30 of the game and was not made available to reporters after the game. 

“I just noticed he wasn’t there,” Sharks forward Ryane Clowe said. “I don’t know what happened. I hope he’s alright.”

Sharks coach Todd McLellan told reporters after the Canucks’ 4-2 victory that he had no update on Thornton’s status. Thornton (17 points) is tied for second in playoff scoring.

The Canucks lead the best-of-7 series, 3-1, as it shifts to Vancouver on Tuesday. 

Vancouver was without Christian Ehrhoff and Aaron Rome, who were injured on checks delivered by Sharks forward Jame McGinn. Keith Ballard, who flipped McGinn in a hip check early in the second period, and rookie Christopher Tanev filled in for the injured blue liners.

-- A.J. Perez
Posted on: May 21, 2011 4:51 pm
Edited on: May 21, 2011 6:01 pm

Sharks' McGinn not suspended for boarding Rome

San Jose Sharks forward Jamie McGinn will not face supplementary discipline for a check that forced Vancouver Canucks defenseman Aaron Rome out of Game 3 of conference finals on Friday night.

“I’m getting ready to play tomorrow,” McGinn said. “I think I looked at the hit 100 times. I can’t stress enough that I don’t want to hurt anyone. I hope for a quick recovery for Rome. It’s too bad he got hurt on the play. I was closing, I tried to slow up and I hit him with my left shoulder. It’s just one of those freak accidents where he hit his head on the glass.”

The NHL announced that McGinn had a hearing Saturday, but opted not to suspend McGinn. He received a boarding penalty and his second game misconduct of the playoffs. His was not subject to an automatic suspension since his game misconduct, called in the first round against the Los Angeles Kings, was for charging. Friday's penalty (boarding) is in a different class of penalty, so he was not considered a repeat offender.

Canucks coach Alain Vigneault didn't comment on the lack of a suspension of McGinn, but Vancouver defenseman Kevin Bieksa hinted that McGinn deserved something.

"Obviously my opinion doesn't matter a whole lot," he siad. "You just look at the injury that happened from the play, and obviously Aaron was pretty banged up after that hit. The league did what they felt they had to do, I guess." 

Rome and fellow Canucks defenseman Christian Ehrhoff were not on the ice for practice on Saturday, although several others were missing since it was an optional skate. Rome, who had to be helped off the ice after the hit from McGinn in the third period, may have suffered a concussion, while Ehrhoff -- who went down earlier in the game after a (non-penalized) hit from McGinn -- suffered an upper-body injury.

"He pulled up and came across the ice, so I just finished my check," McGinn said of the Ehrhoff collision. "It was shoulder to shoulder."

Vigneault refused to discuss the status of either player.

The injuries to the blue line will likely mean the return of both Andrew Alberts and Keith Ballard, although the team also flew in rookie defenseman Chris Tanev to San Jose Saturday morning. Ehrhoff, who is the Canucks' top scoring defenseman in the playoffs (11 points), will be especially tough to replace. 

Ballard played in 65 regular-season games, but has not seen time since Game 2 of the second round. Alberts has played in three playoff games.

“I haven’t been told yet, but this is an exciting opportunity,” Ballard said. “I’ve been sitting for a couple weeks and it’s been tough watching and not being able to contribute.”

Viegnault said Tanez was brought in to give the team a healthy seventh defenseman.

“It’s playoffs and it’s faster, tougher and more physical,” said Tanev, who was with the AHL’s Manitoba Moose before they were eliminated from the playoffs earlier this month. “If I get the chance, great. If not, I’ll be rooting the guys on.”

-- A.J. Perez

Posted on: May 20, 2011 10:50 pm
Edited on: May 20, 2011 11:10 pm

San Jose has its own Orange, Teal Men next to box

SAN JOSE --- The San Jose Sharks have their own dudes clad in spandex next to the penalty box --- and they did the Vancouver ‘s two Green Men a few better.

There were five --- three in orange and two in tight-fitting teal, although none appeared to be as acrobatic as the Vancouver crew  --- and they even had their own PR person from a Silicon Valley company that paid for their seats at Game 3 of the Western Conference finals at HP Pavilion on Friday night. The seats cost at least $350 each, so Barracuda Networks --- a Sharks sponsor  --- spent some good money to spoof Vancouver.

“We are just looking to go out there and have some fun,” said Mitch Vacation of Saratoga, Calif. (Yes, that’s the name he gave and here’s appears to be his Facebook page.) “We are here to represent the Sharks and everything that has to do with orange and teal. “

Barracuda Networks was behind the promotion that handed every person who walked into the arena orange t-shirts, although only at best half wore them.

Being sponsored has its advantages. The Green Men said on their Twitter account that they were unable to make Game 2 because “tix are a little too pricey and Nashville put us in debt.” They promised to be back in Game 5.

A certain fan made up for their absence in Game 2 by putting on her own display.

Of course, not everybody was pleased with these five.

“You guys are copycats,” said one Canucks fan in a Ryan Kesler jersey. “Why don’t you do something original?”

-- 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