Tag:2011 WC Playoffs
Posted on: May 6, 2011 12:49 pm
Edited on: May 6, 2011 3:41 pm

Can Sharks sweep the Red Wings this time?

The Detroit Red Wings have been swept twice during this current 20-season run of playoff appearances. 

The San Jose Sharks were all set to make it third last season by winning the first three games in the second round. They get a redo tonight as they look to play the minimum in this series at Joe Louis Arena tonight. 

The result last May wasn’t pretty: the Red Wings won, 7-1. 

“We have to be prepared,” Sharks forward Dany Heatley said. “Last year in Game 4, they came out and really took it to us. The result wasn’t very good for us. We have to understand whatever push they gave (Wednesday), they are going to come out even harder.”

The Sharks have never swept a team out of the playoffs, although they have only led 3-0 twice in franchise history. Other than last season against the Wings, the Sharks failed to close the deal in second round again the Colorado Avalanche as Joe Sakic scored in OT in 2004. 

Each of the first three games of this series has been decided by one goal and the Wings have totaled just five goals, two coming off the stick of captain Nicklas Lidstrom. (On a side note, the recently launched The Detroit Sports Site details Lidstrom’s top-10 playoff goals.) Players such as Johan Franzen, Todd Bertuzzi  and Valtteri Filppula have yet to net a point in this series. 

So, can the Sharks join the Tampa Bay Lightning and advance to the conference final with minimal effort?

-- A.J. Perez
Posted on: May 6, 2011 1:22 am
Edited on: May 6, 2011 10:58 am

Kesler draws admiration, even from opposition

Ryan Kesler is the kind of player you like when he’s on your team, but not when you’re opposing him.

But even Nashville Predators coach Barry Trotz expressed some admiration for the Vancouver Canucks’ gritty forward.

“He’s getting some room,” Trotz said after the Preds lost Game 4, 4-2, on Thursday. “He’s winning some battles and he’s finding the net for them. I think in the first series, he didn’t have anything going and now he’s their best player. Bar none.”

The Canucks exited Nashville with a 3-1 lead of the best-of-7 second-round series. Kesler netted both the game-winning goals at Bridgestone Arena --- an overtime deflection in Game 3 and a power play marker in the third period on Thursday. 

“It was a great breakout on the power play, a really amazing goal by a player whose will to win right now is very strong and he’s competing really hard,” Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault said.

Kesler has three goals and eight assists in the playoffs, seven of those points (three goals, four assist) coming this round against the Preds.

He also drew two penalties in Game 4: a cross check by Kevin Klein and a hold by Ryan Suter. Suter’s penalty set up Kesler’s game-winner. 

That call also gave Vigneault a chance to snipe back at Nashville’s players and coaches, who have questioned some of the penalties drawn by the Canucks this series. 

“I hope they are not going to complain about embellishment tonight,” Vigneault said. “I mean, with the number of things that happened out there on the ice, Suter had the audacity to complain after he takes that penalty and just hauled Ryan Kesler down. It’s utterly amazing how our guys battled.”

Kesler, a finalist for the Selke Trophy that goes to the league’s best defensive forward, is the Canucks' leading scorer in the playoffs. His play is the primary reason the Canucks are a game from advancing to the conference final. 

It certainly hasn’t been because of the Sedin twins. 

Henrik Sedin scored an empty-net goal with 21 seconds left on Thursday, the first goal either twin has in against the Preds this series.(Henrik also had two assists in Game 4.) Daniel Sedin, a finalist for the Hart Trophy, has two points in the series, both assists. 

-- A.J .Perez

Posted on: May 5, 2011 12:55 pm
Edited on: May 5, 2011 1:16 pm

Sullivan out, Wilson in for Predators

Nashville Predators winger Steve Sullivan will miss tonight’s Game 4 and he appears doubtful for the rest of the second-round series against the Vancouver Canucks, Preds coach Barry Trotz told reporters Thursday. 

Sullivan suffered a knee injury late in Game 3, an injury that prevented him from taking the ice in overtime. Colin Wilson, who played in all 82 regular season games for the Preds but has been a healthy scratch each contest this postseason, will replace Sullivan. 

“I’ve been kind of sitting around the whole time just hoping to get in,” Wilson told The Tennessean on Wednesday. “All I’ve been thinking about is playing. My mind-set hasn’t changed, I’m a little bit more excited because it’s more possible for me to play.”

Wilson, a first-round draft pick in 2008, had 16 goals and 18 assists this season. 

--A.J. Perez
Posted on: May 4, 2011 1:04 am
Edited on: May 4, 2011 3:24 am

Canucks win after "chicken wing" penalty call

It took until the 19th overtime game this postseason before a power play goal decided the outcome.

Ryan Kesler not only deflected in the game-winner as the Vancouver Canucks secured a 3-2 victory in Game 3 of the second-round series against the Nashville Predators Tuesday night, but he also drew the somewhat controversial penalty that resulted on the man-advantage  situation. 

Kesler and Preds defenseman Shea Weber battled for the puck in the corner, a clash that eventually moved up the boards toward the blue line. Weber’s stick became entangled with Kesler, which resulted in a hooking minor called on Weber. 

“I thought it was a little bit light considering all the other stuff that was going on,” Predators coach Barry Tortz told reporters after the game. “I’ve seen it. It was as a good sell by Kesler, a chicken wing with the stick and he kept moving. If you look at it, Webs is pushing on him trying to take his stick out of there. I’ve seen it before. One of the earlier games he drew a couple penalties like that by chicken-winging the stick and holding it here. They’ll say it’s a good penalty. I’ll say it’s a bad penalty.”

The Canucks scored 40 seconds into the power play to take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-7 series. 

The sequence that led to the penalty occurs about midway through this clip:

-- 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 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

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