Tag:2011 NHL Playoffs
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 10:43 pm

Game 5: Thomas, B's need to back goalie guarantee

Tim Thomas only spent a few days in Tampa for Games 3 and 4, but he did enough things to make it seem like the work of weeks on site.

The latest revelation is the Bruins goalie making a proclamation Saturday evening: “we’re going to win.”

Short, sweet and to the point, but Joe Namath it isn't. Nobody would expect for Thomas to say anything different. If you're a Bruins fan, you better hope your goaltender is thinking that way. Honestly, it's hardly worth batting an eye over.

Mark Recchi agrees.

"That's great he believes in it," Recchi said. "You've got to believe in the dressing room, and you've got to believe you're going to win the series."

But everything that happened while in Tampa isn't staying in Tampa, instead adding up to an eventful few days.

First there was the second career shutout in Game 3's 2-0 win, stopping all 31 shots the Lightning threw against him. It was sort of all down hill from there.

After that shutout, Thomas got himself into a little hot water. Well, we should say others got Thomas into a little trouble and nobody ever really came out to simmer the situation.

Thomas said following Game 3 that "I was able to play more under control tonight, but a lot of that had to do with ... we played the way that I'm used to. I felt comfortable in a game like that."

That last line, the one about feeling comfortable, is the culprit here. It was twisted into Thomas saying the Lightning are easy to play against. At least, that's how Lightning players and coach Guy Boucher took it.

"Well, some of the players talked a lot about it," Boucher said after Game 4. "He did say that it was an easy game to play against us last game. And obviously a lot of the guys were very fired up for this game. Certainly, I did hear it in the locker room, for sure."

Then there was Ryan Malone.

"We're expecting seven games, and last game when their goalie says he has an easy game, that's our job to make sure we get in there, take his eyes away, and make it hard on him."

So whether or not that was the intent of Thomas comment -- sounded more like praise of his defensemen than anything to me -- it was taken by the Lightning as bulletin-board material.

And now he's given them some more. After listening to Malone and Teddy Purcell after the game, seeing the wry smiles on their faces and the same on Boucher's when talking about Thomas' remark, you know Tampa Bay will use this latest as motivation. And they should. Whatever tools you can use in the playoffs to pull out every ounce of energy, you take it. Boucher is already working on it.

"We might as well stay home," Boucher quipped. "It's going to cost us a lot less money. And we can go home and get some sleep and watch some movies."

Adding to the weekend was Thomas showing clear signs of frustration in Game 4. And that was before the Lightning came back to win with five unanswered goals. On multiple occasions in the first period, Thomas seemed angry, at one point throwing a punch with his blocker right at Adam Hall.

You can see the punch more clearly here.

Either way, the Bruins have to do a better job on defense, and it starts with Thomas. A goalie is many times only as good as his defensemen, but Thomas didn't do much to help his cause in Game 4. His mishandling of the puck behind his own net led to the first Tampa Bay goal of the game and got the Lightning rolling. But overall, the B's were pretty sloppy, ultimately surrendering the puck at their own blue line to set up Simon Gagne's game-winner.

But the Lightning will be charged up for Game 5, especially now with some extra motivation, and they have plenty of electric talent to begin with. Ultimately it's up to Thomas to shut them down to move Boston within one win of the Stanley Cup Finals.

-- Brian Stubits

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 22, 2011 4:08 pm
Edited on: May 22, 2011 9:30 pm

Tampa fans make human lightning bolt at airport

Who says people don't care about hockey in the South?

OK, a lot of people. And it's fair. But the fans in Tampa clearly have been caught up in playoff fever.

Around 800 fans showed up at the Tampa airport on Sunday morning to see the team off as the Lightning head to Boston for Game 5. But they did more than just show up. They made themselves a human lightning bolt.

The St. Pete Times Forum was packed for Game 4 and the fans were "All In" -- the team's playoff marketing slogan -- for the whole game. Even when falling down 3-0 in the first period, the crowd didn't let down much, believing in the Bolts in their eventual comeback. There clearly are passionate hockey fans in Tampa and perhaps an extended run at the contender level can keep the passion burning even when things aren't so great.

The "Be the Bolt" campaign was announced during Game 4 and was organized on Facebook. To see more pictures from the event, you can check out the event page.

-- Brian Stubits

Photo courtesy of Facebook

Posted on: May 21, 2011 6:19 pm
Edited on: May 21, 2011 6:40 pm

Bolts sticking with Roloson despite being pulled

TAMPA, Fla. -- Dwayne Roloson is a large reason why the Lightning are here, playing in the Eastern Conference finals. But backup Mike Smith is a massive reason why the series is tied at two.

After struggling to the tune of three goals surrendered in nine shots, Lightning coach Guy Boucher pulled the graybeard in favor of Smith, who was perfect in relief.

"You can never be surprised [to get put into the game]. You always have to be ready," Smith said. "It was one of those things where every turnover that we had went into the net and it wasn't because Roli didn't play well, stuff like that just happens."

In all, Smith saved each and every one of the 21 shots the Bruins put on him, including a couple of fantastic stops in the third period.

So naturally, the question next is, Who's your starter in Game 5, coach Boucher?

"We have our No. 1 goaltender. He's taken us to this place right now. And that's the reason why we're here."

As for Smith?

"Smitty has been terrific... Whenever he was asked to play since Roloson has been there, he's been terrific. I mean, he's just been terrific."

So to clarify, who's starting Game 5 in Boston?

"We just finished this game now," Boucher said. "We're happy we just beat a terrific team and were a lot harder to play against today. And Smitty was part of it and Roloson is -- it doesn't change the status."

There you have it. Roloson, who received the largest roar of all the Lightning players in the pregame introductions, is, at this point, going to be back in net on Monday.

But the leash could be shorter.

"Whenever it's time for [Smith] to help the team and try to change the momentum around, I don't hesitate," Boucher said.

-- Brian Stubits

-- Photo: Tampa Bay's Mike Smith, courtesy of US Presswire

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
Posted on: May 20, 2011 9:21 pm

Sharks' Ben Eager a scratch in Game 3

Fiery forward Ben Eager was scratched from the San Jose Sharks lineup for Game 3 of the Western Conference finals at HP Pavilion on Friday night.

Eager racked up 20 penalty minutes, including a controversial boarding minor on a check of Vancouver Canucks MVP candidate Daniel Sedin in the second period of Game 2. Eager also netted a tripping call that cost the Sharks a power-play goal in the third period and added a the final maker in the 7-3 Sharks’ 7-3 Game 2 loss --- and Eager proceeded to talk some trash to Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo.

“I thought Ben Eager was one of our better players as far as forecheck, creating scoring opportunities,” Sharks coach Todd McLellan said in Thursday. “He had a number of shots on goal. He played with an energy and passion that was required of him. As I said last night, he took penalties that we cannot take.Is he an asset or a liability? He was both (in Game 2).”

Earlier today, McLellan said possible lineup changes were still being discussed among coaches.

“We could shuffle things up a little bit,” McLellan said.

Rookie forward Andrew Desjardins was inserted into the lineup in place of Eager. It’s Desjardin’s first career playoff start.

-- 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