“Hits and Misses” for Sharks at Canucks Game 1 WCF 5/15/11

Result:  Sharks 2, Canucks 3    {Canucks lead series 1-0}

San Jose Sharks goalie Antti Niemi robs Vancouver Canucks forward Jannik Hansen of a goal in the second period Sunday night. Photo courtesy of Yahoo Sports.

HITS

Joe Thornton – Thornton set the tone for the game and his teammates by butting heads with Canucks forward Ryan Kesler in ram like fashion in the face-off circle at center ice before the referee dropped the puck to start the game.  Both players were tossed from the face-off and continued to battle each other on the wing position.  In addition, Thornton scored his third goal of the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, 18th of his career, at 18:47 of the first period to give the Sharks a 1-0 lead heading into the first intermission.  The goal came as the result of a turnover by Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo, who over-fired a pass attempt to Canucks defenseman Dan Hamhuis from behind his own goal net.  Thornton stuck his stick out and corralled the puck onto his stick before the puck reached Canucks forward Henrik Sedin and quickly fired a shot on net from inside the lower face-off circle that beat a lunging Luongo through the legs for the goal.  Thornton also had an assist for a two point night and was the only Sharks player to have a multi point night.

Patrick Marleau – Marleau scored his fourth goal of the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, 49th of his career, at 8:44 of the second period with the Sharks on the Power Play to give the Sharks a 2-1 lead.  With Canucks forward Mason Raymond in the penalty box for “holding,” the Sharks Power Play unit went to work on their only Power Play opportunity of the game {more later in misses}.  With the puck deep inside the Canucks zone, Thornton battled for the puck behind the Canucks net and got the puck out to the blue line where Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle corralled the puck onto this stick, walked the blue line, and fired a wrist shot on net that Sharks forward Patrick Marleau, who was positioned in the slot in front of Luongo, tipped with his stick and caused the puck to flutter over Luongo’s glove for the goal.

Antti Niemi – Niemi had another solid outing in net for the Sharks, stopping 35-0ut-of-38 shots, highlighted by a spectacular, all-world save on Canucks forward Jannik Hansen, who was robbed of a goal from point blank range in the second period.  In addition, Niemi held the Canucks at bay with a plethora of saves over the last several minutes of the game that gave the Sharks a chance to tie the game late.

Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Having to adjust to a new defensive partner {more later in misses}, Vlasic had a team high four hits and three blocked shots.

Niclas Wallin – Wallin had a game high four blocked shots.

Special Teams – The Sharks Power Play unit capitalized on their only opportunity with the man advantage and the Sharks Penalty Killers had another solid night in successfully killing off three of the Canucks four Power Play opportunities.

MISSES

Sharks Team – One of the hardest things for any team to do in the Stanley Cup Playoffs is mentally reset themselves for a new series after coming off a grueling seven game series.  The Sharks found themselves in that position as they had to quickly reset themselves mentally and come back down to earth after eliminating the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday night in game 7 of their grueling series while the Canucks had been idle since eliminating the Nashville Predators in game 6 of their series last Tuesday.  For the first 35 minutes of the game, the Sharks looked like the team that had been idle as they totally outplayed the Canucks and earned a 2-1 lead.  The final 25 minutes of the game, the Sharks lost their legs while the Canucks found theirs, resulting in the Canucks scoring two unanswered goals in the third period to win the game 3-2 and take a 1-0 series lead.  Simply put, the Canucks out-sharked the Sharks by getting pucks deep and used their speed to wear out and fluster the Sharks.

Third Period – The Sharks entered the third period with a 2-1 lead and exited with a 3-2 loss.  How did that happen?  First, the Sharks came out too complacent with their one goal lead instead of trying to increase it, which led to the Canucks seizing momentum.  Secondly, the Sharks had way too many turnovers in both the neutral zone and their own zone, which led to the Sharks losing their legs as they were constantly stopping to skate back instead of skating forward.  Once the Sharks lost their legs, their minds followed suit as the team stopped communicating with each other inside their own end {evident by Boyle and Douglas Murray on the Kevin Bieksa goal that tied the game at 2-2 and the game winning goal} and had questionable puck placement once getting the puck out of their own zone.  All of these factors contributed to the Canucks scoring two goals in a 1:19 flash to take the game and series lead.

Coach McLellan – Coach McLellan gets a “miss” for inexplicably dressing Kent Huskins for tonight’s game in place of Jason Demers when Huskins has not played a game since mid February and had Justin Braun scratched!  What’s worse, I don’t know who to believe on why Demers did not play.  If you believe coach McLellan, Demers, who skated with the team during the pre-game warm-ups, was held out of the game because he was banged up from the other night.  If you believe the VERSUS announce crew, the Sharks coaching staff decided it would be best to get Huskins into a game now instead of later in the series, such as a game 6 or 7.  Whatever the reason, I totally disagree with the decision.  If Demers could have played, the coaching staff should have allowed him to because Demers earned that right and opportunity with his solid play against the Red Wings last series.  If Demers was too banged up to go, then why on God’s green earth did McLellan not dress Braun, who played in game 2 of the Los Angeles Kings series when Ian White was injured and was one of the best Sharks on the ice that night? 

Penalty Killers – Yes the Sharks Penalty Killers had a solid night in killing off three of the Canucks four Power Play opportunities but the one goal they allowed happened to be Henrik Sedin’s game winning goal, which came as the result of a horrible penalty call on Sharks forward Dany Heatley {more later in misses}.  Wallin had a chance to clear the puck out of the zone but a lack of communication on the Sharks part led to a turnover on the side board and the Canucks capitalized as Canucks defenseman, and ex-shark, Christian Ehrhoff fired a pass from the blue line down to Sedin, who skated in on Niemi and went forehand-to-backhand for the game winning goal.

Referees – I’m sorry if I sound like a homer here but that “elbowing” penalty called on Heatley that led to the Sedin game-winning goal was HORRENDOUS!  There is no way that should have been called a penalty because one, Heatley had already placed his arm on the glass prior to any contact being made and did not know Canucks forward Raffi Torres was coming up behind him.  Secondly, Heatley never threw his elbow out as it remained pinned on the glass the entire time and Torres, who ran into Heatley, sold being hit like he had been picked off by a sniper.  Honestly, when did Torres get a halo over his head after all the cheap shots and dirty hits he’s dished out over the course of his career?  In addition, how does Sharks forward Ben Eager get an “interference” penalty mid-way through the first period when he never touched Luongo and was simply stronger than Ehrhoff on the play?  If the refs are going to start calling that a penalty, then the NHL might as well adopt the NBA rule book in that players can’t touch each other.  Lastly, the Canucks had four Power Play opportunities while the Sharks had one.  Coincidence?  I don’t think so!  Again, all we as fans {and the players too} ask of the referees is to call a fair, consistent game both ways, which last time I checked, is suppose to be their job.

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About Jon Allred

Life long San Jose and Worcester Sharks fan that bleeds teal and black.

Posted on May 15, 2011, in Sports and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Man, its just heartbreaking to watch the Sharks put in such a poor effort when they have the game won. If they’d played as hard as they did the first period we’d be up in the series 1-0.

    The effort has to be there for the full 60 minutes, hopefully the guys learn this, as they win games where they play hard. They can pull it off, but they need to maintain pressure on the Canucks. Go SHARKS!

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