“Hits and Misses” for Sharks at Canucks Game 2 WCF 5/18/11

Result:  SHARKS 3, Canucks 7    {Sharks trail series 0-2}

The San Jose Sharks and coach Todd McLellan look on from the bench during Game 2 Wednesday night. Photo courtesy of Yahoo Sports.

HITS

Logan Couture – Couture scored his seventh goal of the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, 11th of his career, at 2:28 of the first period with the Sharks on the Power Play to give the Sharks an early 1-0 lead.  With Canucks defenseman Aaron Rome in the penalty box for “tripping,” Sharks forward Dany Heatley carried the puck from the neutral zone into the Canucks zone along the lower side board, drawing two Canucks defenders towards him.  With his head on a swivel, Heatley fired a pass in the slot to Couture, who went backhand-to-forehand and shot the puck over the the blocker of Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo for the goal.

Patrick Marleau – Marleau scored his fifth goal of the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, 50th of his career, at 13:03 of the first period with the Sharks on the Power Play to tie the game at 2-2 heading into the first intermission.  With Canucks forward Daniel Sedin in the penalty box for “cross-checking” and the puck inside the Canucks zone, Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle fired a shot on net from the blue line that rimmed around the end-boards and rebounded to Sharks captain Joe Thornton, who backhanded a shot on net from the side of the goalie crease that deflected into the goal crease, where Marleau was able to get his stick on the loose puck and poke it into the net for the goal, which held up on video review as the goal wasn’t called on the ice despite several of the Sharks players raising their hands for the goals.  In addition, Marleau participated in his first NHL fight since January 13, 2007 when he dropped the gloves with Canucks defenseman Kevin Bieksa, who is a more experienced fighter than Marleau as this was Marleau’s sixth career fight in his 13-year NHL career.

Ben Eager – Yes I might be in the minority but I am giving Eager a minor “hit” because even though he did do some some bone-headed things {more later in misses}, Eager was one of the few Sharks on the ice that gave an honest effort {Marleau, Thornton, Niemi} and battled until the every end, resulting in him scoring his first goal of the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, third of his career, at 17:27 of the third period to make the final score 7-3 and got the goal by crashing the net for a rebound goal off a Joe Pavelski shot.

Power Play – The Sharks Power Play unit were once again perfect tonight, capitalizing on both opportunities  with the man advantage and are now a perfect 3-for-3 in the series.

Douglas Murray – Murray had a team high six hits tonight.

Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Vlasic had a game high five blocked shots tonight.

MISSES

Sharks Team – Only one word is needed to describe tonight’s game…Embarrassing!  The Sharks looked like they were a team stuck in pre-season mode tonight instead of a team playing in its second consecutive Western Conference Final.  There is no way any of the Sharks players, coaches, staff or fans can be happy with the effort given out on the ice tonight as it was easily one of the worst, if not the worst playoff game in franchise history.  The Sharks are a much better team than what they showed tonight but its going to be up to them whether or not they show it.  Yes, the Sharks are down 0-2 in the series but the Sharks have a golden opportunity to get back into the series by winning the next two games at home Friday and Sunday evening.  The Sharks can still win this series but they are going to need a commitment from all 20 players that dress out and are going to have to pull their laces tighter as its “gut-check” time for them.  Either the Sharks reach down, find that “fire in the belly” and prove their naysayers wrong or turtle up and be swept out of the Western Conference Finals for the second consecutive season.

0:39That’s how quickly the Canucks scored back-to-back goals in the first period to erase the Sharks early 1-0 lead and take a 2-1 lead themselves.  Daniel Sedin’s Power Play goal at 9:39 came as the result of a turnover in the neutral zone by Couture, who was thinking offense with Marleau instead of clearing the puck down the ice, and Raffi Torresgoal at 10:18 came as the result of Torres out-working Pavelski near the goalie crease for position.

Third Period – Despite the final score, the Sharks did enter the third period trailing 3-2 and started the period by successfully killing off the remaining time on Eager’s boarding penalty to Canucks forward Daniel Sedin {more later in misses}.  However, the Sharks let their emotions get the better of them, took ill-advised penalties, stopped skating and allowed the Canucks to score four times in an 8:44 span of the third period.  The Sharks have now given up six goals in the third period alone through the first two games of the series.

Discipline – For the game, the Sharks took 13 penalties, resulting in 53 penalty minutes, 44 of which came in the third period alone!  Ryane Clowe had 12 penalty minutes {all in the third}, Eager had 20 {18 in third period}, Marleau had five, Scott Nichol had 12 {all in the third} and Couture and Pavelski each had two.

Turnovers – Just like in Game 1, the Sharks turned the puck over too many times inside their own zone and in the neutral zone, resulting in a lot of stopping and going backwards for the Sharks skaters that ultimately led to tired legs on the ice as the game progressed.

Coach McLellan – I can understand Coach McLellan being frustrated with his team’s effort throughout the game, especially in the third period, but that doesn’t excuse the fact that he purposely put his fourth line out on the ice for a face-off inside the Canucks zone against the Canucks top line, which resulted in a goal for the Canucks by Rome at 14:30 of the third period, his first of the playoffs, to increase the Canucks lead to 5-2.  Honestly, what was Coach McLellan hoping to accomplish?  Was he trying to send a message to his top lines that they hadn’t earned the right to take that face-off?  Was he rewarding the fourth line for an honest effort?  Whatever Coach McLellan’s reasoning was for that questionable match-up, the Canucks took full advantage and capitalized on the favorable match-up.

Penalty Killers – In the first two rounds combined against the Chicago Blackhawks and Nashville Predators, the Canucks Power Play unit went 8-for-36 with the man advantage.  Through the first two games of this series, the Canucks Power Play unit is 4-for-10 after going 3-for-6 tonight, two of which came in the third period.  This has to raise red flags and be addressed by the Sharks coaching staff between now and game 3 Friday night at HP Pavilion because its mind boggling that a Penalty Kill unit that was so solid and nearly flawless over the course of the final four games against the Detroit Red Wings last series could revert to this.

Referees – I know the referees have a hard job but how on God’s green earth did the referees miss not one, but two high sticks in the first period to the faces of Sharks forward Devin Setoguchi and Thornton respectively?  Even worse was the fact that the linesman was standing right there when Henrik Sedin whacked Thornton in the face with his stick after their face-off, cutting Thornton on the cheek, and still didn’t call a penalty!  It has to be asked, how much different would the game have been had the Sharks not been robbed of their four-minute double minor Power Play opportunity at the end of the first period that would have carried over into the second period?  Also, is it just me or is it kind of odd that through the first two games, the Sharks have had only three Power Plays opportunities while the Canucks have had 10?  Lastly, did anyone else roll their eyes in disbelief when the Sharks were called for “too many men” on the ice the second Thornton broke into the Canucks zone all alone on a breakaway?  Would that call have been made had the Canucks had the breakaway chance instead of the Sharks?

Higgins Goal – Speaking of referees, can someone please explain to me why the referees did not call “goalie interference” on Canucks forward Alexandre Burrows, who clearly had both of his skates deep inside the goalie crease and impeded Sharks goalie Antti Niemi‘s ability to make a play on the puck?  That has been called all season and post-season!  As a result of the no call, Canucks forward Chris Higgins was able to score his fourth goal of the playoffs at 7:56 of the third period to increase the Canucks lead to 4-2.  

Bieksa Goal – The game winning goal by Bieksa at 12:05 of the second period that gave the Canucks a 3-2 lead came as the result of ANOTHER communication breakdown by Murray and Boyle as both followed the puck and learned to the right side of the ice, allowing Bieksa to skate right down the middle of the rink untouched and corral a stretch pass on his stick for a breakaway goal.

Versus Announcers – Tell me the VERSUS announcers did not say that Niemi should have sold Burrow’s being in his crease more in order to get a “goalie interference” penalty?  I’m sorry but to me, that sounds like the announcers are endorsing players to embellish, which will quickly ruin the game.  There’s a reason why a lot of people don’t like watching soccer and that’s because of the players constantly flopping like they have been picked off by snipers when they are barley, and in some cases, never touched! 

Antti Niemi – This is as minor of a “miss” as possible because Niemi’s effort in net is not the root of the Sharks problems.  In fact, Niemi did everything he could to keep the Sharks in the game and within striking distance by making several jaw-dropping saves, stopped the puck when he had to and battled both shots and players!  Yes, Niemi did allow seven goals but he faced 38 shots, 31 of which he stopped, and he can’t be the only guy out there killing off penalties.  Last time I checked, there were skaters in front of Niemi who are suppose to be clearing pucks out of the zone and not allow Niemi to be peppered with shots all game.

Ben Eager – I’ve become a fan of Eager’s since he was picked up during the season by the Sharks because of his effort and the fact that he plays with an edge.  However, Eager must learn how to control that edge and harness it into a controlled aggression/frenzy that will allow him to stay out of the penalty box as Eager does more harm than good to the Sharks when he’s in the sin-bin.  His “boarding” penalty on Daniel Sedin near the end of the second period I wasn’t that upset with because Eager was sticking up for Marleau after the fight with Bieksa and honestly, I don’t think that would have been called had it not been a Sedin getting hit.  The “tripping” penalty he did to Canucks forward Mason Raymond at 6:57 of the third period was inexcusable and eventually led to Higgins’ goal.  However, the only thing people in the hockey realm are going to talk about was that after Eager scored his goal, he stuck is arms up in the air to celebrate and said some things to Luongo as stood over him in the goalie crease.  I know Eager is a competitor and was playing hard, but there was no need for him to talk trash like that because it came of as “bush league.”

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About Jon Allred

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

Posted on May 18, 2011, in Sports and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Eager: Love the fight and passion. But it needs to be disciplined and smart in this series where the Nucks have great ppg #’s. Can’t wait for game 3 though. I know they can pull through. 🙂

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