Game 5 notes: Sharks face offseason issues


Game 5 notes: Sharks face offseason issues

May 24,2011


VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Ryane Clowe probably said it best on Monday evening.

Standing with a couple reporters inside a hotel ballroom with a panorama of the Vancouver seaport and the mountainous expanse of British Columbia in the background, Clowe nodded his head.

Theres a lot of pressure on us already because were going to be question marks after the season, he said.

The questions begin this morning and likely will continue in the weeks ahead as Sharks general manager Doug Wilson and coach Todd McLellan attempt to unravel another postseason failure.

RATTO: Sharks' season ends nobly, but harshly

Vancouver advanced to its first Stanley Cup Final since 1994 on Tuesday night, eliminating the Sharks in Game 5 with a 3-2 double-overtime victory that clinched the Western Conference championship.

Vancouvers Kevin Bieksa won it with an unusual shot from the blue line.

Six times now since 2004, the Sharks have lost to the eventual conference champs.

Ron Wilson failed then. McLellan has failed two years in succession after being swept out by eventual Cup champion Chicago last May.

We still got a lot of years, team captain Joe Thornton said. Our core group still has three years left. Well come back and be more hungry next year To get here is an accomplishment, but next year, we have to beat it.

Make no mistake. McLellans group seemed good enough to win the West, but self-destructed during several games against Vancouver.

When the series began, the tortured souls of Silicon Valley recognized one of these franchises would finally unburden itself of carrying around the label as chronic losers when May gave way to June in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

For the Sharks, its like a harpoon weighing them down at the dorsal fin.

Theyll carry that underachieving label one more season.

Doug Wilson has seven unrestricted free agents -- and three restricted -- to contend with, though the core of the club remains intact.

We have some very talented players that are under contract, McLellan said. 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. I said earlier, our task ahead of us is to get our asses back here in the conference finals and make good on it.
RELATED: Season over -- Sharks go down in double OT

That said, there should be discussions about what to do with chronic playoff underachiever Dany Heatley, who has another three years left on a deal that pays him 7.5 million annually against the salary cap.

Heatley had just one assist in the series.

Im obviously frustrated, Heatley said. I didnt produce enough in the series. We lost.

The window continues to close but again, the core is here for several more years. Whether it will include Heatley remains to be seen.

Its a lost opportunity, we feel that way, no question, Heatley said. We feel we still have a good a team.

The game winner: Bieksa on his knuckeball from the blue line that won it: I shot it, and I think when the puck went in, the goalie was looking behind the net, so its an ugly goal but definitely one youll take, he said. Obviously, it feels unbelievable. To go to the Stanley Cup Final is a dream come true. To do it with this group of guys Our core has been here for seven, eight years, working toward something special, and we have a huge opportunity ahead of us now.

Loose pucks: This was the longest playoff game for the Sharks since their four-overtime Game 6 marathon against Dallas in 2008. Raffi Torres, who threw his share of clean, hard hits in the series and injured Sharks captain Joe Thornton with a legal shoulder-to-shoulder check in Game 4, plowed into defenseman Douglas Murray in the first period. It sounded like two woolly mammoths colliding. Despite a bad right shoulder, Thornton had four shots in the opening period, two during an unsuccessful 5-on-3 power play. Couldnt lift the puck? The Canucks took 10 first period penalties in the series. Canucks were outshot 15-to-6 that period with each of their six defensemen getting at least one block. Thornton took some faceoffs, allowing Patrick Marleau to take neutral zone draws and eventually, all of them, as Thornton took just one draw in the second period. Through two periods, Canucks out-blocked the Sharks, 21-8. Vancouver had 29 blocks in the game. Thornton had a separated shoulder while Clowe had a shoulder injury from the beginning of the playoffs that may require surgery, McLellan said.
Tim Panaccio is the NHL Insider forCSNPhilly.comE-mailhim at

Walton wins debut as Lakers finish off Rockets


Walton wins debut as Lakers finish off Rockets


LOS ANGELES -- Jordan Clarkson scored 12 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter, and the Los Angeles Lakers won coach Luke Walton's debut, holding off the Houston Rockets 120-114 on Wednesday night.

D'Angelo Russell scored 20 points and Julius Randle added 18 points, seven rebounds and six assists for the young Lakers, who got off to an exciting start in the franchise's first season without Kobe Bryant since 1995.

With a revamped roster coming off the worst season in the 16-time champion team's history, Los Angeles surged in the fourth quarter of an auspicious opener under Walton, the 36-year-old former Lakers forward.

James Harden had 34 points, a career-high 17 assists and eight rebounds for the Rockets, who lost in former Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni's debut on the Houston bench.

The Lakers played an up-tempo, aggressive offensive game under Walton, and nobody seized the moment better than Clarkson, who came off the bench in his first game since signing a $50 million contract. His 3-pointer put the Lakers up 116-112 with 1:48 left, and the Lakers hung on while the Rockets missed a long series of open shots in the final minute.

Brandon Ingram scored nine points in the No. 2 pick's NBA debut for the Lakers. Timofey Mozgov had 12 points and eight rebounds, and Luol Deng had seven points in their Lakers debuts.

After matching the franchise record with 14 first-half assists, Harden tied his career high with his 16th early in the third quarter. The Los Angeles native managed only six points in the fourth quarter, going 1 for 5, and his teammates were a combined 5 for 16.


Hall of Famer Bill Walton proudly wore a purple Lakers T-shirt to his son's official coaching debut. Walton's mother and three brothers also attended the game. "The Walton force will be strong tonight," Luke said with a grin. "There's definitely nerves and excitement right now, but mostly there's no time to think about how incredible this is, and the opportunity. It's more focused on watching film and getting the prep work in for tonight's game."


The Lakers fired D'Antoni after he went 27-55 in 2013-14, the first of a franchise-record three straight non-playoff seasons. When D'Antoni was asked before the game about reflecting on his time in LA, the coach quickly quipped: "I try not to. ... No, I loved it. I actually did. Manhattan Beach is probably the greatest place to stay. Great friends. They treated me nice, (Lakers owner) Jim (Buss) and (general manager) Mitch (Kupchak). It just didn't fit. It just didn't work."


Rockets: Clint Capela, the 6-foot-9 Swiss forward, replaced Dwight Howard in the middle of the lineup.

Lakers: Metta World Peace began his 17th NBA season, picking up three fouls in his first two minutes while guarding Harden. ... Before the game, they solidified their young core by picking up their 2017-18 contract options on Russell, Randle and Larry Nance Jr. ... Jack Nicholson, Denzel Washington, director Peter Berg, YG, Kendall Jenner, Karlie Kloss, Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver attended the game.


Rockets: At Dallas on Friday in the opener of a home-and-home series.

Lakers: Open a four-game road trip at Utah on Friday.

Instant Replay: Cousins, Kings cruise in opener vs Suns

Instant Replay: Cousins, Kings cruise in opener vs Suns


The Sacramento Kings rolled into Phoenix’s Talking Stick Resort Arena and blew away the Suns on Wednesday night by a final of 113-94. The young upstart Suns tried to make a game out of it in the early fourth quarter, but Sacramento turned to their veterans who delivered down the stretch.

DeMarcus Cousins got into foul trouble early, but still found a way to drop in 24 points and grab six rebounds in 24 minutes manning the middle. Once he was in the flow of the defense, Cousins came to the aid of his teammates, stepping in and cutting off the baseline on multiple possessions.

Like Cousins, Rudy Gay didn’t look great early, but he still managed to score 22 points in the win. There was a sequence in the third quarter when Gay came alive on the defensive end, blocking back-to-back shots on the same defensive possession..

Starting for Darren Collison, Ty Lawson ran the offense better than expected, posting nine points, six rebounds and seven assists in 35 minutes of action.

Garrett Temple filled in as the reserve point guard spot and added 12 points on 6-for-8 shooting.

Matt Barnes provided a spark off the bench, tossing in 14 points and grabbing seven rebounds.

Eleven of 12 players that stepped on the floor for Sacramento scored and nine players players dropped in six points or more in the win.  

Eric Bledsoe had a nice night for the Suns, scoring 16 points on 5-for-11 shooting with five assists. T.J. Warren chipped in 14 points and five rebounds while playing solid defense on Gay early. Devin Booker added 18 points on 8-of-12 shooting, but he missed all three of his long range shots.  

STANDOUT PERFORMER -- Cousins couldn’t set the tempo early, but when he got it rolling in the third quarter, it was lights out for the Suns. There are plenty of nights that Cousins will be asked to do more, but with a big lead, the Kings didn’t need a typical showing from their All-Star center.

TURNING POINT -- Sacramento finished the first half on a 16-1 run and took a 57-38 lead into the intermission. The Suns kept it within 20 for most of the night and even made a run at the end of third, but the game was decided in the few minutes leading to the intermission.

INJURY UPDATE -- Sacramento enters the season with a full roster of healthy bodies. Matt Barnes struggled with a rib injury during camp, but played a big 27 minutes for the Kings  in the opener.

WHAT'S NEXT -- The Kings return home from Phoenix following the game where the the San Antonio Spurs are waiting for them. Thursday night’s home opener marks the first official game in the new Golden 1 Center as the Kings look to improve to 2-0 on the season.