Sharks collapse in Gm. 2, blitzed by Canucks 7-3

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Sharks collapse in Gm. 2, blitzed by Canucks 7-3

May 18, 2011

BOX SCORE SHARKS VIDEONHLPAGE NHLSCOREBOARDBOX SCORE SERIES SCHEDULE
Tim Panaccio
CSNCalifornia.com

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Ben Eager was fuming.

He couldnt get to Kevin Bieksa, who had already pasted Patrick Marleau in a fight.

Ah, but the Sharks' enforcer could get to Daniel Sedin, since his coach, Todd McLellan was rotating Eager throughout his lineup.

RELATED: Marleau puts up his dukes in vain

When Eager slammed the big Swede into the side boards with an unnecessary boarding penalty late in the second period, the entire complexion of Game 2 of the Western Conference Final changed.

And along with it, perhaps any chance of the Sharks coming back in this series after Wednesdays 7-3 decimation at Rogers Arena.

Although the Sharks killed off the boarding minor, Eager then took a bad tripping call in what was a one-goal game.

Chris Higgins scored a third period power play goal, before Daniel Sedin answered with another to blow things apart as the enraged Canucks buried the Sharks, turning a 3-2 lead into a rout. It places the Sharks in an 0-2 tank, with no water.

Ben Eager is one of our faster forwards, one of our more physical forwards, McLellan said. I think he has the ability to win battles and create scrums. I do believe the other team knows when he's on the ice.

Now, the negative. He can't march to the penalty box on an ongoing basis. The tradeoff obviously didn't work in our favor.

Marleau, trying to inspire his teammates who were hemmed into their own end nearly the entire second period, gave himself up to inspire teammates. They didnt respond.

Yeah, you know, weve seen that before with Kevin, Eager said. Its sad that someones got to sign him for big money when hes a phony. He goes after our top player, and hes been asked to fight many times before ... lots of players throughout the league and hes declined, so ...

RATTO: Don't hang Gm. 2 crash on Eager

Bieksa wouldnt fight Eager, but the bottom line is the hit on Sedin was entirely unnecessary. It woke a sleeping giant and enraged the Canucks.

I was out there to finish my check; I finish all my checks, Eager said. I went to close on him. He knows what he was doing there. He turned his back ... We killed that penalty. That last tripping penalty, I know it cost us and let the team down there.

McLellan defended Eager, saying he didnt cross the line, but admitted his team lost its composure with 13 penalties in the game -- nine in the last period.

They had more battle in their game than we did, McLellan said. This time of the year, when you have more battle and more of a tenacity to your game, you're going to win.

I thought maybe ... we got a little frustrated because we wanted to even the score on the Marleau fight. That was Ben Eager taking a run at one of the Sedins. It probably grew from there a little bit.

But at this point, you've got to have your emotions in check. You've got to maintain some composure.

In case youre wondering, the last team to win a Stanley Cup down 0-2 in a conference final was the 1991 Pittsburgh Penguins. That team had Mario Lemieux, Kevin Stevens, Joey Mullen and Mark Recchi.

These Sharks have Joe Thornton, Marleau, and ... well, lets just say, theyre not the Penguins.

Interestingly, McLellan said some of his players -- who should have raised their games and responded -- disappeared.

There's a few people in our group, and I'm not going to hide them anymore, they have to ask themselves whether or not they want to keep on competing, McLellan said.

Thornton singled out Marleau as the only player who sacrificed himself for his teammates. San Jose's captain called Marleau a gamer.

Its too bad we didnt have a bunch more gamers tonight, Thornton said. The game would have been different.

Logan Couture agreed.

"Pattys a leader, he said. People dont see that. Its good to see him step up. Hes a quiet guy and he doesnt show his emotion too much. We all see how badly he wants to win. He stepped up and made a statement tonight which was good for the rest of us. Unfortunately, we didnt follow through."

Instead, the Sharks and goalie Antti Niemi were hammered with four goals in the final period -- two on the power play.

San Jose has now been outscored 29-13 in its last eight conference final games (going back to 2004) and is 0-6 in the conference finals over the last two years.

You lose 7-3, not many people play well, Couture said. I didnt play well. The list goes on. Its embarrassing. Its the only word that comes to mind.

Youre in the conference finals and the Stanley Cup playoffs, you put an effort out like that. You cant feel bad for yourselves but you feel bad for the fans and the coaching staff that we gave an effort like that.

Much like Game 1, the Sharks came out fine and again scored the games first goal only to see Vancouver come back with two goals in 39 seconds to stun them.

Couture, whose line matched up against the Sedin twins (Henrik and Daniel), came up with the first goal at 2:28 when Dany Heatley gave Couture a perfect pass down the slot, allowing him to split the Vancouver defense of Sami Salo and Alexander Edler.

Not even seven minutes later, Henrik had the puck in the slot, turned and passed up a shot for his brother, Daniel, who whipped the puck past Niemi to tie it on the power play -- one of the power play goals the Sharks porous penalty-kill units allowed.

The Canucks took the lead on the very next shift, pinning the Sharks into their own end with Christian Ehrhoff backhanding the puck into the slot for a tap-in goal by Raffi Torres.

Just like that, the Canucks had a 2-1 lead, along with the momentum.

Marleau is a streaky scorer. If he gets one in the playoffs, he usually gets a couple. Marleau got his third goal in three games -- going back his Game 7 game-winner against Detroit -- to re-tie it at 14:02.

Then came the brutal middle period when the Sharks had no opportunities whatsoever.
Couture had a shot on Roberto Luongo 15 seconds in. Their next shot came at 10:01 by Joe Pavelski.

No rushes up ice. No grinding forecheck where the larger Sharks could use their size. And no puck cycling. In other word, no offense.

The period resembled the middle one in Game 1 when Niemi was under siege. The siege produced a back-breaking goal from Bieksa on a breakaway, stretch pass from Higgins. We kid you not.

The Canucks' third line of Ryan Kesler centering Higgins and Torres has made a critical difference in both games.

"Not fun. Embarrassing, Couture said. You look at the last 6-7 games weve played, were just not playing well. Were not playing the way we should be in the playoffs. Tonight was just embarrassing. Hopefully, it wakes us up a little bit."
Tim Panaccio is the NHL Insider for CSNPhilly.com E-mail him at tpanotch@comcast.net

Key factors that will determine where Kaepernick plays in 2017

Key factors that will determine where Kaepernick plays in 2017

CHICAGO – Quarterback Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers got what they wanted from a restructured contract the sides negotiated in October.

Kaepernick is allowed to opt out of his contract after this season. And the 49ers are not financially obligated to pay his 2017 salary if he sustains an injury that lingers past April 1.

Kaepernick, who requested permission to seek a trade, was always expected to opt out and become an unrestricted free agent after the season. Even if he did not opt out, the 49ers would be expected to release him, anyway.

“Organizations at the end of the season go through and evaluate personnel and opportunities,” Kaepernick explained in June why he asked for permission to seek a trade. “That was something, I sat down with my team and did the same thing. That’s how we handled the business.”

The NFL Network on Sunday reported what had been known all along: Kaepernick plans to opt out the contract at the end of the season.

But this move – or if the 49ers release Kaepernick – does not rule out his return to the 49ers in 2017.

There are several unknown factors that will determine where Kaepernick plays next season:

--What will the market be for Kaepernick?

The 49ers and Denver Broncos had a deal worked out for Kaepernick last offseason. But the Broncos would only follow-through if Kaepernick agreed to take his guaranteed salary of $11.9 million down to $7 million annually over the next two years.

It’s likely the Broncos will no longer be interested. If they go after a veteran quarterback, Tony Romo would be expected to top the list. There are teams that likely will need a quarterback, such as Cleveland, Chicago and the New York Jets.

But it’s not known if ownership in those cities will step in over concerns about upsetting the team’s fan base with the acquisition of Kaepernick, who has been the NFL's most-polarizing figure this season due to his decision to protest racial inequality by kneeling during the national anthem.

--Over the past four games, Kaepernick is playing at a level that would suggests he should be a starter in the NFL next season. If it’s just a football decision, he would either be competing for a starting job or – at the very least – be a top backup.

There is a lot of instability with the 49ers. If general manager Trent Baalke is back with the 49ers, it seems unlikely Kaepernick would want to come back.

Kaepernick's dissatisfaction with the 49ers last year led to him seeking a way out. He thought his team-friendly contract, which was low on guaranteed money, would allow the 49ers to keep the nucleus on their roster intact. Instead, the roster was overhauled.

Also, there were reports last year, which Kaepernick’s camp believe the 49ers leaked, that he wore his headphones around the team facility and closed himself off to teammates and did not spend as much time watching film as Blaine Gabbert.

--But if Baalke is fired at the end of the season and coach Chip Kelly is retained, it very well could be that the best place for Kaepernick will be back with the 49ers to establish some continuity.

Kelly said this week that he has not gotten involved in any of the contract discussions with Kaepernick, who recently placed his San Jose house on the market.

“I don’t deal with contracts,” Kelly said. “So, that wasn’t an issue. As I’ve said with everything, even the stuff when we first got there is when he’s with us it’s all football. If there’s a business thing. That’s between him and his agent and the front office. But that’s not something that we’ve ever had a discussion about.”

It appears Kelly and Kaepernick have a solid relationship. Kaepernick appears more comfortable running a system that accentuates his skillset.

“The relationship we have is great,” Kelly said. “We talk football and I really enjoy coaching him. He works extremely hard. He really wants to be great and works at it from that standpoint. So all that other stuff, I think he does a really good job of leaving that outside the door and we never really discuss it because that’s really not what our relationship is about.”

Instant Replay: Warriors' offense hits on all cylinders in win over Suns

Instant Replay: Warriors' offense hits on all cylinders in win over Suns

BOX SCORE

OAKLAND – Scorching the nets with a season-best 62.8-percent shooting, the Warriors rolled to a 138-109 rout of the Phoenix Suns before a sellout crowd Saturday night at Oracle Arena.

Five Warriors scored in double figures, led by Stephen Curry with 31 points. Klay Thompson poured in 26 points, Kevin Durant had 20, while David West and JaVale McGee came off the bench for 11 each, season highs for both.

Forwards Draymond Green and Durant had quietly monstrous games. Green put up nine points, a game-high 13 assists, five rebounds and three steals. In addition to his scoring, Durant also submitted eight assists, four rebounds and three blocks.

The Warriors (17-3) recorded 37 assists, the 14th time they have reached at least 30. No other team has done it more than four times.

Guards Eric Bledsoe (27 points) and Devin Booker (21) combined for 48 points to lead Phoenix (6-14) scorers.

STANDOUT PERFORMERS

This night belonged to many Warriors, but mostly to Curry and Thompson.

Curry’s line: 31 points (10-of-15 from the field, including 5-of-7 from deep, 6-of-6 from the line), two rebounds, two assists and a steal. He played 30 minutes and finished plus-15.

Thompson’s line: 26 points (10-of-17, 6-of-7), five rebounds, three assists and two steals. He played 34 minutes and was plus-24.

TURNING POINT

When the Suns took a 26-25 lead on an Alex Len dunk with 2:57 left in the first quarter, the Warriors responded with a 25-4 run that yielded a 48-30 lead with 9:25 remaining the second quarter.

When Phoenix battled back, getting as close as eight (68-60) early in the second half, the Warriors recovered with a 15-4 run to go up 19 (83-64) with 7:07 left in the third quarter.

The Suns drew no closer than 20 in the fourth quarter.

INJURY UPDATE

Warriors: No injuries listed. C Anderson Varejao was a healthy inactive. C Damian Jones is on assignment with Santa Cruz of the D-League.

Suns: F T.J. Warren (head injury) was listed as out. F Derrick Jones Jr. is on assignment with Northern Arizona of the D-League.

WHAT’S NEXT

The Warriors return to action Monday night, when they face the Indiana Pacers at Oracle Arena. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:40.