Tempers short as Sharks await Canucks, Gm. 3

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Tempers short as Sharks await Canucks, Gm. 3

May 20, 2011

VANCOUVER (2-0) vs.
SHARKS (0-2)

Coverage begins at 6 P.M. on Versus

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) The San Jose Sharks lost more than the first two games in the Western Conference final during a lost trip to Vancouver. They also lost their composure.

From captain Joe Thornton challenging Ryan Kesler to a fight before the opening faceoff of Game 1 to enforcer Ben Eager's parade to the penalty box late in Game 2, the Sharks have been on the wrong side of the aggression line too often the first two games and find themselves down 2-0 in the series.

Led by Eager's 20 penalty minutes, the Sharks committed 53 minutes in penalties in a 7-3 loss in Game 2 on Wednesday night, leading to seven power-play chances and three man-advantage goals for the opportunistic Canucks.

"That's often a result of frustration," coach Todd McLellan said Thursday. "It catches up with you. ... It wasn't like we lost it when it was 5-2 or 6-2. We lost it at 3-2. That's not the sign of a team that can win a series. That has to get better."

RELATED: Have Sharks, McLellan run out of options?

The Sharks held an optional workout Thursday as they look to get back into the series in Game 3 at home on Friday night.

Eager was the biggest violator for the Sharks, committing four minor penalties and a misconduct in the final 21 minutes of the game. He also scored San Jose's third goal and was praised by McLellan for his forechecking and skating - a sign that he likely will stay in the lineup despite the penalty-filled game.

The Canucks believe that shouldn't be San Jose's choice.

Coach Alain Vigneault was upset there wasn't more punishment from the NHL for Eager's hit from behind against Daniel Sedin in the final minute of the second period. Eager also got a roughing call for taunting goalie Roberto Luongo after scoring to cut the deficit to 7-3 and called Vancouver defenseman Kevin Bieksa a "phony" for fighting Sharks top-line player Patrick Marleau instead of a more accomplished fighter.

"Obviously he's on the ice to try and hurt people," Vigneault said. "He ran Danny from the back, one of the NHL's potential MVP, he ran our goaltender. Their coach goes out and says that's the way he wants them to play. I just hope nothing serious is going to happen on the ice otherwise there will be some serious consequences to that."

RATTO: Canucks coach sensing a conspiracy

McLellan and Eager downplayed Vigneault's criticisms, with the coaching praising his fourth-line player one of his best players in Game 2 and saying he can be a force if he can limit his penalties.

Eager has a history with the Canucks, having knocked them out of the playoffs the past two years while with Chicago.

"If you play a team three years in a row there's going to be some dislike," Eager said. "When it's in the conference finals it's that much more intense. Sometimes games end up like last night."

The Canucks were on the other side of that in last year's second-round loss to Eager and the Blackhawks. The most notable loss of composure came from high-scoring Sedin, who uncharacteristically fought with Dave Bolland during that series.

"You get frustrated when you feel their team is better than your team and this year we have a better team, that's the bottom line," Sedin said. "Chicago had a lot more depth last year and that's what happens. It's one incident, nothing I worry too much about. It's the playoffs, sometimes things get out of hand."

The Canucks have been better at almost every aspect of this series, showing more speed than the Sharks, beating them to loose pucks, and most importantly, doing a better job of staying out of the penalty box after allowing seven power-play goals in 28 chances in the six games against the Blackhawks last year.

Vancouver has been short-handed just three times this series, allowing goals all three times, but have controlled the five-on-five play for most of the series.

"We learned our lessons the hard way," Bieksa said. "At the time it really cost us and we talked about it a lot during the season and talked about it a lot before the playoffs, and have been very good at it all season, staying discipline and even keeled and staying away from the stuff after the whistle."

The Sharks have lost five of six games since taking a 3-0 lead in the second round against Detroit with the only win coming in Game 7 at home against the Red Wings last week. They have also lost eight straight games in the Western Conference finals, dating to 2004 against Calgary, after getting swept in this round a year ago against eventual Stanley Cup champion Chicago.

"This organization will always have the label of underachieving until it wins the Cup," defenseman Dan Boyle said. "We've been talking about it for three years now. We have to find a way to win and that's it."

Inactives: Raiders LG Kelechi Osemele a late scratch due to illness

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USATSI

Inactives: Raiders LG Kelechi Osemele a late scratch due to illness

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Raiders left guard Kelechi Osemele was questionable to play Thursday night’s game at Kansas City with a knee sprain.

His knee is doing just fine, thank you.

Even still, Osemele wasn’t ready to play. He was a late scratch due to an illness, which sapped him to the point he couldn’t go.

Osemele was listed about the Raiders inactives, announced shortly before kickoff.

That creates a huge void in the offensive line – the Raiders run best between Osemele and left tackle Donald Penn – that will be filled by rookie Vadal Alexander.

Alexander is an aggressive player and a good run blocker, but he isn’t on Osemele’s level. Not having the high-priced player could hinder the Raiders offensive line, which must remain strong for the attack to operate well. The Raiders have allowed a league-low 13 sacks this season. 

Defensive tackle Darius Latham was questionable with an ankle injury, but wasn’t quite ready to play this game. This marks his second contest missed with injury.

Strong safety Karl Joseph was ruled out earlier in the week with a toe injury. Cornerback Antonio Hamilton, Shilique Calhoun, Connor Cook and Stacy McGee are also inactive.

Top pick Meier 'real close' to making Sharks debut

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USATSI

Top pick Meier 'real close' to making Sharks debut

SAN JOSE – Struggling to score goals lately with two or fewer in eight of their last 11 games, the Sharks may soon turn to their biggest prospect to try and give the offense a boost.

Timo Meier, the ninth overall pick from the 2015 draft, is tearing up the American Hockey League lately with the Barracuda. He scored four goals (and registered 15 shots) in two games in San Antonio over the weekend, has eight points (5g, 3a) in his last four games, and leads the Barracuda with eight goals.

On Thursday, Pete DeBoer was asked what he’s heard about Meier lately and how close he may be.

“Good things, and real close,” DeBoer said. “I think he would have been even a consideration [Wednesday], but he came down I think with the flu. 

“You feel for him because we’re looking to bring some guys in, and he obviously had a great weekend. He’s one of quite a few guys down there that we feel real comfortable can come in here and are going to help us before the year ends, for sure.”

It’s the second time an illness has affected Meier’s status, as he came down with mononucleosis early in training camp and missed a month of action. He did, however, return to Barracuda practice this week.

One month ago, Barracuda coach Roy Sommer told CSN that Meier had to make some adjustments coming out of juniors. 

“He’s just has to simplify his game,” Sommer said on Nov. 9. “I think he’s just trying to do too much. He’s got to be north-south, and [forget] this circling and trying to put pucks through people. … It’s not going to work.”

Apparently, Meier has figured it out. On Tuesday, Sommer told The Gackle Report: “He’s getting better every game. At the start, I was going, oh man, he’s all over the map, circling and not using his teammates. But shoot, now he just keeps producing.”

“We’ve spent a lot of time with him on video and he picks stuff up.”

The 2015 draft has already produced several players that are regular contributors for their respective clubs, led by Connor McDavid (Edmonton), Jack Eichel (Buffalo), Mitch Marner (Toronto) and Zach Werenski (Columbus). 

Meier is the only player among the top 11 picks that year that has yet to play an NHL game, while 17 of 30 of the players overall chosen in the first round have played at least one NHL game.