Game 3 notes: Marleau scoring, confidence rising


Game 3 notes: Marleau scoring, confidence rising

May 20, 2011

Tim Panaccio
SAN JOSE -- Among the few players that Sharks coach Todd McLellan didnt need to single out as underachieving in this Western Conference Final was Patrick Marleau.

Hes pretty much given the Sharks a chance in this series, with four goals -- five in his last four games going back to the Detroit series.

The 31-year-old forward had a fair bite in Saturdays 4-3 victory in Game 3, too, with a pair of early goals.

Things are just starting to go in, Marleau said. I'm playing with some pretty good players, obviously. Just getting into some good areas. The puck is starting to go in.

You can almost see his confidence grow in this series, regardless of the fact the Sharks trail, 2-1.

Yeah, it's nice to produce and help a team win, Marleau said. What it boils down to is wins right now. Do whatever it takes to win. I think each line played really well tonight and we're going to need that again next game.

The McGinn hit: Jamie McGinn is facing a fine andor suspension for his boarding hit that knocked Vancouvers Aaron Rome out of the game in the third period.

McGinn got a five-minute major plus a game misconduct which allowed the Canucks to score twice to turn the Sharks 4-1 pad into a one-goal nail-biter at the end.

If I were Aaron Rome Id be upset right now but they got the right call in the ice, Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said.

Sharks coach Todd McLellan thought it was a deserved major.

And McGinn?

Im a player who finishes my checks, he said. Im not trying to hurt anyone out there. Its unfortunate he got hurt. I tried to cut him off and hit him on the shoulder. Thats all it was.

As for a possible suspension ...

Its tough, McGinn said. I got in the lineup finally and I thought I did a good job. To go right back upstairs in the press box sucks.

McGinn watched the Canucks score twice from the dressing room.

This is twice that its happened to me, McGinn said. Its tough every time.

Lineup changes: So, on one hand McLellan doesnt blame Ben Eager for the Game 2 disaster in Vancouver.

Yet on the other, Eager had to take the fall because he was a healthy scratch for Game 3, as was Scott Nichol.

The new fourth line had Andrew Desjardins between McGuinn and Jamal Mayers.

The thinking was speed, and that was evident in the opening period when McGinn outraced the Vancouver defense for a loose puck and subsequent scoring chance at the other end.

McLellan denied taking Eager out because of the bad boarding penalty he took in Game 2 on Daniel Sedin that led to the Sharks unraveling.

Ben Eager played four games against us last year and played very effectively for Chicago and didn't take any penalties, McLellan said. He has the discipline to control himself. We just felt we would go with a different lineup.

Ehrhoff injured: Vancouver suffered a significant loss on defense when Christian Ehrhoff incurred an upper body injury early in the second period and did not return. Vigneault said both Ehrhoff and Rome are questionable for Game 4.

Loose pucks: Douglas Murray logged 3:20 of PK time in the second period, thanks those back-to-back, 5-on-3 power plays that Vancouver failed to convert. He led the Sharks with 5:09 of PK time. ... Logan Couture collided with teammate Ryane Clowe in the third period and went off the ice, returned briefly to the bench, then went back to the dressing room. McLellan said Couture would play in Game 4. ... Joe Thornton notched three assists, giving him eight points (1-7=8) in his last six games. ... Dan Boyle picked up a goal and an assist, giving him a four-game point streak (1-5=6). He continues to lead all defensemen in points (3-12=15) and assists through the playoffs.
Tim Panaccio is the NHL Insider for E-mail him at

Giants put it together in all phases, get back in win column

Giants put it together in all phases, get back in win column

SAN FRANCISCO — In the bottom of the eighth inning Monday, with the Giants finally running away with one, Johnny Cueto started blowing into a giant wad of bubble gum. He held two hands out, ready to catch remnants of an explosion as Brandon Crawford and Kelby Tomlinson looked on and smiled. 

A few minutes later, players started migrating to the dugout rail as they have done in each of the three starts Ryder Jones has made. They are ready to cheer on a rookie’s first big league hit, even if the wait has been an excruciating one for the third baseman. 

Bruce Bochy likes to say that your personality is better when you’re winning, and his players certainly showed that Monday in snapshots here and there. They woke up to a report that there were fractured in the clubhouse, caused in large part by the new closer. They denied it, they met as a group, and then, finally, they won. 

Jeff Samardzija pitched as he has for two months, the top of the lineup came through over and over again, and Brandon Crawford paced a golden night with the gloves. A 9-2 win over the Rockies was just the second since June 11 and it snapped a nine-game losing streak against the Rockies. Any win is meaningful at this point, but this one seemed to mean just a little bit more given the drama of the day. 

“Despite what people might think, we still have a pretty good group here and we get along just fine,” Crawford said. “We’re all rooting for each other.”

It’s one thing to support teammates off the field, and there’s been no indication that the Giants aren’t doing that. It’s quite another to be hand-in-hand between the lines, and for much of this season, Samardzija has been on an island. 

The right-hander has been Bochy’s best pitcher since Madison Bumgarner went down in the hills outside Denver. But he entered Monday with a 2-9 record and 4.74 ERA inflated by faulty defense. He hasn’t grumbled, but he has grown accustomed to the worst, and when Nolan Arenado bounced a ball deep to the hole in shortstop with two on and two outs in the third, Samardzija figured the game was probably tied. 

“I’m thinking maybe they charge it in the outfield and maybe make a play at home,” Samardzija said. “But with a guy like that at shortstop, things change so fast.”

Crawford scooped the ball on the edge of the grass. He would have liked nothing more than to make an otherworldly throw to first to nail his World Baseball Classic teammate, but he knew the best chance was at third. A couple of days ago, Crawford and Jones discussed how the rookie should cover third on such a play. Jones played it perfectly, retreating in time to catch Crawford’s inning-ending throw. 

“The best thing (about Crawford) is he doesn’t even talk about it,” Samardzija said.

No, Crawford put the spotlight on Jones.

“That’s a pretty heads-up play,” he said. “We talked about it and he was there. It was a funny coincidence.”

The play held the lead, and the Giants kept pushing. The top four hitters in the lineup finished with 10 hits, six RBI and six runs. Brandon Belt had an RBI triple in the five-spot. Crawford drove in a run behind him. Gorkys Hernandez and Kelby Tomlinson added insurance from the bottom. Bochy watched it all from the top step and saw a group collectively relax.

“Just quit fighting it so much,” he said. “There’s a lot of talent in this offense. There’s no reason they can’t put consistent runs on the board. Tonight I just thought the at-bats were so much better and the focus was. Once it started rolling, guys felt better about themselves, and it just got contagious.”

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants' skid-snapping win over Rockies


Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants' skid-snapping win over Rockies


SAN FRANCISCO — On a day that started with controversy, Giants players called a meeting following batting practice. Perhaps they were talking about when and where to stretch. Perhaps a reminder was given to keep clubhouse complaints in the actual clubhouse. 

Or, perhaps, the players just decided that enough was enough. 

In a rare display, the Giants put a clean and complete game together. They beat the Rockies 9-2 at AT&T Park, getting just their second win since June 11 and snapping a nine-game losing streak to the Rockies. 

Jeff Samardzija continued his hot streak, the lineup was opportunistic and flashed some power, and the defense sparkled at times. Here are five things to know from the throwback night … 

—- Samardzija walked off to a standing ovation after throwing 112 pitches. He was charged with two earned in 6 1/3 innings. Ignore the record and ERA for a second — his FIP is 3.37 and his xFIP is 2.95. He really is having a very good and underrated season. 

—- Here’s another one for your Samardzija file: Over the past two months, he has 82 strikeouts and three walks. 

—- It was a good day in the race for another Brandon Crawford Gold Glove. Adeiny Hechavarria, one of the few in the National League who even approaches Crawford, was traded to the Rays. Crawford added to the reel by gunning a runner down on third and making a nifty spin-and-throw in the fourth to rob Ian Desmond of a hit. 

—- There are nights where Denard Span looks like a game-changer, and this was one of them. He had a single, walk and triple in his first three plate appearances, scoring twice as the Giants built a 5-0 lead. He was spry in center, too 

—- Nolan Arenado was 0 for 4. Apparently that’s legal now. (It was actually his ninth 0 for 4 or worse against the Giants, in 81 games.)

—- Bonus sixth fact since the Giants won a game: Sam Dyson, acquired basically for free, is the new setup man. That didn’t take long, and it probably won’t be changing anytime soon. Dyson gave up a single but struck out the other three batters he faced.