Game 4 notes: Sharks need Game 7 approach

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Game 4 notes: Sharks need Game 7 approach

May 22, 2011SHARKS PAGE SHARKS VIDEO
BOX SCORETim Panaccio
CSNCalifornia.com

SAN JOSE -- Throughout the playoffs, the Sharks have talked about playing better hockey when pressed.

They often come off bad defeats with more inspired play. The adrenalin kicks in when faced with elimination, like they were in the previous playoff series against Detroit.

Well, now Todd McLellans Sharks have to win three games in succession or their playoffs are over. Tuesdays Game 5 is really a Game 7.

At least, a Game 7 approach.

Probably not a lot I have to tell them, McLellan said. Their backs are against the wall as close as they can be. We kind of laid it on the line in the third period tonight, that third phase, if you will, that's what we'll be looking to do in Vancouver.

We know we've got a tough task ahead of us. Vancouver knows, we know, Detroit knows, Chicago knows that anything can happen.

Changes will be made.

We've got to clean some parts of our game up, McLellan said. Obviously the powerplay has to be better. When you get those opportunities, you have to take at least advantage of one, maybe two of them. It has to be better, so we'll look at that.

But we've got a little bit of time here over the next day or two to regroup and to get ready to play.

Patrick Marleau, who had an assist in the game, says the Sharks can come back.

We need more and we can do better, he said. We have another chance to go in there to Vancouver and do it.

Unprepared and dull: McLellan said his team wasnt sharp in most any aspect of its game right from the start.

So, was that a mental or physical issue with his club?

I wish I had the answer, McLellan said. You could see it. We got what we wanted. We got some energy. We got the crowd into it. We earned opportunities on the power play. You could see the passes.

We watched a couple of them. The passing was off. The receiving was off. The timing was off. There wasn't much rhythm. I have to believe some of that's mental, some of it's physical, a combination of both.

Old, Finnish flash: Sami Salo missed the first four and a half months of this past NHL season with a ruptured Achilles tendon.

On Sunday, the 36-year-old Finnish defenseman, playing on a repaired, aging ankle, had a major impact in the Sharks 4-2 Game 4 Western Conference finals loss that gave the Canucks a 3-1 series choke hold.

Salo scored on two of the three playoff-record consecutive Vancouver 5-on-3 power plays that gave the Canucks a stunning 3-0 lead in the second period, and pretty much iced the game.

In his entire 12 years in the NHL, this was the biggest impact hes ever had in a conference final.

McLellan admitted that Vancouvers subtle change of using Salo on those 5-on-3 units represented a completely different look that the Sharks were unprepared for.

For sure it's been a long journey this year, having a tough offseason, Salo said. But we worked really hard to get to this point. Now, it's really exciting.

First time in my long career that I have a chance to play in the Western Conference Finals. Playing against a great team, it couldn't be any better.

It also helped having Henrik Sedin tee it up for the point during those two-man advantages.

I don't think it matters who is playing the point when he has the puck, Salo said.

Loose pucks: With both Christian Ehrhoff and Aaron Rome injured, Cancuks coach Alain Vigneault went with Keith Ballard and rookie Chrisopher Tanev as a defensive pair. Surprise than Tanev got the nod over veteran Andrew Alberts, but Tanev gave Vancouver a right-handed shot, too. Jamie McGinn, who personally took out Ehrhoff and Rome in this series with hit, came barreling down the side boards on Ballard in the second period. Ballard saw him, ducked and timed a perfect hip check to send McGinn sprawling. He then gave him a glove to the mouth at the net, too. By the end of the second period, 8 of the last 10 goals in the series had been scored on the power play.
Tim Panaccio is the NHL Insider for CSNPhilly.com E-mail him at tpanotch@comcast.net

A's spring training Day 41: Maxwell's two-HR day can't stave off bad news

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A's spring training Day 41: Maxwell's two-HR day can't stave off bad news

PHOENIX — Bruce Maxwell homered twice against the Milwaukee Brewers on Sunday, and his reward was a demotion to the minors.

Awkward timing, for sure. But the news itself wasn’t much of a shock to the A’s catcher, who knew he was the odd man out in a three-man roster battle. The A’s like the left-right platoon behind the plate. Stephen Vogt, who like Maxwell hits left-handed, wasn’t going anywhere. Josh Phegley is back healthy after knee surgery and has the advantage of being a right-handed hitter.

“I mean, I could have come out here and hit 1.000 and I probably still would have been in the same situation,” Maxwell said. “I can’t really do much about it. I try not to worry about it. At the end of the day everybody wants to play in the big leagues, but if the opportunity is not there you can’t stress about it.”

Manager Bob Melvin gave Maxwell the news in the dugout after he exited Oakland’s 11-1 victory, and Melvin certainly couldn’t give Maxwell a justifiable reason for the demotion except that the roster math doesn’t add up.

“Great day to have to do that,” Melvin said sarcastically. “But, he’ll be here at some point. We saw his progression last year, he did a great job for us. There’s nothing he did to suggest he needed to be sent down. It’s just a numbers game for him right now.”

The A’s batted around in a five-run third, knocking Brewers starter Matt Garza from the game after he recorded just seven outs. They tacked on four more in the fourth, with Maxwell going deep to left-center for a two-run homer off Jhan Marinez. In the sixth, he hit a solo shot off Corey Knebel to right-center and also added a run-scoring single to complete his four-RBI day.

Melvin has spoken often of the improving power shown by the 26-year-old Maxwell, who hit .283 with a homer and 14 RBI in 33 games with Oakland last season in his first major league call-up.

“If you look at the power numbers over the years, he’s getting better and better,” Melvin said. “He’s got the chance to be a 20-home run guy in the big leagues.”

NOTEWORTHY: Jharel Cotton held Milwaukee to just a run on four hits over 5 2/3 innings. He bounced back from a wobbly start against Seattle in which he walked five. On Sunday, his toughest challenge was staying loose as the A’s offense put up two time-consuming rallies. Twice, Cotton had to play catch while his teammates paraded around the bases.

But it sure didn’t affect him, as he struck out seven and walked one in his second-to-last spring training start.

“This one, I was more on the attack, using my fastball more so I can set up my changeup and off-speed pitches,” Cotton said. “I know everybody raves about the changeup, but I need my fastball to be there so I can throw that pitch off the fastball.”

He had an entertaining ongoing battle with six-time All-Star Ryan Braun. He struck out Braun on a cutter in the first, gave up a homer to left in the fourth, then battled back from a 3-0 count to get Braun swinging through a fastball in the sixth.

“I got him twice, he got me once,” Cotton said. “I think I won that battle today.”

HEALTH UPDATE: Daniel Mengden, who has missed all of spring with a broken right foot, is scheduled to get his walking boot removed Monday. Mengden said he’ll stay in Arizona for anywhere from two to four weeks, taking part in extended spring training. The good news for the right-hander: He’s been able to play catch while wearing the boot, so that’s a bit of a head-start for him once he gets full mobility with his foot. There’s no timetable yet for his return.

ODDS AND ENDS: The A’s knocked out 16 hits and recorded double-digit runs for the fifth time this spring. They improved to 16-12. … Alejandro De Aza, fighting for an outfield roster spot, went 2-for-3 with an RBI to raise his average to .300. … With few regulars making the trip to Maryvale Baseball Park, second baseman Max Schrock came over from minor league camp and once again made an impact, going 3-for-5 with two doubles and two RBI. … John Axford threw a scoreless inning of relief. Frankie Montas handled the final two innings, allowing one hit with two strikeouts and a walk. The hard-throwing prospect is a candidate for the bullpen as a multi-inning guy.

Couture's father: Sharks center dealing with 'ugly injury' after puck to mouth

Couture's father: Sharks center dealing with 'ugly injury' after puck to mouth

The Sharks dropped their sixth straight game Saturday in Nashville against the Predators. To make matters worse, center Logan Couture left the ice to an ugly scene after taking a puck straight to the mouth. 

Directly after the game, Couture was taken to a local Nashville hospital. On Sunday, his father Chet could not provide specific details but called what his son is going through "an ugly injury sadly." 

Couture was set up just outside the crease when a Brent Burns point shot late in the second period hit a stick before squarely smacking into the 27-year-old’s mouth. Replays showed Couture appeared to lose at least one tooth, and he quickly skated to the dressing room under his own power with just 14 seconds before the intermission.

"You can't replace him, so it would be really tough,” Patrick Marleau said after Saturday's loss. “But if that is the case, then guys are going to have to pull up the slack. Definitely we hope he's back sooner.”

Couture flew back with the team Sunday morning, but Insider Kevin Kurz is hearing the injury is certainly a bad one.