Game 5 notes: Sharks face offseason issues

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Game 5 notes: Sharks face offseason issues

May 24,2011

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TimPanaccioCSNCalifornia.com

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 tpanotch@comcast.net

Barracuda power play leads the way in Game 2 win over Grand Rapids

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USATSI

Barracuda power play leads the way in Game 2 win over Grand Rapids

SAN JOSE – The Barracuda struck for three power play goals, including the game-winner in the second period by Joakim Ryan, in overcoming the Grand Rapids Griffins at SAP Center on Sunday night, 4-2.

San Jose’s victory evens the best-of-seven Western Conference Finals series at one game apiece.

Grand Rapids erased a 2-0 hole to tie the game in the middle frame, but less than a minute after Matt Ford knotted the score at 2-2 with a rocket from the circle on a Griffins power play, Ryan’s blast from just inside the blue line at 15:28 staked the Barracuda a lead they would keep for the rest of the night. 

The Barracuda finished 3-for-5 on the power play, after going 0-for-6 in a Game 1 loss on Saturday.

“The power play was a lot better tonight,” Ryan said. “We got set up more. We were able to get shots through from the point.”

One of those shots came early, when defenseman Julius Berman beat goalie Jared Coreau from long range just 3:35 into the game with San Jose on a man advantage. Later in the first, on another power play, Ryan Carpenter found open ice in the slot and redirected a Tim Heed pass at 10:44 for his team-leading eighth of the playoffs.

“Coming out, we wanted to get the first goal tonight,” Carpenter said. “For Bergman to get that first goal was huge for us.”

Ryan and Carpenter both attributed the power play success to winning faceoffs, which is something coach Roy Sommer wanted the club to focus on after it dropped the series opener, 3-1.

Winning faceoffs often is an indication of a team’s compete level, and that, too, was lacking for the Barracuda in an opener in which Sommer said his team played “dumb and slow.” 

Sunday was a much better performance.

“Whenever we’ve had a bad start, or a bad game, the next day these guys have responded,” said Sommer, whose club is the top seed in the Western Conference. “They’ve done it all year.”

The series now shifts to Grand Rapids for the next three games, with Game 3 going Wednesday. The primary affiliate of the Detroit Red Wings, the Griffins posted a 25-11-2 record in their own building in the regular season.

The Barracuda, though, should be a confident group on the road. Against San Diego in the second round, San Jose won all three games in Southern California after splitting the first two at home.

“It’s going to be a hell of a series,” Sommer said. “It’s probably going to go the duration, I imagine. Both teams are kind of feeling each other out and kind of have a pretty good idea of what the other guys are doing now.”

Ryan said: “Honestly, I think they are the team in the league that plays the most like us. I felt like last night they did a better job of taking the game to us. I thought we came out better tonight, and we battled harder, competed more, won more pucks. They’re a really good team, it’s going to be a battle the rest of the series, for sure. They’re not going to lay down.”

Barclay Goodrow’s empty netter with 1:06 left in regulation was the only goal in the third period.

The Barracuda outshot the Griffins, 40-35, including a 20-11 advantage in the first period.

No sweep here: Without Isaiah Thomas, Celtics stun Cavs in Game 3

No sweep here: Without Isaiah Thomas, Celtics stun Cavs in Game 3

BOX SCORE

CLEVELAND — Avery Bradley's 3-pointer dropped in with less than a second left and the Boston Celtics, blown out in the first two games of the Eastern Conference finals and playing without star Isaiah Thomas, stunned the Cleveland Cavaliers 111-108 on Sunday night in Game 3 to end the champions' 13-game postseason winning streak.

Bradley's shot from the left wing bounced on the rim four times before going down. It capped a furious comeback by the Celtics, who trailed by 21 in the third quarter before rallying to tighten up a series that appeared to be over.

Marcus Smart scored 27 points, and Bradley had 20 for the Celtics. They were given little chance after losing by 44 in Game 2 and then losing Thomas for the rest of the postseason because of a hip injury.

Kyrie Irving scored 29 points, and Kevin Love 28 for Cleveland. The Cavaliers dropped to 10-1 in the postseason with their first loss since Game 4 of last year's Finals.