Game 5 notes: Sharks face offseason issues

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Game 5 notes: Sharks face offseason issues

May 24,2011

BOXSCORE SHARKS VIDEONHLPAGE NHLSCOREBOARD
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

Pelicans lose by 30, but Cousins scores 27 with 14 rebounds in debut

Pelicans lose by 30, but Cousins scores 27 with 14 rebounds in debut

BOX SCORE

NEW ORLEANS -- The Boogie-and-Brow era in New Orleans is off to a highly inauspicious start.

The Pelicans' tandem of newly acquired All-Star DeMarcus Cousins and All-Star Game MVP Anthony Davis was no match for the surging Houston Rockets on Thursday night.

Reserve Lou Williams hit seven 3-pointers and scored 27 points in his Rockets debut after a trade from the Lakers, and Houston crushed New Orleans, 129-99.

Davis had 29 points, and Cousins finished with 27 points and 14 rebounds after he was acquired from Sacramento during the break. But New Orleans turned the ball over 20 times couldn't keep pace with the firepower of the Rockets, who hit 20 3-pointers.

Eric Gordon scored 19 points and Ryan Anderson added 17 in both players' first game in New Orleans since leaving the Pelicans. James Harden had 13 points and 14 assists.

Houston led by as many as 35 points when Gordon's free throws made it 100-65 late in the third quarter.

Patrick Beverley had 12 rebounds for Houston. Montrezl Harrell added 10 points for the Rockets, who shot 49.5 percent (45 of 91).

After New Orleans acquired Cousins, nicknamed "Boogie," in a deal involving five players and two draft choices, Pelicans general manager Dell Demps hoped Cousins and Davis would thrive playing off one another while point guard Jrue Holiday initiated offensive sets. But Holiday had arguably his worst game this season, turning the ball over seven times and finishing with only six points and four assists.

The crowd was charged up for both Cousins' debut and Davis' resumption of a sensational season following his record 52-point performance on Sunday.

Both players received rousing receptions during introductions and the crowd roared when Cousins hit a jumper for games' first points.

Cousins and Davis each scored eight in the first quarter, but it was also apparent that the integration of new personnel had New Orleans a bit out of sync. The Pelicans turned the ball over 12 times in the first half, leading to 17 Rockets points.

The Rockets also hit nine 3s in the opening half, including three each by Gordon and Williams, and led 66-50 at halftime.

By the end of the third quarter, the crowd that had been so rowdy at tip-off was starting to file out with their team down 100-67.

TIP-INS

Rockets: Houston has won seven of the past eight meetings. ... The Rockets hit at least 10 3s in a game for the 55th time in 59 games this season. ... The Rockets, now 41-18, have matched their win total for all of last season.

Pelicans: Before the game, New Orleans waived F Terrence Jones and signed G/F Hollis Thompson to a 10-day contract. Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said Jones, who joined New Orleans on a one-year contract this season, was released to help him find a team where he could play more. Thompson played a little more than four minutes and scored three points. ... The Pelicans are now 14-16 at home.

UP NEXT

Rockets: Host Minnesota on Saturday night.

Pelicans: Visit Dallas on Saturday night.

Zaza returns to starting lineup, West available to play vs Clippers

Zaza returns to starting lineup, West available to play vs Clippers

OAKLAND -- For the first time in nearly four weeks, the Warriors will take the court Thursday night with their regular starting lineup.

Center Zaza Pachulia, out since Jan. 29 with a strained rotator cuff, was cleared to play and will return to his status as the starting center when the Warriors face the Clippers at Oracle Arena, coach Steve Kerr said in his pregame news conference.

Backup center David West, who has been out since Jan. 18 with a fractured thumb, also received clearance and will be available.

JaVale McGee, who performed well while starting eight games in place of Pachulia, will return to his normal role, playing spot minutes off the bench.

“I considered either way, but I think we had a good groove with Zaza as a starter,” Kerr said. “And JaVale was still making an impact when Zaza was starting, bringing him in midway through the first quarter. We hadn’t done it the other way.

“I’ve seen JaVale with our other group, later in the first quarter, and that worked well. So I figured I might as well go back to what’s already worked.”

While Pachulia was out, McGee averaged 9.0 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.0 blocks in 16.5 minutes per game. Generating most of his offense on dunks off lobs, he is shooting 74.7 percent (71-of-95) over his last 22 games and 67.8 percent this season.

Pachulia, who has started 44 games, is averaging 5.9 points, 6.0 rebounds and 2.0 assists. He is shooting 52.7 percent from the field.