Game notes: Sharks vs. Red Wings, Game 3

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Game notes: Sharks vs. Red Wings, Game 3

May 4, 2011

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Coverage begins at 4:30 on Comcast SportsNet California.

Kevin Kurz
CSNBayArea.com

Sharks lead best-of-seven series, two games to none

Starting Goalies

Antti Niemi has quickly put his first round numbers behind him, and has allowed just two goals in two games for a 0.95 goals-against average and .966 save percentage. Hes been the beneficiary of some very good team defense in front of him, as well, which is probably the bigger reason hes been able to succeed.

Jimmy Howard has also been good for the Red Wings with just four goals allowed in the two games, but his mishandling of a shot from Niclas Wallin in Game 2 proved to be the difference. Typically, the high powered Red Wings usually win games in which they only surrender two goals.
Previous Games

San Jose defended its home ice in the first two games of the series with a pair of 2-1 victories. On Friday, Benn Ferriero was the hero with a goal in overtime, improving the Sharks to 4-0 this postseason when a game goes past regulation. San Jose had trailed for the majority of the game before Joe Pavelski tied it with a power play goal midway through the third period.

In Game 2 it was the Sharks who led most of the way, thanks to Ian Whites first period goal. Wallin increased that to 2-0 in the third period, and San Jose was able to withstand a late charge by Detroit.
Whos Hot

Niemi and the Sharks defense as a whole has been the key to the series through the first two games. That includes White, who scored the first goal in Game 1 and is tied for the team lead in assists (5) and plusminus (6). Ryane Clowes nine points in the playoffs (4g, 5a) leads the team.

Nicklas Lidstrom and Henrik Zetterberg have scored the only goals of the series so far for Detroit, but one player the Sharks will have to keep an eye on is Danny Cleary. The energetic winger was among Detroits most effective players in Game 2 on Sunday, firing five shots on net.
Roster Watch

There was a whole lot of shuffling going on Tuesday in Detroit, and it had nothing to do with the nearby casinos in Greektown. The Sharks and Red Wings both made some notable changes to their lines at their respective practices as they seek to generate more offense, with just six combined goals between them in the series.

On the Sharks side, Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau were split up, as were Clowe and Logan Couture. Couture was bumped up to the wing to play alongside Thornton and Devin Setoguchi, while Marleau was between Clowe and Dany Heatley. Its a look that coach Todd McLellan used sparingly in the regular season.

The big change for the Red Wings is that stars Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk were not together. Datsyuk centered Johan Franzen and Tomas Holmstrom, while Zetterberg was in the middle of wingers Danny Cleary and Todd Bertuzzi. Whether or not the coaches keep these lines intact for the start of Game 3 is unclear.

Storylines

Much has been made of the Sharks giving Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard repeated snow showers, when they put on the brakes in front of the goaltender, thereby spraying him with ice. Of course, thats just a byproduct of going hard to the net in search of rebounds, and theres no rule preventing such actions. Still, the Red Wings would be wise to try and rattle Niemi the same way, in the hopes of getting him out of his groove. When a goaltender is playing as well as Niemi, the key for the opposition is to create more traffic in front of the crease. Look for Detroit to put some of its big bodies in front of the net in Game 3, and maybe give Niemi a shower or two of his own.

Something else to watch will be whether or not the coaches stick with the line combinations they showed in Tuesdays practice and for how long, should things start going south for either team.

The numbers certainly favor the Sharks as they try to advance to the Western Conference Finals for the second consecutive season. They have won 10 of their last 12 games overall in Detroit, and the Red Wings are just 5-21 all-time when losing the first two games of a seven-game series. Still, the Red Wings arent getting outplayed by a very large margin, and getting in front of their home crowd could be the boost they need to climb back into the series.

Despite loss, Sharks 'in a good spot' headed into bye week

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USATSI

Despite loss, Sharks 'in a good spot' headed into bye week

SAN JOSE – Despite what was technically their sixth loss in the last eight games, the Sharks seemed to put more stock in the point they gained in a 2-1 overtime loss to the Bruins on Sunday night at SAP Center, rather than the one they left on the table.

They have that luxury. 

The Sharks will enter their bye week five points ahead of Edmonton and Anaheim for first place in the Pacific Division, and figure they’re due for some time off after a short summer followed by a World Cup for some, and a brutal condensed NHL schedule for all.

“[We’ve] showed up and played hard,” Joe Pavelski said. “We’ve been in a lot of games. Games we’ve lost, we’ve battled. There hasn’t been any cheat in [our] game. Defensively, we’ve been strong. There’s a lot of good areas in our game that we like right now.”

Playing in the second of a back-to-back against a Bruins team had was coming off of its own bye week, the Sharks fell behind 1-0 on a first period goal by Ryan Spooner, but notched a Patrick Marleau equalizer in a second period in which they outshot the Bruins 16-9. An evenly played third period gave way to overtime, where Brad Marchand scored on a breakaway to give the Bruins their fourth straight win since changing head coaches.

The Sharks spoke before the weekend about finishing the final two games strong before the respite. They ended up gaining three of four points, including Saturday’s 4-1 win in Arizona, and were pleased with their effort against the Bruins as they capped off 10 games in 20 days since the All-Star break.

“It was an important push into this break,” Pete DeBoer said. “To go in up [five points] on the next closest team is a real testament to our group.”

Paul Martin said: “I thought we played pretty well, considering the back-to-back with some travel, and a team that was waiting for us.”

Perhaps the most encouraging performance came from Martin Jones, who was one of a number of Sharks players that was looking particularly fatigued lately. The goaltender entered the game with a 1-0-2 record, 4.46 goals-against average and .837 save percentage in his last four starts, including getting pulled after the first period in Boston just 10 days ago.

Jones was impressive, though, making a vital pad stop on the dangerous David Pastrnak in front of the net midway through the third period to keep it a 1-1 score.

“It was a good game. Two teams playing hard,” Jones said. “We can take a lot of positives from that one. It was a good hard game, just didn’t go our way tonight.”

Overtimes have been an issue lately, though. The Sharks have lost their last four games decided during the three-on-three, all coming within the last two weeks. As satisfied as they are with their cushion in the division, it could have been cushier.

Against the Bruins, Tuukka Rask denied Brent Burns on a two-on-one in overtime, and Marchand scored off of the ensuing faceoff, blowing the zone past Pavelski and Marc-Edouard Vlasic and corralling a long toss from Torey Krug before sliding it home.

“We get to overtime, shootouts – we expect to get that extra point,” Pavelski said. “We haven’t found it lately. We’ll just keep looking for it.”

DeBoer said: “The points are critical, they’re valuable. I don’t read a lot into [overtime decisions], we’ve won our share over the time I’ve been here. We had a chance to win tonight, too. … I concentrate on the effort, and I thought we got better as the game went on.”

Being focused and energized, as they have been most of the season to this point, shouldn’t be a problem when the season resumes next Saturday in Vancouver. The Sharks are in prime position to win their first division title since 2010-11, and a return trip to the Stanley Cup Final is a distinct possibility.

Losing six of eight won’t be nearly as acceptable coming out of the break as it apparently is going into it, but that’s not something to worry about now, even after another defeat. 

“There are some games you wish you could get back and get those points, but we’re still in a good spot,” Marleau said.

Trading Cousins is the ultimate Kingstastic move

Trading Cousins is the ultimate Kingstastic move

There was a lot of complaining about the lack of defense in this year’s All-Star Game, as though last year’s All-Star Game didn’t happen.

But the Most Valuable Player, which was putatively Anthony Davis for scoring a record 52 points in front of his home crowd, was actually the man with the fewest minutes of all.

Yes, the man, the god, The DeMarcus Cousins. The Very Definition Of A Sacramento King, By Becoming An Ex-Sacramento King.

Cousins, now the second-best player on the New Orleans Pelicans, played only two minutes Sunday, the lowest total by any All-Star since Connie Hawkins in 1971, ostensibly because he told head coach Steve Kerr he was a little ouchy, but more likely because the Kings were frantically trying to trade him and didn’t want him hurting himself in a game with even no contact whatsoever.

Not during the All-Star Break, mind you. DURING THE ALL-STAR GAME ITSELF! Adam Silver must have been vomiting hedgehogs into a bucket at the very thought.

As it turns out, the Kings, who have sworn up and down that they would never consider trading Cousins, did that very thing, closing a deal to send Cousins and forward Omri Casspi to the New Orleans Pelicans for a first and second-round pick in the upcoming draft, Tyreke Evans, Langston Galloway (who is likely to be waived in true Kings fashion) and 2016 first-rounder Buddy Hield.

You remember Buddy Hield. He’s the guy who clocked Cousins in the joy division going around a Cousins pick during the last Pelicans-Kings game, and got tossed for doing so.

In other words, the Kings prefer the guy who punched their best player in the goolies to their best player. This is so Kingsy.

But on the back end, Cousins’ agent, Jarinn Akana, said Cousins is disinclined to sign a long-term contract with his next team, making him a rental who could some day return to Sacramento in a Groundhog's Day remake that would cause the Oroville Dam to get up and walk off the job.

This too is so Kingsy.

This is the greatness of the Kings. They blew up the All-Star weekend during the game itself. They blew it up trying to get rid of their best player when they are within fighting distance of their first playoff spot in 11 years. They blew it up after saying they weren’t considering trading the dynamite at all.

Kingsy, Kingsy, Kingsy. It’s Kingstastic!

And the best part of it all is that the trade leaves everyone deflated and confused and ultimately angry, while the Kings undervalued their only marketable player to invest in a future they have mocked for decades.

You know what we;’re talking about. Gimme a K! Gimme an I! Gimme an N-G-S, throw an extraneous Y on the end of it what does it spell?

Yeah. Right.

It’s remarkable thing, being a King. While we have all amused ourselves with the machinations of the thick-as-two-short-planks New York Knicks and Carmelo Anthony, the Kings have been Kinging this way for most of the last 35 years.

And now, they have decided to feed their obsession with the Golden State Warriors by running even further away from them, by tossing their only bargaining chip for a future player or players that they typically ruin, and Buddy Hield, who just found out that even at these prices life can still be cruel.

Give them their due, though. The Kings could win the NBA title and hock the trophy. They could be invited to the White House when the President is off playing golf. They could increase their Forbes valuation to $5 billion and declare bankruptcy.

Because they are the Kings, and that sentence has rarely meant more than it does now.

Not because they traded Cousins. Trades happen all the time. Wilt Chamberlain got traded twice.

But the Kings handled this with all the skill of a pickpocket with feet where his hands should be. They lied unconvincingly. They talked hard business and ended up with a nebulous deal that guarantees nothing except more speculation come summer. And they have nothing else to trade between now and . . . well, whenever they stopped being so damned Kingsy.

For New Orleans, it is a roll of the dice, an attempt to make the playoffs with a two-headed monster in Cousins and Davis. It may be too much to giver, but without knowing how the Kings will screw up those picks, it remains speculative at best.

Indeed, this is subtraction by subtraction, the standard Kings deal. And whatever the Kings have gained in this trade (hey, you never know), we remain safe in saying that they did it in such a Kingsy way that they may never top this.

Until the next time they do anything at all. Never doubt the power of Kingsiness.