Have Sharks, McLellan run out of options?


Have Sharks, McLellan run out of options?

May 19, 2011

Tim Panaccio

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- The looks of frustration, anguish, and maybe even a hint of resignation, could be found on some of the Sharks' faces after Wednesdays 7-3 dismemberment in Vancouver.

Coach Todd McLellan may have run out of options in how to defense the fastest team in the league. Once again, the Canucks made his club look pedestrian by comparison.

And while not-so gentle Ben Eager played a huge role in giving the Canucks third period momentum -- which they would use in spades, to take a one-goal game and blow it apart -- McLellan dissected one play, one goal that Eager had nothing to do with as the evening's pivotal moment.

I thought one of the turning points, in my opinion, was their third goal, McLellan said. We have a set forecheck. We've practiced that since September. A player gets skated, all of a sudden it's in your net.

You can't chase this team. They're too good. You have to play with him or ahead of them. From there it started to unravel.

He was referring to Kevin Bieksas goal at 12:05 on a marvelous stretch pass from Chris Higgins, who, incidentally, had a three-point night.

While most of Vancouvers players have jet fuel inside their skates, Bieksa is different. Hes more regular at 87 grade. There is nothing particularly explosive about his skating style, either.

And yet the Canucks defenseman was able to take that pass around Douglas Murray and Dan Boyle, then skate in alone for a leisurely breakaway goal on Antti Niemi that snapped a 2-2 tie.

The Sharks were never in the game after that.

Bieksa had a goal, an assist, and of course the fight with Patrick Marleau that incensed Eager and led to him running Daniel Sedin, setting in a motion a chain of cataclysmic events the Sharks could not reverse.

Bieksa took some ribbing from his Canucks teammates on his Gordie Howe hat trick, too.

Yeah, I've heard about it, Bieksa said. It's great, I guess. The main thing is we got the win, so that's why I'm happy.

When McLellan mentioned the amount of open ice the Sharks conceded in Game 2, Bieksa was a prime example. He was actually a part of two breakaway goals. A defenseman joining, even leading the rush -- that was Bieksa on Wednesday.

I wouldn't say I'm getting any more chances than usual, Bieksa said. There's opportunities in a game where you can jump up in the play. That was one.

When there was the opportunity to make an odd-man rush, you go. All six of us have the green light to do that. It was just a set play drawn up for a breakout. There was some open ice and I just took it.

McLellan said the Canucks seem to be doing a better job of making all the intangibles work for them two games into the series. Vancouver can sweep the Sharks out of the Western Conference Final this weekend in San Jose.

You have to perfect the minor details, he said. And they're doing a much better job of it, whether it's faceoff coverage, whether it's a set forecheck, whether it's just their first goal.

Penalty killing, it's on their tape. We're 20 seconds left into a penalty kill, we want to play one-on-one in the neutral zone. They're doing a much better job of those little details than we are right now.

He wouldnt say it publicly, but when he called out a few people in our group, who are not bringing enough to the ice, he likely meant Dany Heatley, Boyle, Devin Setoguchi and Ryane Clowe ... just to name a few.

Setoguchi and Murray were both minus-3 in Game 2. Boyle was minus-2.

I think we have to give credit to the opponent and we have to remember they're playing awfully hard, they have a good game plan, and they're executing it better than we're executing ours, McLellan said.

They're playing a little bit harder than we are. As a result, you tend to make more mistakes, you tend to get frustrated. When you get frustrated, you tend to take penalties. It's just a vicious circle.

One in which the Canucks are giving the Sharks the run around.
Tim Panaccio is the NHL Insider for CSNPhilly.com E-mail him at tpanotch@comcast.net

With Clippers rivalry over, Warriors feed off feud with Foster

With Clippers rivalry over, Warriors feed off feud with Foster

This will come as a sharp blow to Warrior fans who like things the way they are, but they probably can no longer use Scott Foster as an alibi for failure, or a stalking horse for rage.
Well, I mean they can, but let’s be honest here – the evidence just doesn’t support it any more.
Foster, who no matter what you say is one of the elite officials in the league, has also been cast as a bête noire by all things Golden State. Either he’s imperious, or he’s standoffish, or he makes himself too conspicuous – they’re all standard complaints made of all officials who aren’t otherwise branded as just plain terrible.
Only Foster isn’t terrible, given the fact that he has worked a series of NBA Finals, and that remains the gold standard for officiating.
But the Warriors bang their heads against the backboard when he works their games, and were on the verge of doing that again Thursday night against the Los Angeles Clippers. Foster called third quarter technicals on Andre Iguodala and the Warrior bench, and J.T. Orr called one on Draymond Green, all in the space of 6:34. The Warriors were unhinged, the fans were unhinged, innocent bystanders were being hit with flying hinges throughout the arena.
And in that stretch, the Warriors outscored the Clippers, 26-15, en route to a 50-point quarter (the first in two seasons and the third since the turn of the millennium) and another harsh slapdown of what used to be known as the Warriors-Clippers Cavalcade Of Hate, this time 123-113.
It isn’t that any more, not close. Truth is, the Warriors have won 10 consecutive games against the Clips, but probably never quite at decisively as this. At the game’s most lopsided stretch, Golden State outscored Los Angeles, 72-33, in a shade over 17 minutes.
Because that’s what they do.
Only this time, the comeback was not fueled by the existence of the Clippers, who had outplayed them pretty convincingly for the first 22 minutes and change, but with the officials, who as we have said before irk the hell out of them when their number includes Foster.
Who, again, is one of the game’s best officials. I think it’s a personality clash, to be frank, in which both sides can take some blame.
Truth is, though, when a team can go for 50 in a quarter and still have time to engage in a feud with the officials, it is making a kinky little statement about what they can do when enraged, and how difficult it is to stop them when they have a serious mad-on.
Yes, it is probably stretching a point to make this case, especially when the Warriors make 17 of 23 shots (9 of 15 from three) and assist on 13 of the 17 field goals. It is probably minimizing Stephen Curry’s 20-point quarter and his four assists, or Kevin Durant’s 15 and five rebounds, or David West imposing his body between Green and the officials to keep him from getting T’d up again for the second successive game.
But we have already established that rivalries are dying at their feet left and right. In the last three years the Clippers have gone from the Warriors’ arch-enemies to a team that has finished an aggregate 44 games behind the Dubs in the standings, making whatever animosity they can still stir 

Against the Clips a curio of a much earlier time. The Oklahoma City Thunder have come and gone, and even the Durant-Russell Westbrook has lost its last bit of elasticity.
Oh, there is still Cleveland, but that cannot be resumed for another 14 weeks at the earliest.
The Warriors, in short, have run out of opponents, and given that they will manufacture a foe when one does not otherwise exist, Scott Foster may have to serve for the time being, even if he is nothing but an intermittent prop to amuse the customers when the game cannot provide.
Though you’d have to think the third quarter Thursday makes that pretty thin oatmeal. The Warriors ate an entire game in 12 minutes, including the officials. They seemed like they got their fill.

Instant Replay: Warriors score 50 in third, win 10th straight vs Clippers

Instant Replay: Warriors score 50 in third, win 10th straight vs Clippers


OAKLAND -- Shaken by a languid and sloppy first half, the Warriors woke up after halftime and laid a 123-113 pasting on the Los Angeles Clippers Thursday night at Oracle Arena.

Stephen Curry scored a game-high 35 points, including 20 in the pivotal third quarter, while Kevin Durant fired in 25 points and Klay Thompson tossed in 18.

The Warriors (48-9) finished off a four-game season-series sweep of the Clippers, extending their win overall streak over LA to 10 in a row, dating back to Christmas Day 2014. They’ve won the last 11 games played in Oakland.

Shooting 73.9 percent, the Warriors scored 50 points in the third quarter -- the first 50-point quarter in the NBA since the Lakers scored 51 against the Knicks on March 25, 2014 -- to fuel their comeback. They trailed by as much as 16.

Austin Rivers and Jamal Crawford each scored 19 points to lead the Clippers (35-22), whose win streak ended at four.

The game featured several boisterous moments reminiscent of Warriors-Clippers battles of a few years ago. Officials called four technical fouls, three on the Warriors and one on the Clippers.


Though Durant was the triggerman for the comeback, scoring 11 points in an 83-second stretch early in the third quarter, Curry did most of the heavy damage, annihilating the Clippers with his outburst.

Curry’s line: 35 points (10-of-16 shooting from the field, including 6-of-10 from beyond the arc, and 9-of-10 from the line), seven rebounds, five assists and four steals. He played 32 minutes and finished plus-26.


After a Rivers 3-pointer gave the Clippers a 66-54 lead with 9:24 left in the third quarter, the Warriors responded by outscoring LA 45-21 over the remainder of the quarter and taking a 99-87 lead.

The Clippers got no closer than 10 in the fourth quarter, during which they trailed by as much as 23.


Warriors: C Zaza Pachulia (R rotator cuff strain) and C David West (L thumb fracture) were listed as questionable and upgraded to available prior to tipoff. C Damian Jones and F Kevon Looney were healthy inactives.

Clippers: G Chris Paul (L thumb ligament tear) and C Diamond Stone (L knee bone bruise) were listed as out.


The Warriors return to action Saturday night, when they face the Brooklyn Nets at Oracle Arena. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:35.