Sharks' Boyle records assist in All-Star Game loss

Sharks' Boyle records assist in All-Star Game loss

Jan. 30, 2011SHARKS PAGE SHARKS VIDEO

RALEIGH, N.C. (APCSN) Nicklas Lidstrom limited his All-Star losses to a flip of the puck and the skills competition.The game was all his.Unfazed by having to pick second inthe inaugural NHL All-Star fantasy draft, the Detroit Red Wings'defenseman built and went on to lead another winning team - though thiswas the first one named after him.The four-time Stanley Cup championand six-time winner of the Norris Trophy, given to the league's topdefenseman, was a plus-7 as he captained Team Lidstrom to an 11-10victory over Team Staal in the All-Star game on Sunday night.
The San Jose Sharks' Dan Boyle assisted on Eric Staal's late goal in the third period that made the score 11-10.
"It's a matter of being on the ice atthe right moments, I guess," the understated Lidstrom said of hisperformance. "They won the skills (Saturday), so I think we kind ofcame out even."Staal had the No. 1 pick in thefantasy draft on Friday, the unconditional support of his hometownCarolina Hurricanes fans behind him, and a four-goal lead in the firstperiod.Still, it wasn't enough to beat one of the NHL's greatest winners."Pretty good night for NicklasLidstrom," Staal said. "It's fun to get to know him a little bit more... just doing this whole experience for the first time with him. Heplayed a great game as you can tell by the stats."Danny Briere, Jonathan Toews, and Martin St. Louis scored during a four-minute span of the third period to lift Team Lidstrom.Another Team Lidstrom defenseman,Shea Weber of Nashville, had four assists and was plus-6, and Dallasforward Loui Eriksson had two goals and two assists. Boston's TimThomas stopped 11 of 15 shots in the third period and became the firstgoalie to earn the win in three consecutive All-Star games.Maybe Staal's pick of Hurricanesgoalie Cam Ward with the No. 1 selection in the fantasy draft wasn'tsuch a good idea, after all. Tampa Bay's Steven Stamkos, the leagueleader with 38 goals, scored the one that made it 6-6 in the second.Ward could hardly be blamed for thefour goals he gave up in the first. Pittsburgh's Marc-Andre Fleury alsoallowed four in the opening 20 minutes of a typically defenselessAll-Star game. The 21 total goals tied for fourth most in All-Starhistory."I thought I was doing pretty goodthe first 10 minutes," Ward said. "It was like, 'Whoa, this ain't sobad, and boom, four goals against."One consolation for the Team Staal:Chicago's Patrick Sharp claimed MVP honors in a losing cause after heposted a goal and two assists.With the team in white named afterStaal, the Carolina fans decked out in red hardly seemed to care thatSidney Crosby and his Pittsburgh Penguins teammate Evgeni Malkin weremissing because of injuries.Staal's club had a 4-0 lead, thatwas gone before the first intermission, and an 8-7 edge after KrisLetang's second goal early in the third.Then Lidstrom's club staged its second comeback and grabbed a late lead - only to have Team Staal attempt a rally.After Rick Nash cut it to 10-9 with4:49 remaining, Eriksson sealed it by scoring into an empty net at18:49. That insurance was necessary because Staal gave the RBC Centerone more reason to yell when he made it 11-10 with his fourth careerAll-Star goal with 34 seconds remaining.Philadelphia's Briere got one of theinjury replacement spots and made the most of it. Briere gave TeamLidstrom a 7-6 lead with 4:29 left in the second and tied it 8-8 at9:57 into the final period with his third career All-Star goal.That brought a smile to PeterLaviolette, a co-coach of Team Lidstrom who now runs the PhiladelphiaFlyers. Laviolette coached the Hurricanes to the 2006 Stanley Cuptitle. Local fans remembered him and that special season well Sundayand greeted his introduction with a huge ovation.Briere gave Team Lidstrom its firstlead, not only of the game but of the entire weekend when he took apass in the left circle and lifted a shot over Montreal's Carey Pricein the second. Team Lidstrom was beaten 33-22 in wire-to-wire fashionin the skills competition.Early in the second it appeared thatAnaheim's Jonas Hiller was in for the same anguish as the othergoalies. Sharp, who had two assists in the first period, finishedthings himself 1:18 in when he took a pass from Philadelphia's ClaudeGiroux in the left circle and snapped in a shot.Letang pushed Team Staal's lead to6-4 at 6:10 by ripping a shot off the post and in. That would be thefinal blemish on Hiller's ultimately impressive performance.Hiller made acrobatic moves in thefinal five minutes of the second to deny 18-year-old Hurricanes forwardJeff Skinner and Columbus' Nash. Hiller made his MVP pitch by finishingwith 15 saves on 17 shots.Staal and Skinner, the NHL'syoungest All-Star ever, were often fed the puck by teammates trying toget them a goal - or two - as fans alternately chanted their names.With the arena still dark during thepregame buildup, the crowd belted out it's first chant of, "Let's GoStaal." When the lights came up, a snowy pond scene was revealed andchildren acted out an old-fashioned way to choose up teams - throwingyour sticks in the middle and having a captain pick them out one byone.One selection drew longtimeHurricanes fans favorite Rod Brind'Amour out from the shadows. The nextpick brought out Hall of Famer Ron Francis, who along with Brind'Amourwas a Carolina captain.The next two choices were Lidstrom and Staal, who conducted the unique draft when they split up 36 All-Stars.That event was the highlight of theweekend. It brought Eric Staal's younger brother Marc, a Rangersdefenseman, onto his team for the first time in their lives, but itsplit up identical twins Henrik and Daniel Sedin of the VancouverCanucks for the first time, too.Alex Ovechkin had his ownstick-throwing ceremony in the third period when he tossed his in thepath of Team Lidstrom's Matt Duchene as the Colorado forward raced inon a breakaway. That move drew the only penalty of the game - the firstAll-Star penalty shot - given to Duchene against New York Rangersgoalie Henrik Lundqvist, who made the stop.Ovechkin also scored a goal.Staal's top choice of Ward lookedmore genius than sentimental early on when the players in white jumpedout to a 4-0 lead, with Ward standing tall behind them. Team Staalscored all its goals on the first nine shots against Fleury, while Wardwas perfect on the first four he faced."We started to think, Gee, I hope itwon't continue,'" Lidstrom said. "Once we got the first one, we startedplaying better, too. It wasn't the start we wanted, but it was the endwe wanted."The tide turned when Lidstrom's teamconnected for four goals on its final 10 shots of the first. Fleurywent 5 for 5 to close out the period.Notes: The previous largest All-Starcomeback victory was three goals, set by the North American team in1998. ... Four other goalies have earned two consecutive All-Star wins.... Lidstrom leads active players with a career plus-428 rating in 19years. ... Only five non-goalies failed to record a point, includingToronto forward Phil Kessel - the last pick in the All-Star draft.Twenty players had at least two points.

Giants Notes: Blach shows resiliency; Another option in center?

blach_cubs.jpg
USATSI

Giants Notes: Blach shows resiliency; Another option in center?

CHICAGO — John Lackey's night started with a leadoff homer. Ty Blach's night started with a 13-pitch battle. Neither one is a positive for a pitcher, but Blach didn't view it that way. He actually appreciated Ben Zobrist stretching him out.

"It's good to have a battle like that and get you locked in," Blach said. "It gets you focused and you'll be like, I can execute and get guys out. It's good. It's a good battle."

There, in a nutshell, is so much of what Bruce Bochy loves about his young left-hander. The Giants have found Blach's arm and resolve to be remarkably resilient. He wasn't bothered when they moved him to the bullpen and he didn't get too high when they moved him back to the rotation. He is the same after seven shutout innings or three poor ones. Bochy smiled when asked about the Zobrist at-bat, which ended in a strikeout looking. 

"How 'bout that?" the manager said. "He won that at-bat. It seems like the advantage goes to the hitter, seeing all those pitches. He kept his focus and got a called strikeout and here he is pitching in the eighth inning."

After needing 13 pitches for one out, Blach got the next 23 on 81 pitches. Bochy thought Blach tired a bit in the eighth, but the deep effort allowed Bochy to mix and match in the bullpen, and ultimately he found the right mix. Hunter Strickland and Mark Melancon closed it out and got Blach his second win.

--- From last night, Joe Panik's huge night helped give Blach an early lead. With the help of Ron Wotus and his shift charts, he also put on a show defensively.

--- We're trying something new right after the final pitch: Here are five quick takeaways from the 6-4 win.

--- The options game sent Kelby Tomlinson back to Triple-A on Wednesday when the Giants activated Melancon, but his latest stint in Sacramento comes with a twist. Tomlinson started his third consecutive game in center field on Monday. The Giants are getting a bit more serious about their longtime plan to make Tomlinson a super-utility player. 

“Tommy is a valuable guy in the majors and if we can give him some experience in the outfield, it gives you more flexibility and versatility,” manager Bruce Bochy said. 

This is not Tomlinson’s first foray into the outfield. He did work there in the offseason after the 2015 season and he has played 25 big league innings in left field the last two seasons. This is Tomlinson’s first real experience with center field, and while in the past he has said that the transition isn’t as easy as some might think, Bochy is confident Tomlinson can figure it out. He certainly has the speed to be a semi-regular in the outfield, and the Giants aren’t exactly brimming with quality center field options behind Denard Span, who is dealing with his second injury of the season. 

“It’s a little different now,” Bochy said when asked about Tomlinson’s past experiences in the outfield. “He’s in Sacramento doing it, and knowing there’s a possibility we could need help in the outfield.”

If the switch doesn’t come in handy this season, it could in 2018. Bochy compared Tomlinson’s infield-outfield ability to Eduardo Nuñez, who has found regular playing time in left but is a free agent after the year. 

--- Hunter Pence did some light running in the outfield before Monday’s game. Bochy said Pence is still about a week away from being an option.

--- Bochy has said it a few times now when asked about the standings, so it’s officially a new motto for a team that got off to a brutal start: “We’ve put ourselves in a great situation for a great story.”

--- They're starting to get a little grumpy around here with their team hovering around .500. Perhaps the Cubs thought they could fool a few on the way out of Wrigley.

This is the NBA Finals that will define the Warriors forever

This is the NBA Finals that will define the Warriors forever

There are no more ways to extol the virtues of the Golden State Warriors without redundancy. They have owned three consecutive regular seasons and three consecutive Western Conference playoffs, and just finished savaging the last one faster than any team since the 2001 Los Angeles Lakers, who didn’t have to play as many games as these Warriors did.

But now the season begins, and in the pass-fail world of the NBA Finals, this is the one that will define the Warriors for the ages.

After mugging the San Antonio Spurs, 129-115, to close out the West final in the minimum number of sanctioned events, the Warriors now wait for the resolution of Cleveland-Boston to begin the final assault on their destiny.

They did so without giving in to their occasional predilection for easing up on the throttle. They took an early lead, widened it slowly and carefully and made damned sure the Spurs never felt like they could do as the Celtics had done the night before in Cleveland. The Warriors were coldly efficient (well, okay, those 17 turnovers were bothersome but not ultimately an issue) at both ends of the floor and all points inbetween, and the result and its margin were both fair representations of the difference between the two teams.

In dispatching the Spurs, they became the first team ever to put 120 points on a Gregg Popovich-coached team three consecutive times; indeed the only time Popovich ever had one of his teams allow 120 in back-to-back games was when the 2005 team that eventually won the NBA title beat the Los Angeles Clippers and Warriors, both in overtime.

And while this series will be remembered as the one in which the Spurs had the least amount of weaponry, it will also be the one in which the Warriors will be remembered for wasting only one of the eight halves they played. It is difficult, in other words, to make the case that San Antonio would have won the series even with Kawhi Leonard and Tony Parker. We do know it would still be going on, but the outcome seems only slightly more in doubt in such a case.

But as this affects the Warriors, this next series will dictate all of it. Win, and they can claim a mini-dynasty. Lose, and they will damned in the court of public opinion in ways that make last year’s 3-1 memes seem downright charitable.

It is the price they pay for being very good already and then adding Kevin Durant without giving up anything of real substance. It’s the price they pay for wanting it all and then doubling down for more.

People and teams who did that are not treated kindly unless they win everything that can be won, and the Warriors are now that team – like the Yankees of lore and Patriots of today, they are the standard of both excellence and excess, and marrying the two without danger is not possible, as they learned a year ago.

But that was then, Draymond Green’s wayward hand and five minutes of 0-for-everything shooting is just history. They can adapt and avenge if not eradicate the hard lesson of 2016 and be thought of as the team they all believe themselves to be.

All they have to do is take the Celtics or Cavaliers and ender them inert. They don’t have to do it in four games; chasing numbers is a fool’s errand as they discovered last year chasing the now-meaningless 73.

They just have to do it four times, and if they play as they have, winning 12 consecutive games by an average margin of 16 points and change  against three other quality teams, they will succeed at the hardest level basketball can create. And whatever people may say of them good or ill, they will have achieved what was demanded of them by both supporter and detractor alike.

And that, to paraphrase Kevin Durant, is what they came to do. Win the thing, and not worry about the numbers -- especially not the style points.