Giants

Sharks look to even series in Vancouver

Sharks look to even series in Vancouver

May 18, 2011

SHARKS (0-1) vs.
VANCOUVER (1-0)

Coverage begins at 5:30 P.M. on Versus

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) San Jose captain Joe Thornton tried to get the Western Conference finals off to a raucous start when he asked gritty Vancouver Canucks forward Ryan Kesler to drop the gloves right off the opening faceoff.

"Why not?" Thornton said Tuesday, confirming he made the invitation to Kesler. "Let's fight. Let's start the series off with a bang."

It didn't happen. Instead, the Canucks rallied in the third period for a 3-2 win on Sunday night.

Maybe Thornton and the Sharks should be more concerned about how they finish games than how they start them. San Jose is trailing in a series for the first time this postseason and will have a chance to get even on Wednesday night in Game 2 in Vancouver.

The Sharks' inability to hold onto third-period leads nearly cost them in the second round against Detroit, when the Red Wings erased a 3-0 series deficit to force a Game 7.

Even though the Sharks are behind in a series for the first time, they are all too familiar with coughed-up leads. San Jose surrendered third-period advantages in Game 5 and 6 against the Red Wings before holding off Detroit in Game 7.

The Sharks were ahead 2-1 going into the third period of Game 1 against Vancouver, but gave up two goals 79 seconds apart and were outshot 13-7 in the final frame.

REWIND: Sharks listless in 3-2 loss to Canucks in Game 1

That makes three blown third-period leads in four games for the Sharks, who were 33-2-2 during the regular season when leading after 40 minutes.

"I certainly don't feel uncomfortable with a lead," Sharks top defenseman Dan Boyle said. "That's where I want to be, and we have to find a way to finish people off, maybe by getting that next goal and building on that one-goal lead."

It's a lesson the Canucks already learned - the hard way - in these playoffs.

Vancouver was 38-0-3 with the lead after two periods during the regular season in which the Canucks had the NHL's best record and topped the league in several key categories. But after surrendering a 3-0 series lead to nemesis Chicago to start the playoffs, the Canucks gave up a short-handed goal late in Game 7 before recovering to win in overtime.

They continued to sit on leads against Nashville early in the conference semi finals, surviving a 1-0 win in Game 1 before surrendering one with 67 seconds left in Game 2 and losing in overtime. It wasn't until Game 6, the series' clincher against the Predators, that the Canucks got back to their regular season habit of trying to build on, rather than protect, late leads.

"I hope we've learned from our mistakes and mishaps, and we have to continue to have that killer instinct," Canucks forward Mason Raymond said. "We were good all year but regular season is regular season, playoffs are another level. We talked about having more of a killer instinct when we do get the lead, not sitting back so much."

Fatigue might have played a role in the Sharks' latest late-game letdown. Coming off an emotional Game 7 win against Detroit and with only two days off before starting their second straight conference finals, San Jose looked tired against the Canucks' third-period push.

After taking Monday off before practicing Tuesday, both teams expect better from the Sharks in Game 2.

"(Monday) helped us a little," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "We dealt with the mental part of the game, some video. Today it was important to get back on the ice and get our legs going. We had some tempo. Doesn't guarantee we'll skate any better, but it's a step in the right direction."

PANACCIO: McLellan turns to psychology to lift Sharks

Boyle's next step is to keep going forward. He said the Sharks were guilty of turning over the puck on their way into the offensive zone, and that they spent too much time in their own end as a result of the Canucks' counterattack.

That is exactly where Kesler wants his team, pointing to the continued push after the Canucks took the lead with 11 minutes left in Game 1.

"We've learned from past experience that we're not a very good team when we sit on leads," Kesler said. "We have to keep pushing and play a fast game."

As for fighting to start games, Kesler said he laughed at Thornton's invitation after a lot of jostling got both players tossed out of the series' first faceoff.

"I'm not intimidated by anyone," Kesler said, pointing to Nashville defenseman Shea Weber as proof. "I played against Weber and that beard last round."

NOTES
Boyle accused the Canucks of embellishing fouls in Game 1 to get penalty calls: "Their heads are going back like they are getting shot with a gun." Vancouver had four power plays to one for San Jose. ... Sharks D Jason Demers is expected to play Game 2 after being a surprise scratch on Sunday because of an unidentified injury. Kent Huskins played his first game of these playoffs in his place. ... Vancouver C Manny Malhotra skated in full equipment Tuesday after returning last week to the ice for the first time since a career-threatening eye injury in March, but still hasn't been cleared for contact. ... Vancouver LW Jeff Tambellini is expected to replace Tanner Glass on the fourth line after practicing there Tuesday, adding speed in place of grit.

Will Brandon Belt return this season for Giants after yet another concussion?

Will Brandon Belt return this season for Giants after yet another concussion?

SAN FRANCISCO — It has been nearly two weeks since Brandon Belt walked out of AT&T Park with yet another concussion. On Friday he could take a big step. 

Belt will do some light cardio in hopes of ramping up the rehab process. That is generally the biggest step for concussed players. Often times, that cardio session leads to a longer shutdown when the player feels discomfort from activity. The Giants are hopeful that Belt will report only positive signs. 

“He seems to be doing a little better,” manager Bruce Bochy said. 

There is no timetable for Belt’s return, but the club hopes to get him back in the heart of the lineup down the stretch. That leads to an obvious question: Why would the Giants play him? Belt has suffered four concussions in the last eight years and he is a member of a last-place team that’s in a fight for the first pick in the draft. Doesn’t it make sense to just shut him down, make sure he gets fully healthy, and prepare for 2018? 

“I know there’s talk about it, but I know for Brandon, he would like to get back,” Bochy said. “You hate to go into the offseason with six or seven weeks of not playing again, but at the same time we’ll make sure he’s completely recovered. If not, we won’t put him out there.”

Part of the shame of all this is that regardless of when Belt returns, he will have missed an opportunity to really put his stamp on a nice season. Belt leads all first baseman in defensive runs saved (12) and he would have had a very strong argument for his first Gold Glove Award. It’s possible he gets back in time to hold off Paul Goldschmidt and Anthony Rizzo. It’s also possible he gets back in time to shatter his career-high in homers. Belt is at 18 for the second time in three years, and before he went down he was on pace for about 30. The Giants will have a better idea of Belt's ability to return on Friday. 

As for the other concussed Giant, there was less information about Joe Panik. He will be reevaluated on Friday. 

Raiders' Sean Smith charged with assault

sean-smith-us.jpg
USATSI

Raiders' Sean Smith charged with assault

Raiders cornerback Sean Smith has been charged with assault, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced on Thursday.

The charge is for assault of his sister's boyfriend in Smith's hometown of Pasadena. Smith allegedly beat and stomped the boyfriend's head on the morning of July 4, 2017 in Old Town Pasadena, the district attorney said.

Smith faces formal felony counts of assault by means of force likely to produce great bodily injury and battery with serious bodily injury to the victim.

The 30-year old plans to fight the charges levied against him. 

"Sean maintains his innocence at this time," Smith's attorney, Daniel Rosenberg told NBC Sports Calforinia on Thursday evening. "We are going to be entering a plea of not guilty and fighting these charges."

A warrant was filed on Aug. 16. Smith's arriagnment is scheduled for Sept. 29. 

If convicted as charged, Smith could face a maximum sentence of seven years in California prison. 

A Raiders spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The case is still under investigation by the Pasadena Police Department. 

This is another blow in a rough summer for Smith. He has struggled on the practice field during training camp and faces an off-field legal issue. Smith is guaranteed $9.5 million for the 2017 season. 

More to come.