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.

'The Kid' Arroyo continues wildly impressive first week with Giants

'The Kid' Arroyo continues wildly impressive first week with Giants

SAN FRANCISCO — In a quiet moment in the dugout Friday, manager Bruce Bochy tried to figure out a nickname for his new budding star. During a week where Christian Arroyo has made the game look so easy, this has turned out to be the most difficult part. 

Bochy briefly settled on “Yo” before that was scuttled because the team’s video coordinator is Yo Miyamoto. Joe Panik said some players have tried C.A. or YoYo, but admitted that neither is all that good. The team’s Twitter account spent a few days trying to make Boss Baby a thing, but Arroyo wasn’t thrilled with that one and the experiment appears to be over. In a back room of the clubhouse, there’s a printout showing Arroyo and Buzz from “Home Alone,” but that comparison is much better made with Atlanta’s Freddie Freeman. 

Perhaps the answer is as simple as the path Arroyo’s bat takes to a fastball. As he watched Arroyo field grounders during batting practice, Dick Tidrow was asked about the 21-year-old. Tidrow, the team’s senior VP of player personnel, has seen and worked with Arroyo since he was drafted. 

“We always just called him The Kid,” Tidrow said. “He would turn around when I called him Kid.”

The Kid is growing up quickly. Arroyo’s second homer of the week was the game-winner Friday, an eighth-inning blast that put a lead in Mark Melancon’s hands. The new closer made sure the new third baseman’s homer didn’t go to waste, clinching a 4-3 win that got the Giants out of the National League West’s cellar. 

The homer might have surprised Arroyo as much as anyone. He came here with a reputation as a mature and talented hitter, but power is not his calling card. 

“I’m not trying to hit a homer there,” he said. “Get the head out, see a pitch over the plate, barrel something, just keep the line moving. I got a good pitch, elevated it, and fortunately it went out.”

Arroyo already speaks like a hitting coach, but he is not afraid to admit that there are things he doesn’t know. It’s easy to get film on opposing starters, but there’s little a rookie can do to prepare for late-inning pitching changes. Arroyo consulted Buster Posey and Conor Gillaspie before facing Ryan Buchter, who has been in the division for two years. Gillaspie told him Buchter’s fastball has some late life and gets on a hitter. 

“I wanted to see it and the first pitch was a little low so I got a good read on them,” Arroyo said. 

The second one was right at the belt and Arroyo pulled it down the line for his second big league homer. He had just three last year in Double-A, but the Giants felt the 36 doubles showed that power was on the way. 

“He’s got pop,” Bochy said. “He’s not a guy trying to hit homers. He tries to put a good swing on it. But he drives balls and you saw it tonight. We see him more as a gap guy, but he’ll get more power as he gets older. We’re not asking him to hit homers, trust me, but it’s good to see him letting it go.”

The homer secured a win on a night when a lot went right. Jeff Samardzija was sharp, paying for one pitch to Ryan Schimpf that left the park but otherwise pitching seven strong. Panik and Brandon Belt ignited the offense early and Michael Morse came through with a game-tying sacrifice fly in the fifth. Derek Law and Mark Melancon closed it out, with Melancon getting help from Panik, who made a spectacular tumbling catch on a flare to shallow right-center. It was a big first out given that Melancon was pitching for the third straight day. 

“It was going to be in no man’s land,” Panik said. “You give it everything you’ve got. Fortunately the ball stayed in the glove.”

When it was over, the youngest Giant was in for another round of interviews to cap a hectic week. On Monday he made his debut and on Tuesday he picked up his first hit. Wednesday brought the first homer and Thursday was the first multi-hit game. What will the weekend include? Maybe a real nickname? 

For now, the Giants are fine with leaning on The Kid, because many of them didn’t even know how young the star of the week was until he was a couple of days into his big league career.

“I was thinking he was 23 or 24,” Samardzija said. “This has been really impressive.”

Vanderdoes out to 'prove people wrong,' show Raiders his very best

Vanderdoes out to 'prove people wrong,' show Raiders his very best

ALAMEDA – Eddie Vanderdoes knows his UCLA game tape is inconsistent. The powerful defensive tackle admits he wasn’t always at his best, especially after tearing his ACL in 2015. Before that, he was difficult to stop. Afterward, he wasn’t the same player. He doesn’t blame the knee.

He struggled with ankle injuries and weight issues in 2016, a lackluster campaign by his own standard. Since that season ended, Vanderdoes has returned to 100 percent. His ankles are fine. His knee is great. And he lost 40 pounds heading into the NFL scouting combine, preparing for a return to his old self.

The Raiders see great potential in the former Bruin and made him their third-round pick on Friday evening. The Auburn native was excited by the prospect, and believes the Raiders will get his absolute best. His voice was passionate, his determination clear even on a conference call with local press.

“I am going to be the player I was earlier in my career,” Vanderdoes said. “I had a bad season. That wasn’t me. That’s not the person that I am. That’s not the character that I hold. I’m definitely going to bring that to the Raiders’ defensive line. I’m going to bring that energy and I’m really happy to be an Oakland Raider.”

The Raiders will be thrilled if that’s true. They liked what he showed at the Senior Bowl and the NFL scouting combine, where he showed traits that should translate to NFL production.

“I am definitely back 100 percent, very confident with the combine, the Senior Bowl,” Vanderdoes said. “I got my explosiveness back. I got my speed back, my athleticism back. I am definitely at the top of shape right now, so I’m ready to get back to work and show them the player that they saw on the film and the player that they wanted to draft and I’m also looking to turn even more heads and do things that some people might expect that I couldn’t do.”

That includes rushing the passer, being a consistent three-down tackle in the Raiders scheme. He might be a rotational player first, filling the void created when Stacy McGee left in free agency.

“He’s a good, active defensive lineman that we think his best football is in front of him,” Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio said. “He had an ACL (injury) a couple of years ago. His weight has been up and down. We expect him to come in here and be a real professional and work hard with (head strength and conditioning coach) Joe Gomes and the strength staff and get himself ready to roll. He needs to come in here and add depth to our defensive line and give us a little interior push.”

Vanderdoes believes he can do more than that if he does things right. If his weight stays down, strength stays up and he learns the system well, he wants to compete for a significant role as a rookie.

“I’m coming in expecting to contribute and play right away,” Vanderdoes said. “That’s the mindset that I’ve always had. I’ve came with that mindset that I need to be the guy to step in and do what I do and dominate. I definitely think people slept on me a little bit this past offseason.

“I love the fact that (the NFL) slept on me, I think that’s what motivated me every morning waking up, knowing that I get to prove people wrong. I think I’ve done a good job so far of that, and I’m going to keep doing as well being an Oakland Raider because I know I’m at the bottom again. I have to work my way back up.”