Sharks need to have short memories for Game 5

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Sharks need to have short memories for Game 5

May 24, 2011

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Tim Panaccio
CSNCalifornia.com

VANCOUVER, British Columbia - It was May 24, 1994.

Seventeen years ago today marked the last time the Canucks qualified for the Stanley Cup Final.

How terribly ironic to realize that it could happen again today if the Canucks eliminate the Sharks in the Western Conference finals.

Vancouver is up 3-1, and the Sharks self-destructed on special teams over the weekend.

In the playoffs, you have to have short memories, coach Todd McLellan said. You know, it's about getting through Game 5. That's all there is. Doesn't matter what happened through Games 1 and 4. It's about getting through Game 5 and finding a way to win.

RELATED: Thornton confirms he's ready for Game 5

Rogers Arena figures to be jacked up for this game, given the historical significance.

It might be a little more exciting tonight, offered Canucks captain Henik Sedin. This city hasnt been part of a Final many times and theyve been waiting a long time, and we have, too.

Sedin said he didnt lose any sleep on Monday thinking about the Canucks' 3-1 series lead.

None at all, he said. Its fun, its exciting, but Id rather be here than before that Game 7 against Chicago, thats for sure.

Sedin admitted hes had a few conversations with people in British Columbia to get a sense of the frustration among the fan base.

You talk to people outside hockey and fans and theyve been through it all and theyve been waiting, he said.

Sedin didnt follow the Canucks in 1994 when 24-year-old captain named Trevor Linden took Vancouver there to face Mark Messiers New York Rangers.

I was 14 then and they didnt show a lot of NHL hockey back in Sweden, Sedin said. Its more my talking with Trevor when he was here. Ive seen pictures from after Game 7 against the Rangers.

His first, real memories of a Stanley Cup, he said, came from the 1999 series between Buffalo and Dallas.

We were over there watching Game 6 before the draft which is what I remember most, he said.

He said it took him a while to comprehend just how difficult it is to get into the Final.

RATTO: Three keys for Sharks-Canucks Game 5

You have to win three rounds its extremely tough, he said. Weve had good teams before and were never really close. That shows how tough it really is. Thats why you cant look past being up 3-1. You have to treat it as a Game 7. You never really know what is going to happen.

But its easier said than done to avoid thinking about being just one win away from the Stanley Cup Final.

That's normal to be thinking about the fact we're up 3-1, Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said. I think what we have to do is be in the moment, be focused on the process that needs to be applied on the ice with the right intensity and the right emotion.

That's where I believe our leadership group is going to come in and make sure everybody understands what needs to be done. If you focus on that, then usually the results just take care of themselves.

Tim Panaccio is the NHL Insider for CSNPhilly.com. E-mail him at tpanotch@comcast.net

Giants lineup: Nunez scratched, Williamson in left field

Giants lineup: Nunez scratched, Williamson in left field

Bruce Bochy and Joe Maddon issued their lineups for today's series finale in Chicago:

Giants (20-28)
1. Denard Span (L) CF
2. Joe Panik (L) 2B
3. Brandon Belt (L) 1B
4. Buster Posey (R) C
5. Brandon Crawford (L) SS
6. Justin Ruggiano (R) RF
7. Mac Williamson (R) LF
8. Christian Arroyo (R) 3B
9. Jeff Samardzija (R) P (1-5, 4.57 ERA)

Cubs (24-21)
1. Ben Zobrist (S) 2B
2. Kyle Schwarber (L) LF
3. Kris Bryant (R) 3B
4. Anthony Rizzo (L) 1B
5. Ian Happ (S) CF
6. Jason Heyward (L) RF
7. Miguel Montero (L) C
8. Javier Baez (R) SS
9. Eddie Butler (R) P (1-0, 2.00 ERA)

Cooper: 'I can go nowhere but up,' wants improved play down the stretch

Cooper: 'I can go nowhere but up,' wants improved play down the stretch

The Raiders searched in vain for dynamic receiving production before Amari Cooper came along. Thousand-yard seasons proved elusive even in the golden age of passing stats, with a full decade’s drought after Randy Moss posted a four-digit total in 2005.

Cooper’s made that old hat.

The 2015 first-round pick has two 1,000-yard campaigns in as many seasons. Ditto for Pro Bowl honors. Those feats have become increasingly common, Cooper’s already in rarified air.

Cooper’s career is off to a solid start, but the No. 4 overall pick two years ago believes he can be much better. That especially true later in the season, where production has waned in his first two seasons.

He has nine 100-yard performances in two seasons, with just two coming after week 8. He noticeably struggled with injury at the end of 2015, but wouldn’t make excuses for a production drop last season.

Cooper wants to finish as strong as he starts, and has full confidence that will happen this season.

“Of course it’s been on my mind, but it’s a good thing to me because I feel like I can go nowhere but up,” Cooper said after Tuesday’s OTA session. “I know that I can have a lot more production than I’ve had in the past two seasons, so we’ll just see.”

Cooper has sought counsel from other NFL greats – Calvin Johnson has been in Alamenda this week, offering sage advice – and Raiders coaches have identified ways where he can be even more dynamic working with quarterback Derek Carr.

“Certainly there are things that we think we can do to help,” head coach Jack Del Rio said. “Also, for him, I think he has a much greater understanding. I thought last year was a step forward. I know he wants to continue to push. It’s great when you have a young, talented player that’s really eager to be special, wants to make a mark in this league. The way he’s working at it right now is outstanding. That’s all we want of our guys.

Cooper is a versatile presence, able to do most everything well. His route running was luaded out of college, though he can be a good deep-ball receiver and can create big plays after the catch. Cooper knows his hands much be more consistent, but the Raiders want to exract more from his natural talents.

“There are a lot of different facets to him,” Del Rio said. “Where his speed is really one of his greatest strengths, obviously, his route running ability was pretty doggone polished when he got here, but even that can continue to improve and the timing with Derek. We think he’ll continue to ascend.”

That’s the goal heading into his third NFL season now armed with greater knowledge of how he’s being covered and muscle memory of what went wrong at times later in the year.

Cooper believes detail work will help him this fall and winter, and that starts in earnest during the offseason program.

“It’s easy to forget the small things like high-pointing the ball, looking the ball all the way through and not trying to run before you actually catch the ball,” Cooper said. “Overall, I’m just working hard in the offseason so that you can come back and you can be dominant.

“I want to be the best Amari Cooper that I could possibly be. I want to be better than every other year that I’ve played football, so that’s how I am looking at this year.”