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Posted On Saturday, 05.21.2011 / 2:40 PM

By Eric Gilmore -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2011 Western Conf. Final: Canucks-Sharks Blog

Sharks stick to the plan

SAN JOSE, Calif. – The Sharks had stressed the importance of staying out of the penalty box Friday night in Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals after getting scorched by Daniel and Henrik Sedin on the power play in a Game 2 loss to Vancouver.
That plan worked to perfection for the Sharks in the first period as they built a 3-0 lead. Then the second period began, and the penalties returned. In a span of less than nine minutes, the Sharks were hit with four penalties, as Joe Pavelski, Andrew Desjardins, Joe Thornton and Desjardins again paraded to the penalty box.
But instead of having another penalty kill meltdown, the Sharks prevailed during that critical stretch. They killed all four of those second-period penalties, including two when the Canucks had 5-on-3 advantages. And instead of blowing part or all of their lead, which their leaky penalty kill in Game 2 suggested they might do, the Sharks took their 3-0 edge into the third period and held on for a 4-3 win.
During most of that 5-on-3 time, Pavelski and defensemen Douglas Murray and Marc-Edouard Vlasic were on the ice with goaltender Antti Niemi.
Pavelski, Murray and Vlasic formed a tight triangle of bodies in front of Niemi. The shots that did get past that wall, Niemi handled.
"It's tough," Vlasic said. "You're just trying to stay in a small triangle, blocking all the shots, getting in lanes. Murray and Pavelski blocked five each, I think. So it was huge. They're going up and down. I'm going side to side, just getting in lanes, and Nemo made a nice save once or twice. We limited their chances 5-on-3, but guys did a great job blocking shots."
Murray had five blocks for the game, while Pavelski had three and Vlasic two.
"Obviously you can't cover everything," Murray said. "You've just got to block as many shots as you can when they're taking them. I think we did a good job of that. Whatever went through, Nemo took care of."
The key to the Sharks' success against Vancouver's 5-on-3 onslaught was for the defensemen to stay in a tight group in front of Niemi, Murray said.
"If you spread it out too much you can't recover and they can make plays through the box," Murray said. "We're trying to make sure – I mean somebody's going to be open, it's 5-on-3 – whatever shots they're taking we can block them or Nemo doesn't move too much side to side. Tried to make it as easy of shots as possible."
In Game 2, Vancouver had three power play goals in seven chances, with Daniel Sedin scoring twice with the man advantage, and Henrik Sedin assisting on both goals.
"It was great adjustment there on the 5-on 3," Sharks forward Ryane Clowe said. "They were bombing away. It's tough to get too much done when you've only got three guys, so all you've got to do is hope and block shots, and that's what we did."
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Posted On Friday, 05.20.2011 / 9:10 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - 2011 Western Conf. Final: Canucks-Sharks Blog

Eager sits out in Game 3

After talking up Ben Eager's importance following his six-penalty performance in Game 2, Sharks coach Todd McLellan has apparently had a change of heart because the bruising fourth-liner who lost his cool Wednesday night will not play in Game 3 for San Jose.

The Sharks' fourth line is instead a grouping of Jamie McGinn, Andrew Desjardins and Jamal Mayers -- three guys who did not play in Game 2. McGinn last played in Game 6 against Detroit while Desjardins will be making his Stanley Cup Playoff debut as the center on the Sharks' fourth line.

McLellan was high in his praise of Eager's game following Wednesday's 7-3 loss, saying he likes what the grinding winger brings in terms of energy and physicality -- but the downside, of course, is when he parades himself to the penalty box like he did in Game 2.

The Canucks also have two changes on their fourth line, as Alex Bolduc has gone from Black Ace to fourth-line center in a matter of days. He replaces rookie Cody Hodgson, who played in six straight games. Tanner Glass has drawn back in on the left side for Jeff Tambellini, who played in Game 2 because Canucks coach Alain Vigneault was looking for some speed.

Clearly Vigneault is going the physical rout because with Victor Oreskovich, Bolduc and Glass will give the Canucks a massive and tough fourth line. It all may have been a ploy to counter Eager, but he is not playing.

Here are the rest of the lines and defensive pairings that were shown during pre-game warm-ups:


Patrick Marleau - Joe Thornton - Devin Setoguchi
Ryane Clowe - Logan Couture - Dany Heatley
Kyle Wellwood - Joe Pavelski - Torrey Mitchell
Jamie McGinn - Andrew Desjardins - Jamal Mayers

Dan Boyle - Douglas Murray
Niclas Wallin - Ian White
Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Kent Huskins

Antti Niemi
Antero Niittymaki


Daniel Sedin - Henrik Sedin - Alex Burrows
Chris Higgins - Ryan Kesler - Mason Raymond
Raffi Torres - Maxim Lapierre - Jannik Hansen
Tanner Glass - Alex Bolduc - Victor Oreskovich

Dan Hamhuis - Kevin Bieksa
Christian Ehrhoff - Aaron Rome
Sami Salo - Alex Edler

Roberto Luongo
Cory Schneider

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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Posted On Friday, 05.20.2011 / 4:38 PM

By Shawn P. Roarke -  NHL.com Senior Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2011 Eastern Conf. Final: Bruins-Lightning Blog

Julien: Krejci fine despite not practicing

When Boston center David Krejci was walloped with a clean open-ice hit by Marc-Andre Bergeron in the dying minutes of the first period, there was concern that he may have suffered a head injury, fears that were exacerbated by the fact that Krejci took a while to get up from his knees and did not play on the ensuing power play.

When Krejci played the final two periods of the game and pronounced himself fit afterward, those fears subsided.

Well, they gained life again Friday afternoon when Krejci was one of several Boston players missing from the team’s optional practice.

No need to worry, though, said Boston coach Claude Julien.

"David is fine," Julien said Friday. "We had a bunch of guys stay off today. It's more of an optional and short skate. So there's no issues with David. He's playing tomorrow with no issues at all."

Game 4 is Saturday at 1:30 p.m. here at St. Pete Times Forum. 
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Posted On Friday, 05.20.2011 / 2:35 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Road to St. Paul 2011 Entry Draft Blog

Nugent-Hopkins, Landeskog = Sakic, Forsberg?

While nothing should ever be engraved in stone, there's a strong possibility that either Red Deer's Ryan Nugent-Hopkins or Kitchener's Gabriel Landeskog will be the first forward taken at the 2011 NHL Entry Draft at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn.

The super-skilled Nugent-Hopkins supplanted Landeskog at No. 1 on NHL Central Scouting's final list of North American skaters in April. Landeskog, who was atop the list on the mid-term report, comes in at No. 2.

NHL.com recently caught up with Central Scouting's Jack Barzee to discuss those little differences that create the makeup of each player. Barzee was obviously impressed with what each forward had in their arsenal.

"Do you want (Peter) Forsberg or (Joe) Sakic?" asked Barzee, referring to Nugent-Hopkins as Sakic. "I know that's pretty extreme because they were two superstars, but here are two guys that have a lot of similarities. They remind you of those players when they've got the puck, when they're skating, when they're playing and when they're executing."

Nugent-Hopkins finished tied for third in the Western Hockey League with 106 points, led the league with 75 assists, and his 31 goals (11 on the power play) were third on his team. He also posted a team-best plus-30 rating.

"Watching Nugent Hopkins … when he put that pedal to the metal and would just come up and snap that shot off or see someone out of the corner of his eye, you say how does he do this? How does a guy do this at top speed? You look at Sakic, who was the same way. Nugent-Hopkins is a little taller than Sakic was in his draft year but is probably 10 pounds lighter than Sakic."

The 6-1/2, 207-pound Landeskog had 36 goals, 30 assists, a plus-27 rating and 61 penalty minutes in 53 regular-season games as captain for the Rangers this season.

"When I watched Landeskog in Kitchener, I was amazed with his play in all three zones on the ice … the way he
used his body and his demeanor," Barzee said. "He is high octane in terms of level of performance; yet, his calmness and composure and the way he would execute in all three zones of the ice was so good."

Barzee was asked how he's able to enter each season with a solid grasp of those top prospects on the board.

"We always look for benchmarks to start," he said. "Who was best player last year? If you see a kid who looks just like him, then he's your benchmark. Now that's easy to do with experience, but it's the only way I can do it. I'm amazed sometimes how I can walk out of a rink and get so much and then leave another game and get nothing -- hockey will do that to you. The complexity of the game, the travel, the number of players and games all coming together all play a part of it.

"But when you see someone special, it hits you."

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale
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Posted On Friday, 05.20.2011 / 11:09 AM

By Dave Lozo -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2011 Western Conf. Final: Canucks-Sharks Blog

McLellan says Sharks are missing Demers

Jason Demers isn't a No. 1 defenseman or even a No. 2 for the San Jose Sharks. Yet his absence during the first two games of this series has had an impact on the team.

Just ask coach Todd McLellan.

"It has," McLellan said Friday morning. "Our belief in Jason and his ability is very strong.  He's played a very key role in our team play this year.  He's an offensive guy with very good eyes and very good hands, thinks the game creatively."

Demers' injury has forced McLellan to use Kent Huskins during Games 1 and 2. Huskins hadn't played since Feb. 19 and doesn't possess the same offensive skills of Demers.

"Huskins is a different player," McLellan said. "When you put Kent in, it changes. He's a defender. He's more about staying at home and playing in a smaller sheet of ice than the bigger sheet. So it does change the dynamic somewhat.  You have to ask others to do a little bit more in offensive situations.  But it's not the end of the world."

Put a period on it -- Of late, the Sharks have been struggling in the third period. During the first round against the Kings, the Sharks were dominated during the first period.'

Instead of seeing it as a negative, McLellan put a positive spin on it.

"If we're fortunate enough to move on and get to play, then we may even be talking about the second period," McLellan cracked.

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo
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Posted On Friday, 05.20.2011 / 9:12 AM

By Shane McColgan -  Special to NHL.com /NHL.com - Shane McColgan draft blog

Kelowna's McColgan pitches NHL GMs, scouts

Shane McColgan is a right wing for the Kelowna Rockets of the Western Hockey League. McColgan, the only U.S.-born player selected in the first round of the WHL's 2008 bantam draft, finished runner-up to Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (Red Deer Rebels) as the league's top rookie in 2009-10 after posting 25 goals and 69 points in 71 games. In 67 regular-season games this season, McColgan led the team with 66 points, including 21 goals. The native of Manhattan Beach, Calif., rated No. 125 on NHL Central Scouting's final list of North American skaters in April, also led the Rockets with 8 goals and 19 points and was second with a plus-5 rating in 10 WHL playoff games. A participant in the 2010 NHL Research, Development and Orientation Camp fueled by G Series in August and the CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game in January, McColgan has offered to maintain a monthly blog for NHL.com that will chronicle his season leading up to the NHL Entry Draft in St. Paul, Minn.

Hello everyone. Thanks for taking the time to read my second to last Draft blog for NHL.com. After the season I took some time off; I think that was important. I won't start skating again until June 14 so I'll be off the ice for about two months but I have started my training program. That's why I'm now back in Kelowna … to train with a couple of the guys over here and with our athletic trainer (Jeff Thorburn) and skating coach (Aaron Konecsni) on the skating treadmill and that's been great. It's been good so far and I'm looking forward to getting started with the training.

While it is disappointing that I won't be able to attend the NHL Scouting Combine, I know that was something that was out of my control. Everyone knows how strong I am. I feel I can do anything in the gym but the main reason I wanted to go there was for the teams to really get to know me as a person, so that's the only reason why I'm a little disappointed that I didn't get to go, but everything will work out the way it will. If scouts or GMs want to call or do interviews with me, that'll be great.

I do feel I can bring my playmaking ability and leadership as well to any team -- since I feel I've grown as a leader in Kelowna. I feel my strengths are my offensive ability and will to win because I always want to win … I'm a real competitive guy and I think every team needs that. Obviously I'm not going to be a fighter or a fourth-line type player but if they want me to do a different role, then I'll try that. I'll do whatever it takes to play.

I'm prepared for whatever round I go in or whatever number I'm chosen at the NHL Draft. It doesn't matter to me. At the end of the day, you still have to make the team. I'm not going to go to the Draft. I'm just going to stay at home with my family and watch it with my family on television. I'll celebrate it with my friends and family back home (in Manhattan Beach, Ca.).

Individually in the WHL playoffs, I really excelled and took to heart what my coaches told me to do in the playoffs and really focused on that. Team wise, I thought we had a really good chance this year to go further than the second round. Playing Portland was pretty huge for us and everyone was expecting them to sweep us but we took it to six games, so I think we can build off of that going into next year but it was a good season overall.

When I look back, I did go to the Top Prospects Game and the fact this is my Draft year, there was a little pressure but now that the season is over, I think I can sit back, relax and play the waiting game now. But it was a tremendous year and all the guys are great on my team. We're a tight-knit group in the locker room and looking forward to 2011-12.

As a rookie, I had a tremendous year and this year I kind of got off to a slow start (sidelined three weeks) with my surgery (to remove an abscess in the right tonsil) and everything going on at the start of the year, but there's no excuses. I knew I had to battle through that. Overall, I think I had a pretty solid year. I would have liked to score a few more goals but that's about it.

Thanks for reading and check back next month after the Draft for my final blog of the season.
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Posted On Thursday, 05.19.2011 / 5:20 PM

By Dave Lozo -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2011 Western Conf. Final: Canucks-Sharks Blog

Boyle: Sharks giving Sedins too much respect

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- It's important to respect your opponent. But Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle thinks it's gone a little too far during the Western Conference Final.

"There's a little too much respect," Boyle said Thursday. "I think it's important to have respect for guys like the Sedins, but I think we're giving them too much."

Respect could be a synonym for space when Boyle talks about it. Is that something done knowingingly, or is it a sub-conscious thing that players might not realizing they're doing?

"That had a so-called quiet series last series, and no one expected that to happen this time around," Boyle said. "There's been a little too much respect. I think at home we'll have a little bit of ... the matchups will probably be a little bit better. I think when those guys are given that extra little foot, they can take advantage of it."

Sharks captain Joe Thornton feels it's important to give the Canucks respect, but agrees with Boyle that too much is a problem.

"We gave L.A. their respect, Detroit their respect and now Vancouver," Thornton said. "They did what they're supposed to do -- win two games at home. Now we gotta do what we're supposed to do -- win two games at our home."

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo
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Posted On Thursday, 05.19.2011 / 4:21 PM

By Shawn P. Roarke -  NHL.com Senior Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2011 Eastern Conf. Final: Bruins-Lightning Blog

Julien fires back

It appears that Boston coach Claude Julien has had enough of Guy Boucher's commentary on the Bruins.

The Lightning coach has spent the better part of two weeks now pumping up the Bruins in his public comments.

Already, Boucher has said he expects goalie Tim Thomas to perform miracles and has suggested that injured center Patrice Bergeron would play in each of the first two games of this series. Bergeron, out with a concussion for almost two weeks, may play in Game 3.

Thursday morning, Boucher spent part of his presser talking about the speed possessed by Boston rookie Tyler Seguin, who has 3 goals and 3 assists in the first two games of this series.

"I think the players and everybody underestimated his speed," Boucher said Thursday morning. "That's the main thing. His speed is obviously a weapon for him and for his team. And being a young guy, having success right away certainly takes a lot of nervousness away. For us, we know that he's going to be on the ice. We have to be able to keep on him."

Julien, speaking about an hour later, was apprised of Boucher's comments and decided he had just about enough of the Lightning coach trying to build the Bruins into world-beaters, the same tactic Boucher so successfully employed in the second-round sweep of top-seeded Washington.

"Well, Tampa has been very good at complimenting our team," Julien said, an edge seemingly in his voice. "They do a really good job of that. I think Tampa has got some pretty good speed themselves, (Marty) St. Louis and those kind of guys, Stamkos. They've got the same kind of players.

"So my answer to that would be I think they're pretty well served on their side. I don't think they're worried so much about Tyler more than they want to flatter him, and we know that there are the mind games that teams play, and right now we're just focusing on what we have to do here. And, if anything, I would be more tempted to compliment my own players such as St. Louis and those guys that are just as good as Seguin when it comes to speed."
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Posted On Thursday, 05.19.2011 / 12:53 PM

By Corey Masisak -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2011 Eastern Conf. Final: Bruins-Lightning Blog

Lightning know Roloson will shake off loss

While the Tampa Bay Lightning have to play better defensively in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals, they are not worried about goaltender Dwayne Roloson.

The 41-year-old goalie allowed six goals on 27 shots against the Boston Bruins in Game 2 before being replaced by Mike Smith for the third period. He yielded five of those goals on just nine shots in the second period.

"He was pulled but it wasn't because of his poor play," captain Vincent Lecavalier said. "He still made some big saves. The goals we gave them -- it is tough for a goalie. It is not just the first shot, it was the rebounds. They were beating us to pucks. He'll be back strong tonight -- we know that."

Roloson has been resilient for the Lightning since arriving in January via a trade from the New York Islanders. He's allowed five or more goals four times since the trade, and he's 4-0-0 with a .927 save percentage and a 2.19 goals-against average in his next start after those games.

The cliche in this sport is goalies need to have short memories. Roloson's teammates and coaches are confident in his.

"He's built some mental tools over the years that some young guys don't have," said Guy Boucher said. "For him it is all about a 12-hour thing. Beyond 12 hours -- you can't even talk to him about it because it doesn't exist. That's a great mental tool that takes a long time and takes a mature man to do that. That's where he is right now."

Added Roloson: "It is just being about to forget about it. You dwell on things and it affects your play, so it's just being able to forget about it and focus on what you've got to do to be ready to go the next night."

Injury update:
Forward Dana Tyrell skated this morning without a red no-contact jersey on and Boucher confirmed is available to play. Whether or not he actually does remains to be seen.

Tyrell had 6 goals and 15 points for the Lightning during the regular season but has been out since Game 5 of the first round because of a lower-body injury. Boucher said the decision of whether or not Tyrell will rejoin the lineup has yet to be made.

Defenseman Pavel Kubina did not participate in the morning skate. Boucher said there was chance Kubina could have practiced Wednesday but the team didn’t have one, but Thursday they decided to not have him skate as he attempts to return from a concussion.

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Posted On Thursday, 05.19.2011 / 12:09 PM

By Ryan Nugent-Hopkins -  Special to NHL.com /NHL.com - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins draft blog

Nugent-Hopkins looks forward to NHL Combine

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is a center for the Red Deer Rebels of the Western Hockey League. Nugent-Hopkins, selected first overall in the WHL's 2008 bantam draft, was named the league's top rookie in 2009-10 after posting 24 goals and 65 points in 67 games. He was named the top player for Team Orr at the 2011 Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game on Jan. 19. Nugent-Hopkins, rated No. 1 among North American skaters on NHL Central Scouting's final report, had 31 goals, 106 points and a plus-30 rating in 69 games for Red Deer this season. He chipped in with 4 goals, 11 points and a plus-5 rating in nine playoff games. Nugent-Hopkins offered to maintain a monthly blog for NHL.com that will chronicle his season leading up to the NHL Entry Draft in St. Paul, Minn.

Well, it's NHL Combine time. I'm definitely looking forward to it. It's a once in a lifetime opportunity and it's going to be a lot of fun. I know I'm really looking forward to talking with some teams and being able to meet some of the top prospects from around the world, so it's definitely going to be a fun experience. I think I'll be getting there on Tuesday (May 31). Before that, I'll be attending the CHL Award ceremony in Mississauga (at the Living Arts Centre on May 28).

The fact that nothing will be done on the ice is an interesting concept because it gives the general managers and scouts an opportunity to look at us off the ice and what we're like as people instead of just hockey players. So it's a whole different aspect.

I've been in the gym pretty much every day and I've been doing most of the Combine exercises. I'm trying to get as prepared for it as possible and have just been working as hard as I can. (The NHL Scouting Combine will be held May 30 to June 4 in Toronto).

I've heard about the bike tests (Wingate anaerobic measure and aerobic-max VO2) and I know they'll be pretty tough, but I think my cardio is pretty good so I should be OK on the VO2. But the Wingate is pretty tough. I'm trying to prepare myself for that, but I guess you never can prepare yourself enough for it.

As far as the season goes, it was disappointing to lose to Medicine Hat in the playoffs (4-games-to-1). All year they kind of had our number for some reason, but I thought we worked as hard as we could but things just didn't seem to go our way. The first round we played great (in a four-game sweep of Edmoton) and we had a couple of solid games against Medicine Hat, but couldn't get it done.

I think with the way the (WHL champion) Kootaney Ice have been playing in the playoffs, I think they have a very good shot at winning the Memorial Cup.
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