2011 NHL Playoffs: How Ben Eager's Performance Hurts the San Jose Sharks

Alex GallantContributor IMay 19, 2011

Ben Eager heads to the penalty box to serve one of his game high six penalties
Ben Eager heads to the penalty box to serve one of his game high six penaltiesHarry How/Getty Images

The Vancouver Canucks took a 2-0 series lead Wednesday night with a dominating 7-3 win over the San Jose Sharks at Rogers Arena.

San Jose took the early lead on a power-play goal from Logan Couture, but it was all Vancouver after that, who capped the night off by pouring on four goals in the final period. But that is not the main story of the night, as San Jose LW Ben Eager made sure he was in the spotlight.

Known for his physical play throughout his career, Eager has earned the title of a classic NHL tough guy, but with that comes a responsibility to recognize when enough is enough. Tonight, Eager racked up six penalties, four of which came in the third period.

In all, he served 20 PIM after he was given a game misconduct and ejected for his last tussle in the waning seconds of the game. Through this reckless behavior, Eager has single-handedly put the Sharks behind the eight-ball for the rest of the series.

Not only has he let his teammates and coach Todd McLellan down, but he has given the Canucks extra motivation heading into the HP Pavilion on Friday night.

His first penalty of the night was nothing to fret about, rather, it was Eager's blindside hit on Daniel Sedin that got the attention of everyone in Rogers Arena, as well as the viewing audience. Although he only received a two-minute minor from the officials, there could be further punishment handed down from the NHL brass in Toronto tomorrow.

They made a point earlier in the playoffs by saying they will not tolerate these vicious hits, and now it is time to see if they will hold true to their word. 

In any case, with or without further reprimand, Ben Eager has effectively done more harm than good for his San Jose squad. Logan Couture remarked after the game about how he was "embarrassed" by their effort, and one can only assume who he is referring to.

By showing a total lack of control, Eager likely has lost the trust of his coach and his teammates, and that is unfortunate because he is a physical presence that the Sharks need in order to rough up the Canucks' speedy skaters.

There is a difference between playing physical and playing dirty, and tonight, Eager fell into the latter category. Whether it was the hit on Daniel Sedin or the taunting of goalie Roberto Luongo in the final minutes, Ben Eager has put a huge target on his back, and on the backs of his teammates for the remainder of this series.

The rest of this saga will have to wait until the two teams meet up again in San Jose this weekend.