NHL Playoffs 2011: San Jose Sharks vs. Vancouver Canucks Game 2 Breakdown
The Sharks entered Game 2 with an almost must-win mentality; talking about the need to keep their composure and play a clean hard game.
Instead the Sharks lost their wits through a flurry of dumb penalties and basically handed the game to Vancouver 7-3.
Two quick goals in the first period in the span of 40 seconds gave the Canucks the lead, before Patrick Marleau tied the game.
Unfortunately after that, the Sharks self-destructed taking a page from the Vancouver playbook in a playoff meltdown reminiscent of the Canuck-Blackhawk series a year ago.
Early penalties foreshadowed the ugly collapse by San Jose, who took three consecutive undisciplined penalties to give Vancouver the lead.
The Sharks had no business being on the ice in the third period, as emotions and frustration boiled over to blown coverages and poor defensive focus.
Now down 0-2, the Sharks face a tremendous uphill battle to try and restore the competitiveness in this series.
Heading back home will provide the Sharks with a much needed emotional boost, but in a game that needed their utmost effort they went belly-up.
Jamal Mayers did not play in favor of the youngster Benn Ferriero and Jason Demers would sit his second consecutive game in the Finals.
The Sharks started the game with good pressure, until an early tripping penalty to Aaron Rome gave the Sharks their second powerplay of the series at 1:19 of the first period.
Just one minute later Logan Couture gave the Sharks the lead with a nifty deke before pushing the puck past Luongo at 2:28.
Ben Eager and Raffi Torres exchanged roughing minors at 5:40 leading to some 4-on-4 hockey. Interestingly enough, McLellan leaves the Vlasic-Huskins pair out there despite the increased open ice. This was the first of a bad string of penalties taken by Eager that put the Sharks behind the eight-ball all night.
At 7:50 Joe Pavelski took a ill-advised tripping penalty against Daniel Sedin giving the Canucks the man advantage.
The Sedin twins orchestrated a nifty give-and-go before Daniel Sedin tied the score at 9:39 of the first period. Just 40 seconds later, the Vancouver third line struck again as Raffi Torres knocked in his second goal of the playoffs at 10:18.
Just two minutes later, Daniel Sedin took the tripping minor at 12:19 on a soft call as he skated behind Dany Heatley to the right side boards.
Patrick Marleau collected his fifth goal of the playoffs on a powerplay scrum that required video review. After the review the puck was deemed to have trickled past Luongo for the tying goal.
The first period came to a close with the shots in the Canucks favor 13-12, and Douglas Murray leading the way physically with five hits.
Second-period play had both teams slowing down the pace a tad, with play middling around in the neutral zone for the first half of the period.
Kevin Bieksa gave Vancouver the lead back at 12:05 by sneaking behind the Sharks even strength, `and shooting it past Niemi near the right post.
Patrick Marleau tried to give the Sharks an emotional boost by taking on Kevin Bieksa after exchanging cross-checks high in the Sharks zone. Although Marleau clearly lost the fight, the Sharks clearly fed off the energy until Ben Eager let emotions get the better of him by boarding Daniel Sedin at 19:32.
The second period ended with a little more than a minute and a half left on the Eager boarding penalty that would carry over to the third. The Sharks penalty killers did a great job killing off the penalty, until Eager again let emotions get the best of him by taking the tripping penalty at 6:57.
Chris Higgins added to the Canuck lead at 7:56, scoring his fourth of the playoffs and giving the Canucks the 4-2 lead.
Just three minutes later, Daniel Sedin got his second goal of the game, capping a long stretch of dominating play from Vancouver.
At 14:30, Aaron Rome rubbed salt into the wounds knocking in his first playoff goal and giving the Canucks the 6-2 lead. Ryane Clowe attempted to fight Lapierre shortly thereafter as frustrations spilled over, but Lapierre smartly did not fight back.
With yet another man advantage, the Canucks added to their lead at 16:42 as Mason Raymond puts the puck past Niemi with his shot from the slot.
Just a minute later, Ben Eager finally contributed to his team by knocking in the puck past Luongo, but couldn’t even celebrate properly as he lingered over the net.
Time would mercifully expire as the Sharks and Ben Eager continued to embarrass themselves late in the third period, the Canucks now have a 2-0 lead heading back to San Jose.
I don’t care that he blew the coverage on the Bieksa goal, he had himself an excellent game outside of his blown coverage on the Canuck defenseman.
Scoring the goal in the first gave the Sharks the answer after giving up yet another two goals in a very short period of time.
While he was easily handled by Bieksa in the fight as expected, he fired up the bench and the rest of the team while the game was still competitive. Gutless? I don't think so.
This Canuck line played yet another tremendous game, and dominated during long stretches in Game 2. This line is simply murdering the Sharks, and they need to find a resolution to help neutralize this line’s effectiveness.
San Jose cannot afford to have this line continue to contribute at this rate with the small amount of ice-time they receive.
Gordie Howe trick anybody? Rumored to be on the move in the offseason, this guy has truly broken out this year for Vancouver.
He made some miraculous saves in this game, especially against the Sedins but when you take too many dumb penalties there’s only so much you can do.
With the walls of the San Jose team self-destructing around him, Niemi saved the Sharks from a possible 13-3 defeat.
He's the man keeping this team afloat, and it's a fair question to pose when the rest of the Sharks will start stepping up to help the guy.
What Didn’t Work
Little Joe rebounded in the faceoff circle tonight, but had too many negative plays including the lazy tripping penalty on Daniel Sedin in the first period.
He’s the catalyst to the Sharks third line but the Canucks’ physicality may be taking the wind out of this line’s sails.
For a team in the Canucks who had the reputation of melting down in the playoffs when things got chippy, the Sharks were the ones that lost their composure in the blowout loss.
Coming into Game 2, the Sharks needed to stay clear of the box, but gave the Canucks four goals via the powerplay.
The play in the second half of the third period was almost comical, as the Canucks simply imposed their will against the Sharks who had lost all of their composure.
Sharks third line
Words can’t properly convey how poorly this line played in Game 2, folding under Canucks physicality and losing the loose puck battles.
They will need to be the answer, not the problem if the Sharks want to make this a series.
With the short leash that Eager has been on so far in the playoffs, one has to wonder why McLellan continued to send him out on the ice.
Being sat down after the fighting Kyle Clifford, or after the Todd Bertuzzi incident in the Red Wing series, you would have thought McLellan would be ready to give Eager the hook.
After the boarding penalty on Daniel Sedin I can understand the reasoning, however the slew-foot/tripping penalty early in the third should have been a clear signal to sit him for the remainder of the game.
Jason Demers also stated in an interview earlier this week that he was fully healthy and ready to play when the coaching staff needed him.
Instead Kent Huskins again got the call, and Hansen again embarrassed him in the second period by nearly turning the corner on Husky.
Todd McLellan needs to give the Sharks an answer, instead of more puzzling decisions.
Although he’s got the speed, size and determination to make a difference in this series, he hurt the Sharks tonight with his undisciplined play.
The boarding penalty against the Daniel Sedin was bad, but the tripping penalty against Mason Raymond was pure stupidity.
Against the top ranked power play during the regular season, and a struggling penalty kill a huge key to this series was staying out of the box.
Fans who wondered why Ben Eager was a scratch during the latter parts of the quarterfinals, and the semifinals may know why McLellan decided to sit Eager.
Scoring the goal in the third period and foolishly standing over Luongo after celebrating the ridiculous third goal lacked common sense. Mocking Luongo while his team was being dismantled and coming apart at the seams was just a microcosm of his poor performance.
Game 3 will give the Sharks a chance to climb back into this series, but they have to be markedly better than they have been thus far.
The Canucks are capitalizing on the lackadaisical defensive play and mental mistakes, and the Sharks now face the ultimate gut-check coming back to San Jose.
Both teams know that a two game lead isn’t a insurmountable deficit, however with the way the Sharks have played, it’s hard to see any answers.
The only player that’s playing championship level hockey is Antti Niemi, and the Sharks must come up with their best game so far in the playoffs in Game 3.
It’s not over by any stretch, but for the second straight night the Canucks were faster, smarter and better. It’s up to the Sharks to take their turn in Game 3 in San Jose, because their play in Game 2 was nothing short of horrid.
When will Jason Demers return? Ben Eager clearly does not deserve to play again in this postseason, however who can take his place?
Lots of questions coming into Game 3 for the Sharks, but they’ve answered every single challenge this season and it’s up to them to do it again.