Hockey Night In Canada Stanley Cup Playoffs 2011

Bad blood boiling in Canucks, Sharks series

Categories: San Jose Sharks, VAN vs. SJS, Vancouver Canucks

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San Jose forward Ben Eager goes to the penalty box for one of his three penalties in Game 2 of the Western Conference Final against Vancouver. The Canucks won the game 7-3 to take a 2-0 lead in the series. (Harry How/Getty Images) San Jose forward Ben Eager goes to the penalty box for one of his three penalties in Game 2 of the Western Conference Final against Vancouver. The Canucks won the game 7-3 to take a 2-0 lead in the series. (Harry How/Getty Images)

By Tim Wharnsby

VANCOUVER - Alain Vigneault was disappointed to learn on Thursday that San Jose Sharks forward Ben Eager would not face any supplementary discipline after he smacked Vancouver Canucks sniper Daniel Sedin into the boards from behind.

The incident occurred late in the second period of the Canucks impressive 7-3 blow-out win at Rogers Arena on Wednesday to increase their lead in the West final series to 2-0 with Game 3 set for San Jose's HP Pavilion on Friday. Eager was given a two-minute boarding penalty on the play.

"There's really nothing we can do about that," Vigneault said. "In our mind anyway he went out and tried to hurt our player, the potential NHL MVP. That's how their coach wants him to play. He ran our goalie [late in the game]. I guess that's how they want him to play.

"There's really nothing we can do about it. We just got to hope that the people do the right things."

The Canucks did not score on Eager's first penalty as the result of the hit on Sedin. But they did capitalize when the fourth-line Sharks forward made his second of three trips to the box in the third period for an undisciplined tripping infraction on Vancouver's Mason Raymond as the latter was trying to make a line change.

Overall, the Canucks went 3-for-6 on the power play in Game 2 and have gone 4-for-10 in the West final so far.

"[Eager's] a physical guy," Vancouver's Alex Burrows said. "If he goes to the box, we have to make sure he pays."

Before he was traded to the Atlanta Thrashers last summer and then to the Sharks during the season, the 27-year-old Eager played the past two-plus years for the Chicago Blackhawks, the team that ousted the Canucks in the second round in back-to-back playoffs.

"Obviously, if he's undisciplined and the referees call it, then it's favourable to us," Vigneault added. "That being said, you don't want players running around trying to hurt people. It's evident by him challenging the bench at the end of the period, his coach saying that's how he wants him to play, that I hope nothing bad happens because some people are going to have to pay for it."

Samuelsson gone

The Canucks announced veteran forward Mikael Samuelsson will miss the remainder of the playoffs after he underwent surgery to repair an adductor tendon and sports hernia.

The only Vancouver player with a Stanley Cup ring was injured in Game 5 of the second-round series against the Nashville Predators. He has been troubled by groin and sports hernia problems since the latter part of the season. But Vigneault remarked that he was healthy until he was hurt in the Nashville series.

"I know he's had a few issues here with the groin there," Vigneault said. "But he had been fine until he got hurt on the ice at the end there."

Since Samuelsson was lost to the injury, the Canucks have gone 3-0. The veteran had been demoted to the fourth line because of the strong play of newcomer Chris Higgins, who enjoyed a one-goal, two-assist performance in Game 3.

"At the time we picked up Chris, he was to give us good depth on the fourth line, him and [Maxim] Lapierre, that's why we got them. Obviously because of certain situations, they were given the opportunity to have a bigger role, and they jumped on that opportunity. They're playing well.

"I hadn't seen a lot of [Higgins] because he was out east. I heard in Montréal, because I have quite a few connections there, that they thought that he had all the potential to become a real good, solid two-way player and had a lot of offensive capabilities. For whatever reason, things went off track a little bit. But the way he's playing right now, he's playing with a lot of skill, determination. He's doing a real good job for us.

Clowe-Lapierre feud

First, San Jose's Patrick Marleau uncharacteristically dropped his gloves to fight Canucks defenceman Kevin Bieksa. Then there was Eager's antics. But they weren't the only Sharks forward to challenge a Vancouver player to a fight on Wednesday. Ryane Clowe wanted to get at Vancouver's Lapierre in the third period.

The two were teammates in junior with the 2002-03 Montreal Rocket for 43 regular-season games and another seven in the playoffs when Clowe was traded to the Rocket from Rimouski mid-season.

"He was shaking his gloves at [Logan] Couture," Clowe said. "I didn't go jump him, I said 'I'll go you,' but I wasn't expecting him to go. I know what he's like."

Clowe remarked that he didn't like Lapierre then and doesn't like him now. He also stated that he wasn't surprised Lapierre would not fight him because he's a "coward."

"That's alright, I like that," Lapierre said with a smirk.

Lapierre could not recall an incident as to why the two didn't get along in junior.

"Not really," he said. "It was my first year in the league. I was feeling pretty good about myself and the next year I was named captain so he may have been the only one who was thinking that way."

Vigneault was hired half-way through that season in Montreal to coach the Rocket and also could not recall why Clowe and Lapierre having a divisive relationship.

"When I got there just around Christmas time, they were both together at that time," Vigneault said. "I think Ryane had just arrived with the team. To tell you the truth, I thought they both got along real well. They both are highly competitive. They both want to win. If there was any bad blood between them, I didn't see it. We had a real strong finish. Both those guys were a big part of that finish."

Flasher fallout

The city of Vancouver and some Canucks were still abuzz about the woman in the Henrik Sedin sweater who stepped in for the absent green men late in Game 2 and flashed Eager while he sat in the penalty box.

"It wasn't my wife," Henrik said blushing. "I can tell you that. Other than that, I don't have much to say."

Burrows got a chuckle from incident and called for the young woman to replace the green men and their antics.

"Hopefully, she'll be back and the green men will be out," said Burrows, who confirmed he saw the incident out of the corner of his eye.