Hockey Night In Canada Stanley Cup Playoffs 2011

Sharks too Eager in Game 2

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

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This was a familiar sight in Game 2: Ben Eager, centre, heading to the penalty box. (Harry How/Getty Images) This was a familiar sight in Game 2: Ben Eager, centre, heading to the penalty box. (Harry How/Getty Images)
By Tim Wharnsby, CBC Sports

VANCOUVER -- San Jose Sharks head coach Todd McLellan expects fourth-liner Ben Eager to play in Game 3 on Friday and not in the press box suspended for his hit on Vancouver Canucks sniper Daniel Sedin late in the second period on Wednesday.

Eager was a central figure for all the wrong reasons in the Sharks' 7-3 loss to the Canucks in Game 2. He was called for a two-minute boarding penalty on Sedin, a tripping penalty on Mason Raymond in the third period, scored his team's lone goal in the frame before he took a roughing penalty on goalie Roberto Luongo.

The Sharks not only lost their eighth in a row in a conference final, dating back to when they dropped Games 5 and 6 of the 2004 Western final against the Calgary Flames, they lost their composure in the third period against the speedy and skilled Canucks.

"Yup, without a doubt," McLellan said, when asked if his club lost its composure. "I'm not going to sit here and try to protect them. We lost composure, we were frustrated. As I said earlier, when you're second, you tend to be frustrated.

"We've got some work to do. We've got some guys that need to ask themselves some questions, answer them, and pull the skates a little tighter."

Is Eager one of those players? While the Canucks did not convert on the first man-advantage situation he handed Vancouver, Daniel Sedin later responded with his second power-play goal of the game after Eager was sent to the box for his tripping infraction.

"I'll take Ben Eager's game without the penalties any night," McLellan said. "He was an honest guy, battled hard, skated, fought through everything."

Without remorse

Eager, who won a Stanley Cup with the Chicago Blackhawks last year, exhibited little remorse afterwards. He accused Daniel Sedin of turning his back as Eager rushed in to slam the Canucks forward into the boards.

"I finish all my checks," Eager said. "I went to close on him, he knows what he's doing, he turns his back. Like I said we killed that penalty.

"That last penalty, yeah it cost us. They scored on the power play, they have a dangerous power play and we got to stay out of the box. We're looking forward to going home and doing our job there."

San Jose forward Patrick Marleau, who acted out of character and engaged in a fight with Canucks defenceman Kevin Bieksa in the second period, refused to blame any part of the loss on Eager's exploits.

"It's not just one guy," Marleau said. "We need to be better as a team."

Did Canucks coach Alain Vigneault think Eager deserved supplementary discipline for his hit from behind?

"Well, obviously, Danny embellished that," Vigneault remarked sarcastically. "The league will do the right thing. It was great embellishment."

The bottom line was the Canucks made their opponents pay for their lack of discipline by going 3-for-6 on the power play.

"I think this year, anytime a team has tried to, I don't know, play us maybe a chippier way, our power-play has always responded," Vigneault said. "I thought tonight we moved the puck well. I thought we were physical when we needed to be, when the opportunity was there.

"The power play tonight got us important goals at the right time. Now we're going to turn the page on this one and focus on the next game."

The Sharks better, too. If they plan to make any noise in their latest trip to a conference final.