Game 4 notes: Power play has found its groove


Game 4 notes: Power play has found its groove

Tim PanaccioCSNCalifornia.com

Maybe their overall power-play numbers dont leave you warm and tingly all over -- not when youve got the Tampa Bay Lightning humming along at 24 percent -- but if you peek a bit closer at what the Sharks are doing to the Vancouver Canucks, you realize theyve had a decided power-play edge so far.

Todd McLellans power play has scorched the Canucks for six goals in 13 chances through three games.

Thats an amazing 46.1 percent efficiency and it includes a 5-for-5 run that ended late in the opening period of Game 3, which the Sharks won, 4-3.

Its funny, said Dan Boyle, whos on the first-unit PP. Two series ago, it was how bad we were. And we were. We just didnt have it that first series against Los Angeles. Now, so far, weve got going and its the same guys. We havent changed anything. Were executing, were finding ways. Were just being opportunistic. At the end of the day, youve got to score the goal. Were finding ways to put the puck into the net.

The Sharks were 3-for-10 with the man advantage in Game 3.

You get streaky, individuals get hot, Boyle said. Power plays get hot. And power plays get cold. Right now, were just finding ways. Were on a hot streak right now and weve got to take it and run with it.

Ryane Clowe, Patrick Marleau and Devin Setoguchi each have three power play goals in the playoffs.

In this series, Marleau has three power play goals.

RATTO: McLellan keeping doom in the air

Things are going your way and its definitely a game of inches, Marleau said. You just put in the work, keep going to the same areas, the hard areas and good things happen.

Snarling Joe Thornton?: Joe Thornton might be a lot of things to a lot of people. But intense? Snarly? You dont hear that very often from players when talking about Thornton.

Lets be real. He sometimes comes off as Joe the surfer dude in his t-shirt, blue jeans, and white sneakers.

Thornton leads all scorers in the playoffs with 17 points (three goals, 14 assists) and has been an impact player for the Sharks, while trying to eradicate a lot of past playoff failures both here and in Boston.

However, his buddy, Clowe, says that Thornton is a lot more intense than the public realizes when the puck drops.

Hes very competitive, Clowe said. He always has a snarl. You guys dont always see it. Hes a competitive guy, hes intense. He might not seem that way in all the interviews because hes pretty mellow.

Apparently, little things mean a lot to Thornton.

The little things that tick Joe off is if you dont open the gate quick enough on the bench or if the goalie is in the way when he tries to sit down on the bench, Clowe said.

Hes got funny ways that get him riled up. During the game, he is so fired up. A couple of years ago in Detroit, he got mad at me because I wasnt opening the gate quick enough. He tells me Im too slow on the gate. I told him, hes big enough to jump over the boards.

Tough skate: Most coaches take every opportunity to give players rest between games when the next game is an early afternoon start, such as Sundays noon start here.

Yet, McLellan took his players on the ice for a pretty brisk, maybe even intense skate, which we might add, the Sharks often do when they play a noon game.

The purpose was to reinforce among his players the hard skate work ethic McLellan believes has to carry over into Game 4 if the Sharks are to tie this series.

I thought it was important for our hockey club to skate today, McLellan said. We felt it was important to get back on the ice before the noon start just to feel it again, get our legs moving, feel the puck a little bit.

It wasn't an overly extensive practice. There wasn't a lot of exertion. We brought all of our black aces, if you want to call them that, on the ice, so the reps were down. It was more a cleaning-out process, resetting the mental part of the game again.

Canucks reaction: So Jamie McGinn avoided a suspension for his boarding hit that knocked defenseman Aaron Rome out of the series in Game 3.

Fellow defenseman Christian Ehrhoff, another victim of a McGinn hit earlier that game, is also out. But it was the Rome hit (suspected concussion) that was reviewed by the NHL on Saturday.

PANACCIO: Sharks need to stay physical in Game 4
Kevin Bieksa, himself no stranger to tough hits come this time of year, was asked whether a suspension to McGinn was in order.

I don't know, Bieksa replied. Obviously, my opinion doesn't matter a whole lot. You just look at the injury that happened from the play, and obviously Aaron was pretty banged up after that hit. The league did what they felt they had to do, I guess. There's your boring answer.

Vancouver is expected to replace Rome and Ehrhoff with Keith Ballard and Andrew Alberts for Game 4.

Both those players are coming in cold and that could present a communication problem behind the Canucks net for goalie Roberto Luongo, in terms of calling off guys on pucks coming into the back end, not to mention handoffs between himself and his d-men under pressure when the Sharks are forechecking.

Communication is always important, Luongo said. Also, it's going to be important for them to make sure they look at the video and see what the Sharks like to do when they have the puck behind the net, the plays they like to make.

We have to make sure we're on the same page of what we're giving up and what I'm expecting.

Tim Panaccio covers thePhiladelphia Flyers for CSNPhilly.com.Emailhim and let him know what you think! Follow Tim @tpanotch.

Former Cal Bear Jaylen Brown holds heavy heart in win over Warriors


Former Cal Bear Jaylen Brown holds heavy heart in win over Warriors

BOSTON – The NBA is an emotional game, but the feelings Jaylen Brown was working through on the eve of Thursday’s game against Golden State, are the kind you don’t wish anyone with the death of his best friend less than 24 hours before Thursday night’s tip-off.

Brown channeled his pain into a performance that was absolutely vital to Boston pulling off the biggest upset for them this season, a 92-88 win over the defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors.

He led the Celtics with a team-high 22 points in the win which extended the Celtics’ winning streak to 14 straight. 

But he was in no mood to celebrate afterwards.

“My best friend (Trevin Steede) passed last night,” Brown said after the game. “It was tough to accept it. Everybody was kind of in shock. I knew coming in today, he would want me to play.

Brown paused, and added, “It’s hard to get my thoughts together. After talking to his mom and family, they inspired me to come out. I wasn’t in any shape to come out. I didn’t want to leave my room. They inspired me to come out and play and I came out and played in his spirit today.”

READ MORE AT NBCSportsBoston.com

Khalil Mack wants to be Raider for life: 'That’s a no-brainer for me'


Khalil Mack wants to be Raider for life: 'That’s a no-brainer for me'

The Raiders gave quarterback Derek Carr a massive contract extension last June. Right guard Gabe Jackson got paid later that month.

Khalil Mack’s big deal is coming, likely this offseason. Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie anticipates a deal getting done, and hopes Mack’s agent feels the same way.

Mack’s rep and Raiders contract folks will work out details of a massive contract extension. The reigning Defensive Player of the Year doesn’t have interest in all that. He has one preference above all.

Mack doesn’t want to go anywhere. He wants to stay with the Raiders long term.

“Of course. That’s not even a question,” Mack said in an exclusive interview with NBC Sports Bay Area’s Fallon Smith, which airs in this week's episode of "Raiders Central." “That’s a no-brainer for me, especially when you think about coming into this organization and try to build something special, that’s something you want to be a part of for a lifetime”

Mack has plenty of money, top-5 overall draft picks often do. The No. 5 selection in 2014 considered that first deal life-changing money, enough to help his family.

“That has been a treat for me so far,” Mack said.

He doesn’t daydream about signing a nine-figure contract. He doesn’t long to be the NFL’s highest-paid defensive player (although that might be in the cards, anyway).

“I’m not really even thinking about that,” Mack said. “I’m thinking about the Patriots, that’s just my focus that’s just my mindset – anybody who talked to me about that matter, whether it be my best friend, my mom, my dad, I tell them the same thing. I’m thinking about the Patriots and sacking Tom Brady.”

That, unlike signing a record contract, was a career a goal. Mack said in a post-draft press conference he wanted to sack legends. Peyton Manning and Brady topped the list.

Manning retired before Mack could check his box.

“Yeah, I didn’t get that mother----er,” Mack said. “Damn. Yeah, dang, I was disappointed.”

Mack will have a second chance at Brady Sunday when the Raiders play New England in Mexico City. He had eight tackles and two quarterback hits against Brady’s Patriots in 2014, but didn’t bring the quarterback down.

Mack considered his third regular season game a welcome-to-the-NFL moment.

The University of Buffalo alum has accomplished a ton since then, with 34.5 sacks and last year’s top defensive honor to his credit. He’ll need a Herculean performance against the Patriots to help the Raiders win a pivotal game. A sack would certainly help, but Mack isn’t calling his shot.

“Yeah, I’m not one to talk,” Mack said. “I’ll express that when I get on the field, but I can’t wait, I can’t wait to play against him.”