Ray Ratto

Ratto: Canucks coach sensing a conspiracy


Ratto: Canucks coach sensing a conspiracy

Ray RattoCSNCalifornia.com

Ben Eager was cleared of any wrongdoing Wednesday night, as you knew he would be. His hit from behind on Daniel Sedin looked bad, but not as the NHL interprets it, thereby causing to look elsewhere for our daily fret.

Fortunately, theres Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault, who decided to throw a few logs on the barely smoldering fire that is the Western Conference Final.

Upon being apprised that Eager was given a pass for boarding Sedin 28 seconds from the end of the second period, Vigneault discovered conspiracy.

In our mind anyway, you know, he went out and tried to hurt our player, the NHL MVP, potential MVP, Vigneault said, holding out trophies Sedin has not yet won as a shield against any harm befalling him. That's how their coach wants him to play. He ran our goalie. I guess that's how they want him to play.

Then he took the extra two for embellishing.

Obviously if he (Eager) is undisciplined and the referees call it, then it's favorable to us. That being said, you don't want players running around trying to hurt people. It's evident by him challenging the bench, 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.

In short, Vigneault all but said Eager ran rampant through the rule book in Game 2 either at the specific behest or indirect suggestion of San Jose coach Todd McLellan. The implication was strong enough, and whether this was gamesmanship designed to unnerve the Sharks or a deliberate shot across McLellans personal bow, it made for a classic off-day the day after the Sharks biggest off-day in years.

RATTO: Don't hang Sharks' Gm. 2 crash on Eager

We tend to look back at what other teams did, and I remember Chicago beating Vancouver a month ago, 7-2, McLellan said, referring to the 7-4 win in Game 5, There was a lot going on on the ice at that time. Alain decided just to let it go at that.

Nothing more incendiary than that, largely because the Sharks have their own issues namely, how to get most of the 12 forwards to get back to the hard business of forechecking and handling neutral ice. McLellan was critical of both the Logan Couture-Ryane Clowe-Dany Heatley and Joe Pavelski-Torrey Mitchell-Kyle Wellwood lines, and also Devin Setoguchi from the top line for not taking of the skating and defensive details in the Vancouver zone that allow the Sharks to gain and maintain the puck control they so crave.

RATTO: Five keys for the Sharks as the series shifts to S.J.

McLellan reiterated his support for the energy and drive Eager brought, though he agreed that Eager went far afield as the game went on. Eager will play, but there are other ideas being floated, both in roster and lineup considerations. It is unlikely that defenseman Jason Demers will dress, though the Sharks have not come out and said what his injury is (upper body, not a head).

The Sharks also declined an opportunity to discuss Alexandre Burrows goal, Vancouvers fourth, which the NHL has apparently acknowledged was a blown call due to Burrows being too deep in the goal crease. San Jose has issues aplenty as it is without picking fights with the stripes.

Those all boil down to figuring out whether the Sharks take the failing in game 1 and the deterio-fest of Game 2 and tighten the details that the Canucks pried apart in the first two games. Ben Eager was an intriguing sideshow, but the Sharks have bigger issues to tackle, and have run out of time to grope for the answers they should already have had memorized.

Celtics are the rivals Warriors fans need

Celtics are the rivals Warriors fans need

You don’t think you needed this game to go this way, but you did, and you do.

The Golden State Warriors spat out a 17-point lead and lost, 92-88, in Boston Thursday night, in a game that was taut if not particularly elegant, and in a game that elevated the Celtics to a place that makes them the new heir apparent to the heir apparent.

The Celtics have been a difficult out for the Warriors during the Brad Stevens Era, losing six of nine but only being blown out twice, and Thursday was not one of those nights. The box score will tell you the shooting and rebounding problems, but the Warriors had that lead and didn’t hold it. Or, to be accurate, the Celtics had that deficit and refused to let it destroy them.

Which is exactly the kind of team you, the fully licensed Warrior fan, want to watch play your team in the NBA Finals. You want to see them genuinely challenged, forced to win outside their comfort zone, induced to show their greatness in the highest of high leverage situations.

At least we think that’s what you want. Maybe you prefer blowouts so you can drink and go to the bathroom without care or fear. After all, the Warriors have taught the area the true meaning of front-running by being in front so often.

But the Celtics play a level of defense typically reserved for the San Antonio Spurs, and yes, the Warriors. They have a spiky exoskeleton that the acquisition of Kyrie Irving has actually enhanced, and Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum give them a gifted precocity that fits well with veterans like Al Horford and Marcus Morris, and Boston’s overall youth (they are fifth youngest, while Golden State is third-oldest) ought to make them a more difficult conundrum than Cleveland or any other team in either conference.

They are not yet the superior team; that remains to be proven, and betting against the Warriors requires a level of irrational bravery left only for the truly self-destructive.

But they are, as we sit this evening, the team the Warriors will have to work hardest to finish, because on a night when they had the chance to do so, they didn’t. In other words, the fight for a third ring still goes through Oakland, but it looks more and more like a one-stop through Boston.

And as much as you may hate thinking about it, you’ll almost certainly remember, and savor, a Celtics-Warriors final more than another round of Cavs-on-the-half-shell.

Three reasons Draymond Green is the perfect college professor


Three reasons Draymond Green is the perfect college professor

Programming note: Warriors-Celtics coverage starts today at 4 p.m. on NBC Sports Bay Area and streaming live right here 

Draymond Green spoke to a group of students at Harvard Thursday on the subject of leadership, and if you find that incongruous, shame on you.
I mean, who else would you want as a college professor?
Green has led, and been led. He has learned, and he has taught. He has certainly lectured, as any teammate, official and media member will testify. He’d be a hell of a teacher, and the subject almost doesn’t matter.
For one, homework would be different, as in I’d bet there would be no written work. I don’t see Prof. Day-Day poring over essays about the Industrial Revolution, M-theory or pre-Raphaelite art. Not even the history of Basketball-Reference.com.

For two, having tenured faculty audit his classes may find his choice of rhetoric a little strident, as in “What the ---- were you thinking, dude?” is not typically approved instructional methodology.
And three, nobody would get a grade. Green would mark every exam with a “35,” as in his draft position, and besides, the exams would be students arguing with each other over whether that was a foul or a no-call, and who pulled the better face when the call was made. He’d give either an approving nod or give the loser a second technical foul and kick him or her out of class.
But it would be a hell of a class. Not at Harvard, of course, because Green probably would want to teach a school that could better use his brand of wisdom, and Harvard kids already have a healthy lead off third base. He’d want his students to make Harvard students cry, you can just tell.
But wouldn’t he look perfectly Draymond in a cap and gown on graduation day, pulling a bottle out of his sleeve to make the valedictory speeches less painful. “Damn, dude,” you could hear him yell. “Peaking?”