Sharks need to stay physical in Game 4


Sharks need to stay physical in Game 4


Todd McLellan recants his version of a tale about the 1983 New York Islanders, whose reign over the National Hockey League ended with their fourth and final Stanley Cup that spring against the Oilers.
I remember hearing a story about the Oilers walking by the Islanders' locker room, McLellan began. Those guys were bleeding, they were taped up, there were ice bags everywhere, when they should have been celebrating a Stanley Cup championship. If I remember the story correctly, that was the moment the Oilers needed to become their dynasty, was to see that. If you're not hurt right now, if you're not banged, bruised, you're not sore, you're not tired, I guess the question would be: Why?To that end, the Vancouver Canucks are now officially the team this is more banged, bruised, sore, tired and especially,hurt, as this Western Conference Finals series enters Game 4 on Sunday afternoon at the Shark Tank.Two crushing hits in Game 3 from Sharks left wing Jamie McGinn have taken out the Canucks' No. 3 defenseman -- Christian Ehrhoff-- as well as, their No. 6 blue liner -- Aaron Rome.
RATTO: McLellan keeping doom in the air
On Saturday afternoon, McGinn was cleared of any wrong-doing by the NHL on the Rome hit, despite drawing a five-minute major for boarding, plus a game misconduct, his second of the playoffs (charging penalty: Game 6 vs. Los Angeles Brad Richardson).
Given Ben Eager also survived a game misconduct for running Daniel Sedin in Game 2 of this fray, you might conclude the Sharks have dodged two bullets in this series.I'm not going to comment on how the league interprets certain hits, Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said.Going to leave that up to them. That's all I want to say there.Keith Ballard will get one call for Vancouver. Between rookie Chris Tanev and veteran Andrew Alberts, Alberts is expected to play, as well.Losing two D-men in a playoff game is catastrophic, especially one such as Ehrhoff, who took a shoulder hit from McGinn late in the second period and never returned.The Ehrhoff hit seemed inconsequential at the time. Hes one of their top defensemen, McGinn said. Any chance you get to get a lick in, you have to take it. He pulled up and I just kind ofcame across the ice and finished my check. It was just shoulder to shoulder.Two confirmed kills for the Sharks winger.Im not trying to hurt anyone, but I think it helps our team a lot, McGinn said. That is what were trying to do. Get in on their defense and wear and tear them down. Thats why its a seven-game series. Every game, every hit, every shift is important.Of course, the hit on Rome was the one the NHL reviewed.I think I have looked at the hit 100 times, McGinn said, prior to hearing the news he was cleared. Icant stress enough, I dont want to hurt anyone. I want a quick recovery for Rome. Its too bad that he got hurt on the play.I was coasting. I tried to slow up and hit him on the left shoulder.You can see the '2' and the '9' on the back of his sweater. So its just one of those freak accidents where he hit his head on the glass. I didn't want that to happen.Make no mistake, this changes things for the Sharks -- not just the Canucks. For one, it gives the Sharks an advantage on the forecheck.Just ask Sharks defenseman Douglas Murray, who understands, from a positional standpoint, what its like to lose two defensemen in a playoff series.With them being a little shorthanded, try to wear them down, Murray said of San Joses strategy as the Sharks are forcing the Canucks to dig deeper into their bench for replacements.Murrays partner, Dan Boyle, says the other advantage here is Vancouver now brings two players cold into pressure-packed Game 4.Thats tough for guys to come in and havingnot played for a long time, Boyle said.Its hard. Be physical, dont let the two new -- if there are two --dont let them get comfortable. Being physical is a big part of a hockey game.San Jose was far more physical, far more effective on its forecheck in Game 3 and now needs to ratchet play up for Game 4 and take advantage of the Canucks situation.You got to try to get on those new guys early and test them, forward Ryane Clowe said. We showed our forecheck Friday andwere a little more physical and a little more aggressive. We made them play in their end more. We got to do that. Both of these defensemen going in are experienced guys. I dont think their panic level will be high.Perhaps not, yet both new players figure to be cautious, even conservative in their defensive play. That also should work in the Sharks favor.
VIDEO: Joe Thornton postgame
We still want to get on it forecheck and bump them, Sharks captain Joe Thornton said. Nothing changes for us.Tim Panaccio covers thePhiladelphia Flyers for and let him know what you think! Follow Tim @tpanotch.

How John Pagano plans to impact Raiders defense: ‘There is always room for change’


How John Pagano plans to impact Raiders defense: ‘There is always room for change’

ALAMEDA – John Pagano can’t implement his scheme in a week. He can’t import his plays and preferences cultivated during five seasons as Chargers defensive coordinator. Full offseason programs and training camps are required for that.

Raiders defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. was fired on Tuesday. Pagano will call his first Raiders game five days later against Denver at Oakland Coliseum. The Raiders’ assistant head coach – defense believes he can impact how the Silver and Black does business.

“There’s always room for change and there’s always room for doing things better,” Pagano said Thursday. “Without telling you our game plan, it’s about how we go out and execute the call, bottom line.”

Head coach Jack Del Rio said the Raiders weren’t playing fast enough. They weren’t creating enough turnovers, weren’t doing well enough on third down and weren’t regularly affecting the quarterback due to a lack of both rush and coverage.

That’s why Norton had to go.

Pagano’s first objective, which must get accomplished in a few days, is getting the Raiders to play with confidence. Then he can add some design wrinkles with some of his personality.

“You have to have that ability of going out there, knowing your assignment and playing faster,” Pagano said. “It’s not to say that there have been times where we’ve simplified things, but taking the thinking out of the game and making them react is, I think, most important. Going out there and playing fast and that’s doing the little extra things, the attention to details of studying and getting those things processed. See ball, go get ball.”

That last sentence sums up how Pagano wants his guys to play. He’s a quality play caller and creative blitzer with a knack making simple plays look complex. He can find and exploit opposing weak links. His defenses have always been good creating pressure and turnovers alike. The Raiders need more of both.

To do that Pagano wants to relieve a player’s mental burden and keep them focused on using talent well.

“The one thing I’ve always stressed and always been about is technique, fundamentals and unbelievable effort,” Pagano said. “I think those three things can get you home.”

The Raiders haven’t been home much as a defense. They’re tied for last with 14 sacks. They’re dead last with six turnovers. They’ve gone 10 games without an interception, the longest single-season drought in NFL history.

A lack of big defensive plays has killed the Raiders this season. It obviously increases points allowed. Good field position has been hard to come by. The offense has to earn everything the hard way. That’s a recipe for losing football, a maddening turn after the Raiders finished second with 30 takeaways last year.

Pagano has a chart listing “MOPs,” short for missed opportunities. There have been many, especially in a secondary he oversaw before this week.

“I talked to these guys this week about we need to do simple better,” Pagano said. “What is simple? It’s fundamentals of covering. It’s tackling. It’s communicating. It’s catching the ball when it comes. We’ve had opportunities. It’s not like we’re out there struggling and straining to dive and layout for the thing. It’s hit us in the hands where we’ve had many, many opportunities.”

Missed opportunities have also plagued a pass rush featuring reigning defensive player of the year Khalil Mack. Pagano brought up a moment early in Sunday’s lost to New England, when Treyvon Hester forced a fumble near three teammates that the Patriots somehow recovered.

Pagano’s goal is to improve performance. Players must buy in to do that. Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin headline a large group close to Norton, one with enough pride and professionalism to get behind a new playcaller in Pagano, who could be here long term.

“There is a human element to this,” Pagano said. “We are family. It’s sad any time a member of your family gets dismissed or something. At the end of the day, we have the Broncos coming in here on Sunday and we have to get our minds right to go play this game. That’s something that they’ve done a great job with this week, truly focusing in on what we need to do.”

Jordan Bell: Rookie year with Warriors 'like being a freshman all over again'


Jordan Bell: Rookie year with Warriors 'like being a freshman all over again'

Warriors rookie Jordan Bell made an instant impact for the team this season. But as of late, his playing time has dwindled. In four of the Warriors' last five games, Bell has been inactive. 

“It's just the life of a rookie,” Bell said to The Athletic. “That's what Steve Kerr always tells me. It's not because I'm playing bad. Just gotta be professional about it and stay ready. It's like being a freshman all over again.”

While Bell wants to be on the court with his teammates, what he appreciates most from Steve Kerr is his communication. Kerr is always honest about when he won't play Bell and he keeps the former Oregon Duck encouraged. 

“He talks to me about it every time he sees me,” Bell said. “Lets me know I'm not going to be active. Keep doing what you're doing, you're doing good. But it still f------ sucks. You're playing well and it doesn't mean anything because you're younger. It sucks, but you got to be professional about it.”

Bell has played in 12 of the Warriors' 18 games this season. The 22-year-old is averaging 3.2 points and 2.2 rebounds per game over 8.3 minutes per game. 

The Warriors bought the 38th pick in the 2017 NBA Draft from the Chicago Bulls and selected Bell. On Friday night, the Warriors, and perhaps Bell, play the Bulls for the first time this season.