Sharks notebook: McLellan's lucky line change


Sharks notebook: McLellan's lucky line change



BOSTON -- Sometimes it takes a little luck to find the right chemistry. Sharks coach Todd McLellan admitted as much on Sunday, when he could have easily branded himself a genius for putting Ben Eager, Kyle Wellwood and Logan Couture together for the 2-0 win against the Bruins on Saturday. Although it didnt generate any even strength goals, the trio was the most effective line of the afternoon in terms of putting pressure on a very good Boston defense corps. Thats no small feat, as the Bruins allow the fewest goals-against per game in the NHL.RECAP: Niemi skunks Bruins, Sharks 2-0 on road trip
The only reason they were together, though, was due to Coutures recent illness, McLellan said after practice on the campus of Boston University. The star rookie was seeing his first action since a two-game absence with a devastating flu bug, and McLellan wanted to monitor his minutes.I was concerned about his energy level and the ability to play more minutes than he normally would, McLellan said of Couture. We put him with Ben because Ben has some energy, and Kyle can play the middle and the wing. It was more a way to protect Logan coming off the flu than it was to alter our lines.Its safe to say that he was happy with the resulting effort.As it turns out it was one of our better lines, and we may just keep it that way for awhile, he said.Ever the good soldier, Couture doesnt seem to care who hes playing with or on what line. His power play goal in the first period, which ended up as the game-winner, is evidence that he is still going to find a way to contribute no matter who he is skating with five-on-five.Couture considered playing with Eager, especially, to be advantageous.It seemed like we had some chemistry, he said. Hes a big body, protects pucks well, and creates space for Welly and me on the ice. When the D-men see him coming down the ice theyre not so sure they want to go get the puck. I enjoyed playing with him.Eager, who arrived on Jan. 18 in a trade with Atlanta, had what was probably his best game in a San Jose uniform against Boston. He was skating well and was up and down the ice all afternoon at TD Garden, throwing his 235 pounds around and causing a commotion in front of the goal crease. Although his incidental contact with Bruins goalie Tim Thomas nullified a goal in the second period, thats exactly the kind of play that McLellan wants to see out of the hulking winger.In fact, Eager has already been rewarded for his strong play by the coach.Ben Eager came in as a guy that we penciled in on that fourth line, but hes played well enough and worked his way up to that third line now, said McLellan. Its his job to keep it. He did a really good job Saturday against the Bruins.Eager came to San Jose as a familiar face, having been with the Chicago Blackhawks for parts of three seasons, including last years Stanley Cup champion club. He benefitted in that he already knew two players on the Sharks roster goalies Antti Niemi and Antero Niittymaki. In fact, he won a championship with both, as Niemi was his teammate last year in Chicago while he and Niittymaki won an AHL Calder Cup. That came during the NHLs lockout year of 2004-05 with the Philadelphia Phantoms, then the farm team of the Flyers.His friends helped to ease his transition back into the Western Conference.They were great, said Eager. Me and Niitty stayed in touch throughout the years, and whenever weve played each other we always chat. Antti I was with last year, and it was nice to have them on the roster.Eager admitted that when the trade happened, he was a bit shocked. Fortunately, though, he knew what he was getting into in joining San Jose.Its been a new experience, but I played against them a lot the last couple of years when I was in Chicago. Its what I expected a hard working group of guys and theres a lot of skill in this room and character. Im happy to be here and its been a lot of fun so far.Whats likely making it even more enjoyable is that Eager has steadily seen his ice time increase, culminating in more than 12 minutes on Saturday.Yeah, it was good. I got to play, played some good minutes, and was playing with two good players. I just tried to keep it simple and I thought we did a good job.Super Bowl plansThe Sharks flew to Washington immediately following practice in Boston, where they had spent the last three nights adjusting to East Coast time. They should get to the nations capital in plenty of time to catch the Super Bowl between the Packers and Steelers.McLellan was asked if he had any plans for the game.Well watch the game, he said. I think its an exciting event. Theres a lot of build-up to it, but it will be fun to watch.

After loss to Nuggets, it's clear Kings need to fix problem on the glass

After loss to Nuggets, it's clear Kings need to fix problem on the glass

SACRAMENTO -- Light in the rear. It’s a term the Sacramento Kings coaching staff has used since the beginning of training camp to describe the bigs on the roster. On Monday night at Golden 1 Center, the team’s lack of strength inside was on full display as the Denver Nuggets crushed them on the glass.

“I think we’re 29th in the league for rebounding, so that’s a little bit of our makeup of how our team is made,” Dave Joerger said following the Kings’ 114-98 loss.

Joerger is close in his assessment, but off by a few spots. His roster ranks 26th in the league in rebounding overall and 28th on the defensive side of the ball. It’s become an achilles heel for a team that has a few glaring weaknesses.

“When Willie (Cauley-Stein) and Kosta (Koufos) aren’t in there to snag every rebound, we have to get in there and help Zach (Randolph) and help Skal (Labissiere),” veteran Garrett Temple said. “Skal’s a little undersized in terms of weight and Z-Bo will put his body on people, but some people might be able to out jump him.”

On a normal night, Temple is right. Randolph and Labissiere struggle to put up big numbers on the glass. But against the Nuggets, it was Koufos and Cauley-Stein that combined to grab nine rebounds in 51 total minutes of action.

Randolph and Labissiere didn’t fair much better, finishing with 10 boards between the two of them in 38 minutes with the starters. Between the Kings’ four bigs, they were out rebounded by the Nuggets bigs by a final of 34-19.

The Nuggets came into the night a top 10 rebounding team overall and the second best offensive rebounding team in the NBA at 11.8 per game.

It’s not just the bigs that struggled to grab boards for Sacramento. Without Buddy Hield, the club’s best rebounding wing, the Kings’ were dominated 49-34 overall in rebounding, including 14-5 on the offensive glass.

“The first shot, it’s a good contest, we did everything right, except get the rebound,” rookie point guard De’Aaron Fox said. “And then they get an open shot off a second chance shot. If we can complete a lot of plays with the rebound, we’ll be okay.”

To Fox’s point, the defensive possession doesn’t end until the rebound is secured. Sacramento was outscored 19-6 on second chance points. In a 16-point game, those numbers loom large.

“Us guards, we know we have to help our bigs,” Fox said. “We know our bigs are athletic. We know they do what they do, at the end of the day, other team’s guards are helping their bigs rebound and their bigs aren’t alone.”

Outside of the four bigs, none of the other seven players to see action had more than three rebounds. It’s an issue that has to be addressed as the Kings move forward.

“There are some instances that really bothered me,” Joerger said. “We had some guys leaking out, standing at half court and that I won’t have.”

The Kings have a day of practice on Tuesday to try and sure up some of their issues. Some of the problems stem from inexperience, but some of the issue comes down to energy and effort.

It doesn’t even get easier on Wednesday. The Los Angeles Lakers rank second in the league in rebounding at 47.5 boards per game. On the plus side, they also give up the 28th most rebounds in the league.

Klay Thompson randomly interviewed on local NYC news about scaffolding


Klay Thompson randomly interviewed on local NYC news about scaffolding

With a big break until their next game, the Warriors spent a couple days in New York City.

Klay Thompson spent part of his Monday walking around the city.

And as only Thompson could, he wound up appearing on a local news report. But he wasn't talking about basketball. Not even close.

Courtesy of Twitter user @MP_Trey, Thompson was interviewed on Fox 5 NY to talk about ... scaffolding.

"I usually observe if the piping and stuff is new. Sometimes, you know, something looks like it's been there a while, I try to avoid that," Thompson said in the report.

You can watch the odd video here: