Cam Tucker

Penguins have taken away ‘time and space’ for the Sharks’ best players


After finishing the Western Conference Final with a bang — four goals and five points in the final three games of that series versus the St. Louis Blues — Joe Pavelski has yet to record a point for the San Jose Sharks in the Stanley Cup Final.

The Sharks trail in the series 2-0 to the Pittsburgh Penguins, with Game 3 in San Jose on Saturday.

Pavelski, who has a league-leading 13 goals in the post-season and entered the final as the favorite to win the Conn Smythe, has only three shots on goal so far in this series.

But his line, with Joe Thornton and Tomas Hertl, has been strong in terms of puck possession, with positive Corsi For ratings between the three of them in each game.

The trio has combined for 11 shots on goal versus the Penguins. With the Stanley Cup on the line, however, only Hertl has scored — a power play goal in the second period of Game 1.

“I think they’ve done a good job of taking away our time and space, particularly of our better players. I think everyone tries to do that to the other team. So I think you have to give them some credit for that,” Sharks head coach Pete DeBoer told reporters on Thursday.

“I also think there’s some things we can do better as a group. We’ll regroup here, have a good practice tomorrow, try and get fixed.”

In both games, the Penguins have held the advantage in shots on goal and puck possession. Yet the margin of victory for Pittsburgh has been one goal in each game.

“We’re not getting enough shots through,” said Logan Couture, as per the San Jose Mercury News.

“There are things that worked in the first couple rounds to get us here, and we’re trying to force things. We need to be better in their end offensively creating scoring chances.”

Related: DeBoer vows Sharks will be a ‘tough team to beat at home’

The beginning of tradition: Panthers unveil new logo and uniforms


The Florida Panthers have a new look.

The Panthers on Thursday unveiled their new logo and uniforms, as well as an alternate logo, with members of the up-and-coming team that took big steps this season in winning the Atlantic Division and alumni members like Ed Jovanovski, Olli Jokinen, Radek Dvorak and Bill Lindsay in attendance for the big presentation.

More from the Panthers:

Screen Shot 2016-06-02 at 6.20.56 PMIn addition, the team introduced a new alternate logo that will serve as the patch on the shoulder of the home and away jerseys. The alternate logo includes the Florida state flag with a sleek prowling Panther above it. Above the new shoulder patch there is also something unique to the Panthers. In addition to militaristic tabs above the prowling panther that will either read “Florida” or “Panthers” based on whether the team is home or away, a separate tab just for the team’s captains will be added on top of that.

“The idea when we came into Florida and took responsibility for the stewardship of the franchise, was to start anew and create traditions that were unique to this new start,” said Panthers owner Vincent Viola in a statement.

“I think the logo harkens to the vanguard of courage; the idea that you put a shield on the hockey uniform. It’s something to protect, but you also protect it. We wanted something that began a new tradition of winning and demonstrated courage and selfless dedication to a team pursuit of victory.”

The Panthers also announced that they will play an exhibition game versus the New Jersey Devils at Tate Rink at the United States Military Academy in West Point, N.Y., on Oct. 8, 2016.

Playoff performers: The rookies are stepping up ‘big’ for the Penguins


PITTSBURGH — It’s easy to get awestruck the first time a new face walks into the Pittsburgh Penguins dressing room.

All those stars. All those glittering resumes. All that talent. Hey, there’s Sidney Crosby. Hey, there’s Evgeni Malkin. Hey, there’s Kris Letang. Coach Mike Sullivan understands it can be a little overwhelming at first.

“When a new player comes to our team, young or old for that matter, I think there’s a little bit of a `wow’ factor because some of the players we have,” Sullivan said. “Everybody has so much respect for Crosby and Malkin and Letang and those guys. Over time I think that wears off.”

If the Penguins wanted to get where they are now – two wins away from the franchise’s fourth Stanley Cup – it had to. Fast.

Fortunately, Conor Sheary, Matt Murray, Bryan Rust and Tom Kuhnhackl are quick studies. The rookies – all of whom spent a significant portion of the season with the team’s American Hockey League affiliate on the other side of the state in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton – have found their footing alongside their high-profile teammates during Pittsburgh’s race through the playoffs and a 2-0 lead over San Jose in the Stanley Cup Final heading into Game 3 in San Jose on Saturday.

There’s the seemingly unshakeable if impossibly thin 22-year-old Murray, who has for now (and perhaps for good) supplanted Marc-Andre Fleury in net. Murray’s 13 postseason victories are a team record for a rookie and two shy of the NHL mark of 15 shared by Hall of Famer Patrick Roy, among others.

There’s the undersized (5-foot-8) and yet redoubtable 23-year-old Sheary, thrust onto a line with Crosby because of his ability to skate as if he’s worried the ice will melt underneath him if he stops. All he’s done is pump in four goals during the playoffs, including the overtime winner in Game 2 on Wednesday.

Related: Sheary: ‘Being overlooked a few times just makes it easier for me to have that chip on my shoulder’

There’s the 24-year-old Rust, who has a flair for the dramatic. His six goals over 19 playoff games – compared to five in 55 regular season games – include a pair in a series closeout win over the New York Rangers in April and the game-winning marker in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals against Tampa Bay.

There’s the responsible Kuhnhackl, an intelligent penalty killer who opts for the smart play instead of the spectacular one.

All four in the midst of their first seasons in the league. All four uncowed by the moment.

“I think they’ve been thrown into a lot of different scenarios,” Crosby said. “They’re handling it really well and they’re coming up big for us.”

Thanks in no small part to the leadership of players like Crosby, who have made it a point to make the youngsters feel included, be it for a team meal on the road or a little post practice confab to share tricks of the trade.

It was Crosby who dreamed up the sequence that resulted with Sheary having the puck on his stick and the game in his hands early in overtime on Thursday night. Prepping for a faceoff in San Jose’s end, Crosby told Sheary to line up on the wall then drift over into open space after Crosby won the draw and dropped it to defenseman Kris Letang at the blue line.

That’s exactly how it happened. When Letang faked a shot and drew the Sharks defense to him, Sheary was all alone. There, he followed an order Crosby gave to him earlier in the season when the captain told him not to worry about trying to look for his own shot.

“He told me I was there for a reason,” Sheary said.

And it wasn’t just to get it back to Crosby’s familiar No. 87 as soon as possible.

“He’s really good at hanging on to the puck,” Crosby said. “You’ve seen him use it. The biggest thing is to trust his instincts.”

Instincts he stuck too after Sullivan sat him for a game against Tampa Bay over concerns Sheary was wearing down. As Sullivan did with Murray when he briefly went with Fleury for Game 5 against the Lightning, Sullivan was explicit in his instructions so Sheary wouldn’t start to doubt himself.

“His competitive advantage is his quickness,” Sullivan said. “So if he loses that step, he’s not as effective as we know him to be.”

The respite worked. Sheary has three points in his last four games, including goals in both Game 1 and Game 2 of the final.

“He’s a guy that we try to watch his minutes,” Sullivan said. “We think it’s important that we monitor his workload so that he can keep his quickness and that competitive advantage that makes him as good as he is.”

A player who, like the rest of the Wilkes-Barre crew, is in Pittsburgh with no plans on making the trip back east anytime soon. If ever.

“A lot of us have been together for a long time here, starting in Wilkes and making our way up here,” Murray said. “We’re all pretty close friends and it’s fun to be on this ride with all of them and that’s a huge goal from Conor. He’s been doing that for us all season. So, it’s fun to watch.”


DeBoer vows Sharks will be a ‘tough team to beat at home’


Down 2-0 to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Stanley Cup Final, the San Jose Sharks return to home ice at SAP Center desperately needing a win in Game 3 on Saturday to get back in the series.

Through two road games in the final, the Sharks have struggled at the start of both games and dealing with the speed of the Penguins. Yet, in both losses the difference was one goal — one to Nick Bonino in the final three minutes of Game 1 and another in overtime to Conor Sheary in Game 2.

In the aftermath of Wednesday’s loss, Sharks coach Pete DeBoer warned to “hold off on the funeral.” Meanwhile, the Sharks — Logan Couture to be specific — accused Sidney Crosby of cheating on faceoffs.

In terms of adversity, the Sharks have been through plenty over the years, from playoff collapses to not making the playoffs altogether.

Now, the stage is set for hockey history in San Jose, as the Sharks prepare for their first-ever Stanley Cup Final game at home.

Perhaps that will serve as a boost for the Sharks.

“Well, it’s very meaningful to the people here,” DeBoer told reporters on Thursday.

“I think I saw the emotion after we won the Western Conference that night and the days following that before we left for Pittsburgh. It’s important to the people here. Obviously we’re not coming home under the best circumstances, but we also know we’re a tough out, we’re going to be a tough team to beat at home.”

Report: Panthers hire Sabres assistant coach Dave Barr

VANCOUVER, CANADA - OCTOBER 17: Assistant coach Dave Barr of the Minnesota Wild watches the the pre game warmup prior to the NHL game against the Vancouver Canucks on October 17, 2009 at General Motors Place in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.  (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)
Getty Images

Dave Barr has gone from an assistant coach with the Buffalo Sabres to the Florida Panthers coaching staff, according to George Richards of the Miami Herald.

This news follows a major organizational shake-up in the front office for the Panthers, and after the club fired assistant coach John Madden.

Barr was named as an assistant coach with the Sabres last June.

During the regular season, the Sabres had the 12th best power play in the league at 18.9 per cent.

From the Buffalo News:

Barr, who joined the Sabres after four seasons as an assistant in New Jersey, is reunited with an old friend. Barr and Panthers coach Gerard Gallant played parts of five seasons together in Detroit, from 1987 to 1991. Gallant was looking for two assistants after firing John Madden during an organizational shakeup, and the Sabres were aware Barr was a candidate.