Sport How to stop a superstar is biggest challenge in NHL playoffs

19:46  21 april  2017
19:46  21 april  2017 Source:   Associated Press

Oilers ready for Sharks challenge as they return to playoffs

  Oilers ready for Sharks challenge as they return to playoffs Jordan Eberle shrugs off the notion that he and the rest of the Edmonton Oilers might be a little wide-eyed when the puck drops in their playoff series against the San Jose Sharks. The Sharks are the defending Western Conference champions, with savvy veterans who have been to the postseason plenty of times. Eberle isn't worried about it."We have enough experience in this locker room to handle the playoffs," he said.Eberle is especially looking forward to the tournament. He's in his seventh NHL season, all with Edmonton, and has yet to play for the big prize."This is usually the last day (of the season) for me," Eberle said.

Nothing gets more attention in the Stanley Cup playoffs than a superstar , from the likes of McDavid, Ovechkin and Crosby to rookie of the year front-runner Auston Matthews and game-changing defensemen Erik Karlsson and But the work to stop a star begins well before he takes a shot on net.

Any time Connor McDavid, Alex Ovechkin or Sidney Crosby goes over the boards, everyone in the arena is watching and waiting for something special to happen. From the opposing bench, tireless efforts have gone into preventing that.

Oilers ready for Sharks challenge as they return to playoffs

  Oilers ready for Sharks challenge as they return to playoffs Jordan Eberle shrugs off the notion that he and the rest of the Edmonton Oilers might be a little wide-eyed when the puck drops in their playoff series against the San Jose Sharks. The Sharks are the defending Western Conference champions, with savvy veterans who have been to the postseason plenty of times. Eberle isn't worried about it."We have enough experience in this locker room to handle the playoffs," he said.Eberle is especially looking forward to the tournament. He's in his seventh NHL season, all with Edmonton, and has yet to play for the big prize."This is usually the last day (of the season) for me," Eberle said.

Any time Connor McDavid, Alex Ovechkin or Sidney Crosby goes over the boards, everyone in the arena is watching and waiting for something special to happen. From the opposing bench, tireless efforts have gone into preventing that.

Nothing gets more attention in the Stanley Cup playoffs than a superstar , from the likes of McDavid, Ovechkin and Crosby to rookie of the year front-runner Auston Matthews and game-changing defensemen Erik Karlsson and But the work to stop a star begins well before he takes a shot on net.

Any time Connor McDavid, Alex Ovechkin or Sidney Crosby goes over the boards, everyone in the arena is watching and waiting for something special to happen.

From the opposing bench, tireless efforts have gone into preventing that.

Nothing gets more attention in the Stanley Cup playoffs than a superstar, from the likes of McDavid, Ovechkin and Crosby to rookie of the year front-runner Auston Matthews and game-changing defensemen Erik Karlsson and Brent Burns. Slowing them down takes days of preparation and scouting, the right strategy and a village on the ice to keep top players from taking over a game or a series.

''Those guys are difference-makers in the game,'' said coach Peter DeBoer, whose San Jose Sharks have held McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers to three points in five games. ''When you look at the analytics and the percentage of the offense he's involved with with their team, it's something you'd be crazy not to pay attention to.''

With workload down for Ovechkin, Caps primed for playoffs

  With workload down for Ovechkin, Caps primed for playoffs Tired of rolling over the NHL in the regular season and falling short in the playoffs, the Washington Capitals went to great lengths to make sure their best players won't be tired this time around.Alex Ovechkin saw the lowest ice time of his career, Nicklas Backstrom the lowest since his rookie year and Braden Holtby played fewer minutes than he ever has as a starting goaltender in an 82-game season. Balancing out the minutes and workload was an organizational effort to gear up for the playoffs and give the stacked Capitals the best chance to finally lift the Stanley Cup.

Share Adjust Comment Print. Any time Connor McDavid, Alex Ovechkin or Sidney Crosby goes over the boards, everyone in the arena is watching and waiting for something special to happen. From the opposing bench, tireless efforts have gone into preventing that.

Nothing gets more attention in the Stanley Cup playoffs than a superstar , from the likes of McDavid, Ovechkin and Crosby to rookie of the year front-runner Auston Matthews and game-changing defensemen Erik Karlsson and But the work to stop a star begins well before he takes a shot on net.

There's a reason lesser-known players Zack Kassian, Bobby Ryan, Jaden Schwartz and Jake Guentzel lead the playoffs in game-winning goals with so much attention devoted to bottling up and frustrating the stars.

''Everybody probably more focused in the D-zone and everywhere and try to be smart all three zones. Nobody wants to lose,'' Washington Capitals defenseman Dmitry Orlov said. ''Just kind of simple things defensively, but it's not always easy to do.''

Hockey is considered the ultimate team sport because it's more difficult for a single player to make a significant impact than in other sports, but the process of stopping him is more complex. Columbus coach John Tortorella said ''you can't map it out like football where you have a 3-4 defense'' and Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen said it's not realistic to try something like a box and one in basketball.

Taking away a player's ''time and space'' is a time-honored hockey cliche, but it's also the best way to contain a star.

Draymond Green 'absolutely' ready for postseason scrutiny

  Draymond Green 'absolutely' ready for postseason scrutiny Draymond Green knows he’s a marked man of sorts, especially given how the postseason went last season. And with another playoff run set to begin this weekend, Green understands his perceived penchant for arguably “dirty” play — specifically involving his reputation for groin shots on opponents (something that even inspired a video game) — will mean the spotlight will be on him.

Nothing gets more attention in the Stanley Cup playoffs than a superstar , from the likes of McDavid, Ovechkin and Crosby to rookie of the year front-runner Auston Matthews and game-changing defensemen Erik Karlsson and But the work to stop a star begins well before he takes a shot on net.

Nothing gets more attention in the Stanley Cup playoffs than a superstar , from the likes of McDavid, Ovechkin and Crosby to rookie of the year front-runner Auston Matthews and game-changing defensemen Erik Karlsson and But the work to stop a star begins well before he takes a shot on net.

''Good players, if they have space, they're going to pick you part,'' Niskanen said. ''The quicker you can get on him and force him to make good plays under heavy pressure, I think that's your best chance of negating his creativity and his ability to operate.''

In Game 1 of Washington's series against the Toronto Maple Leafs, Jay Beagle seemed at times almost glued to Matthews. Sharks center Logan Couture, an elite talent in his own right, is meanwhile always trying to stay in front of McDavid in the neutral zone to negate the team captain's speed. Couture also knows he has to take part in battles on the boards and mind the transition attack from Edmonton, even when he's on offense.

''You're putting yourself in defensive spots first,'' Couture said. ''Even if it's in the O-zone, you want to be above him because he is so quick and he's got that extra step. If you can get above him and try to slow him down it only helps us.''

Maple Leafs forward Eric Fehr, who played a shutdown role during the Pittsburgh Penguins' Stanley Cup run last spring, said defending an elite talent means being laser focused no matter where the puck is.

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  Stephen Curry reflects on Finals meltdown last season The Golden State Warriors enter this year’s NBA playoffs as the overwhelming title favorites. They boast two-time reigning NBA MVP Stephen Curry as well as former MVP and four-time scoring champion Kevin Durant. Let us also not forget about fellow All-Stars Draymond Green and Klay Thompson.

Nothing gets more attention in the Stanley Cup playoffs than a superstar , from the likes of McDavid, Ovechkin and Crosby to rookie of the year front-runner Auston Matthews and game-changing defensemen Erik Karlsson and But the work to stop a star begins well before he takes a shot on net.

Nothing gets more attention in the Stanley Cup playoffs than a superstar , from the likes of McDavid, Ovechkin and Crosby to rookie of the year front-runner Auston Matthews and game-changing defensemen Erik Karlsson and But the work to stop a star begins well before he takes a shot on net.

''It's a game inside the game,'' he said. ''When you're playing against the same guy the whole series, every game, you start to get a little 1-on-1 rivalry. You just try to do your best to wear him out and make sure that every shift is difficult for him.''

It's also a team effort, as the Predators showed in holding Blackhawks stars Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane to two points apiece in a four-game sweep. Coach Peter Laviolette's game plan, Nashville's structure and Pekka Rinne's goaltending combined to do the trick.

Toronto center Brian Boyle, tasked with defending opponents' top lines during deep playoff runs with the New York Rangers and Tampa Bay Lightning, said teams plan for every player. As coach Mike Babcock pointed out, Ovechkin only needs one shot to make an impact, so the key is keeping the puck off his stick as much as possible.

''Everybody has to do their job that way (so that) when you get close on a guy and you have the close support, you can outnumber and put him in situations where you can get the puck back,'' Boyle said. ''It's not 1-on-1 for 200 feet of the ice. It takes five guys.''

Sometimes it takes six, and when the last line of defense falters it can be the difference in the series. Evgeni Malkin has a playoff-best 11 points and Crosby seven for the Penguins, who took it to the Blue Jackets and struggling goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky in winning the series in five games.

Off the mark! Misfiring Messi endures worst Champions League game in six years

  Off the mark! Misfiring Messi endures worst Champions League game in six years The Argentine never found his range against the Italian side and came one missed shot short of a personal worst in Champions League playThe Argentine superstar, normally as sure a thing as there is in the world in front of goal, pulled a shot wide in the first half from a good spot and curled another over the bar in the second half with the goal gaping.

Nothing gets more attention in the Stanley Cup playoffs than a superstar , from the likes of McDavid, Ovechkin and Crosby to rookie of the year front-runner Auston Matthews and game-changing defensemen Erik Karlsson and But the work to stop a star begins well before he takes a shot on net.

Any time Connor McDavid, Alex Ovechkin or Sidney Crosby goes over the boards, everyone in the arena is watching and waiting for something special to happen. From the opposing bench, tireless efforts have gone into preventing that.

But the work to stop a star begins well before he takes a shot on net. Like the Sharks with McDavid, Maple Leafs defenseman Matt Hunwick said, slowing down top players in the neutral zone is essential because once they cross the blue line they can crisscross, change lanes and become dangerous - evading even the best-designed coverages.

''Just be cognizant of where they're at,'' Hunwick said. ''You have to know exactly where those guys are because the top goal-scorers in the league, somehow they seem to get lost sometimes.''

PHOTOS: 2017 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS

WATCH: DeMar DeRozan bury Bucks with sick drive and dunk .
The Toronto Raptors defeated the Milwaukee Bucks and have advanced to the second round of the NBA playoffs after a huge win on the road in Game 6. The Raptors had a double-digit lead throughout most of the game, but the Bucks used a late surge to cut the lead to two points. And with under a minute remaining and the game on the line, clinging to a three-point lead, the Raptors turned to their superstar and leader to get the job done and seal the deal. Sure enough, he did.DeMar DeRozan used his quickness to put together a great drive to the hoop, and he finished it up with a bang (by dunking the ball home).

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