May 20, 2011, 2:45 PM EDT
It doesn’t look like the NHL will suspend San Jose Sharks troublemaker Ben Eager for his antics in Game 2, including a questionable hit on Vancouver Canucks star Daniel Sedin. That allows the Sharks to keep him in the mix tonight … but should they?
Eric Duhatschek reports that the Sharks are likely to keep Eager in their lineup in Game 3, even after his Game 2 meltdown helped trigger a disastrous third period for San Jose. In grand goon tradition, Eager had about twice as many penalty minutes (20) as he had time on ice (10:59) in that contest. Sure, he scored a goal, but that was after he drew the ire of both teams with some knucklehead play.
It looks like he hasn’t lost the respect of his coach Todd McLellan, though. Duhatschek points out that Eager’s role has expanded against a more physically demanding series against the Vancouver Canucks after playing against a more finesse-based team in the Detroit Red Wings. McLellan went as far as to call Eager one of the team’s better players (at least in a couple areas).
“I thought Ben Eager was one of our better players as far as the fore-check and creating scoring opportunities,” McLellan was saying Thursday. “He had a number of shots on goal. He played with an energy and passion required of him.
“He took penalties that he cannot take. Is he an asset or a liability? He was both last night. If we can limit the liability part, then we’ve got one heck of a player.”
If nothing else, it would be difficult for Eager to be more of a liability in Game 3 than he was in Game 2. The Sharks better hope not, or they might face the prospect of a second consecutive sweep from the Western Conference finals.
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