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Round 3
Stanley Cup Final
Posted On Saturday, 04.23.2011 / 11:16 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2011 ECQF: Philadelphia-Buffalo Live Blog

Nostra-Ennis?

Even Tyler Ennis was surprised he wasn't nervous waiting for overtime to start in Game 5 against the Flyers on Friday.

"I thought I was going to be a little nervous heading to the overtime, but I was excited, couldn't wait for it to start," he said. I really wanted to score."

He wanted it so bad, he could see it happening.

"I was picturing myself scoring," he said. "It was exciting."

Buffalo's Tyler Ennis (left) brought his vision to life with this overtime goal in Game 5 to lift the Sabres to a 4-3 win against the Flyers.
In case you didn't see it, here's how it looked.

Ennis said he kept his clairvoyance to himself. Maybe he didn't want to jinx it?

"I was trying to pump other guys up, 'Be a good feeling to get it, go get it,'" he said. "But deep down I wanted to get it."

That's the kind of attitude Sabres coach Lindy Ruff is happy to hear from Ennis. In his first full NHL season, Ennis emerged as a key contributor to the Buffalo offense, finishing fourth on the team with 20 goals and 49 points. But he had just 1 assist in the first four games against the Flyers.

That all changed in Game 5, as he scored the game's first and last goals and has helped the Sabres move within one win of the second round.

"I just know your first year is tough," Ruff told reporters Saturday. "It's a grind. If you look at the last three months, every game has been a game that has meant so much to our team. We really couldn’t fall flat for a period of time and for young players, adjusting to that pressure on a daily basis is not easy. I think he's got over the hump, the energy's back in his game. You could see (in Game 5), he was dangerous every time he was on the ice."

Ennis is enjoying his increased role this postseason for the Sabres.

"Last year I just got called up at the end of the season," he said. "I was just playing and enjoying it and relishing the moment. This year I'm really committed to making a difference. I have to make a difference because that's my role. I have to produce. Last year I was just enjoying the moment. This year I'm driven and really want to make a difference."

Ruff also enjoyed hearing Ennis' post-game comments about how much fun he was having playing in Philadelphia's Wells Fargo Center, which has the reputation of being one of the more intimidating places to play as a visiting player.

"I said (Friday) after the game, it puts a smile on your face to see a guy play like he did," said Ruff. "Then he makes the comments about what a great place to play and so much fun. It's always typically been one of the toughest buildings to go into. That's the attitude we have to take -- no excuses."

Goalie Ryan Miller also has liked what he's seen from Ennis in a leading role this year after his supporting role last year.

"I think last year he was just happy to be here," said Miller. "I think this year he understands he's a big player. We need him to be creative and we also need him to be smart. That creativity needs to come in situations where it's a little bit safer with the puck. The Flyers are a team that can thrive on turnovers. (Friday) was a great example. He got loose and a lot of his moves were from separation, led to some great chances. There was one move where he went inside-out on two guys, and not many people in the League can get through that situation. That's the kind of play he can bring. He's doing it at the right time."

Miller said he likes the fearlessness he's seen not just in Ennis, but in a number of his younger players.

"You can't be afraid to have success," said Miller. "You have to put yourself out there to accomplish anything. There's a risk of losing, there's a risk of looking bad, there's a risk of a lot of different things when you go for big wins or put yourself in position to accomplish something great. I think it's good we're taking the attitude that we want to go for it and we want to win and make the choice that we want to make a difference."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Saturday, 04.23.2011 / 10:34 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2011 ECQF: Philadelphia-Buffalo Live Blog

Latest on Pronger

It wouldn't be a day around the Flyers if the question of Chris Pronger's status wasn't raised.

The All-Star defenseman skated and took shots hard and light during Saturday's practice, and he continues to be listed as day-to-day and a game-time decision for Game 6 -- the same status he's had for every other game of this series.

CSNPhilly.com reported on Friday that Pronger won't play in the series due to him continuing to have pain in his surgically repaired right hand, as well as feeling the hand is not stable enough to allow Pronger to protect himself on the ice.

Then again, could Pronger pressure GM Paul Holmgren and coach Peter Laviolette to write his name in the lineup, even if it means playing a limited role, to help his team survive an elimination game Sunday in Buffalo?

Pronger refused to speak to the media, and has said he won't do so until after he plays his first game.

While Pronger practiced, two other injured Flyers stayed off the ice. Forward Andreas Nodl is day to day with an upper-body injury and hasn't played or practiced since getting hurt in Game 2. Forward Jeff Carter, who suffered a lower-body injury in Game 4, also is listed as day to day. However, CSNPhilly.com is reporting Carter has a sprained ligament in his right knee and will not play for at least the remainder of the series.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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Posted On Friday, 04.22.2011 / 9:12 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2011 ECQF: Philadelphia-Buffalo Live Blog

Sabres lose Pominville

The first period ended on a high for the Buffalo Sabres, who led 3-0, but the news wasn't all good as they lost forward Jason Pominville for the rest of the night.

Pominville hopped off the ice with about three minutes left in the first period. He was unable to put any weight on his left leg as he left the ice. The Sabres announced he has a lower-body injury and will not return.

Replays showed there was no hit that caused the injury. TSN's Bob McKenzie reported Pominville was cut on the left leg by the blade of Philadelphia forward James van Riemsdyk's skate.

The Sabres also lost defenseman Jordan Leopold for the last six minutes of the first and the first 13 minutes of the second to what the team says was an upper-body injury.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Friday, 04.22.2011 / 7:14 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2011 ECQF: Philadelphia-Buffalo Live Blog

Hecht on the mend

Jochen Hecht was a surprise participant at the Sabres' morning skate Friday.

It was the first time he was with the team since suffering getting hurt in a game at Toronto on March 29. The Sabres list him as having an upper-body injury, but the Buffalo News is reporting Hecht has a concussion.

"Jochen feels good," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. "He's skating now, and hopefully next day or so he can get involved in full practices."

With Derek Roy also skating and nearing the four-month anniversary of his torn quadriceps, could the Sabres be close to having two major pieces back in their offensive arsenal?

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Friday, 04.22.2011 / 6:44 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2011 ECQF: Philadelphia-Buffalo Live Blog

Powe in Carter's spot?

At Friday's morning skate, Darroll Powe moved from the fourth line to Jeff Carter's spot on the wing on Claude Giroux's line with James van Riemsdyk, and could play there in Game 5 Friday.

Carter suffered a lower-body injury during Game 4 and is listed as day-to-day. CSNPhilly.com is reporting Carter has a sprained medial collateral ligament in his right knee and will miss the rest of the series.

Powe had 17 points in 81 games this season, and is a key member of the team's penalty-killing unit.

Coach Peter Laviolette, as is his norm, wouldn't discuss possible lineups. But he did say he likes what Powe can bring playing with more skilled linemates.

"Darroll Powe has been a really effective player for us," Laviolette said Friday morning. "Whatever line he's played on he's been terrific. He brings speed, and he can get in on the forecheck, can create things at the net. He's been a valuable part of our team."

With Carter and Andreas Nodl (upper-body injury) out and Powe moving up, it likely means Ben Holmstrom will make his Stanley Cup Playoff debut. He took shifts on the fourth line in practice Friday morning, with Blair Betts and Daniel Carcillo. The rookie forward was scoreless in two games earlier this season.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Friday, 04.22.2011 / 5:56 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2011 ECQF: Philadelphia-Buffalo Live Blog

Pronger in or out?

Still no word yet on Chris Pronger's status for Game 5 here at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. The Flyers list him as day-to-day, and the team's PR staff said no announcement would come until around game-time, which tonight is 7:30 p.m. (VERSUS, TSN, RDS).

Pronger went through the full morning skate and did the normal amount of puck drills, shooting and passing. The big question is, did he take full slap shots. Well, it sort of depends on how you define "slap shot."

Was it a full-on, hardest-shot-competition, stick-blade-scraping-the-ceiling slapper? No. But it certainly wasn't a little flipping wrister. There was definite backswing, and certainly some mustard on the shot.

Some of those shots came after the full team left the ice; Pronger stayed alone and shot for about 20 minutes, working on shots both light and hard, from each of the faceoff dots. He only looked up once as he banged the pucks, and it came on his third-to-last shot from the dot to the right of the net, when he either fanned on a shot or just didn't hit it right and stopped and appeared to wince or grimace. After that, he went back to shooting pucks.

So what does it all mean? Well, if you read CSNPhilly.com, it means he's definitely out. But the Flyers have yet to announce anything, so really, anything is possible.

In the CSNPhilly.com story, the reason being reported for Pronger's absence is continued pain near the fractured area and a belief that the hand isn't strong enough for Pronger to protect himself on the ice.

However, coach Peter Laviolette was asked Thursday to respond to a hypothetical question: Can Pronger still be effective in a limited role?

"Can Chris Pronger play in a game in a limited role and be a factor in the game? Yes," replied Laviolette.

Laviolette answered that question in the hypothetical on Thursday. It will get answered for real sometime in the next 90 minutes.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Sunday, 04.17.2011 / 2:29 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2011 ECQF: Philadelphia-Buffalo Live Blog

Who's your goalie?

Flyers coach Peter Laviolette isn't talking goalies. He's got two to choose from for Game 3 on Monday, and there's a compelling argument either way.

On one side there's rookie Sergei Bobrovsky, who had 28 wins and played well despite losing Game 1 Thursday against the Sabres.

On the other side is veteran Brian Boucher, who Laviolette and teammates credited with bringing a calmness to Game 2 Saturday when he relieved Bobrovsky after the rookie surrendered three goals on seven shots.

Teammates don't seem to care who's in net -- even if it's Michael Leighton, last year's playoff starter who is with the team now as an extra goalie.

"We've got three good goalies," said defenseman Kimmo Timonen. "To me it doesn't matter who's in there because I know they're going to do their job and play well."

Bobrovsky and Boucher had simiar regular-season numbers -- in 54 games, Bobrovsky went 28-13-8 with a 2.59 goals-against average and .919 save percentage; Boucher was 18-10-4 with a 2.42 GAA and .916 save percentage in 34 games.

What does stand out, however, is Bobrovsky's resiliency.  In 24 occasions this season he either suffered a loss or was pulled from a game, in the next game, he went 12-5-4 with a 2.65 goals-against average and .915 save percentage.

"In the past Bob has bounced back," said Laviolette. "He's come back (after) an outing he wishes things had gone differently and maybe we could have played better in front of him and he's come back with a strong performance."

So which way is Laviolette leaning? He's not giving any hints.

"Any decision you make with the lineup, they're difficult decisions," he said. "They're all difficult. You're talking about people that aren't playing in the lineup right now, that are scratches, those are difficult decisions as well. It's people's livelihood, they want to play. We got guys that are sitting out right now and I'm sure they'd much rather be in the lineup. There's no decisions taken lightly."

Boucher said he didn't think he would find out one way or the other until the team left for Buffalo.

"He's trying to juggle (Bobrovsky's) psyche, how he's feeling, and at the same time he's trying to win playoff series so we can move on and try to win a Stanley Cup," said Boucher. "I'm sure it's a high-pressure situation for Lavi. It's why he gets paid the big bucks, to make those decisions. He's been pretty good at pushing all the right buttons since he's been here. We'll see what happens."

So what would you do?

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Sunday, 04.17.2011 / 2:21 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2011 ECQF: Philadelphia-Buffalo Live Blog

Pronger making trip to Buffalo

The Flyers have announced Chris Pronger will travel with the team to Buffalo, but does that mean he'll practice with the team? Or the "Black Aces," the extra players every playoff team carries? What about his potential return to the lineup for Game 3 on Monday?

One thing is for sure -- the players have moved past worrying about whether Pronger plays or doesn't play.

"I don't think about it," said Scott Hartnell. "He's around, he's working out. I don't know if he's skating before us or not. Until he's practicing with us for a few times we can't expect him back. He's definitely a presence, we miss him, but it's the farthest thing from our mind."

The other consideration could be an extra forward. Andreas Nodl is listed as day to day, and if he can't go in Game 3, it could be either Nikolay Zherdev or Jody Shelley drawing in.

Zherdev could be the missing element for a power play that's gone 1-for-15 in the series, including 0-for-3 on 5-on-3 chances. However, he's spent most of the season as a healthy scratch. Shelley hasn't played in a month due to a broken orbital bone, but he's been cleared to play and on Sunday ditched the full cage he had been wearing for a visor.

Coach Peter Laviolette, as per his usual, would not tip his hand as to which way he might be leaning with his lineup.

"All decisions are tough and they're not taken lightly," he said. "You try to do what's best for the team. Ultimately somebody goes and somebody doesn't. The people that don't, they want to play. They're proud guys and they want to play and I respect that."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Sunday, 04.17.2011 / 11:13 AM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2011 ECQF: Philadelphia-Buffalo Live Blog

Pronger off the ice Sunday

Philadelphia Flyers All-Star defenseman Chris Pronger did not practice Sunday, leaving in question his availability for Game 3 of the team's Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series against the Buffalo Sabres on Monday (7 p.m. ET, VERSUS, TSN).

Pronger has not played since March 8 due to a broken bone in his right hand. He has been skating for about two weeks, but away from the team, and his sessions have been almost exclusively limited to skating drills. He worked with a puck Wednesday but made only soft passes and light shots, and only touched the puck one time Friday, skating laterally with it along the blue line and then letting it roll of his stick.

Prior to the Flyers announcing Saturday that Pronger would miss Game 2, CSNPhilly.com reported Pronger would miss Game 2 and Game 3 -- if not more.

The club continues to list Pronger as day-to-day with his injury.

In other injury news, forward Andreas Nodl played just 3:43 in Game 2 due to what the team called an upper-body injury. The team did not issue any other updates, but if Nodl can't play, the two most likely options to replace him for Game 3 are Nikolay Zherdev and Jody Shelley.

Zherdev brings a dynamic offensive element. He had been skating on a line with Claude Giroux and Jeff Carter for the final five regular-season games, but has been a healthy scratch in the first two playoff games, with James van Riemsdyk playing very well in that spot.

Shelley brings a more physical element. Despite not playing in a month due to a broken orbital bone and still wearing a full cage to protect his face, he's been medically cleared to play.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Friday, 04.15.2011 / 10:52 AM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2011 ECQF: Philadelphia-Buffalo Live Blog

Pronger skating again, but is that all?

Chris Pronger took the ice at 10:14 a.m. here at Virtua Health Flyers Skate Zone, but his work continues with injured defenseman Oskars Bartulis and Ian Laperriere, who ran the drills. Pronger did all skating drills for the first 30 minutes and now is handling pucks a little bit, but he's not taking shots. Rather, he's skating across the blue line with the puck, but instead of shooting he's just dumping the puck into the boards.

We'll have more following the session, and maybe even more if Pronger decides to talk today.

UPDATE: Pronger off the ice after 51 minutes. Only one time did he touch the puck, just the one time he carried the puck along the blue line and then dumped it to the wall. The guess in the media room is he won't be speaking later today, but if he does, NHL.com will be there.

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Quote of the Day

Obviously he's been my favorite goalie since I grew up. He's kind of close to my hometown so I've been watching him my whole life. It's a pretty special moment for me to score two goals on Lundqvist in such an important game as this.

— Capitals forward Andre Burakovsky after scoring his first two Stanley Cup Playoff goals against his childhood idol Henrik Lundqvist