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Posted On Monday, 05.30.2011 / 6:38 PM

By Brian Compton -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Stanley Cup Final: Canucks vs. Bruins

Recchi won't rely on past experiences

One would think Mark Recchi's two-plus decades of NHL experience will come in handy when the puck drops on the 2011 Stanley Cup Final on Wednesday night at Rogers Arena.

But the Boston Bruins' veteran forward strongly disagrees.

"You know what? It doesn't," the 43-year-old told reporters on Monday, two days before his team opens a best-of-seven series against the Vancouver Canucks. "At this point, it really doesn't matter. We've learned a lot through the course of the season with this group of guys. There's been some guys that have been through a lot. Same as Vancouver -- they've got some guys that have been through a lot. Some hardships, some good things, and it's just a matter of going out and playing and enjoying it. I mean, this is fun. It's exciting times for everybody."

It's been five years since Recchi was last in position to win a Stanley Cup, when he helped the Carolina Hurricanes win that franchise's lone championship in 2006. Considering there's a strong possibility this season will be his last in the NHL, the Bruins are hoping the Kamloops, British Columbia native can leave the game with one more piece of jewelry.

"It would be nice for a couple of reasons," Boston coach Claude Julien said. "Obviously his commitment especially to our team since he's been with us and the will to really go above and beyond his role as a player and really have taken some young players under his wing and has been bringing them home for meals, or whether he's talked to them about certain situations and certain times of the year. Some young guys go through slumps, and as a coach you can talk to those guys and try and do the best you can, encourage them and help them correct what needs to be corrected.

"But when you got a guy like Mark Recchi in the dressing room that will go up to this player and put his arm around him and say, 'Listen, I've been through this' and so on and so forth, these are the things that are part of the game. And coaches are as good as the people that surround them, and a lot of time you think it's just about assistant coaches or other people. It's also about their players, and when their players get it, they can certainly be a big asset to us because we come in the dressing room, we give them the message that we need to give them, but it has to be reinforced by players. And Mark [Recchi] has always been the one who, one of many in that dressing room that's done that. He's been a really valuable asset to our hockey club and he's got a lot of things to back it up with."

Certainly, it will take an all-hands-on-deck approach for the Bruins to win this series that pits them against the Presidents' Trophy winners. Vancouver racked up 54 victories and 117 points during the regular season and disposed of the No. 2 San Jose Sharks in the Western Conference Finals in just five games.

"We only played them once this year, so we haven't gone over really a lot of team stuff," Recchi said. "But, I mean obviously they're a Presidents' Trophy winner, they're a great hockey team, deep and well coached, and we'll look at things we have to do. I mean obviously, any key to your team's success is how you play personally. I think we focus on what we do ourselves. Our coaching staff will give us obviously their tendencies, and their coaching staff will give them our tendencies. It's who’s going to want it more and who's going to play to their abilities the best and their game plan the best."
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Posted On Tuesday, 05.03.2011 / 11:05 PM

By Brian Compton -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2011 ECSF: Washington-Tampa Bay Live Blog

Fleming awake, alert after brain surgery

TAMPA, Fla. -- It was a great night all around for the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday.

Not only did they take a commanding 3-0 lead in this best-of-seven series, but assistant coach Wayne Fleming is alert and talking after undergoing surgery earlier in the day to remove a malignant brain tumor.

Tampa Bay coach Guy Boucher confirmed to reporters after Tuesday night's 4-3 win in Game 3 of this Eastern Conference Semifinal against the Washington Capitals at the St. Pete Times Forum that Fleming is awake and alert.

"It was the first thing we talked about with players after the game," Boucher said. "We didn't even talk about the win. I did get information from (Lighting GM) Steve (Yzerman) that Wayne's wife had talked to Steve and said that the operation was over. He was awake and alert, which is something extremely positive for that type of operation that he had to go through. For us, any positive note on Wayne is big for us."

The Lightning rallied from a 3-2 deficit by scoring twice in a 24-second span early in the third period. Steven Stamkos tied things up with a laser at 5:23 before Ryan Malone redirected Nate Thompson's feed past Michal Neuvirth for what proved to be the game-winner.

Afterwards, Stamkos -- who is now 4-2-6 in 10 playoff games -- dedicated the victory to his ill coach.

"We're obviously very excited about that," said Stamkos, who, along with his teammates, was informed of the positive news immediately following the game. "It's still a long battle for him and he's a fighter. All we can do now is pray for him and his family. It was a big win for him tonight."

Follow Brian Compton on Twitter: @BComptonNHL
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Posted On Tuesday, 05.03.2011 / 1:55 PM

By Brian Compton -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2011 ECSF: Washington-Tampa Bay Live Blog

Gagne, Kubina still out for Lightning

TAMPA -- Tampa Bay Lightning coach Guy Boucher managed to crack a joke when asked about the statuses of forward Simon Gagne and defenseman Pavel Kubina for Tuesday night.

"Simon and Kubina are not going to play. If I want them to play tomorrow, I better start praying," Boucher said Tuesday morning at the St. Pete Times Forum, where Game 3 of this Eastern Conference Semifinal will be held in just a few hours. "They're day-to-day -- except for today and tomorrow."

The Lightning lost both Gagne and Kubina during Friday night's Game 1 at the Verizon Center. Gagne fell awkwardly early in the first period due to a hit from Scott Hannan and his head struck the ice. Kubina was injured in the second period after being hit by Jason Chimera -- a hit Kubina declined to comment on Tuesday morning.

"It's getting better every day," Kubina said. "I'm not playing tonight. We'll see about tomorrow."

Randy Jones took Kubina's spot in the lineup Sunday night and started the play that led to Vincent Lecavalier's goal in overtime. Jones will be in the lineup again tonight, as will Blair Jones, who replaced Gagne on Sunday.
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Posted On Monday, 05.02.2011 / 3:05 PM

By Brian Compton -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2011 ECSF: Washington-Tampa Bay Live Blog

Jones steps up in Kubina's absence

TAMPA -- Randy Jones barely saw the ice in the first period Sunday night. Little did he know he'd go on to play a major role in overtime.

After receiving just two shifts in the first 20 minutes, Jones realized the Washington Capitals were in the midst of a bad line change and sent a long outlet pass to Teddy Purcell, who then fed Vincent Lecavalier for the game-winner at 6:19 of overtime as the Tampa Bay Lightning took a 2-0 lead in this best-of-seven series with a 3-2 victory at Verizon Center.

For Jones, it was his first game since he suffered an ankle injury back on March 7. He would have only seven more shifts after the first period, but he made his final one of the night count.

"It felt fantastic," said Jones, who replaced the injured Pavel Kubina in the lineup. "I was happy to kind of get that first period over with. I told a couple of guys my first game in the NHL was in this barn, and I think I was more nervous tonight than I was back then. It felt great to get out there and be part of it again and coming out with a 'W.'

Bad line changes have been a problem for several teams during the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Not only was Purcell open for Jones' long pass at the Washington blue line, but Lecavalier was then standing all alone in front of Michal Neuvirth, and the Lightning's captain had plenty of time to flip the puck over the Caps' goaltender for what was his second goal of the night.

"That's something we emphasize as a group -- strong changes," Jones said. "We've noticed that quite a bit in the playoffs that bad changes can really cost you. It happened in that Montreal-Boston series in overtime. I think it was just a bad change. I just saw Teddy open and I wanted to get it out of our end as quick as possible. Teddy made a great play and Vinny was able to bury it."

Jones is just the latest player on this Tampa Bay roster to contribute. In Game 1, the Lightning's third line of Dominic Moore, Sean Bergenheim and Steve Downie each found the back of the net en route to a 4-2 victory. And while Jones only received 6:25 of ice time Sunday night, his ability to read the play and make the long pass to Purcell is a big reason why Tampa Bay went home with a 2-0 series lead.

"We have a lot of guys that step up," Jones said. "There's a lot of depth on this team. When guys go down, it seems like other guys kind of step up and help contribute. We had a pretty big team effort."

Follow Brian Compton on Twitter: @BComptonNHL


 
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Posted On Saturday, 04.30.2011 / 4:13 PM

By Brian Compton -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2011 ECSF: Washington-Tampa Bay Live Blog

Gagne, Kubina listed as day-to-day

WASHINGTON -- Less than 24 hours after losing both Simon Gagne and Pavel Kubina to injuries, Tampa Bay Lightning coach Guy Boucher listed both players as "day-to-day" and couldn't say for sure if one, neither or both will play on Sunday night in Game 2 of this Eastern Conference Semifinal against the Washington Capitals.

Jones missed the final 16 games of the regular season with a sprained ankle and did not play at all during Tampa Bay's seven-game series victory against Pittsburgh. Boucher, though, deemed Jones -- who last played on March 7 against these Caps -- ready if Kubina is unable to play Sunday night.

"He's ready to go," Boucher said of Jones. "He knows exactly what to do. He was playing against some top lines before he got injured."

Boucher wouldn't commit to a replacement for Gagne, who was hit by Scott Hannan 7:22 into the opening period of Game 1 and hit his head on the ice. A stretcher came out, but Gagne -- who has a history of concussions -- was able to leave the playing surface with the help of two trainers.

"I think the option of being prepared is having Option A, B and C. So, I guess we'll prepare D the rest of the day," Boucher said. "We have to prepare for different scenarios because there are really different scenarios that are possible. It's not clear cut at all."

Kubina, a defenseman who averaged 19:13 of ice time during the regular season, was hit by Jason Chimera late in the second period and was unable to return. Lightning center Steven Stamkos said he spoke with both Kubina and Gagne earlier Sunday and found them to be doing well given the circumstances.

"I haven't heard anything for sure if they're in or not," Stamkos said. "If we don't have them, it's two big holes and it's going to be tough to fill. (But) we found a way all year to fill those holes. Guys have stepped up and filled those shoes. That's the beauty about our team. We have guys that are willing to step up. Obviously we want them in the lineup and healthy as quick as possible, but we've got guys that are hungry for those roles."

Follow Brian Compton on Twitter: @BComptonNHL
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Posted On Friday, 04.29.2011 / 1:43 PM

By Brian Compton -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2011 ECSF: Washington-Tampa Bay Live Blog

Boucher not a believer in momentum

WASHINGTON -- The Tampa Bay Lightning staved off elimination three times in the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs and blanked the Pittsburgh Penguins on their sheet of ice in Game 7 to advance to the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

That would lead at least some to believe that they enter Friday night's game at Washington with a ton of momentum, right?

Perhaps, but Lightning coach Guy Boucher isn't a part of that group.

"In the playoffs, I'm a non-believer in momentum," Boucher said after the Bolts skated Friday afternoon at Verizon Center. "Every game comes back to zero and it's the team that has the most desperation. We just won three in a row, but it's a new team, a new day. We've got to start all over again. I think that's the beauty of hockey, especially in a series. There's always the next game until the last one."

Steven Stamkos agreed. Stamkos, who had 2 goals and 2 assists against the Penguins, doesn't see how the momentum gained during the opening round can find its way through the Verizon Center's doors. Basically, the Bolts will have to create momentum all over again.

"I think in the playoffs, momentum is what happens during games," Stamkos said. "I think once that game ends, everyone forgets about it -- whether you had a really good game or a really poor game. It's easy to throw games out the window come playoff time, because you know how big the next game is. This is a totally different series.

"You could say they have momentum because they handled the Rangers in five, or you could say we have momentum because we won three straight to come back to beat Pittsburgh. I don't think it's a factor heading into a brand-new series."

A series that features teams that combined for 94 victories during the regular season. That would lead some to believe that this will be an evenly-matched battle between fierce division rivals, but Boucher views the No. 1-seeded Caps as the clear-cut favorite.

"Either we see it as a threat or we see it as a challenge," Boucher said. "It's a great challenge for us. If they lose this, for them, it's a huge failure. There's a lot of pressure, but at the same time, there comes a lot of energy with pressure.

"I think it's going to be like a boxing match. They'll look at us, we'll look at them and we'll figure each other out and try to adapt as we move on."

Follow Brian Compton on Twitter: @BComptonNHL

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Posted On Monday, 04.25.2011 / 8:37 PM

By Brian Compton -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2011 ECQF: Boston-Montreal Live Blog

Time set for Game 7

While fans of the Boston Bruins are hoping they won't be at TD Garden on Wednesday night, a time has been set for a Game 7 should the Montreal Canadiens come out victorious at the Bell Centre on Tuesday.

Previously listed as "to be determined," Game 7 of this Eastern Conference Quarterfinal will begin at 7 p.m. ET. And, of course, fans can watch the game on Versus in the U.S and CBC and RDS in Canada.
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Posted On Sunday, 04.24.2011 / 1:08 AM

By Brian Compton -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 12 Hours of Hockey - Live Blog

Kings' win completes great day of hockey

Jonathan Quick knew he'd need to be better if the Los Angeles Kings were going to extend their season on Saturday night.

He wasn't just better -- he was terrific.

Despite the fact that his team allowed a franchise-record 52 shots in a Stanley Cup Playoff game, Quick made 51 saves to lead the Kings to a 3-1 win against the San Jose Sharks in Game 5 of their Western Conference Quarterfinal at HP Pavilion.

The victory allowed the Kings to stave off elimination, as they forced a Game 6 that will be played on Monday night at the Staples Center.

It also was the culmination of a phenomenal day of hockey, which also featured wins by Tampa Bay, Washington and Boston. We hope this long day of hockey was as enjoyable for you as it was for us.
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Posted On Saturday, 04.23.2011 / 11:45 PM

By Brian Compton -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 12 Hours of Hockey - Live Blog

Here come the Sharks

Can the San Jose Sharks pull off another comeback?

Patrick Marleau has started the rally for the Sharks, as he redirected Niclas wallin's shot past Jonathan Quick to cut the deficit to 3-1 with just over 14 minutes to play in the second period.

San Jose, you'll recall, erased a 4-0 deficit in Los Angeles earlier this week en route to a 6-5 overtime win. The Kings need to win this game to stay alive.
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Posted On Saturday, 04.23.2011 / 11:08 PM

By Brian Compton -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 12 Hours of Hockey - Live Blog

Bruins win in 2OT

Finally, the home team has won a game in the Boston-Montreal series.

Nathan Horton collected a rebound near the goal mouth and poked it past Carey Price in double overtime as the Boston Bruins won their third straight with a wild 2-1 victory against the Canadiens at TD Garden.

The Bruins can win the series with a victory at the Bell Centre on Tuesday night.
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Quote of the Day

I think you always have to look internally before you look externally to see, 'Do we have these players within our organization?' And I think we do.

— Ottawa Senators assistant general manager Pierre Dorion on the Binghamton Senators (AHL affiliate)