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Posted On Saturday, 05.12.2012 / 7:38 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Coyotes vs. Kings series blog

Quick and Smith share ECHL history

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Both goalies in the Western Conference Finals can be considered Conn Smythe Trophy candidates. Both the Kings' Jonathan Quick and the Coyotes' Mike Smith are largely responsible for their teams' success this postseason.

However, the link between Smith and Quick goes far deeper than just this series -- it goes all the way back to the ECHL.

According to ECHL.com, 10 goalies in the league's 24-year history have scored a goal in a game. Smith and Quick are two of them. Even more ironic is that they both did it in the game in which they picked up their first professional win and shutout.

"Really?" Smith said. "I did not know that."

Oh, but it's true.

Smith scored his ECHL goal and picked up his first win and shutout with the Lexington Men O' War on Oct. 26, 2002. He scored with 56 seconds left in the third period to give his team a 2-0 victory.

"Tough to forget," Smith said. "The bad thing is once you score once, you want more. That feeling of scoring when you're a goaltender is like nothing else, but also it can work against you. You're only thinking about it when their goalie is out. The No. 1 job is to keep the puck out of my end."

Quick scored his goal in his second professional appearance. It was Oct. 24, 2007 and he was with the Reading Royals. He scored with 35 seconds left in the third period to cap a 3-0 win.

The puck rolled the length of the ice and into the net, and since Quick was the last to touch it, he got credit for the goal, according to ECHL.com.

"My only chance is it's the same situation," Quick said. "I don't even know if I can get it to the other end."

Since Smith is considered one of the top puck-handling goalies in the NHL, Quick said if one of the two is going to do it at this level, perhaps even in this series, it'll be the Phoenix goalie -- Smith missed by inches of scaling the puck into the net at the end of the Coyotes' series-clinching 2-1 win against Nashville in Game 5 on Monday.

"For him, it's pretty realistic," Quick said. "He can play the puck pretty well."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

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Posted On Saturday, 05.12.2012 / 7:20 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Coyotes vs. Kings series blog

Brown's son digs Dad's jerseys

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Three-year-old Mason Brown doesn't have blankies; he has his dad's white Kings' jerseys that he carries around and can't be without.

"We have two white ones, and now he knows he has two but we swap them out," L.A. captain Dustin Brown said. "It's a blankie-type thing. He can't be without his jersey. He only likes the white ones, which is great for a 3-year-old -- white."

Obviously Brown make that last statement with more than just a hint of sarcasm -- but don't be fooled, he absolutely loves the idea that his boys have taken to his jersey like this. Four-year-old Jake also has two jerseys, but Brown said it's Mason who absolutely has to have at least one of them with him at all times.

Brown's family, including wife Nicole, Jake, Mason and 1-year-old Cooper are all back in L.A. right now. They'll be watching Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals -- the only real question is which of the two so-called blankies will Mason be carrying.

"We'll see," Dustin Brown said. "It's pretty darn fun."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

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Posted On Monday, 05.07.2012 / 7:28 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Rangers vs. Capitals series blog

Game 5 lineups for Rangers, Caps

NEW YORK -- The Rangers and Capitals are playing Game 5 Monday at Madison Square Garden for the right to win the Eastern Conference Semifinal-round series in six games. The series is deadlocked at 2-2 with the Capitals winning Game 4 at home, 3-2.

The Rangers and Caps split the first two games at Madison Square Garden and then split the next two at Verizon Center, including the triple OT thriller that the Rangers won.

The lineups for both teams are the same for Game 5 as they were for Game 4. The only changes are in the Rangers' lines as rookie Chris Kreider, who scored the winning goal in Game 1, warmed up on the fourth line with John Mitchell and Mike Rupp.

Kreider being demoted to the fourth line comes after he was benched for the third period of Game 4. He had a turnover that led to a goal in that game.
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Posted On Monday, 05.07.2012 / 1:23 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Rangers vs. Capitals series blog

Ovechkin expecting another 'warm' welcome at MSG

NEW YORK -- Alex Ovechkin expects to again be the target of another unfriendly embrace from the Madison Square Garden fans in Game 5 Monday.

"Yeah, I can't wait," Ovechkin said while flashing is famous gap-tooth smile Monday morning.

Taking a page out of the Ottawa playbook, where the fans at Scotiabank Place count down from 11:11 every period before chanting in favor of captain Daniel Alfredsson, the folks at MSG have taken to counting down from the 8:08 every period before chanting something that isn't all that kind to Ovechkin.

It includes his nickname, Ovi, but you can pretty much guess what the following word is.

Ovechkin doesn't mind it at all.

"I want to laugh, but I can't," he said.

Ovechkin looks at it as a sign of respect.

"It's always nice to hear from the fans, if they're booing you or cheering you," he said. "You're still out there and you still get some respect."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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Posted On Monday, 05.07.2012 / 11:42 AM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Rangers vs. Capitals series blog

Projected Game 5 lineup for Capitals

NEW YORK -- Judging by their morning skate at Madison Square Garden, the Washington Capitals will likely use the same line for Game 5 as they did for their 3-2 win in Game 4.

Here are their lines, D pairings and goaltending depth:

Alex Ovechkin - Brooks Laich - Marcus Johansson
Jason Chimera - Nicklas Backstrom - Alexander Semin
Matt Hendricks - Jay Beagle - Troy Brouwer
Mike Knuble - Keith Aucoin - Joel Ward

Karl Alzner - John Carlson
Roman Hamrlik - Mike Green
Jeff Schultz - Dennis Wideman

Braden Holtby
Michal Neuvirth

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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Posted On Sunday, 05.06.2012 / 3:49 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Rangers vs. Capitals series blog

Hagelin still searching for elusive first goal

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Carl Hagelin and John Tortorella are on the same page when it comes to how the young Swedish forward has been playing.

Both say he's been good.

"Yeah, he's been on pucks," Tortorella said.

"Yeah, I feel like I'm playing good," Hagelin told NHL.com. "I've been on pucks, created chances. I'm doing a good job winning battles in the corner and trying to find guys in the slot."

All that's missing is a tangible result.

Hagelin had an assist in Game 1 against Ottawa, but he's pointless with a minus-2 rating and nine shots on goal in the seven games he's played since. Hagelin missed three games in the Ottawa series due to a suspension.

"You hope he scores a goal. You hope he makes a good pass to help score a goal," Tortorella said. "I don't think that's happened, but as far as his forechecking and creating puck possession for us, he's done a good job of that."

Hagelin, of course, would love to chip in offensively. He is, after all, a top-six forward who has played mostly on a line with Brad Richards and sometimes Marian Gaborik for a reason.

The Rangers could also use some production out of him considering they're not getting enough of it elsewhere. They have only nine goals in four games against the Capitals and of the eight teams still playing in the playoffs they're dead last with 2.09 goals per game.

"We haven't scored that many goals in general, but that's the way we play," Hagelin said. "We want to make sure we play well defensively. I feel strong and I feel I'm in condition. It's just that getting that goal would be nice.

"My mindset is to always keep working hard and good things will happen, so hopefully I get one here soon. If not, the most important thing is that we win games."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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Posted On Sunday, 04.29.2012 / 1:26 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Rangers vs. Capitals series blog

Boyle feeling better, still not sure about Game 2

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Rangers coach John Tortorella offered "no updates" on the status of injured forwards Brian Boyle (concussion) and Brandon Dubinsky (lower-body) after the team's optional practice Sunday.

Boyle appeared much closer to returning than Dubinsky, who was seen walking with crutches toward the training room once the media was allowed to enter the dressing room.

Dubinsky hurt himself in Game 7 against Ottawa and did not play in Game 1 against Washington Saturday.

Boyle went out of the lineup with a concussion prior to Game 6 against Ottawa, but said he is "feeling better each day." He skated hard Saturday morning and responded well. He was one of only 12 players on the ice Sunday.

Boyle said he has not had any setbacks, but he's not sure of what his status is for Game 2 Monday.

"It's progressed, but they're (concussions) not consistent with each guy," Boyle said. "Each guy feels different symptoms. So, I'm just trying to be honest with myself."

Boyle couldn't answer a question about if he would be able to play in Game 2 because he still has to talk with trainer Jim Ramsay as well as Tortorella.

"I wouldn't have really skated if I still felt foggy," he said. "I'm feeling better and better, so we'll see."

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Posted On Saturday, 04.28.2012 / 1:40 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Rangers vs. Capitals series blog

Washington lineup for Game 1

NEW YORK -- The Capitals and the Rangers are meeting for the third time in the last four postseasons. Washington forward Matt Hendricks doesn't think it'll take too long for the teams to get reacquainted.

"Hate is a strong word, but we battle against them," Hendricks said. "This is a team that I think we match up very well with. They're physical, they play a defensive style, they block a lot of shots. When you find teams that are similar with your team you seem to have those tight, close games where you're getting under each other's skin. There is a little bit of a dislike there for each other. We've met in the playoffs here, so it's going to be a good one, I think."

Game 1 is Saturday at 3 p.m. ET at Madison Square Garden.

Here is the Capitals' lineup:

Alex Ovechkin - Brooks Laich - Troy Brouwer
Marcus Johansson - Nicklas Backstrom - Alexander Semin
Jason Chimera - Jay Beagle - Matt Hendricks
Mike Knuble - Keith Aucoin - Joel Ward

Karl Alzner - John Carlson
Roman Hamrlik - Mike Green
John Erskine - Dennis Wideman

Braden Holtby
Michal Neuvirth

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

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Posted On Saturday, 04.28.2012 / 1:36 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Rangers vs. Capitals series blog

Hunter offers more praise for Holtby

NEW YORK -- Capitals coach Dale Hunter predictably did not offer any updates on his lineup during his chat with the media roughly two hours before Game 1 on Saturday. However, Hunter did have some strong words of encouragement for defenseman Jeff Schultz, who played more than 11 minutes in Game 7 against Boston on Wednesday.

"Schultzie gave us a good game," the typically understated Hunter said. "He's a big guy, he moves the puck well, and we need some more size."

If Schultz plays in Game 1 against the Rangers, he'll likely be paired with Dennis Wideman.

One absolute certainty for the Capitals on Saturday is that Braden Holtby will be between the pipes. The 22-year-old rookie goalie got the best of Boston's All-Star Tim Thomas in the first round.

Holtby played every minute for the Capitals, finishing with a 2.00 goals-against average and .940 save percentage. He may have surprised a lot of people in the hockey community considering he was No. 3 on Washington's depth chart for virtually the entire season, but Hunter expected Holtby to be excellent against the Bruins.

"Even down the stretch we were battling for the playoffs he had to go into Detroit, we needed the points, he won," Hunter said. "We went into Philadelphia, we lost in overtime, but we got a point. He's a battler. The kid battles. He's got a great personality about him that he doesn't let stuff bother him."

Holtby's play has drawn comparisons to Ken Dryden, who played in only six regular-season games in 1970-71 before leading the Canadiens to the Stanley Cup championship that spring. Holtby, of course, played in only seven games for the Caps in 2011-12.

Hunter said he isn't concerned about Holtby getting caught up in his own press clippings.

"With this kid you don't have to. He's not like that," Hunter said. "He's one of the hardest working goalies in practice. He just keeps working and he's having fun with it. He has fun playing hockey. It's always much better when you're playing well, but whatever happens he's going to still have his work ethic and he's going to battle."

Since Holtby has already knocked Thomas out of the playoffs, the Capitals believe he can do the same to Henrik Lundqvist, who is a finalist for both the Vezina Trophy and Hart Trophy.

"He (just) battled against one of the best goalies in the League and now he has to do it again with another one of the top goalies in the League," Hunter said. "He knows it, but he's a battler. He's got a good head on his shoulders."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

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Posted On Friday, 04.27.2012 / 1:48 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Flyers vs. Devils series blog

Hart not the trophy Giroux is concerned about

VOORHEES, N.J. -- Claude Giroux cracked a smile as a reporter asked how he felt about not being one of the three finalists for the Hart Trophy.

"The Hart Trophy?" Giroux said. "Which one is that?"

MVP, of course.

"Kidding, kidding," Giroux said, smiling bigger now.

So, how does he feel about not being a finalist despite finishing third in the League with 93 points and second with 65 assists?

"I didn't see the news, but at the end of the day that's not the trophy I want," he said. "It's done. It's something I don't really control."

Henrik Lundqvist, Evgeni Malkin and Steven Stamkos were named the finalists Friday. The Professional Hockey Writers' Association votes on the award.

Flyers coach Peter Laviolette was in no mood to deal with a question pertaining to the regular season. Like Giroux, he said he hadn't seen the list of finalists, either.

"If you're asking me what I think of Claude Giroux, I think he's a terrific player in this League," he said.

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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Quote of the Day

It's always a little bit weird, but it moves on. They've got a good team, and they played well tonight. I think that's just part of it.

— Peter Laviolette on facing his former team (Flyers) for the first time since his departure