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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."

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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."

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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

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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."

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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.

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Posted On Friday, 04.27.2012 / 12:49 PM

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

Grossmann's status for Game 1 still unknown

VOORHEES, N.J. -- Despite practicing the last two days in a regular, contact jersey, Flyers defenseman Nicklas Grossmann has not been cleared by team doctors to play in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Devils.

Grossman, who sustained an upper-body injury that at least one teammate called a concussion in Game 4 of the first-round series against the Penguins, still hopes he gets his clearance prior to the series opener on Sunday at Wells Fargo Center (3 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC).

"We'll see (Saturday)," Grossmann told NHL.com following practice Friday. "I still have to talk to the doctors and all that. Everything is up in the air, so I don't even know."

Grossmann added that for now he's just happy to be back on the ice with the team. As for his odds of playing in Game 1, he wasn't saying.
 
"It's tough to say how I feel. I don't even know what is normal," Grossmann said. "It's just nice to be on the ice and skate. That's a good feeling. I just take it a day at a time, try to stay positive and go from there."

Fellow defenseman Andrej Meszaros continues to skate and work his way back from mid-March back surgery, but he doesn't appear close to playing yet.

Forward Maxime Talbot, who took a puck to the face in practice Thursday, said he is fine. He has a chipped tooth and a swollen and cut lip, but he participated in the full practice Friday.

"Matty Carle shot it; good thing it was him -- a muffin," Talbot joked. "Actually, Eric Wellwood tipped it, so that's his fault. He's a rookie. I'm going to get him back."

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Posted On Thursday, 04.26.2012 / 7:05 PM

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

Konopka will play Game 7 for Senators

NEW YORK -- Ottawa forward Zenon Konopka will play in Game 7 Thursday against the Rangers despite not practicing Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday morning.

Konopka is a key player for the Senators despite being on the fourth line. He leads the NHL with a 69.7-percent success rate in the faceoff circle in the playoffs (46 for 66).

Defenseman Matt Carkner will not play for Ottawa in Game 7 due to an injury. He will be replaced by ex-Ranger Matt Gilroy, who played in Games 1 and 3 but has not dressed in a game since.

Center Brian Boyle is again out for the Rangers with a concussion. He hasn't played since Game 5.

Here were the lines, defense pairings and goaltenders during pregame warmups:

RANGERS

Carl Hagelin - Brad Richards - Marian Gaborik

Chris Kreider - Derek Stepan - Ryan Callahan

Ruslan Fedotenko - Brandon Dubinsky - Brandon Prust

Artem Anisimov - John Mitchell - Mike Rupp

Ryan McDonagh - Dan Girardi

Marc Staal - Anton Stralman

Michael Del Zotto - Stu Bickel

Henrik Lundqvist

Martin Biron

SENATORS

Milan Michalek - Jason Spezza - Jacob Silfverberg

Nick Foligno - Kyle Turris - Daniel Alfredsson

Colin Greening - Zack Smith - Chris Neil

Zenon Konopka - Jim O'Brien - Erik Condra

Filip Kuba - Erik Karlsson

Jared Cowan - Sergei Gonchar

Matt Gilroy - Chris Phillips

Craig Anderson

Ben Bishop

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Quote of the Day

It was a different game in the past, that's for sure. It's not exactly what I was expecting but I think the experience paid off for a lot of our guys that realized what it takes in a Game 7. Realistically the effort we put forward, we might not even had to put 60 [minutes], but we just couldn't get a couple bounces to go our way and we just kept pushing.

— Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby on Washington's play in Game 7 vs. the Islanders