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Posted On Saturday, 05.19.2012 / 12:58 PM

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

Eminger replaces Bickel in Rangers' lineup

NEWARK, N.J. -- The Rangers have a change in their lineup for Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Steve Eminger will replace Stu Bickel and play on the blue line for the first time in the playoffs. He will be paired with Michael Del Zotto.

Eminger played 4:25 of ice time as a fourth-line forward in Game 1 against Washington on April 28. The last time he played a game on defense was March 15 against Pittsburgh.

Bickel played only 4:13 in Game 2 and was on the ice for David Clarkson's game-winning goal in the third period. He has played in every game in the playoffs, but has received over seven minutes of ice time on only three occasions (Game 3 vs. Ottawa, Games 4 and 5 against Washington). He is a minus-2 with four penalty minutes.
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Posted On Friday, 05.18.2012 / 2:55 PM

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

Rangers believe better breakouts are a must

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- We already know that coach John Tortorella insists the Rangers are not a tired team despite playing back-to-back seven-game series, but they do get tired during shifts, especially when they're working so hard just to get the puck out of the defensive zone and into the attacking zone.

Brad Richards said the key for Game 3 Saturday is cleanly moving the puck up the ice. If they can do that, then the Rangers feel they will be able to keep the Devils hemmed in their zone.
 
It sounds obvious, like something every team in every game wants to do, but through two games in the Eastern Conference Finals, turning breakouts into offensive-zone time has been a difficult task for the Rangers to accomplish.

"We've got to get pucks down there, get them working in their zone and tire them out down there," Richards said. "It's a lot easier to play in the offensive zone, and we spend the first part of our shifts trying to get out of the zone. We just have to get down there."

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Posted On Friday, 05.18.2012 / 2:49 PM

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

Rangers swap lines to get 'heavier'

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Considering the Rangers have struggled along the boards against the Devils through two games, it's not all that surprising that coach John Tortorella was experimenting with a new line of Brian Boyle between Mike Rupp and Artem Anisimov in practice Friday.

Size matters when you want to win battles along the boards, and the Rangers don't have any three bigger forwards (John Scott is not an option) -- Boyle is 6-foot-7; Rupp is 6-foot-5; Anisimov is 6-foot-4.

If Boyle, Rupp and Anisimov are together, they will be tasked with pounding the Devils along the walls. New Jersey coach Peter DeBoer talked Thursday about how his team is a "heavy team" on the puck, with their sticks, in the corners and on the walls, and the Rangers haven't adequately been able to match that yet.

"Our game all year has been hold onto pucks in the offensive zone and play in those tough areas," Rupp said. "New Jersey is doing the same and right now we're losing that battle. We need to find ways to hold on to pucks in those areas. That's what I know I'm going to look to do in the next game, and a bunch of us will look to better that."

Added Tortorella: "No matter who it is, when you're at this point in the season, you're playing against teams that we're playing against, Jersey, and the other two teams playing in the West, that's a big part of playoff hockey," Tortorella said of strong board play. "That's a big part of who we are, and we certainly have to be more consistent with that part."

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Posted On Thursday, 05.17.2012 / 2:39 PM

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

Rangers not dwelling on the past

When facing elimination in the first round, the Rangers won back-to-back games to dispatch the Ottawa Senators. It’s the only time they've won back to back games in a series this postseason, but they are three wins shy of reaching the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in 18 years because, as coach John Tortorella said, they don't dwell on the past.
 
"You have a short-term memory come playoff time," Tortorella said during a conference call Thursday. "Playoffs are a whole different animal. We don't spend too much time talking about streaks. We just spend time trying to make corrections in our game, trying to be better in the things we think we need to be better for our next game, and go about our business."
 
Tortorella said the Rangers weren't nearly good enough against the Devils in Game 2 Wednesday.
 
"We look for what we do and we didn't do for a number of minutes," he said. "I'll put it to you that way; we just didn't do for a number of minutes in that game, and that's something that needs to be rectified."
 
The Rangers have been good at rectifying in these playoffs. They may only have won back-to-back games in a series once, but they've lost back-to-back games only once as well.
 
They'll try to avoid it happening again in Game 3 Saturday at Prudential Center (1 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, RDS).
 
"We want to try to win a couple in a row, but the other team doesn't want to lose a couple in a row," Tortorella said. "You play and each team is trying to find their way. We didn't [Wednesday]. We moved by it. We learned from it. Hopefully we're going to be a better team come Saturday."
 
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Posted On Tuesday, 05.15.2012 / 8:53 PM

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

Aucoin out for Coyotes; Fraser to miss game for L.A.

Colin Fraser
Center - LAK
GOALS: 0 | ASST: 0 | PTS: 0
SOG: 8 | +/-: -1
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Coyotes defenseman Adrian Aucoin will miss his second straight game with a lower-body injury when Phoenix takes on Los Angeles in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals at Jobing.com Arena on Tuesday.

Phoenix rookie defenseman Michael Stone will make his NHL playoff debut and be paired with Rostislav Klesla.

The Kings will be without fourth-line center Colin Fraser, who had to attend to a family matter. Kyle Clifford will play for Fraser on the Kings fourth line. He hasn't played since logging 2:29 of ice time in Game 1 against Vancouver. Brad Richardson will move to center.
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Posted On Tuesday, 05.15.2012 / 2:58 PM

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

Power play one area where Kings can still improve

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- If there is one area where the Kings can say they have not gotten the job done in the postseason it's on the power play. They are 9-1 in the playoffs and are scoring 3.10 goals per game despite being 4-for-51 on the power play.

"But we feel like we moved the puck pretty well in Game 1 and we got some shots," Anze Kopitar said. "Now it's a matter of finishing it off."

The Kings did get off six shots over their 5:36 of power play time. However, they have scored just one power-play goal over their last eight games after going 3-for-12 in the first two against Vancouver.

It hasn't hurt them yet, largely because their penalty kill has been perfect (22-for-22) since the start of the series against St. Louis, but the Kings would rather not keep playing with fire.

"I think you should try to be in every game a plus on the special teams," forward Justin Williams said. "Our penalty kill has obviously been pretty good. We need to keep going. We can't let up on that. I thought our power play gave us some decent chances, some decent looks, and we hit a couple of posts (in Game 1). Hopefully we can get going on that."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

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Posted On Tuesday, 05.15.2012 / 2:58 PM

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

Kings prepared for bigger push from Coyotes

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- After controlling play in the first period of Game 1, the Kings expect the Coyotes to come out much stronger, faster, harder and more desperate to start Game 2 Tuesday at Jobing.com Arena (9 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN).
 
The key for L.A. is not just to match it, but try to have the same type of fast start it had in Game 1, when it jumped to a 1-0 lead 3:53 into the game. Despite playing to a 1-1 tie after 20 minutes, the Kings still held a 17-4 advantage in shots on goal and all the momentum heading into the second.
 
They won the game 4-2 to take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven Western Conference Finals.
 
"It was tied after the first [in Game 1], but getting the lead or playing with the lead is a lot easier than chasing it," Kings center Anze Kopitar said Tuesday. "We want to come out the same way, but we know they're going to come out stronger than they did in Game 1 so we have to make sure we're ready."
 
The Kings are aware that Phoenix consistently has hung around in these rope-a-dope games, like it did in Game 1. The Coyotes have been outshot 10 times in the playoffs, but they are 7-3 in those games.
 
The key is not to let any frustration creep in, because that's usually when the opportunistic Coyotes pounce. The Kings did a good job of that in Game 1 despite going into the second intermission locked in a 2-2 tie.
 
They expect to have to have the same composed attitude in Game 2.
 
"Within the last game that we played we told ourselves we couldn't get down, we couldn't get frustrated because we weren't leading 3-0 or 2-0," Kings forward Justin Williams said. "It was a close game right to the end and that's kind of what they've been doing -- they've been able to hang around in games and get big goals from big players because they're capable of doing that. We need to keep pushing ahead, keep pushing forward, and not get frustrated if we can't get the puck in the net."
 
Here is the Kings projected lineup for Game 2:
 
Dustin Brown - Anze Kopitar - Justin Williams
Dustin Penner - Mike Richards - Jeff Carter
Dwight King - Jarret Stoll - Trevor Lewis
Brad Richardson - Colin Fraser - Jordan Nolan
 
Rob Scuderi - Drew Doughty
Willie Mitchell - Slava Voynov
Alec Martinez - Matt Greene
 
Jonathan Quick
Jonathan Bernier
 
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Posted On Monday, 05.14.2012 / 8:59 PM

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

Sutter doesn't expect Gagne to be back

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Kings forward Simon Gagne has been cleared for contact for the first time since suffering a concussion on Dec. 26. However, Gagne will not be joining the team in Arizona and a return this season seems impossible, according to coach Darryl Sutter.

"I mean, he hasn't played a game in five, six months. He hasn't practiced with the team literally since, when was it …," Sutter said. "Anything is highly unlikely really when you think about it. It's a head-issue injury.

"We played Vancouver in that first round, (Daniel) Sedin had been out then for a month to the day, look how it affected him," Sutter continued. "This guy (Gagne) hasn't played in five months. He hasn't played in 2012."

Gagne had 17 points in 34 games.

The Kings play Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals against Phoenix on Tuesday at Jobing.com Arena (9 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN, RDS).

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter: @drosennhl
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Posted On Monday, 05.14.2012 / 8:52 PM

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

Quick responds properly to long goal

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Kings goalie Jonathan Quick reacted to Derek Morris' 98-foot goal the same way he would have reacted if the Coyotes' defenseman had scored from two-feet out on a rebound.

Jonathan Quick
Goalie - LAK
RECORD: 9-1-0
GAA: 1.59 | SVP: 0.947
He looked back in his net, thought about the goal for a second, brushed it off and started thinking about making the next save.

"It doesn't matter whatever the play is, it's only one goal, that's it," Quick told NHL.com. "You move on. It's still a tie game, you move forward."

Quick's response to that goal is similar to his response to the 4-2 win in Game 1. He made 25 saves that he now considers irrelevant because they don't mean anything unless he wins Game 2 to allow the Kings to bring a 2-0 series lead back to Los Angeles.

"It's not just this time of year, it's any time of year; a game is only good if you win the next one," Quick said. "All year long you try your hardest, try to get a 'W' and then you move forward."

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Posted On Monday, 05.14.2012 / 4:44 PM

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

Ekman-Larsson: 'I was terrible' in series opener

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Phoenix Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson pulled no punches about how he felt he played in Game 1 Sunday.

"I was terrible," Ekman-Larsson told NHL.com.

OK, then. Well, let's analyze it and see if he's right.

Ekman-Larsson was a minus-3 over his 24-plus minutes of ice time, though one of those came when he was on the ice for Dwight King's empty-net goal. He got caught too high in the neutral zone when Slava Voynov found Dustin Brown with a stretch pass that led to the winning goal. And with the Coyotes just getting going on a power play midway through the third, Ekman-Larsson was called for interference on Mike Richards.

"I didn't skate good or with the puck very well," he said. "I made some bad passes. I have to be more physical and play more with the puck. I have to make better plays and skate harder."

Phoenix coach Dave Tippett wasn't about to argue with his 20-year-old blueliner, but he was pleased to hear Ekman-Larsson's self-evaluation.

"That's probably a great indication of where he's at," Tippett said. "He evaluates his own game very honestly and he knew he could be better (Sunday) night. Him and his partner (Rostislav) Klesla were not near as good as we needed them to be and they were at the front of quite a few chances against. Those guys recognize that today, and I expect them both to be better (in Game 2)."

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