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Posted On Saturday, 05.03.2014 / 5:24 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Blackhawks-Wild series blog

Wild turn back to checking line for Game 2

CHICAGO -- Minnesota Wild coach Mike Yeo will likely reunite one of his top checking lines for Game 2 of their Western Conference Second Round series against the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday at United Center (3 p.m. ET; NBC, RDS, TSN).

Yeo had right wing Justin Fontaine working the third unit alongside center Erik Haula and left wing Nino Niederreiter during practice Saturday afternoon at United Center. It was a line Yeo had together against Colorado Avalanche rookie forward Nathan MacKinnon in Minnesota's first-round series victory and it worked effectively in Games 4, 5, 6.

Dany Heatley skated at left wing on the fourth line Saturday with center Kyle Brodziak and right wing Cody McCormick.

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Posted On Friday, 05.02.2014 / 12:19 AM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Blackhawks-Wild series blog

Bryzgalov likely to start Game 1 for Wild: report

Ilya Bryzgalov reportedly is the likely starter in goal for the Minnesota Wild in Game 1 of his team's Western Conference Second Round series against the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday at United Center (9:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, RDS, TSN).

Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported Thursday night that Bryzgalov is likely to start, with John Curry serving as his backup. Bryzgalov replaced Darcy Kuemper with 8:13 remaining in the third period of the Wild's 5-4 overtime victory in Game 7 against the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday. Kuemper couldn't continue after sustaining an undisclosed injury.

Bryzgalov made one save in 13:15 of action before Nino Niederreiter's goal won the game at 5:02 of overtime.


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Posted On Wednesday, 04.30.2014 / 12:44 AM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Rangers-Flyers series blog

Lundqvist: Rangers will 'move on quickly' from loss

PHILADELPHIA -- It isn't often New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist finds himself on the bench in the middle of a game in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

It happened Tuesday for the first time in five seasons when the Philadelphia Flyers scored four times on 23 shots against Lundqvist over two periods. Rangers coach Alain Vigneault pulled his veteran goalie in favor of backup Cam Talbot to open the third period of an eventual 5-2 loss in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference First Round series at Wells Fargo Center.

The first-ever Game 7 at Madison Square Garden between the Rangers and Flyers will be played Wednesday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, RDS, TSN2, CSN-PH, MSG).

"It's definitely disappointing, but [Game 6] is over," Lundqvist said. "We have to move on quickly. Go back to New York, get some rest and get ready. You don't want to analyze this too much. They just felt better tonight in all areas. We will move on quickly here."


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Posted On Tuesday, 04.29.2014 / 1:14 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Rangers-Flyers series blog

Rangers try to string together wins, eliminate Flyers

PHILADELPHIA -- The New York Rangers will look to close out their Eastern Conference First Round series against the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday before what is sure to be a boisterous crowd for Game 6 at Wells Fargo Center (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TSN, RDS, MSG, CSN-PH).

A victory by the Rangers, who hold a 3-2 lead in the best-of-7 series, and preparations may commence for a second-round series showdown with the Pittsburgh Penguins. If the Flyers even things up, the teams will square off in a winner-take-all finale in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the third time in their history on Wednesday at Madison Square Garden.

No team has strung together consecutive wins yet in the series. The Rangers scored a 4-2 victory in Game 5 on Sunday at Madison Square Garden.

"There's nothing separating the teams; we're all so close," Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. "You just look throughout the NHL and what's going on in these playoffs. The most consistent team in the League this year, San Jose, went up 3-0 and now they're even going into a Game 7.

"It's a tough League with good teams, and everybody prepares well and prepares hard."

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Posted On Monday, 04.28.2014 / 2:58 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Rangers-Flyers series blog

Rangers hope Nash can help them finish off Flyers

NEW YORK -- New York Rangers coach Alain Vigneault believes it's only a matter of time before left wing Rick Nash finds the back of the net in their Eastern Conference First Round series against the Philadelphia Flyers.

He's hopeful that day will come Tuesday, when the Rangers and Flyers play in Game 6 at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TSN, RDS, MSG, CSN-PH). The Rangers hold a 3-2 lead in the best-of-7 series.

"He's due," Vigneault said of Nash. "He's had some great looks and is working really hard. I have and his teammates have a lot of confidence in Rick. He's doing a lot of the right things, and sooner or later the puck is going to go in."

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Posted On Friday, 04.25.2014 / 5:30 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Rangers-Flyers series blog

Vigneault wants Rangers to match Flyers' urgency

PHILADELPHIA -- New York Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said matching the urgency the Philadelphia Flyers will exhibit from the outset is of utmost importance Friday in Game 4 of their Eastern Conference First Round series at Wells Fargo Center (7 p.m. ET; RDS, TSN, CNBC, MSG, CSN-PH).

Vigneault gave his players the morning off the ice but met with the media two hours before faceoff to discuss Game 4. The Rangers hold a 2-1 lead in the best-of-7 series. Game 5 is Sunday at Madison Square Garden.

If the series were to go seven games, the final three would be played in a span of four days with Game 6 (Tuesday in Philadelphia) and Game 7 (Wednesday in New York) on consecutive days in different cities.

"I wasn't here for those grueling series [of the past] but I have had my share of them; it's a tough league," Vigneault said. "Teams are good. Everybody that comes into the playoffs would like to win in four but the opposition has something to say about it.

"There's so little separating the teams now. It's more than normal that the series are hard-fought and long. We're going to go out [Friday] and put our focus on one thing and that's the game and what we need to do to have success."

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Posted On Friday, 04.25.2014 / 12:52 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Rangers-Flyers series blog

Simmonds sees Game 4 adjustments Flyers can make

PHILADELPHIA -- After establishing career-high regular-season totals across the board in his sixth season, Philadelphia Flyers right wing Wayne Simmonds has struggled to find that offensive form in their Eastern Conference First Round series against the New York Rangers.

It certainly hasn't been for a lack of effort; Simmonds has averaged 2.33 shots and two hits in three games against the Rangers. He has one goal and a minus-2 rating to show for it.

In the regular season, Simmonds averaged 2.54 shots and 1.60 hits on his way to 29 goals and 60 points in 82 games.

When Simmonds is doing what he does best -- working the corners, crashing the crease and creating havoc in front of the opposing goalie -- good things usually happen for the Flyers.

The Rangers limited Simmonds and his linemates, Brayden Schenn and Vincent Lecavalier, to four shots in a 4-1 victory in Game 3 on Tuesday that gave New York a 2-1 lead in the best-of-7 series. The Flyers will look to get even in Game 4 on Friday at Wells Fargo Center (7 p.m. ET; CNBC, TSN, RDS, MSG, CSN-PH).

"We can't change our game; if we change our game we will change the identity of our team, and that's not what we're going for here," Simmonds said after practice Friday. "We want to keep the identity of our team and make sure we're playing on the line, but not over the line."

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Posted On Friday, 04.25.2014 / 12:18 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Rangers-Flyers series blog

Rangers want to stick with winning formula

PHILADELPHIA -- The New York Rangers will look to duplicate their blueprint for success against the rival Philadelphia Flyers in Game 4 of their Eastern Conference First Round series at Wells Fargo Center on Friday (7 p.m. ET; CNBC, TSN, RDS, MSG, CSN-PH).

The Rangers hold a 2-1 lead in the best-of-7 series.

In a 4-1 victory against the Flyers in Game 3 on Tuesday, the Rangers scored two early goals to take some of the adrenaline and emotion out of the crowd, denied their opponent lanes to shoot the puck, and consistently played with patience.

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Posted On Thursday, 04.24.2014 / 3:15 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2014 NHL Draft blog

Barrie's Ekblad named OHL Defenseman of the Year

Barrie Colts defenseman Aaron Ekblad, No. 2 on NHL Central Scouting's list of the top North American skaters eligible for the 2014 NHL Draft, on Thursday was named Defenseman of the Year in the Ontario Hockey League.

Many NHL scouts project the 6-foot-3, 216-pound right-handed shot to be the first defenseman taken in the first round of the draft at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia on June 27.

Ekblad, who finished with career highs in goals (23) power-play goals (16), assists (30), points (53) and penalty minutes (91) in his third OHL season, earned first-place finishes for best shot, hardest shot, best offensive defenseman and best defensive defenseman in the Eastern Conference of the OHL this season. The captain of the Colts was also voted second in the category of best penalty killer.

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Posted On Wednesday, 04.23.2014 / 11:22 AM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2014 NHL Draft blog

Bettman praises Philadelphia as 2014 NHL Draft host

PHILADELPHIA -- Though it remains to be seen who will hear his name announced as the No. 1 choice at the 2014 NHL Draft in June, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman is sure of one thing.

The city of Philadelphia will prove to be an outstanding host over the two-day event on June 27-28 at Wells Fargo Center.

Commissioner Bettman spoke about the upcoming draft during a media availability session prior to Game 3 of the Eastern Conference First Round series at Wells Fargo Center on Tuesday.

"Philadelphia, from the outset, has always been a terrific hockey town," Bettman said. "When you look at the grassroots level, there were 14,000 or more kids who were playing in 50 rinks throughout greater Philadelphia. You look at Snider Hockey, which Ed Snider has created; you look at everything the Flyers have done in the community. When you look at the entry of youngsters, our new players, the future of the League coming into the draft, what better place than Philadelphia?"

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Quote of the Day

This is a big year for us in a lot of ways. You can see Garth and management really trying to find that solution to get us into the playoffs and consistently have that. The pressure is great. You have to enjoy it. It just means there's a great opportunity ahead of you.

— Islanders captain John Tavares