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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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Posted On Tuesday, 04.22.2014 / 1:34 PM

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

Carcillo could make Rangers playoff debut in Game 3

PHILADELPHIA -- Though New York Rangers right wing Martin St. Louis was grateful to receive the news of his nomination for the Lady Byng Trophy, his focus was clearly on the Philadelphia Flyers and Game 3 of their Eastern Conference First Round series at Wells Fargo Center on Tuesday (8 p.m. ET; CNBC, TSN2, MSG, CSN-PH).

"It's always an honor to be nominated for any award, but I think my focus is on something bigger and better right now," St. Louis said. "I think our effort and desperation need to be higher [on Tuesday]. We know that so we'll bring it."

The best-of-7 Stanley Cup Playoff series is tied 1-1.

Though Rangers coach Alain Vigneault wouldn't reveal his lineup for Game 3, there is a chance former Flyer Daniel Carcillo could make his debut in the series.

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Posted On Monday, 04.21.2014 / 2:34 PM

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

Rangers focus on what's brought them road success

NEW YORK -- Players from the New York Rangers are expecting an emotional atmosphere for Game 3 of their Eastern Conference First Round series against the Philadelphia Flyers at Wells Fargo Center on Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET (CNBC, TSN2, MSG, CSN-PH).

The best-of-7 Stanley Cup Playoff series is tied 1-1.

The Rangers will enter the game having lost three straight in the City of Brotherly Love, but are confident after closing out the 2013-14 regular season with a 25-14-2 record on the road. The team conducted an optional practice on Monday that included four defensemen, seven forwards and goalie Cam Talbot, prior to leaving for Philadelphia.

"It's an energetic arena to play in for sure, and they feed off of that, so you want to play a simple game," Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh said. "You can't be afraid to take an icing, take a whistle here or there to keep the game on your side and keep up the pace. If you get the momentum you have to try to hang onto it, you have to be disciplined too. Their fans will be feeding off their physicality, and you can't buy into it or get caught up in it. That's something we've done all season so far."

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Posted On Monday, 04.21.2014 / 9:36 AM

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

Whalers' Nedeljkovic named OHL's top goaltender

Plymouth Whalers goalie Alex Nedeljkovic of Parma, Ohio, has become the first player in team history to win the Ontario Hockey League's Goaltender of the Year award.

Nedeljkovic, No. 4 on NHL Central Scouting's final list of the top North American goalies eligible for the 2014 NHL Draft, faced the second most shots (2,207) in the OHL and finished with a 26-27-7 record, 2.88 goals-against average and .925 save percentage in 61 games.

"To receive this award is an incredible honor," Nedeljkovic said. "There were many other goaltenders in the league this year that also had great seasons. Credit must be given to all of my teammates that helped me to achieve this award. Game in and game out they would do their best to help make my job easier, and I would try my best to do the same for them. This award recognizes what a goalie has accomplished throughout the season, but it is also a symbol of what the entire team did over the course of the season to be as good as they possibly could defensively."

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Posted On Wednesday, 04.16.2014 / 5:04 PM

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

Canada names roster for U-18 World Championship

Forwards Jake Virtanen and Brendan Perlini and defenseman Haydn Fleury, all projected to be selected in the first round of the 2014 NHL Draft, highlight the roster of players that will represent Canada at the 2014 IIHF Men's Under-18 World Championship beginning Thursday in Finland.

Virtanen of the Calgary Hitmen, Perlini of the Niagara IceDogs and Fleury of the Red Deer Rebels were all ranked among the top 10 on NHL Central Scouting's final list of the North American skaters eligible for the 2014 draft. Defenseman Roland McKeown, No. 27 on Central Scouting's final ranking, is the only returning player from last year's gold medal-winning performance. Canada is the defending U-18 World Championship gold medal winner.

The Canadian roster includes three goalies, seven defensemen and 13 forwards. There are 12 players representing the Western Hockey League, six from the Ontario Hockey League and five from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. The roster includes 18 players eligible for the 2014 draft and five more eligible for the 2015 draft.

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Posted On Wednesday, 04.16.2014 / 12:12 PM

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

Kingston's Bennett turns focus to NHL Draft

Kingston Frontenacs center Samuel Bennett watched with great interest the Florida Panthers win the NHL Draft Lottery Tuesday evening in Toronto.

Bennett is No. 1 on NHL Central Scouting's final list of the top North American skaters eligible for the 2014 NHL Draft.

"It was really exciting," Bennett told NHL.com. "It's really interesting but there still are a lot of questions, so whatever happens in June will happen, but I'm really excited."

Bennett acknowledged that as the teams were revealed one by one by NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly, he couldn't help but envision where he might land on June 27 when the first round of the draft is held at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.

"It's all up in the air, no one knows who will go where and it's hard to figure out, but I'll admit I was trying to guess and see where I might go," Bennett said.

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