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Posted On Monday, 05.23.2011 / 12:10 PM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - Road to St. Paul 2011 Entry Draft Blog

A return to Sweden is possible for Adam Larsson

Swedish defenseman Adam Larsson, a likely top five selection at this year's Entry Draft at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn., on June 24, confirmed he hasn't yet decided whether he'll play in North America next season.

While Larsson is actually under contract with Skelleftea for 2011-12 in Sweden's Elitserien, that wouldn't keep him from beginning what is sure to be a prosperous NHL career. Still, it wouldn't come as surprise to his agent, Claes Elefalk, if Larsson spent one more season in the Swedish Elite League.

"Normally in most cases, we Euros think it's sometimes an advantage to stay one or two seasons after the Draft," Elefalk told "It's a tremendous culture change but it's not unusual to see players playing in Europe stay there an additional year or two. Victor Hedman (Tampa Bay Lightning) was an exception but we'll have to see what happens. Our belief is we'll stay another year or two in Sweden."

When recently contacted in his native Skelleftea, Larsson told he would wait until after the Draft to determine for sure whether or not he would remain in Sweden's Elitserien at least one more season.

"I can play in the NHL next year (despite being under contract) but I haven't decided yet what I'm going to do next season," Larsson said. "But I'm ready, but am still learning every day. I think if I do decide to play in North America, I want to feel very prepared for it."

The youngest player on the team had 9 points and 41 penalty minutes in 37 regular-season games with Skelleftea this season and chipped in 4 assists and 12 penalty minutes in 17 playoff games. He also had a goal and 4 points in six games in the World Junior Championship in Buffalo, N.Y., in January.

Whether or not Larsson decides to spend another year in Sweden shouldn't diminish his draft status. Most scouts have him rated among the top overall list of draft-eligible players. His upside along the blueline has been well documented and the fact he played well on the smaller North American ice surface during the WJC is further proof of his ability to play in tight corners. He's looking forward to meeting the NHL GM's and scouts at the Scouting Combine next week.

"I talked to teammates about the Combine and they gave me some tips so I'm looking forward to it," he said. "I've taken the test done on the bikes a couple of weeks ago, so I feel I'm prepared what it is going to be like going in."

More to come following the NHL Scouting Combine next week ...

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale
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Posted On Sunday, 05.22.2011 / 1:09 PM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - Road to St. Paul 2011 Entry Draft Blog

Dubuque wins USHL's Clark Cup championship

After spotting the Green Bay Gamblers the first game of their best-of-5 series in the United States Hockey League championship series, the Dubuque Fightning Saints capped a three-game winning streak on Saturday with a decisive 6-1 victory in Game 4 of Clark Cup before an energized 3,480 at Mystique Ice Center.

It was the largest crowd to see a game in the history of Dubuque hockey, which earned its first USHL crown since the 1984-85 campaign. Dubuque became the first expansion team to win the Clark Cup since the Lincoln Stars won it all during their inaugural season of 1996-97.

The last team to reach the Clark Cup Final in their first season was the Fargo Force in 2008-09. The first time Dubuque had a USHL team, they won the Clark Cup in their inaugural season 30 years ago (1980-81).

Following a scoreless opening period, during which Dubuque outshot the 2010 Clark Cup champion Gamblers, 13-10, Green Bay grabbed a 1-0 lead just 33 seconds into the second when C.J. Eick connected for his second goal in as many games. It also marked the second consecutive time that the Gamblers would open the scoring before eventually losing the contest -- the club was 4-0 when scoring the first goal of the game in the playoffs prior to its series with Dubuque.

Tyler Lundey scored his second goal in two games midway through the second before Dubuque captain T.J. Schlueter knocked in his first of the playoffs three minutes later to put the Saints in front, 2-1. Schlueter would then score 1:50 into the third for a 3-1 lead on a power-play goal to drain any energy Green Bay might have had entering the final 20 minutes. John Doherty, John Gaudreau and Shane Walsh would also score in the third to complete the scoring.

Gaudreau, who is rated No. 193 by NHL Central Scouting on its final list of North American skaters eligible for the 2011 Entry Draft, not only led the team in scoring during the regular-season with 72 points (36 goals, 36 assists) but topped the team in 11 playoff games with 11 points (5 goals, 6 assists). Gaudreau, a left wing who is committed to Northeastern University next fall, also finished with a plus-9 rating in the postseason.

"It's awesome, coming out here as an expansion team with a bunch of players you don't know and winning it," Gaudreau said. "We played an awesome season and we deserved it."

Dubuque goalie Matt Morris (University of Maine) made 37 saves, his highest total of the playoffs, to earn the win. He also garnered Clark Cup Playoff MVP after finishing 9-2 with a 1.53 goals-against average and .943 save percentage.

Dubuque defenseman Joakim Ryan, rated No. 174 on Central Scouting's final list and who will attend Cornell in September, had 2 goals, 5 points and a plus-6 rating in 11 playoff games. Ryan, a native of Rumson, N.J., led all defensemen on the team with 29 assists and 32 points in 53 regular-season games.
Vinny Saponari, Dubuque (Atlanta Thrashers)

In all, seven players competing in the championship series are ranked among the top prospects by NHL Central Scouting, including Gaudreau, Ryan and goalie Jackson Teichroeb of Dubuque and defensemen Andrew Welinski and Aaron Harstad and center Austin Czarnik (No. 115) of Green Bay.

Two players in the series have already been selected in the NHL Entry Draft -- Dubuque defenseman Nick Luukko by the Philadelphia Flyers in 2010 and Dubuque forward Vinny Saponari by the Atlanta Thrashers in 2008. Saponari, of Powder Spring, Ga., finished second on the team with 64 points during the regular-season and second in the playoffs with 9 points (5 goals).

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale
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Posted On Friday, 05.20.2011 / 2:35 PM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - Road to St. Paul 2011 Entry Draft Blog

Nugent-Hopkins, Landeskog = Sakic, Forsberg?

While nothing should ever be engraved in stone, there's a strong possibility that either Red Deer's Ryan Nugent-Hopkins or Kitchener's Gabriel Landeskog will be the first forward taken at the 2011 NHL Entry Draft at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn.

The super-skilled Nugent-Hopkins supplanted Landeskog at No. 1 on NHL Central Scouting's final list of North American skaters in April. Landeskog, who was atop the list on the mid-term report, comes in at No. 2. recently caught up with Central Scouting's Jack Barzee to discuss those little differences that create the makeup of each player. Barzee was obviously impressed with what each forward had in their arsenal.

"Do you want (Peter) Forsberg or (Joe) Sakic?" asked Barzee, referring to Nugent-Hopkins as Sakic. "I know that's pretty extreme because they were two superstars, but here are two guys that have a lot of similarities. They remind you of those players when they've got the puck, when they're skating, when they're playing and when they're executing."

Nugent-Hopkins finished tied for third in the Western Hockey League with 106 points, led the league with 75 assists, and his 31 goals (11 on the power play) were third on his team. He also posted a team-best plus-30 rating.

"Watching Nugent Hopkins … when he put that pedal to the metal and would just come up and snap that shot off or see someone out of the corner of his eye, you say how does he do this? How does a guy do this at top speed? You look at Sakic, who was the same way. Nugent-Hopkins is a little taller than Sakic was in his draft year but is probably 10 pounds lighter than Sakic."

The 6-1/2, 207-pound Landeskog had 36 goals, 30 assists, a plus-27 rating and 61 penalty minutes in 53 regular-season games as captain for the Rangers this season.

"When I watched Landeskog in Kitchener, I was amazed with his play in all three zones on the ice … the way he
used his body and his demeanor," Barzee said. "He is high octane in terms of level of performance; yet, his calmness and composure and the way he would execute in all three zones of the ice was so good."

Barzee was asked how he's able to enter each season with a solid grasp of those top prospects on the board.

"We always look for benchmarks to start," he said. "Who was best player last year? If you see a kid who looks just like him, then he's your benchmark. Now that's easy to do with experience, but it's the only way I can do it. I'm amazed sometimes how I can walk out of a rink and get so much and then leave another game and get nothing -- hockey will do that to you. The complexity of the game, the travel, the number of players and games all coming together all play a part of it.

"But when you see someone special, it hits you."

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale
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Posted On Tuesday, 05.17.2011 / 3:38 PM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - Road to St. Paul 2011 Entry Draft Blog

Jersey's Peter McMullen drafted by USHL's Lancers

In case you missed the 2011 United States Hockey League entry draft on Monday, two New Jersey natives playing in the Garden State during the 2010-11 campaign were selected in the later rounds.

Delbarton Prep senior Peter McMullen, who scored the game-winning goal in overtime to lead his team to a state Non-Public championship at Prudential Center on March 13, was chosen in the 19th round (281st overall) by the Omaha Lancers.

McMullen, rated No. 200 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters, is the grandson of the late Dr. John McMullen -- the man responsible for bringing NHL hockey  to the Garden State in 1982. He finished the season as the leading scorer for the state's No. 1-ranked team, with career-highs in goals (25) and points (45).

McMullen is committed to Boston College in the fall of 2011.

"He's definitely what I consider a late bloomer," Delbarton coach Bruce Shatel told "After playing three years on the wing, we had a void in the middle this year and he filled that role nicely. When he drives the net he's a force. He can really shoot the puck and he'll only get better with time. He's a kid who never specialized -- he kind of put lacrosse first. But now that hockey is on his horizon, he's going to really develop over the next two years into a fine college hockey player."

The transition to center wasn't an easy one for McMullen, but he certainly played a key role for the Green Wave.

"I've had to work on face offs a lot in practice and I played with two sophomores (John Baiocco, Drew Melanson) and they're both quick and they liked to use their speed," McMullen told "I like to play in the defensive zone and work the corners.

"I've always loved hockey and when I was given the opportunity to play in college, I didn't think twice about it," he added. "I'm just focused on the game and not worrying about the future right now."

Additionally, former Delbarton forward Charles Orzetti, who played for the New Jersey Hitmen in 2010-11, was taken in the 18th round (267th overall) by the Indiana Ice. Orzetti, who is headed to Yale in September, wasn't rated among the top 210 North American skaters by Central Scouting at their final meeting.

"He's a very strong forward at 6-foot-2, 210 pounds," Shatel said of Orzetti. "He can really shoot and if he plays in the middle, that adds a whole other dimension to your team where he can win face-offs. He can skate for a big guy and he should be a really good college hockey player as well."

For a full recap of the 2011 USHL entry draft, click here.

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale

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Posted On Monday, 05.16.2011 / 12:14 PM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - Road to St. Paul 2011 Entry Draft Blog

Huberdeau: 'Q' playoff MVP; Memorial Cup set

Saint John Sea Dogs center Jonathan Huberdeau continued his superb play in the Quebec Major Junior League Playoffs on Sunday when he struck for a goal and one assist to lead his team to its first President's Cup with a 3-2 double overtime decision over the Gateneau Olmpiques in Game 6 of the best-of-7 series at Robert Guertin Arena in Gatineau.

The victory sends the Sea Dogs, a 4-2 series winner over Gatineau, into the MasterCard Memorial Cup in Mississauga, Ont., from May 20-29. Saint John will open the tournament against the Mississauga St. Michael's Majors on May 20 at 7 p.m. ET. The Sea Dogs, who are in their sixth year of existence, will look to become the ninth QMJHL team to win the championship.

The Kootenay Ice, who scored a five-game series victory over the Portland Winterhawks in its league championship series, also qualified for the Memorial Cup and will play OHL champion Owen Sound Attack on May 21 at 7 p.m. ET.

Kootenay goalie Nathan Lieuwen, who was named series MVP, stopped 26 shots in a 4-1 Game 5 triumph on Friday for his 16th win of the playoffs. Lieuwen, born August '91, is in his third season with Kootenay and is eligible for the 2011 Entry Draft.

Owen Sound, meanwhile, scored a 3-2 OT victory over Mississauga in Game 7 of the Robertson Cup Final on Sunday before a sold out Hershey Centre crowd of 5,517. Owen Sound's Robby Mignardi earned the Wayne Gretzky 99 Award as Playoff MVP with 15 goals and 9 assists for 24 points in 22 postseason games. Mignardi, born June 1990, is in his third and final year of eligibility for the Entry Draft.

Huberdeau, rated No. 3 by NHL Central Scouting among North American skaters eligible for the 2011 Entry Draft, sent Game 6 to overtime by scoring with just 23 seconds left on the clock. In the second OT, Alexandre Beauregard scored the decisive goal for the Sea Dogs, who have all 10 of their road games in the playoffs this season.
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Posted On Friday, 05.13.2011 / 5:04 PM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - Road to St. Paul 2011 Entry Draft Blog

Does the other Granlund have the goods?

After witnessing Mikael Granlund's perfectly executed lacrosse-style goal for Finland in its victory against Russia in the semifinal round of the IIHF World Championship on Friday, the big question is whether his younger brother could execute the same type of play.

NHL scouts and general managers probably are pondering that very question right now. After all, 5-foot-10, 169-pound Markus Granlund, who turns 18 on Monday, not only is Mikael's brother, but is No. 9 on NHL Central Scouting's list of European skaters eligible for the 2011 Entry Draft.

The younger Granlund was captain for Finland at the World Under-18 Championship in Germany. He finished second on the team with 10 points (2 goals, 8 assists) as the team finished fifth.

Granlund is regarded as a fantastic skater with outstanding play-making ability. Though not as strong as his Mikael, taken by the Minnesota Wild with the ninth pick of the 2010 Draft, Markus Granlund is a consistent point producer in most games. In six games on loan with the Suomi Under-20 team in the Finnish second division, he had 3 goals and 6 points. He had 11 goals and 21 assists in 15 international games for Finland this season.

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Posted On Friday, 05.13.2011 / 1:42 PM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - Road to St. Paul 2011 Entry Draft Blog releases fourth mock draft of the season

Now that the NHL conference finals are set and those top 102 draft-eligible players from North America and Europe confirmed for the NHL Scouting Combine later this month, it's time to take one more crack at predicting the opening round of the NHL Entry Draft at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn.

Needless to say, all 30 NHL teams have been hard at work since NHL Central Scouting's final release of the top players back in April. They're making their own lists and preparing accordingly with the hope of finding that diamond in the rough.

How will the teams decide to use those valuable picks? No one knows for sure, but is willing to take a guess.'s three Draft experts -- Mike Morreale, Adam Kimelman and Steven Hoffner -- have once again taken their crystal balls out of storage to predict how the first round might turn out.

The draft order for this exercise is not what the final draft order will look like. The first 14 slots were set by the NHL Draft Lottery, which was held April 12. The next 12 spots set by teams eliminated in the first two rounds of the playoffs -- non-division winners in reverse order of points, followed by division winners the same way. The final four teams will be set following the conference finals and Stanley Cup Final, but for now we're listing them in inverse order of points.

All three of our prognosticators are in agreement that the Edmonton Oilers will select Red Deer Rebels center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins -- Central Scouting's No. 1-ranked North American skater -- with the top pick. The 6-foot, 164-pound center led the Western Hockey League with 75 assists and was tied for third with 106 points.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Red Deer Rebels (WHL)

"I think any time you're selecting at the top of the draft, especially No. 1, these players are there for a reason," Edmonton General Manager Steve Tambellini said. "They have the ability to emotionally handle something; they have the obvious skill so whether they develop into that player, you don't know. But these top players have the ability to, one day, be franchise players."

After the top pick, things start to go in different directions. How do they think the rest of the first round will play out? Well, you'll have to check out all three drafts for yourself.

You can check back in a little more than two months to see how smart our experts really are.

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Posted On Thursday, 05.12.2011 / 9:53 AM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - Road to St. Paul 2011 Entry Draft Blog

Sea Dogs win marathon OT game; Phillips hurting

Saint John Sea Dogs rookie center Ryan Tesink tries to model his game after Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews. What promising young hockey player wouldn't?

But it's one thing to emulate the style of a player and another to showcase some on-ice dramatics reminiscent of that player as well, particularly when the game is on the line. The young Tesink, who is eligible for the 2011 Entry Draft in St. Paul, Minn., on June 24-25, did just that on Wednesday when he ended the longest game in the history of the President's Cup Finals.

Tesink's goal at 19:16 of the second overtime gave the Sea Dogs a 4-3 victory over the Gatineau Olmpiques in Game 4 of their best-of-7 series in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League championship round. The Sea Dogs, which now lead the series, 3-1, have a chance to win their first-ever QMJHL championship on home ice in Game 5 on Friday in a sold-out Harbour Station.
Zack Phillips Saint John Sea Dogs QMJHL

Tesink is one of nine players from the Sea Dogs rated among the top 210 North American skaters eligible for the upcoming draft by NHL Central Scouting. Tesink was regarded as the sixth-best Saint John player, ranked 47th overall, in April. Jonathan Huberdeau, No. 3 on Central Scouting's list, along with No. 5 Nathan Beaulieu and No. 15 Zack Phillips also hit for the Sea Dogs on Wednesday.

Phillips, who has nine goals in the playoffs, did suffer an upper-body injury and didn't play in the third period and overtimes. Coach Gerard Gallant admitted after the game that his injury isn't thought to be serious.

Saint John has yet to lose three straight games all season and lost back-to-back contests only once all year. A year ago, Saint John lost the QMJHL final in six games to the Moncton Wildcats. Gatineau's last appearance in the final, and last championship, was in 2008.

Stanislav Galiev, chosen by the Washington Capitals in the third round (No. 86 overall) last year, set up all four goals, and goalie Jacob DeSerres made 35 saves for the win.

The longest President's Cup Final prior to Wednesday's game was 28:31 into overtime, when Pat LaFontaine gave Verdun a 5-4 win over Longueuil on April 22, 1983. The lone assist on that goal came from current Sea Dogs coach, Gallant.

Tesink began the game-winning sequence when he hit Gatineau's Nicolas Deslauriers, forcing a turnover, which Galiev collected as Tesink drove to the net. Tesink alertly took a whack at the puck following a pass from Galiev and the puck fluttered over goalie Maxime Clermont's left shoulder for the clincher.

"That's the most tired I've ever been and I did not want to go into a third overtime, so we said we had to finish it and we got lucky," said Tesink, who beat Clermont on the Sea Dogs' 64th shot of the game. "It's a great feeling, but it's not over yet, though. [Gatineau] doesn't quit."

Huberdeau, who has a league-leading 15 goals in the playoffs, has performed on a line with Phillips and Galiev most of the postseason.

Beaulieu squared the contest with a power-play goal off a rebound in the third period. Saint John outshot Gatineau, 13-6, in the third but couldn't find another goal as the game required extra time.

In the first overtime, Saint John was called for two early penalties, giving Gatineau a 5-on-3 advantage for 1:24. Sea Dogs coach Gerard Gallant called a timeout and sent out Huberdeau, Beaulieu and Simon Despres to start the penalty kill. With help from Kevin Gagne, Eric Gelinas, Mike Thomas, Stephen MacAulay and Danick Gauthier, the Sea Dogs escaped unscathed.

"Everybody's tired. They're a tired hockey team over there and we're tired and beat up," Gallant said. "It's going to be a battle Friday night. I don't see it being any different than tonight. It was just a battle of two good teams playing hard hockey."
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Posted On Wednesday, 05.04.2011 / 3:58 PM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - 2011 ECSF: Philadelphia-Boston Live Blog

Birthday boy JVR hoping for encore effort in Game 3

What could James van Riemsdyk possibly do for an encore in a Game 3 that falls on his birthday that he didn't do in a Game 2 loss to the Boston Bruins in the Eastern Conference semifinal round?

Perhaps provide a similar effort in a victory this time around?
James van Riemsdyk #21 of the Philadelphia Flyers celebrates his goal against the Boston Bruins during the first period of Game Two of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2011 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Wells Fargo Center on May 2, 2011 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Paul Bereswill/Getty Images)

Van Riemsdyk was named the second star of the game on Monday night at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia after scoring a pair of goals and posting eight shots on goal to extend his League-leading total to 59 this spring.

It marked the fifth game this playoff season of eight shots or more for van Riemsdyk, who had never posted more than seven shots in a game in his two-year career.

Van Riemsdyk, who turns 22 today, knows a victory in Game 3 will go a long way in helping the Flyers back into the series.

"We are just worrying about one game at a time and that's all it takes to win," he said. "We are down 2-0 now but if we take it one day at a time, one game at a time, I think we will be in good shape.

"Obviously, I had quite a few chances and some breakaways (in Game 2) that I maybe would like to have back and try something different," he added. That's the way the game goes sometimes. Hopefully, next time I can bury those chances."

The Flyers were very successful on the road this year and won two of three in Buffalo in their opening-round triumph against the Sabres. Van Riemsdyk is hoping that trend continues.

"I think we just have guys that step up and raise their game when our backs have been against the wall," he said. "Usually when you go on the road it's a little more of a hostile environment and you really need to step up a little more. We have been able to do that."

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Posted On Monday, 05.02.2011 / 4:28 PM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - 2011 ECSF: Philadelphia-Boston Live Blog

Carle, JVR exhibit American pride

When the towers fell, Matt Carle was a sophomore in high school and James van Riemsdyk was a sixth grader. Now teammates with the Philadelphia Flyers, both players were glad to see that justice finally prevailed on Sunday night when President Barack Obama announced that Osama bin Laden had been killed in a firefight with U.S. forces in Pakistan.

"I think it's a time for everyone to rally and kind of unite again," said Carle, a native of Anchorage, Alaska. "I was 16-years-old when 9/11 rolled around and it was a huge turning point. It's one of those things where I don't think you'll ever forget where you were when the news broke on Sunday and that's going to be the case (Monday) night as well."
Lauren Hart Philadelphia Flyers anthem singer

It's probably fitting that Game 2 between the Flyers and Bruins is the only game on the docket and being staged in the City of Brotherly Love this evening. Fans will get an opportunity to witness anthem singer Lauren Hart perform her duet with Kate Smith prior to puck drop at 7:30 p.m. ET. It should be an extremely moving and emotional tribute.

"Everybody will kind of remember how they found out how Osama bin Laden was killed and it's one of those things in history that you'll never forget," Carle said. "All the thanks goes out to our troops and the guys who were there getting that done."

Van Riemsdyk, a native of Middletown, N.J., was certainly proud to be an American as he spoke to reporters, sitting at his stall after practice at Wells Fargo Center Monday afternoon.

"It's something that has been going on for the last 10 years … it's been a manhunt for this guy and he's done a lot of terrible things and to see him brought to justice, it definitely makes you proud to be an American," van Riemsdyk said. "He's affected not only the people in the U.S., but other countries too." certainly has all your pre-game reaction to the dramatic world-wide news regarding bin Laden covered. Hart is looking forward to offering up her rendition of 'God Bless America' for the capacity crowd on hand at Wells Fargo this evening.

Adam Kimelman also produced a story regarding former Flyers prospect Ben Stafford, who is currently serving in the Marines. There is also video with reaction from Andrew Ference of the Boston Bruins so check it out.

"I was watching a movie (Sunday) night and happened to check my twitter account and saw some rumblings of (bin Laden's death) so I turned the movie off and turned on the news and watched the President's speech," Carle recalled. "I think it was a pretty historic moment. I know a lot of people have given their lives and sacrificed a lot to be able to put him to rest, I guess. You wish it would have never have come to that, but this speaks volumes about our military and how relentless they were in never giving up. There's still a lot of work to be done, I think, but it's a step in the right direction."

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale
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Quote of the Day

I got a chance to play a thousand games and that's pretty special to me. To get a thousand [points], it's a great accomplishment. I'm not going to hide my feelings, I'm proud of that. To do it on a win, do it on a goal, I think it makes it special.

— New York Rangers forward Martin St. Louis after scoring his 1000th NHL point on Friday
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