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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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Posted On Monday, 05.02.2011 / 8:59 AM

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

Ed Snider pays a visit to Flyers practice facility

The Flyers received a little surprise on Sunday morning when chairman Ed Snider strolled into the locker room of the Flyers practice facility to shake hands and offer some luck.

It certainly wasn't the first time Snider made his presence felt, but it was a nice surprise for the players to see him on an off-day at the team's training facility. When Snider walked into the room, the first player he approached was goalie Brian Boucher.
Ed Snider Philadelphia Flyers chairman

"He cares for sure," Flyers forward Claude Giroux said. "He's always around, and always after games he comes into the room and shakes guys' hands. He is always happy. I think he believes in us for sure."

The Flyers' regulars didn't skate on Sunday and, instead, spent the day watching film of their Game 1 debacle against the Boston Bruins. They're hoping to even up the best-of-7 series on Monday at Wells Fargo Center, 7:30 p.m. ET.

"It's pretty cool (to see Snider)," Danny Briere said. "That's why he is considered one of the best owners in any team sport. He is very passionate. He loves his team, loves his players. It's pretty cool to see him."

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Posted On Saturday, 04.30.2011 / 1:43 PM

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

Seidenberg looks forward to playoff match with Philly

Bruins coach Claude Julien is certainly glad he'll have a healthy Andrew Ference and Dennis Seidenberg along the blueline against the Flyers this time around.

During last year's seven-game series loss to Philadelphia, Ference played hurt after missing 17 of the last 21 regular-season games due to a groin/hernia injury and finished a minus-5 with 4 penalty minutes against the Flyers. Seidenberg didn't play at all after suffering a lacerated tendon in his left forearm late in the season.

Julien knows the importance of having fresh, capable defensemen on the ice against the physical Flyers. That said, the Flyers are also a better defensive team following the off-season acquisitions of Andrej Meszaros and Sean O'Donnell.

"They're two experienced guys that you get into your lineup and that's certainly going to help," Julien said of Ference and Seidenberg. "I know Seids (Seidenberg) has played there in Philly and always seems to play well against them."

Ference had 2 assists and was a plus-3 in the deciding game against Montreal and had a goal and 3 assists in the last four games of the series. Seidenberg, drafted in the sixth round (172nd overall) by the Flyers in 2001, will be meeting his former employer for the first time in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"It's definitely different playing here again, especially for a playoff game, and just it's something special for me," Seidenberg said."It's going to be exciting and I'm really looking forward to it."

"He's had a pretty good start to the playoffs, so you hope that continues," Julien said. "But we're going in there this time probably with a healthier squad so we hope that's going to help our hockey club. But I think last year is last year and this year is this year. As you mentioned, a lot of people are going to want to bring up the past and if anything, it's like Montreal. All the stats are probably against us with the odds and how the Bruins had fared against them in the past and down 2-0.

"It's always a new situation, a new opportunity, and that's how we're looking at it," Julien added. "Just a new opportunity for us to get past these guys and hopefully win this series."

Seidenberg has 2 goals and 9 points in 26 career playoff games and Ference has 4 goals and 26 points in 81 contests.

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale
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Posted On Saturday, 04.30.2011 / 12:17 PM

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

Bruins need to resolve power-play woes

In addition to answering questions about last year's seven-game meltdown to the Flyers, the Boston Bruins are also getting an earful regarding their powerless power-play.
The club is confident they'll straighten things out beginning with Game 1 against Philadelphia in Saturday's Eastern Conference Semifinals here at Wells Fargo Center (3 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, RDS). The matchup marks the sixth series between the teams with the Flyers holding a 3-2 lead after rallying for a seven-game series triumph last spring.
Boston set an NHL record for futility with the man advantage during their seven-game victory over the Montreal Canadiens in the conference quarterfinal round when they went 0-for-21 -- becoming the only NHL team to win a seven-game playoff series without scoring a power-play goal.
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Posted On Friday, 04.29.2011 / 9:00 PM

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

Flyers aware of Horton heroics

It's a pretty good bet that at least one of the games in the Eastern Conference Semifinals pitting the Flyers and Bruins goes to overtime. After all, two of the seven games in last year's epic showdown needed an extra period.

This season, Nathan Horton has been an overtime gem for the Bruins. The 6-foot-2, 229-pound wing connected for the double-overtime winner in Game 5 against the Montreal Canadiens and the OT clincher in the decisive Game 7.

Needless to say, the Flyers are well aware of Horton's heroic efforts.
Nathan Horton #18 of the Boston Bruins celebrates scoring the over time game winning goal against the Montreal Canadiens

"He is a natural goal scorer," Flyers captain Mike Richards said. "When you have that, it's always a threat when he's on the ice. He is a good forward with a great shot. I can remember in juniors (when Horton played with the Oshawa Generals), he always had that knack to be around the net and find those quiet holes. He has a good shot to go with that."

Horton was acquired in a trade with the Florida Panthers that sent he and Gregory Campbell to Boston in exchange for Dennis Wideman and draft picks during the offseason. In addition to Horton's major contributions with the top line, Campbell has been a steady center on Boston's fourth line all season.

"He scored a couple of big goals for them," Pronger said of Horton. "Obviously the two overtime winners and he's a guy that gets to the net. He has a great shot and you got to take away his time and space and kind of be strong on the puck."

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Posted On Friday, 04.29.2011 / 7:46 AM

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

DOOP-ing it out at Wells Fargo Center

In case you missed it, the Philadelphia Flyers and their fans are singing a new tune within the Wells Fargo Center these days.

Thing is, to those Major League soccer fans throughout the city, the song is an all-too familiar chant each time the Philadelphia Union pops home a goal at PPL Park in Chester, Pa. Now, the Flyers have added the DOOP song to their menu of musical overtures each time they light the lamp at Wells Fargo Center.

And, yes, it's become a hit.

Basically, all it consists of is: "DOOP DOOP DOOP da da DOOP DOOP DOOP da DOOP DOOP DOOP da da DOOP DOOP DOOP."

Not of lot of words, just one syllable throughout the entire chorus. But the switch has received positive feedback for the Flyers.

Flyers forward Danny Briere gave it his thumbs up -- and that's a good thing since Briere leads the Flyers with 6 playoff goals this spring.

"I thought it was great, and it really fired up the crowd in the last game," Briere said. "We played it a few times and the guys liked it. All I asked (Flyers president) Mr. (Peter) Luukko was that it had been four years since I came over to Philly and we had played the same song after a goal. There had to be something else out there to get the crowd fired up … a few guys noticed it and so far it's been very positive."

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale

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Quote of the Day

I don't know how he does it. I don't know how he gets his body parallel with the player and pulls it through his legs like that. I know he's tried it a couple times in practice and it's never worked, so how he does it in a game, it's incredible.

— Capitals defenseman Mike Green on teammate Alex Ovechkin's highlight-reel goal against the Devils on Saturday