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Round 2
Round 3
Stanley Cup Final
POSTED ON Wednesday, 05.09.2012 / 5:47 PM

By Jerry Brown -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Coyotes vs. Kings series blog

Whitney a reluctant birthday boy

GLENDALE, Ariz, -- Ray Whitney turned 40 years old on Tuesday and thought he might have escaped the wrath of his teammates since it was an off-day for the Coyotes.

No chance. His locker was dressed up with presents on Wednesday, including a walker -- adorned with a blue bow -- tubes of Ben Gay and denture cream, laxative, batteries and a magnifying glass with which to read the latest copy of Oprah Winfrey's "O" Magazine.

Whitney, who will dodge any camera possible even on most normal days, had no interest in coming out to view the display while media was in the room. But his teammates didn't mind commenting -- especially suspected ringleader Shane Doan.

"I'm way young younger than a few people on this team -- and Ray Whitney is way older than everyone else," the 35-year-old Doan was only too happy to point out, "We fixed him up with a 40-year-old survival kit just to make sure he has everything working."

Whitney had everything working during the regular season, leading the Coyotes in assists (53) and points (77) while pumping in 24 goals. He's added six points in 13 playoff games -- showing he's not quite ready for a walker.

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POSTED ON Monday, 05.07.2012 / 6:36 PM

By Jerry Brown -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Coyotes vs. Predators series blog

Projected lines for Coyotes for Game 5

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- With David Schlemko in for Rostislav Klesla and Lauri Korpikoski a game-time decision, here is tonight's projected lineup for the Phoenix Coyotes:

Ray Whitney - Martin Hanzal - Radim Vrbata
Mikkel Boedker - Antoine Vermette - Shane Doan
Taylor Pyatt - Boyd Gordon - Marc Antoine Pouliot
Kyle Chipchura - Daymond Langkow - Gilbert Brule

Michal Rozsival - Oliver Ekman-Larsson
Keith Yandle - Derek Morris
David Schlemko - Adrian Aucoin

Mike Smith
Jason LaBarbera
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POSTED ON Monday, 05.07.2012 / 5:20 PM

By Jerry Brown -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Coyotes vs. Predators series blog

Pouliot filling in admirably in Korpikoski's absence

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Coyotes winger Lauri Korpikoski ranked fourth on the Phoenix Coyotes with 17 goals and 37 points this season and wears a variety of hats for the team as a special teams performer and responsible checker.
 
But injuries have limited Korpikoski to just five games in the postseason and he has played in just three of the last eight games. Kopikoski is getting closer but is still a game-time decision for Monday night's Game 5 when the Coyotes will try to close out the Nashville Predators and advance to the Western Conference finals for the first time in franchise history.
 
The Coyotes have a quandary. Marc-Antoine Pouliot has played very steady hockey (one assist, plus-one) in averaging about 10 minutes of ice in the last three games. And while Phoenix could use the added surge of offense, Korpikoski would have about a week to rest and get ready for the Western Conference Finals if Phoenix can advance on Monday.
 
"We'll see where he is today," said Tippett, sounding like he was ready to play without Korpikoski. "When we feel like he can contribute to the maximum, that's when he'll play."
 
Pouliot has been a pleasant surprise for the organization this year and his versatility -- playing both the wing and center spots -- and toughness fit in well in this type of series.
 
"He's filled in very well for Korpikoski," Tippett said. "He's a solid player, two-way player, strong on the boards and solid in all parts of the game. He hasn't gotten on the scoreboard, but if you look at the guts of the game he's a heavy player similar to a [Taylor] Pyatt. He's been a good player for us."
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POSTED ON Sunday, 05.06.2012 / 10:51 PM

By Jerry Brown -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Coyotes vs. Predators series blog

Success in playoffs means thicker beards for Coyotes

The Phoenix Coyotes have gone farther in the playoffs than ever before, and they have the playoff beards to prove it.
 
Keith Yandle
Defense - PHX
GOALS: 0 | ASST: 7 | PTS: 7
SOG: 12 | +/-: 7
Defenseman Keith Yandle spent most of an interview scratching his facial hair and when asked about how he was enjoying the hockey rite of spring, he wasn't shy.
 
"It's awful. I spend all day picking things out of it. Food, loose objects, everything," Yandle said. "I love it because it's a sign we're still around fighting for the Stanley Cup. But it's not one of my favorite things."
 
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POSTED ON Sunday, 05.06.2012 / 9:41 PM

By Jerry Brown -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Coyotes vs. Predators series blog

Coyotes forced to play Game 5 without Klesla

GLENDALE, Ariz. – Already without winger Raffi Torres for the rest of the playoffs, the Phoenix Coyotes will try to eliminate the Nashville Predators on Monday night with another player sitting out a suspension.

Rostislav Klesla
Defense - PHX
GOALS: 2 | ASST: 4 | PTS: 6
SOG: 19 | +/-: 1
Defenseman Rostislav Klesla will miss Game 5 after being suspended for one game for his boarding infraction against Nashville's Matt Halischuk in Game 4 on Friday night. Klesla was penalized on the play, but the League's Department of Safety ruled that Halischuk was defenseless as he chased a puck to the sideboards in part because Klesla grabbed his jersey before administering his check.

Klesla will likely be replaced by David Schlemko -- the only other defenseman to see time in the playoffs so far -- when they take a 3-1 series lead into Game 5 at Jobing.com Arena. Klesla's usual partner is Adrian Aucoin, but Schlemko skated with several partners during Sunday’s practice and the pairings could change.
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POSTED ON Saturday, 04.28.2012 / 6:31 PM

By Jerry Brown -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Coyotes vs. Predators series blog

Lineup tweaks possible for both teams in Game 2

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Neither the Phoenix Coyotes nor the Nashville Predators will skate Sunday morning due to the 5 p.m. local time start for Game 2 of their Western Conference Semifinal series. But both coaches hinted that lineup changes could be coming.

The Coyotes may make a change on defense with David Schlemko or Michael Stone subbing for either Adrian Aucoin or Derek Morris. Marc-Antoine is also an option up front.

Nashville could go with Colin Wilson, who has yet to make his first postseason appearance but took the pregame skate on Friday for the first time. He skated with the scratches on Saturday, but Predators coach Barry Trotz said Wilson would be the first player in if he makes a change, with Craig Smith (9:29 of ice in Game 1) most likely to be replaced.

Ray Whitney's goal 14:04 into overtime gave the Coyotes a 4-3 win in Game 1.

Here is what the lineups for the Coyotes and Predators could look like for Game 2 (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TSN, RDS):

Predators

Sergei Kostitsyn - Mike Fisher - Martin Erat
Gabriel Bourque - David Legwand - Alexander Radulov
Andrei Kostitsyn - Nick Spaling - Patric Hornqvist
Brandon Yip - Paul Gaustad - Craig Smith/Craig Wilson

Ryan Suter - Shea Weber
Roman Josi - Kevin Klein
Francis Bouillon - Hal Gill

Pekka Rinne
Anders Lindback

Coyotes

Ray Whitney - Martin Hanzal - Radim Vrbata
Mikkel Boedker - Antoine Vermette - Lauri Korpikoski
Taylor Pyatt - Boyd Gordon - Shane Doan
Kyle Chipchura - Daymond Langkow - Gilbert Brule

Keith Yandle - Derek Morris/David Schlemko
Oliver Ekman-Larsson - Michal Rozsival
Rostislav Klesla - Adrian Aucoin/Michael Stone


Mike Smith
Jason LaBarbera


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POSTED ON Friday, 04.27.2012 / 3:20 PM

By Jerry Brown -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Coyotes vs. Predators series blog

Postseason travel schedule has been easier on Preds

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Last year, the Nashville Predators earned plenty of frequent flyer miles in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

After flying back and forth to Anaheim twice before taking out the Ducks in six games, Nashville had to go to the Western Conference's western-most outpost -- Vancouver -- twice. They fell in six games, but if the Predators had advanced, a couple of trips to San Jose would have been waiting.

This year is a little different. With home ice in the first round, Nashville needed only one quick flight to Detroit in dispatching the Red Wings in five games. And the Predators have had an entire week to rest and prepare for their Western Conference Semifinal series beginning in Phoenix tonight.

"Two hours in a plane instead of 20," Nashville center Mike Fisher said. "That's pretty nice."

Nashville coach Barry Trotz said this season has been much less hectic on his team.

"Last year we battled right to the end to get in the playoffs," Trotz said. "Then we go back and forth to Anaheim, back and forth to Vancouver and if we ever got past the Canucks, we would have gotten San Jose and probably set a record for miles flown in one playoff year. It was pretty taxing."

"But we've had a lot of time off this year. We're fresh and we're healthy and we're ready to go."
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POSTED ON Friday, 04.27.2012 / 2:50 PM

By Jerry Brown -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Coyotes vs. Predators series blog

Gill set to return for Predators

GLENDALE, Ariz. – Nashville defenseman Hal Gill, who missed the entire first round with a lower-body injury, has been cleared to play and will be in the lineup Friday when the Predators open their Western Conference Quarterfinals against the Phoenix Coyotes.

Gill hasn’t played since blocking a shot from Sheldon Souray of the Dallas Stars on Apr. 5, but was back to blocking shots in practice this week and will be paired with Francis Bouillon, putting the Predators at full strength.
 
“I’m good to go,” Gill said. “I appreciated the boys giving me the rest and now it’s my turn to get in there.”

Gill said he tossed a turned a bit Thursday night and will have to get the playoff tension out early to catch up with everyone else.

“Sleep was tough last night. You get excited, you get geared up,” he said. “But it’s a good feeling. If you go to a horror movie, you want to be scared. If you’re in the playoffs you want to be excited and I’m definitely there.”

Gill is the latest of a handful of Predators who have added a new twist to the playoff beard tradition – sporting a playoff Mohawk on Friday. It was started by defenseman Kevin Klein during the playoff drive and several teammates have joined in.
 
Nashville center Mike Fisher said he won’t be joining the crowd on that one.

“Having a good look at these guys … I’ll stick with the beard,” he said.

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POSTED ON Friday, 04.27.2012 / 1:37 PM

By Jerry Brown -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Coyotes vs. Predators series blog

Projected lineups for Game 1

The Coyotes have only one question mark in the lineup. Defenseman David Schlemko started over veteran Adrian Aucoin in the series-clinching win over Chicago after Aucoin had played in the first five games.

Here is what the lineups for both Phoenix and the Nashville Predators could look like for Game 1 of this Western Conference Semifinals series:

Predators

Sergei Kostitsyn - Mike Fisher - Martin Erat
Gabriel Bourque - David Legwand - Alexander Rudlov
Andrei Kostitsyn - Nick Spaling - Patric Hornqvist
Brandon Yip - Jordan Tootoo - Craig Smith

Ryan Suter - Shea Weber
Roman Josi - Kevin Klein
Francis Bouillon - Hal Gill

Pekka Rinne
Anders Lindback

Coyotes

Ray Whitney - Martin Hanzal - Radim Vrbata
Mikkel Boedker - Antoine VermetteLauri Korpikoski
Taylor Pyatt - Boyd Gordon - Shane Doan
KyleChipchura - Daymond Langkow - Gilbert Brule

Keith Yandle - Derek Morris
Oliver Ekman-Larsson - David Schlemko
Rostisalv Klesla - Michal Rozsival

Mike Smith
Jason LaBarbera

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POSTED ON Saturday, 04.21.2012 / 10:16 PM

By Jerry Brown -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Coyotes vs. Blackhawks series blog

Korpikoski returns to Coyotes' lineup

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Phoenix Coyotes had one of their wingers back in the lineup as Lauri Korpikoski returned for Game 5 against the Chicago Blackhawks after missing two games with a lower-body injury.
 
Korpikoski, who had 17 goals and 37 assists in the regular season, replaced enforcer Paul Bissonnette in the lineup.
 
The Coyotes lead the series 3-1 and will attempt to win their first playoff series since moving to Phoenix and the first for the franchise since 1987.
 
 

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For me, it's a great win for our hockey team and for a lot of people back in Columbus, especially our fans in particular … people who have been devoted to this organization, it's big.

— Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards on their win vs. the Penguins in Game 2, the franchise's first-ever Stanley Cup Playoff victory