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Posted On Tuesday, 04.26.2011 / 9:21 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2011 ECQF: Philadelphia-Buffalo Live Blog

Second period: Flyers 3, Sabres 0

Philadelphia's missing power play apparently has been found.
 
 The Flyers were 3-for-31 with the man-advantage in the first six games, but scored twice in the second period to pad their lead.
 
First Danny Briere again beat Paul Gaustad on a draw to the left of goalie Ryan Miller, this time winning the puck back to Mike Richards at the right point. Richards fired a shot through traffic that somehow found Briere. With Miller out playing the angle, Briere had an easy tap-in.
 
That goal five seconds after the Sabres' Tyler Myers was sent off for interference.
 
Later in the period, Claude Giroux fired a shot from the left circle that Miller never saw through a James van Riemsdyk screen at 10:19 that made it 3-0. The goal came 1:10 into a hooking penalty on the Sabres' Chris Butler.
 
The Sabres were far better in the second, nearly scoring a power-play goal following an interference penalty in Giroux just 1:04 in. They had three shots on the man-advantage, which was more than they had in the entire first period.
 
Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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Posted On Tuesday, 04.26.2011 / 8:50 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2011 ECQF: Philadelphia-Buffalo Live Blog

First period: Flyers 1, Sabres 0

The Flyers had full command of the first period, out-shooting the Sabres 16-2 and getting the period's lone goal, from defenseman Braydon Coburn in the final minute of the period.

On a faceoff in the right circle in the Buffalo end, the Flyers' Claude Giroux set up to take the draw against Buffalo's Paul Gaustad. A false start led to Giroux getting kicked out of the circle, replaced by Danny Briere. It worked out for the Flyers, however, when Briere beat Gaustad cleanly, winning the puck straight back to Coburn at the point. Coburn took a couple strides to his left and sent a shot on net that appeared to glance of the glove of the Sabres' Mike Grier. Ryan Miller couldn't react to the re-direction and the puck slipped between his pads with 18.5 seconds left.

The Sabres' second shot of the period came 9:08 into the period, meaning they went the final 10 minutes-plus without a shot. That included the period's only power play, when Briere was sent off for boarding Rob Niedermayer.

On the recovered-player front, Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger played 12 shifts totaling 6:37 -- all at even strength.
That's already more than the 4:33 he played in Game 6. He had one shot -- the game's first -- and three blocked shots.

For the Sabres, Derek Roy started the game -- his first since Dec. 23 -- and played 11 shifts totaling 6:54. He didn't have a shot, but went 2-for-5 on faceoffs.

Jochen Hecht, in his first game back from an upper-body injury, played eight shifts totaling 5:05. He was a minus-1, but had one hit and two takeaways.

The second period's about to get under way, so back to the game we go.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com.
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Posted On Tuesday, 04.26.2011 / 6:25 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2011 ECQF: Philadelphia-Buffalo Live Blog

"Lappy" talks Masterton Award; fans of Philly

Philadelphia Flyers forward Ian Laperriere is reminded almost every day of the sacrifices he's made as a professional hockey player -- and he couldn't be happier.

As it turns out, the bond he created with those fans of Philadelphia in the short time he has been with the organization has left a lasting impression.


"Everywhere I go, people were nice enough to come up and thank me for taking two pucks in the face," Laperriere told the media after learning he was one of three finalists for the 2010-11 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy.

"It's funny but true and I wish I could have signed here 10 years ago," he continued. "In saying that, I had a great time in L.A. and Colorado and everywhere I played. As long as I got skates on and teammates around me, that's the best place I can be."

Laperriere sustained a severe head injury during last year's playoffs when he blocked a Paul Martin slapshot with his face against New Jersey and suffered a concussion and fractured orbital bone. He returned a little more than a month later to finish the Flyers' playoff run that ended two games short of a championship. He attempted to return in training camp, but could not overcome his concussion-related symptoms and has been on the long-term injury list all season.

Nevertheless, he has served the Flyers in several capacities, particularly as a mentor for young players in the organization. It's a role he's enjoyed.

"I love working with the young guys," he said. "I've gotten a head start to meet those guys and their junior teams. If I have to make that call, I would want to stay in the game whether that be as an assistant or working with the team in some way. I enjoy skating with (Chris) Pronger and (Matt) Walker and with the black aces.

"The happiest place I am is at the rink. I don't know if everyone can say their happiest place is at the office but I can. People say to me, why don't you spend time with your kids, but my kids are at school most of the day; they have their own lives too. I'd love to sit next to them, but I can't."

Flyers coach Peter Laviolette was glad to see Laperriere named a finalist for the Masterton Trophy.

"You're talking about one of the finest people you can meet," Laviolette said. "He's a terrific teammate, terrific friend to a lot of players and somebody you really enjoyed coaching and working with. Having him around still is a positive for our organization. I'm happy for the nomination, well deserved."

Now Laperriere is just hoping to have an opportunity to be in Las Vegas for the Awards ceremony on June 22.

"I knew hockey before I met my wife, so it's something that's going to be with me forever," Laperriere said. "The passion that I brought on the ice was because I loved the game. Off the ice, I always tried to be as normal a guy as I could be."

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale
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Posted On Tuesday, 04.26.2011 / 6:06 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2011 ECQF: Philadelphia-Buffalo Live Blog

Flyers have been here before

Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said he doesn't see any Game 7-related panic in his team. He credits some of that to the experience from Sunday.

"We've already been here," he said in his pre-game media briefing. "We were already faced with this last game. I know it's a Game 7, but our Game 7 was Game 6. We've already got a little bit of experience."

He also said he puts no stock in any momentum that might have been gained from the 4-3 overtime win in Game 6.

"Momentum can be the death of you," he said. "Give me a heavy dose of desperation and I'll be happy."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Tuesday, 04.26.2011 / 2:41 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2011 ECQF: Philadelphia-Buffalo Live Blog

Sabres banged-up but not broken

The Buffalo Sabres could be missing a lot more than just forwards Tim Connolly (upper body) and Jason Pominville (lower body) for Game 7 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal round match against the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday.

Sabres coach Lindy Ruff did confirm that either Patrick Kaleta or Mike Grier would be sidelined but was mum on the status of defenseman Jordan Leopold. According to the Buffalo News, Kaleta is "definitely" out with an apparent hand injury. Grier and Leopold, meanwhile, are listed as game-time decisions.
Lindy Ruff Buffalo Sabres, coach

Meanwhile, Jochen Hecht (upper body), who hasn't played since March 29, and Andrej Sekera (upper body) remain questionable despite the fact they did skate on Tuesday.

"I'm getting better every day," Hecht told reporters after Tuesday's practice. "Am I playable? It's a close call. It's nerve-wracking sitting out. It would make it a lot easier on my nerves just to play. It's definitely hard to watch."

There is some positive news: center Derek Roy returns to the lineup following a four-month absence with a quad injury. Roy claims to be 100 percent, which is good since Ruff expects him to "do a lot."

"Between the regular season and playoffs, there's another notch there where it's got to be quicker and faster," Ruff said. "The intensity is a lot greater, so things are going to have to happen quicker. It might take him a few shifts, but I think he's up to the task.

"We need him to do a lot. We need him to step in and be a big player. It's tough. He hasn't been in a game in four months, but we're ready to give it a go."

Ruff is looking forward to Tuesday's Game 7 against the Flyers.

"We've kind of wrapped our arms around this underdog status and we've been beaten up and lost a lot of players and I think the players' mindset is great," he said. "We have no pressure. We just have to go out and play. These guys have given everything they can give me for 4-1/2 months and battled through adversity. I expect the same (Tuesday). It's a one game showdown and we're looking forward to it."

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Posted On Tuesday, 04.26.2011 / 2:36 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2011 ECQF: Philadelphia-Buffalo Live Blog

Boucher has seen Briere at best, worst

Brian Boucher has a bit of a different perspective on Danny Briere than others might have. The two are teammates now in Philadelphia, but it's not the first time they've been together. They were teammates for most of the 2002-03 season with the Phoenix Coyotes.

Boucher was in his first season in the desert, arriving in an offseason trade with the Flyers. Briere was in what would end up as his final season with the Coyotes, as he was traded in March 2003 to the Buffalo Sabres.

Boucher remembers Briere as a talented player who couldn't find his niche in the lineup. He had scored 32 goals in the 2001-02 season, but had slumped to 17 -- with a minus-21 rating -- in 68 games at the time of his trade.

"(In Phoenix) he was trying to find his way, fighting through being in and out of the lineup and coaches not trusting him on the ice," said Boucher. "The typical stuff that happens to young guys."

Briere was taken by the Coyotes in the first round of the 1996 Entry Draft, but never became the top-flight scorer Phoenix had hoped for. He was waived twice by the Coyotes before getting traded to the Sabres, where he eventually developed into an All-Star. He signed with the Flyers in July 2007, and the pair briefly was reunited before Boucher was sent to the minors and then traded to San Jose. Boucher returned to the Flyers in the summer of 2009, and has had a front-row seat for Briere's rise to playoff stardom the last two seasons.

"He's a resilient guy, has a lot of fight in him," said Boucher. "When he broke into the League, size was always an issue back then. It was always like, this guy's too small. Now that's changed where now size really isn't a factor. If you can skate, you can play.

"Now you can see it. He's a true leader. He can bring it. When he's inspired like he's been, there's nobody better. It's been great."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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Posted On Tuesday, 04.26.2011 / 2:10 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2011 ECQF: Philadelphia-Buffalo Live Blog

This Game 7 is a long time coming for Boucher

Brian Boucher has started one other Game 7 in his NHL career -- the 2000 Eastern Conference Finals against the New Jersey Devils. He stopped 16 of 18 shots that night in a 2-1 loss.

Back then, Boucher was a 23-year-old rookie getting his first taste of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. When he starts Game 7, he'll be a grizzled 34-year-old in his third stint with the Flyers in an NHL journey that's taken him to Phoenix, Calgary, Chicago, Columbus and San Jose, with a couple stops in the American Hockey League included.

"I think what's changed is the fact that there's a lot of years in between then and now," he told reporters Monday. "There's a lot of experience gained. I feel like I'm a better goalie today than I was back then. The fact that I was fresh-faced and had a lot of energy and a lot of spunk, I think that was what carried me at that time. Now I feel like I'm a smarter goaltender. I've learned a lot. Maybe that'll help out."

One of the things he's learned is to laugh off some of the things that come up in the media at playoff time. Like, how the Buffalo News called the Flyers' three starting goalies in the series -- Boucher, Sergei Bobrovsky and Michael Leighton -- the Three Stooges.

When Boucher was asked which his favorite Stooge was, he just laughed.

"That's pretty funny," he said. "Which was the bald-headed one? Curly, that's the guy. Maybe I'll be Curly."

Boucher said the benefit of age also has helped him be able to take his mind off the game.

"For me it's pretty easy," he said. "I've got a family at home and you can't ignore your duties as a father or as a husband. When I get home, it's life as usual. For me, it's easy to (get away from the game). For guys that are single or on their own, it might be more difficult. We've got baseball practice today at 5 p.m. for my son. It's a beautiful day so far, go catch some sunshine."

In five games in this series (three starts, two relief appearances), Boucher is 3-1 with a 2.12 goals-against average and .935 save percentage, both of which rank fifth among all playoff goalies.

"There's a tremendous amount of confidence in Brian Boucher, there's no question about that," coach Peter Laviolette said Tuesday morning.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Sunday, 04.24.2011 / 10:05 PM

By Jeremy Sandler -  Special to NHL.com /NHL.com - 2011 ECQF: Philadelphia-Buffalo Live Blog

Ruff: Roy will play in Game 7

With Tim Connolly now sidelined following a hit by Mike Richards, the Buffalo Sabres are going to need some reinforcements.

Enter Derek Roy.

Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said Roy will take Connolly's spot on Tuesday, when the Philadelphia Flyers will host the Sabres in Game 7 of this Eastern Conference Quarterfinal.

Roy, also a center, had 10 goals and 35 points in 35 games for Buffalo this season but has not played since tearing a quad tendon in December, an injury that required surgery to fix.

"He's going to be ready," said Ruff. "We'll get him ready."

As for the rest of his shorthanded team, the Sabres coach said the key task for Game 7 in Philadelphia will be getting his best players to deliver top performances.

"This team's got a lot of battle, incredible battle," he said. "This team is going to battle 'til the bitter end. We're going in there, we know we've won two games in that building. We're going in for a win."
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Posted On Saturday, 04.23.2011 / 11:16 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2011 ECQF: Philadelphia-Buffalo Live Blog

Nostra-Ennis?

Even Tyler Ennis was surprised he wasn't nervous waiting for overtime to start in Game 5 against the Flyers on Friday.

"I thought I was going to be a little nervous heading to the overtime, but I was excited, couldn't wait for it to start," he said. I really wanted to score."

He wanted it so bad, he could see it happening.

"I was picturing myself scoring," he said. "It was exciting."

Buffalo's Tyler Ennis (left) brought his vision to life with this overtime goal in Game 5 to lift the Sabres to a 4-3 win against the Flyers.
In case you didn't see it, here's how it looked.

Ennis said he kept his clairvoyance to himself. Maybe he didn't want to jinx it?

"I was trying to pump other guys up, 'Be a good feeling to get it, go get it,'" he said. "But deep down I wanted to get it."

That's the kind of attitude Sabres coach Lindy Ruff is happy to hear from Ennis. In his first full NHL season, Ennis emerged as a key contributor to the Buffalo offense, finishing fourth on the team with 20 goals and 49 points. But he had just 1 assist in the first four games against the Flyers.

That all changed in Game 5, as he scored the game's first and last goals and has helped the Sabres move within one win of the second round.

"I just know your first year is tough," Ruff told reporters Saturday. "It's a grind. If you look at the last three months, every game has been a game that has meant so much to our team. We really couldn’t fall flat for a period of time and for young players, adjusting to that pressure on a daily basis is not easy. I think he's got over the hump, the energy's back in his game. You could see (in Game 5), he was dangerous every time he was on the ice."

Ennis is enjoying his increased role this postseason for the Sabres.

"Last year I just got called up at the end of the season," he said. "I was just playing and enjoying it and relishing the moment. This year I'm really committed to making a difference. I have to make a difference because that's my role. I have to produce. Last year I was just enjoying the moment. This year I'm driven and really want to make a difference."

Ruff also enjoyed hearing Ennis' post-game comments about how much fun he was having playing in Philadelphia's Wells Fargo Center, which has the reputation of being one of the more intimidating places to play as a visiting player.

"I said (Friday) after the game, it puts a smile on your face to see a guy play like he did," said Ruff. "Then he makes the comments about what a great place to play and so much fun. It's always typically been one of the toughest buildings to go into. That's the attitude we have to take -- no excuses."

Goalie Ryan Miller also has liked what he's seen from Ennis in a leading role this year after his supporting role last year.

"I think last year he was just happy to be here," said Miller. "I think this year he understands he's a big player. We need him to be creative and we also need him to be smart. That creativity needs to come in situations where it's a little bit safer with the puck. The Flyers are a team that can thrive on turnovers. (Friday) was a great example. He got loose and a lot of his moves were from separation, led to some great chances. There was one move where he went inside-out on two guys, and not many people in the League can get through that situation. That's the kind of play he can bring. He's doing it at the right time."

Miller said he likes the fearlessness he's seen not just in Ennis, but in a number of his younger players.

"You can't be afraid to have success," said Miller. "You have to put yourself out there to accomplish anything. There's a risk of losing, there's a risk of looking bad, there's a risk of a lot of different things when you go for big wins or put yourself in position to accomplish something great. I think it's good we're taking the attitude that we want to go for it and we want to win and make the choice that we want to make a difference."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Saturday, 04.23.2011 / 10:34 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2011 ECQF: Philadelphia-Buffalo Live Blog

Latest on Pronger

It wouldn't be a day around the Flyers if the question of Chris Pronger's status wasn't raised.

The All-Star defenseman skated and took shots hard and light during Saturday's practice, and he continues to be listed as day-to-day and a game-time decision for Game 6 -- the same status he's had for every other game of this series.

CSNPhilly.com reported on Friday that Pronger won't play in the series due to him continuing to have pain in his surgically repaired right hand, as well as feeling the hand is not stable enough to allow Pronger to protect himself on the ice.

Then again, could Pronger pressure GM Paul Holmgren and coach Peter Laviolette to write his name in the lineup, even if it means playing a limited role, to help his team survive an elimination game Sunday in Buffalo?

Pronger refused to speak to the media, and has said he won't do so until after he plays his first game.

While Pronger practiced, two other injured Flyers stayed off the ice. Forward Andreas Nodl is day to day with an upper-body injury and hasn't played or practiced since getting hurt in Game 2. Forward Jeff Carter, who suffered a lower-body injury in Game 4, also is listed as day to day. However, CSNPhilly.com is reporting Carter has a sprained ligament in his right knee and will not play for at least the remainder of the series.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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Posted On Friday, 04.22.2011 / 9:12 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2011 ECQF: Philadelphia-Buffalo Live Blog

Sabres lose Pominville

The first period ended on a high for the Buffalo Sabres, who led 3-0, but the news wasn't all good as they lost forward Jason Pominville for the rest of the night.

Pominville hopped off the ice with about three minutes left in the first period. He was unable to put any weight on his left leg as he left the ice. The Sabres announced he has a lower-body injury and will not return.

Replays showed there was no hit that caused the injury. TSN's Bob McKenzie reported Pominville was cut on the left leg by the blade of Philadelphia forward James van Riemsdyk's skate.

The Sabres also lost defenseman Jordan Leopold for the last six minutes of the first and the first 13 minutes of the second to what the team says was an upper-body injury.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Friday, 04.22.2011 / 7:14 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2011 ECQF: Philadelphia-Buffalo Live Blog

Hecht on the mend

Jochen Hecht was a surprise participant at the Sabres' morning skate Friday.

It was the first time he was with the team since suffering getting hurt in a game at Toronto on March 29. The Sabres list him as having an upper-body injury, but the Buffalo News is reporting Hecht has a concussion.

"Jochen feels good," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. "He's skating now, and hopefully next day or so he can get involved in full practices."

With Derek Roy also skating and nearing the four-month anniversary of his torn quadriceps, could the Sabres be close to having two major pieces back in their offensive arsenal?

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Friday, 04.22.2011 / 6:44 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2011 ECQF: Philadelphia-Buffalo Live Blog

Powe in Carter's spot?

At Friday's morning skate, Darroll Powe moved from the fourth line to Jeff Carter's spot on the wing on Claude Giroux's line with James van Riemsdyk, and could play there in Game 5 Friday.

Carter suffered a lower-body injury during Game 4 and is listed as day-to-day. CSNPhilly.com is reporting Carter has a sprained medial collateral ligament in his right knee and will miss the rest of the series.

Powe had 17 points in 81 games this season, and is a key member of the team's penalty-killing unit.

Coach Peter Laviolette, as is his norm, wouldn't discuss possible lineups. But he did say he likes what Powe can bring playing with more skilled linemates.

"Darroll Powe has been a really effective player for us," Laviolette said Friday morning. "Whatever line he's played on he's been terrific. He brings speed, and he can get in on the forecheck, can create things at the net. He's been a valuable part of our team."

With Carter and Andreas Nodl (upper-body injury) out and Powe moving up, it likely means Ben Holmstrom will make his Stanley Cup Playoff debut. He took shifts on the fourth line in practice Friday morning, with Blair Betts and Daniel Carcillo. The rookie forward was scoreless in two games earlier this season.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Friday, 04.22.2011 / 5:56 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2011 ECQF: Philadelphia-Buffalo Live Blog

Pronger in or out?

Still no word yet on Chris Pronger's status for Game 5 here at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. The Flyers list him as day-to-day, and the team's PR staff said no announcement would come until around game-time, which tonight is 7:30 p.m. (VERSUS, TSN, RDS).

Pronger went through the full morning skate and did the normal amount of puck drills, shooting and passing. The big question is, did he take full slap shots. Well, it sort of depends on how you define "slap shot."

Was it a full-on, hardest-shot-competition, stick-blade-scraping-the-ceiling slapper? No. But it certainly wasn't a little flipping wrister. There was definite backswing, and certainly some mustard on the shot.

Some of those shots came after the full team left the ice; Pronger stayed alone and shot for about 20 minutes, working on shots both light and hard, from each of the faceoff dots. He only looked up once as he banged the pucks, and it came on his third-to-last shot from the dot to the right of the net, when he either fanned on a shot or just didn't hit it right and stopped and appeared to wince or grimace. After that, he went back to shooting pucks.

So what does it all mean? Well, if you read CSNPhilly.com, it means he's definitely out. But the Flyers have yet to announce anything, so really, anything is possible.

In the CSNPhilly.com story, the reason being reported for Pronger's absence is continued pain near the fractured area and a belief that the hand isn't strong enough for Pronger to protect himself on the ice.

However, coach Peter Laviolette was asked Thursday to respond to a hypothetical question: Can Pronger still be effective in a limited role?

"Can Chris Pronger play in a game in a limited role and be a factor in the game? Yes," replied Laviolette.

Laviolette answered that question in the hypothetical on Thursday. It will get answered for real sometime in the next 90 minutes.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Monday, 04.18.2011 / 1:16 PM

By Shawn P. Roarke -  NHL.com Senior Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2011 ECQF: Philadelphia-Buffalo Live Blog

Leopold could play in Game 3

Buffalo News writer Bucky Gleason is reporting that Sabres defenseman Jordan Leopold could return for Monday's Game 3.

Leopold, who tops all Buffalo defensemen with 13 goals, suffered a broken hand on March 25 and has not played since. He has been skating with the team for a little more than a week and was expected back on April 22.

If he is able to return, Leopold should be a huge boost to the Sabres' power play.
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Posted On Sunday, 04.17.2011 / 2:29 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2011 ECQF: Philadelphia-Buffalo Live Blog

Who's your goalie?

Flyers coach Peter Laviolette isn't talking goalies. He's got two to choose from for Game 3 on Monday, and there's a compelling argument either way.

On one side there's rookie Sergei Bobrovsky, who had 28 wins and played well despite losing Game 1 Thursday against the Sabres.

On the other side is veteran Brian Boucher, who Laviolette and teammates credited with bringing a calmness to Game 2 Saturday when he relieved Bobrovsky after the rookie surrendered three goals on seven shots.

Teammates don't seem to care who's in net -- even if it's Michael Leighton, last year's playoff starter who is with the team now as an extra goalie.

"We've got three good goalies," said defenseman Kimmo Timonen. "To me it doesn't matter who's in there because I know they're going to do their job and play well."

Bobrovsky and Boucher had simiar regular-season numbers -- in 54 games, Bobrovsky went 28-13-8 with a 2.59 goals-against average and .919 save percentage; Boucher was 18-10-4 with a 2.42 GAA and .916 save percentage in 34 games.

What does stand out, however, is Bobrovsky's resiliency.  In 24 occasions this season he either suffered a loss or was pulled from a game, in the next game, he went 12-5-4 with a 2.65 goals-against average and .915 save percentage.

"In the past Bob has bounced back," said Laviolette. "He's come back (after) an outing he wishes things had gone differently and maybe we could have played better in front of him and he's come back with a strong performance."

So which way is Laviolette leaning? He's not giving any hints.

"Any decision you make with the lineup, they're difficult decisions," he said. "They're all difficult. You're talking about people that aren't playing in the lineup right now, that are scratches, those are difficult decisions as well. It's people's livelihood, they want to play. We got guys that are sitting out right now and I'm sure they'd much rather be in the lineup. There's no decisions taken lightly."

Boucher said he didn't think he would find out one way or the other until the team left for Buffalo.

"He's trying to juggle (Bobrovsky's) psyche, how he's feeling, and at the same time he's trying to win playoff series so we can move on and try to win a Stanley Cup," said Boucher. "I'm sure it's a high-pressure situation for Lavi. It's why he gets paid the big bucks, to make those decisions. He's been pretty good at pushing all the right buttons since he's been here. We'll see what happens."

So what would you do?

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Sunday, 04.17.2011 / 2:21 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2011 ECQF: Philadelphia-Buffalo Live Blog

Pronger making trip to Buffalo

The Flyers have announced Chris Pronger will travel with the team to Buffalo, but does that mean he'll practice with the team? Or the "Black Aces," the extra players every playoff team carries? What about his potential return to the lineup for Game 3 on Monday?

One thing is for sure -- the players have moved past worrying about whether Pronger plays or doesn't play.

"I don't think about it," said Scott Hartnell. "He's around, he's working out. I don't know if he's skating before us or not. Until he's practicing with us for a few times we can't expect him back. He's definitely a presence, we miss him, but it's the farthest thing from our mind."

The other consideration could be an extra forward. Andreas Nodl is listed as day to day, and if he can't go in Game 3, it could be either Nikolay Zherdev or Jody Shelley drawing in.

Zherdev could be the missing element for a power play that's gone 1-for-15 in the series, including 0-for-3 on 5-on-3 chances. However, he's spent most of the season as a healthy scratch. Shelley hasn't played in a month due to a broken orbital bone, but he's been cleared to play and on Sunday ditched the full cage he had been wearing for a visor.

Coach Peter Laviolette, as per his usual, would not tip his hand as to which way he might be leaning with his lineup.

"All decisions are tough and they're not taken lightly," he said. "You try to do what's best for the team. Ultimately somebody goes and somebody doesn't. The people that don't, they want to play. They're proud guys and they want to play and I respect that."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Sunday, 04.17.2011 / 11:13 AM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2011 ECQF: Philadelphia-Buffalo Live Blog

Pronger off the ice Sunday

Philadelphia Flyers All-Star defenseman Chris Pronger did not practice Sunday, leaving in question his availability for Game 3 of the team's Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series against the Buffalo Sabres on Monday (7 p.m. ET, VERSUS, TSN).

Pronger has not played since March 8 due to a broken bone in his right hand. He has been skating for about two weeks, but away from the team, and his sessions have been almost exclusively limited to skating drills. He worked with a puck Wednesday but made only soft passes and light shots, and only touched the puck one time Friday, skating laterally with it along the blue line and then letting it roll of his stick.

Prior to the Flyers announcing Saturday that Pronger would miss Game 2, CSNPhilly.com reported Pronger would miss Game 2 and Game 3 -- if not more.

The club continues to list Pronger as day-to-day with his injury.

In other injury news, forward Andreas Nodl played just 3:43 in Game 2 due to what the team called an upper-body injury. The team did not issue any other updates, but if Nodl can't play, the two most likely options to replace him for Game 3 are Nikolay Zherdev and Jody Shelley.

Zherdev brings a dynamic offensive element. He had been skating on a line with Claude Giroux and Jeff Carter for the final five regular-season games, but has been a healthy scratch in the first two playoff games, with James van Riemsdyk playing very well in that spot.

Shelley brings a more physical element. Despite not playing in a month due to a broken orbital bone and still wearing a full cage to protect his face, he's been medically cleared to play.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Friday, 04.15.2011 / 10:52 AM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2011 ECQF: Philadelphia-Buffalo Live Blog

Pronger skating again, but is that all?

Chris Pronger took the ice at 10:14 a.m. here at Virtua Health Flyers Skate Zone, but his work continues with injured defenseman Oskars Bartulis and Ian Laperriere, who ran the drills. Pronger did all skating drills for the first 30 minutes and now is handling pucks a little bit, but he's not taking shots. Rather, he's skating across the blue line with the puck, but instead of shooting he's just dumping the puck into the boards.

We'll have more following the session, and maybe even more if Pronger decides to talk today.

UPDATE: Pronger off the ice after 51 minutes. Only one time did he touch the puck, just the one time he carried the puck along the blue line and then dumped it to the wall. The guess in the media room is he won't be speaking later today, but if he does, NHL.com will be there.

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Posted On Thursday, 04.14.2011 / 11:54 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2011 ECQF: Philadelphia-Buffalo Live Blog

Flyers' Betts sees similarties between this year and last

Despite the fact Philadelphia wasn't forced to battle through the final game of the regular season to qualify for the playoffs as they did last year, fourth-line center Blair Betts sees plenty of similarities between this year's club and the one that earned a playoff berth on the final day of the regular season in 2009-10.

"Just looking back, we weren't playing all that well going into playoffs last year either," Betts told NHL.com. "It's not like we won a ton of games at the end of the year to make it in. We kind of limped in and then that playoff atmosphere just kind of lifted our level of play.

"This year, I think we're in the same situation. We were kind of playing mediocre hockey down the stretch. I expect the playoff atmosphere to lift our game a little bit and I think it will. I think we have a team that's built for playoff hockey … guys that seem to elevate their game this time of the year and that's what you need to be successful in the playoffs."

The Flyers certainly exhibited that passion and intensity that may have been lacking over the last few weeks in Game 1 of their series-opening 1-0 loss to the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday. Still, they had nothing to show for it.

Without the services of defenseman Chris Pronger, Betts believes the team needs to manage the puck with special care.

"Making good decisions with the puck and puck management are key," he said. "Chris Pronger is a big part of our team … he has an ability to slow things down when it's hectic. But we've had great games without him and we have the personnel in here to make up what he's taken out of the lineup."

Flyers coach Peter Laviolette was asked if Pronger would have made a difference if he was in the lineup.

"If Chris Pronger was available, he could be a difference maker," he said. "I think that speaks for itself. But he's not so there is no sense in worrying about things we don't have right now."

Despite a good effort, which saw the Flyers outshoot the Sabres, 35-25, Laviolette believes his team could be even better.

"I think we can be better," he said. "There are things we can get better on and we'll will focus on that (on Friday) and be ready to go for Game 2. It's the scoreboard that we need to make sure we have in check. We did a lot of the things we wanted to do, but that's not good enough in the playoffs."

Betts, one of the League's most underrated defensive-forwards, returned to the lineup on Thursday after sitting out three games with a knee injury.

"(Buffalo) has a little bit of everything … guys who can score like (Thomas) Vanek, guys that make plays like (Tim) Connolly, some gritty, physical players and small shifty guys like (Nathan) Gerbe. Of course, goaltending could make a difference."

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Posted On Thursday, 04.14.2011 / 9:45 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2011 ECQF: Philadelphia-Buffalo Live Blog

Sabres win, 1-0, behind Miller's 33 stops

The Buffalo Sabres have scored a monumental 1-0 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinal round here at Wells Fargo Center.

Leading the way was the best player on the ice, goalie Ryan Miller, who turned aside 33 shots. Miller made 16 saves in the second period.

The Sabres finally broke the ice 5:56 into the third when Patrick Kaleta slammed home a rebound while charging down the slot and avoiding Flyers defender Danny Syvret to retrieve the puck. Marc-Andre Gragnani took the initial shot from the top of the left circle that Flyers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky stopped but couldn't control.

The rebound hit the tape of an alert Kaleta, who connecting for his first goal in 17 games. It was the second of his career in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

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Posted On Thursday, 04.14.2011 / 9:17 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2011 ECQF: Philadelphia-Buffalo Live Blog

Sabres-Flyers remain scoreless through two periods

OK. It's white-knuckle time for those fans of the Flyers and Sabres!

Fact: One goal might be enough in this one folks.

After 40 minutes of Game 1 in the Eastern Conference quarterfinal round, the Flyers and Sabres are scoreless. Sabres' Olympic silver-medal winning goalie Ryan Miller is earning his keep with 26 saves. Meanwhile, rookie Sergei Bobrovsky has turned back 19 shots.

The Flyers are certainly taking advantage of their great depth up front and, at this point, might be wearing down the Sabres. Still, there's one more regulation period remaining and Buffalo remains one goal from giving Miller the one-goal lead he might need to pull out the opener.

The Flyers still hold an edge in body checks, 31-26. Yes -- 58 total hits for the game through two periods. The Sabres have blocked 11 shots and the Flyers have three blocks.

Some second-period highlights:

* The Flyers failed to take advantage of a 5-on-3 power-play with 10:18 remaining in the second period. Working a two-man advantage for 38 seconds after Shaone Morrisonn was whistled for slashing, the Sabres were able to kill it off behind the splendid play of Chris Butler, Tim Connolly and Tyler Myers.

* The Flyers have totaled 11 of their shots on four power-play opportunities for the game so far.

* With 3:22 remaining in the second, James van Riemsdyk, who has recorded xx shots, took one in the chops from Chris Butler as he attempted to jam the crease in front of Ryan Miller. Claude Giroux made the play happen with good pressure in front.

* The Sabres appeared a tad slower in the frame after being forced to kill off the Flyers' power-play attempts. Miller stood tall, with 16 stops in the second.

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Posted On Thursday, 04.14.2011 / 8:28 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2011 ECQF: Philadelphia-Buffalo Live Blog

Sabres and Flyers close out fantastic first

Despite a scoreless opening period, the Wells Fargo Center was jumping as both the Flyers and Sabres performed at a fast and furious pace.

Both goalies saw plenty of traffic, Flyers forward James van Riemsdyk, who was playing possessed throughout, hit a goal post five midway through and both teams combined for 20 shots and 31 body checks -- the Flyers with 19 of those hits.

It was pretty amazing stuff to watch, but par for the course when the Flyers and Sabres are mixing it up.

Some of the highlights of the frame included a big hit by Buffalo's Patrick Kaleta on Ville Leino in the neutral zone and along the boards 9:08 into the frame. Mike Richards' had a golden chance off a backhand from the slot that Ryan Miller never saw but got his right pad on at the 12:01 mark. In addition to hitting iron, van Riemsdyk was also diving for loose pucks and had a few choice words for Paul Gaustad following a stoppage of play right beside Miller.

The Flyers' top line was a familiar trio -- Danny Briere, Leino and Scott Hartnell. Briere led his team with four hits and even induced a penalty on Steve Montador in the closing minutes of the first.

The Sabres, meanwhile, received an inspiring effort from Drew Stafford, who topped his team with three shots on net and three hits while logging 4:50 of ice time on six shifts.

Both Miller and Bobrovsky finished with 10 saves.

Time to sharpen up the blades for the start of Period 2 …

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Posted On Thursday, 04.14.2011 / 7:30 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2011 ECQF: Philadelphia-Buffalo Live Blog

Flyers - Sabres complete pre-game warmups

We're here at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia awaiting puck drop for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinal-round match between the Flyers and Sabres.

Flyers' fans are anticipating Lauren Hart's God Bless America. We'll see -- do they break it out this early in the playoffs? Most likely.

Starting lineups:
Flyers - JVR-Carter-Giroux (Meszaros-O'Donnell) Bobrovsky
Sabres - Gerbe-Gaustad-Kaleta (Butler-Myers) Miller


Flyers lineups during warmups:
Briere-Hartnell-Leino
Carter-Giroux-JVR
Richards-Versteeg-Nodl
Betts-Powe-Carcillo
OUT: Zherdev and Shelley

Sabres lineups during warmups:
Stafford-Boyes-Ennis
Connolly-Pominville-Vanek
McCormick-Niedermayer-Grier
Gaustad-Gerbe-Kaleta
OUT: Hecht or Mancari

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Posted On Thursday, 04.14.2011 / 3:28 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2011 ECQF: Philadelphia-Buffalo Live Blog

Buffalo's Ryan Miller ready for Flyers

Buffalo Sabres goalie Ryan Miller feels there's no significant advantage his team gained by defeating the Philadelphia Flyers six days ago, 4-3, on home ice other than the fact it helped catapult them among the top eight in the Eastern Conference.

Miller, who will get the nod in Game 1 against the Flyers to mark his 41st postseason appearance, enters with a 12-8-1 career mark with a 2.88 goals-against average and .905 save percentage against the Flyers.
Ryan Miller Buffalo Sabres vs. Philadelphia Flyers,

"Both teams are familiar with each other," Miller said following practice on Thursday. "It's one of those series' where the teams will have a different game plan; maybe they'll be a little loose. The challenge for us and for a lot of teams this time of year, is disciplined. That usually makes a difference, and you have to work through situations."

The Sabres went 2-2-0 in four regular season meetings against Philadelphia this season and three of the contest were decided by two-or-more goals.

Miller admits he doesn't think about preparing any differently for a playoff game than he does a regular season contest. And that's good news for Sabres' fans as Miller finished the year 34-22-8 with a 2.59 GAA, .916 save percentage and 5 shutouts.

"I try not to prepare differently," Miller said. "I always try and look at the grand scheme of things."

The biggest concern for Miller is making certain those big bodies in front aren't completely screening his vision.

"You have to take away their space; they're probably going to earn some space just by their big presence but we can't allow them to do it easily," he said. "It doesn't matter how big you are, they might have strength in some matchups, but not all the time. If we're smart with the puck in some areas, we'll be OK."

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Posted On Thursday, 04.14.2011 / 2:53 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2011 ECQF: Philadelphia-Buffalo Live Blog

Will Zherdev play?

The Flyers didn't do line rushes during Thursday's morning practice, so it's unclear what the exact forward lines could look like, but what was noticeable were the final three players off the ice -- forwards Nikolay Zherdev and Jody Shelley, and defenseman Nick Boynton.

Generally the players who come off last this time of year have stayed out longer to get extra skating in because they won't be playing.

Zherdev had been a healthy scratch for 19 of 23 games between Feb. 13 and March 31, but had played the final five regular-season games, mostly on a line with Jeff Carter and Claude Giroux. He had a goal and 2 assists in that time and looked possibly to have earned his way back into the lineup.

Coach Peter Laviolette has a policy of not discussing lineups or playing decisions, so there's no knowing which way he's leaning. But if Zherdev does sit out, it's possible James van Riemsdyk joins Carter and Giroux, and Daniel Carcillo plays alongside Mike Richards and Kris Versteeg.

The other line combinations likely will be Danny Briere with Scott Hartnell and Ville Leino, and Blair Betts centering Darroll Powe and either Andreas Nodl or Shelley.
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Posted On Thursday, 04.14.2011 / 2:30 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2011 ECQF: Philadelphia-Buffalo Live Blog

Sabres' Sekera out; Grier probable

While Sabres defenseman Andrej Sekera skated this morning at Wells Fargo Center, he will not be in the lineup for Game 1 against the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday.

Sekera missed the final two regular-season games and was limited in practice this week because of an upper-body muscle strain. Forward Mike Grier, on the other hand, also skated well and is a good bet to be making his first
Buffalo Sabres' Mike Grier, top, and Philadelphia Flyers' Mike Richards vie for a loose puck in the first period of an NHL hockey game, Friday, Nov. 27, 2009, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
appearance  in eight games because of a knee injury.

Against a team like the Flyers, Grier's physical style and ability to block shots would certainly go a long way.

"Yeah, this type of team suits my style," Grier told NHL.com. "This time of year, the hockey is fun to play in. Especially for the bigger guys and grinders … you can kind of have more of an effect on a game and the outcome than in the regular season. I'm looking forward to it. They have a great team with some skill over there, so it's a real challenge for us."

Sabres second-year defenseman Tyler Myers would certainly welcome Grier's presence back to the lineup.

"He's been a very important part of our team," Myers said. "He's a big body who work teams down low and does a lot of little things that sometimes go unnoticed. A lot of young guys look up to him; he's a great guy to have in the lineup."

In 73 games this season, Grier produced 16 points in 73 games, but his presence away from the puck in collecting 112 hits, 48 blocked shots and 26 steals was far more valuable.

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Posted On Thursday, 04.14.2011 / 1:52 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2011 ECQF: Philadelphia-Buffalo Live Blog

No better place for Ennis than Philadelphia

Count Buffalo Sabres rookie forward Tyler Ennis among those who agree with W.C. Fields, who once said, "All things being equal, I'd rather be in Philadelphia."

Ennis played his first NHL game here, Nov. 14, 2009, and scored his first goal in that game, and he had a goal and an assist here in a 5-3 Sabres win on March 5.

He's back Thursday looking to add to those numbers.

"I scored my first goal here in my first game, that was really exciting for me," he told NHL.com. "I know this place is going to be rocking pretty good, the fans are pretty crazy so we're all pretty excited. It's going to be loud and crazy, going to be a competitive series. Both teams play hard. We're going to have to try to shut them down. They play really offensive, so we're looking forward to it."

His job will be a bit easier without Philadelphia's All-Star defenseman Chris Pronger, but not that much easier.

"They have a really strong team without him," said Ennis. "He's a great player and a very important part of their team. But they have a lot of great D-men. He plays hard but a lot of (their) guys play hard, too. We just have to play the same way we've been playing."

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Posted On Thursday, 04.14.2011 / 1:19 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2011 ECQF: Philadelphia-Buffalo Live Blog

Flyers hoping to put power in power play

With their array of talent up front, you would think the Philadelphia Flyers' power play would run with precision and efficiency.

That didn't happen, however, as Philadelphia was just 19th with man-advantage during the regular season, with a 16.6-percent efficiency.

"It's been an issue all year," defenseman Matt Carle told NHL.com. "That's just one of those things. It seems like we've been answering those questions all season."

The struggles were no more obvious than down the stretch, as the team as a whole struggled. In their last 23 games, they were just 10-for-72 (13.9 percent) on the power play, while team went just 8-8-7.

"I think a lot of that (power-play struggles) the last couple weeks goes hand in hand with where we were (as a team) the last couple of weeks," said coach Peter Laviolette. "Just inconsistent."

It's a fine line between a successful power play and a wasted opportunity, but no one's been able to spot the one or two things that might need to be fixed.

"It's always different," said Danny Briere. "There's days where the breakout might not work or we don't retrieve pucks or we're forcing plays. Usually it's one little thing that you need to fix. On the power play you need everything to go right for you to score a goal. You need a good breakout, you need to retrieve the puck, need to set it up, have people in position and find a way to get the puck to the net, have guys in front. There's all kinds of little things. If one thing is off, the puck goes down the ice and you have to start over again."

Part of the problem could be the fact that the Flyers have so many talented offensive players to use and not enough power-play time to use them. Who does Laviolette pick to center the two units -- Mike Richards and Jeff Carter? Or Claude Giroux and Briere? If you shift one to the wing, where does that leave Scott Hartnell, Ville Leino, James van Riemsdyk, Nikolay Zherdev and Kris Versteeg?

In the absence of injured defenseman Chris Pronger, Laviolette has tried using a fourth forward to play the point, at times going with Richards, van Riemsdyk and Versteeg.

Nothing, however has seemed to work, no matter how much Laviolette has juggled.

"I think he's going to try different groups and try to get some chemistry going with whatever is going to work," said Carle. "We haven't really had a consistent group all year that's been working. It's just one of those things that I think he's trying to see how it goes."

The Flyers have spent their off-time since the regular season ended attempting to solve their power-play problems, and the players feel they'll see the benefit of that work starting Thursday.

"Everything the last couple days has been positive," said Carle. "That's the way we're feeling after this week. We kept everything positive and we're looking forward to the start tomorrow."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Wednesday, 04.13.2011 / 6:32 PM

By David Kalan -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2011 ECQF: Philadelphia-Buffalo Live Blog

EA SPORTS Simulation: Flyers advance

Every spring there is no shortage of postseason predictions and prognostications, and EA Sports has its own answers to which team will be advancing to round two of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Using its EA SPORTS NHL 11 simulation engine, EA SPORTS has determined that Washington, Philadelphia, Boston and Tampa Bay will emerge from the first round in the East, while Vancouver, San Jose, Detroit and Nashville will do so from the West, and perhaps the fans should take note. EA SPORTS correctly tabbed the Canucks to take the Presidents' Trophy this season, while also predicting Chicago's eventual reunion with Lord Stanley last June.

While no major upsets are predicted in the conference quarterfinals, both Nashville and Boston are predicted to be pushed to the brink before moving on after a Game 7 victory. Sweeps, too, are in short supply, however, as only the Capitals are tipped to breeze past their first-round opponent in four games.

EA SPORTS NHL 11 Round 1 Predictions

Western Conference

 
(1) Vancouver defeats (8) Chicago; 4-2

(2) San Jose defeats (7) LA Kings; 4-1

(3) Detroit defeats (6) Phoenix; 4-2

(5) Nashville defeats (4) Anaheim; 4-3
 
Eastern Conference

(1) Washington defeats (8) NY Rangers; 4-0

(2) Philadelphia defeats (7) Buffalo; 4-1

(3) Boston defeats Montreal (6); 4-3

(5) Tampa Bay defeats (4) Pittsburgh; 4-2
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Quote of the Day

I just think about how much it hurts. The feelings aren't going to go away, probably never. It's just something that sticks with you for a long time.

— San Jose forward Logan Couture to The Canadian Press on the Sharks' first-round loss to the Kings after taking a 3-0 series lead