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Posted On Thursday, 05.17.2012 / 2:58 PM

By Curtis Zupke -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Coyotes vs. Kings series blog

Day off has Kings' Brown feeling fine for Game 3

LOS ANGELES -- Dustin Brown was intact and seemingly ready to go for Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals on Thursday (9 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN, RDS) at the Kings' morning skate.

The Los Angeles Kings captain probably was the most appreciative of the day off between Games 2 and 3 after he was the recipient of a slash from Phoenix Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith and a boarding penalty from Martin Hanzal that earned the Coyotes center a one-game suspension.

What hurt more?

"Probably the hit," Brown said. "The slash, my leg went numb. … You're used to getting slashed every day.

"Going into intermission, my foot was sleeping, maybe a little numb. When I came out for the third, I had pretty much full feeling in my leg."

Hanzal boarded Brown when Brown chased his own chip to the end boards in the third period of Game 2. Brown stayed in the game, and if he was hurt, he is showing no effects from it.

"I got my arms up, so that's probably the best scenario considering the play," Brown said.

That Brown was not hurt factored into the one-game suspension levied by the NHL Player Safety Department. Also, Hanzal does not have a history of over-the-line play.

"I know these games are probably worth more," Brown said. "I thought he was going to get two [games]. But it's not an easy decision to make considering we're in the Western finals. As a player, you don't really worry about length. I guess the media really likes talking about the state of the game right now. Right now they've got one of their top centers out and we've got to be ready to go."

Brown sounded more irked at the diving penalty he was given on the full-swing slash by Smith.

"Quite surprised, I guess," Brown said. "I don't really understand it. It came down from over his head. I'm not sure. I still don't understand it. Most refs haven't been slashed on the back of the leg, either."

Kings coach Darryl Sutter only said of the suspension, "That's what the League valued it as. I'm thankful [Brown] didn't get hurt."
Posted On Thursday, 05.17.2012 / 2:39 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Rangers vs. Devils series blog

Rangers not dwelling on the past

When facing elimination in the first round, the Rangers won back-to-back games to dispatch the Ottawa Senators. It’s the only time they've won back to back games in a series this postseason, but they are three wins shy of reaching the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in 18 years because, as coach John Tortorella said, they don't dwell on the past.
 
"You have a short-term memory come playoff time," Tortorella said during a conference call Thursday. "Playoffs are a whole different animal. We don't spend too much time talking about streaks. We just spend time trying to make corrections in our game, trying to be better in the things we think we need to be better for our next game, and go about our business."
 
Tortorella said the Rangers weren't nearly good enough against the Devils in Game 2 Wednesday.
 
"We look for what we do and we didn't do for a number of minutes," he said. "I'll put it to you that way; we just didn't do for a number of minutes in that game, and that's something that needs to be rectified."
 
The Rangers have been good at rectifying in these playoffs. They may only have won back-to-back games in a series once, but they've lost back-to-back games only once as well.
 
They'll try to avoid it happening again in Game 3 Saturday at Prudential Center (1 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, RDS).
 
"We want to try to win a couple in a row, but the other team doesn't want to lose a couple in a row," Tortorella said. "You play and each team is trying to find their way. We didn't [Wednesday]. We moved by it. We learned from it. Hopefully we're going to be a better team come Saturday."
 
Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
Posted On Thursday, 05.17.2012 / 2:26 PM

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

Parise brings 'special combination' of work ethic, skill

NEWARK, N.J. -- Pete DeBoer has coached many great players in his career, including several during his junior hockey days.
 
The list includes forwards Mike Richards and Derek Roy, and goalie Steve Mason when he was with the Ontario Hockey League's Kitchener Rangers. He also mentored forwards Stephen Weiss, David Booth and Gregory Campbell and defenseman Dennis Seidenberg during his stint with the Florida Panthers.
 
Few, however, work as hard as New Jersey Devils captain Zach Parise.
 
"There aren't many," DeBoer said. "He's right at the top of the list. What makes him special is, you've got guys like that that play on your fourth line on every team. They're there because of their relentless work ethic, but what separates [Parise] is he's got world-class skill and world-class hockey sense on top of that. That's the special combination Zach has."
 
Parise has certainly been front and center during the Stanley Cup Playoffs this spring for the Devils. He has four goals, nine points, 36 hits and a team-leading 12 takeaways in 14 postseason games. He ranks second on the team among forwards in ice time (21:16) and ranks first with 57 shots on goal.
 
The experience of playing in his first Eastern Conference Finals series has been exciting. He's hoping the Devils can continue in Game 3 on Saturday at Prudential Center where they left off at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday in locking down a 3-2 victory.
 
"This series has been everything that we were anticipating really from the hockey standpoint," Parise said. "We expected tight games. We expected not a lot of room out there from either team and games down to the wire. I guess from everything else surrounding it, it's definitely more media coverage than we've ever seen, so that part is a little different than the attention that it's getting.
 
"But I think that's what you kind of have to expect when you're still playing at this time of the year."
 
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale



Posted On Thursday, 05.17.2012 / 2:18 PM

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

Devils willing to do the heavy lifting to win games

NEWARK, N.J. -- New Jersey Devils coach Peter DeBoer refers to his group as a "heavy team."
 
Heavy in that when they're not outworking the opposition along the walls or in the corners, they're not nearly as successful on the scoreboard.
 
"I think we're heavy on the puck, heavy on our sticks, we're heavy in the corners and along the walls, and that's the way we're built," DeBoer said during a conference call with the media on Thursday. "When we're playing our best, we're in those areas of the ice."
 
DeBoer gave his players a day off following a 3-2 victory over the New York Rangers in Game 2 on Wednesday at Madison Square Garden. The Devils will get back to work on Friday to prepare for Saturday's Game 3 against the Rangers on home ice at Prudential Center. 
 
Playing heavy and hard was certainly the recipe for success on Wednesday, when the Devils outworked the Rangers in the tough areas of the ice while outnumbering their opponent for the puck on numerous occasions.
 
"That's a big part of our game," DeBoer said. "We're not a team that wants to trade rush chances or power plays. We're not built that way, so I think our success has come, and it's a common theme, through five-on-five play and by wearing down the other team and playing in their end of the ice."
 
Devils captain Zach Parise realizes every game this time of the year will be tightly contested -- there are fewer odd-man rushes and breakaways. The only way to succeed is by outworking the opponent.
 
"When we're playing well, that's what we're doing, and it's a challenge against these guys because that's what they've been known for this year, outworking their opponent and kind of owning the puck down low and along the boards," Parise said. "I think we have to do a really good job of doing that if we want to beat these guys this series because that's a part they're really good at.
 
"At the same time, when we're playing well and winning, that's one area of our game that we're doing well."
 
The Devils forced five giveaways in Game 2 against the Rangers, one of which led to Ryan Carter's tip-in goal that tied the game, 2-2, late in the second period.
 
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale

Posted On Thursday, 05.17.2012 / 12:50 AM

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

Fourth line comes up big for Devils

NEW YORK -- Once again, the fourth line of the New Jersey Devils provided the necessary spark at the most opportune time.
 
With the second period winding down and the New York Rangers seemingly in control and clinging to a one-goal lead, Ryan Carter deflected a shot past Henrik Lundqvist with just 1:51 left to pull the visitors into a tie and provide just the impetus required in an eventual 3-2 triumph in Game 2 at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday.
Posted On Thursday, 05.17.2012 / 12:06 AM

By John Kreiser -  NHL.com Columnist /NHL.com - Bracket Challenge Blog

Tight games continue to be the rule this spring

The hardest thing to get in this spring's playoffs is a big lead.

Martin Brodeur
Goalie - NJD
RECORD: 9-4
GAA: 2.05 | SVP: 0.921
New Jersey's 3-2 victory against the Rangers in New York on Wednesday night got the Devils even in the Eastern Conference Finals heading into Game 3 in Newark on Saturday (1 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, RDS). It also marked the 44th time in 73 games this spring that the winning margin was a single goal -- and in eight other games, the two-goal margin of victory included an empty-netter.

There have already been more one-goal games this spring than there were in all of the 2008, 2009 and 2010 playoffs. Last spring's playoffs had 48 games decided by one goal, a total that's a pretty good bet to be exceeded as well. The most one-goal games in the past 10 years came in 2007, when there were 51.
Posted On Wednesday, 05.16.2012 / 6:16 PM

By Curtis Zupke -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Coyotes vs. Kings series blog

Kings' Fraser could miss Game 3

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- It appears that Los Angeles Kings center Colin Fraser could miss another game of the Western Conference Finals.

Fraser is attending to a family matter, according to the Kings, and missed Game 2 on Tuesday. Asked about Fraser on Wednesday, coach Darryl Sutter said Fraser was "back in Alberta."

Brad Richardson moved from wing to center Kyle Clifford and Jordan Nolan. It was Clifford's first action since Game 1 of the quarterfinals, when he was hit by Byron Bitz of the Vancouver Canucks and left with a concussion.

Fraser is an integral part of the Kings' grinding fourth line, but if can't play in Game 3 on Thursday, Sutter will likely turn back to Clifford, a big physical forward with a slight scoring touch. He was a surprise standout of the playoffs last season for L.A. when he played on a line with Richardson and Wayne Simmonds.

"Quite honestly, he was the logical guy to go in for [Fraser] because he brings the same sort of thing," Sutter said. "You can't take penalties and he's got to play hard and he's got to be responsible on the right side of the puck. If he does that, he gets a chance to play."

Posted On Wednesday, 05.16.2012 / 1:09 PM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst /NHL.com - Melrose Minute

Melrose's PHX-LAK Game 3 Preview

Posted On Wednesday, 05.16.2012 / 12:49 PM

By Dave Lozo -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Rangers vs. Devils series blog

Rangers keeping things the same for Game 2

NEW YORK -- The New York Rangers likely will ice the same lineup for Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the New Jersey Devils on Wednesday at Madison Square Garden (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS) as they did in Game 1.

The Rangers have shuffled lines, but they have used the same personnel since center Brian Boyle returned from a concussion for Game 2 of the conference semifinals against the Washington Capitals.

Here's what to expect when the team takes the ice:

Carl Hagelin - Brad Richards - Marian Gaborik
Chris Kreider - Derek Stepan - Ryan Callahan
Artem Anisimov - Brian Boyle - Ruslan Fedotenko
Mike Rupp - John Mitchell - Brandon Prust

Ryan McDonagh - Dan Girardi
Marc Staal - Anton Stralman
Michael Del Zotto - Stu Bickel

Henrik Lundqvist
Martin Biron

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo
Posted On Wednesday, 05.16.2012 / 12:19 PM

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

Devils could have different look for Game 2

NEWARK, N.J. -- New Jersey Devils coach Peter DeBoer adjusted his line combinations Wednesday in an effort to present a different look against the New York Rangers in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS).
 
The Devils, who generated their lowest shot total of the playoffs (21) in a 3-0 loss to the Rangers in Game 1 on Monday, are looking to even this best-of-seven series.
 
In addition to moving captain Zach Parise back to the top line with center Travis Zajac and right wing Ilya Kovalchuk, DeBoer had rookie Adam Henrique centering Alexei Ponikarovsky and David Clarkson, and Patrik Elias between Dainius Zubrus and Petr Sykora.
 
It would mark the first line adjustments made by DeBoer since Game 1 of the conference semifinals against the Philadelphia Flyers.
 
"Obviously, we didn't score a goal last game, so on offense, shuffling guys around has been something we've done all year," DeBoer said. "We're definitely not married to those combinations, and I'm not even sure we're going to start with those combinations. It's just how we decided to skate [Wednesday] morning."
 
The fourth line remained untouched -- Stephen Gionta centering Steve Bernier and Ryan Carter.
 
"Poni [Ponikarovsky] is a big guy down low and is hard to push off the puck," Clarkson said. "It'll be good. We'll have to get the puck down low and do some cycling and grinding in the corners, and I think sometimes when you move things around a little bit, it's a good thing."
 
Elias agreed.
 
"We played with these line combos most of the year," he said. "Pete feels he needs to do something with the lines to get some momentum going. We have no issues and we know each other on the ice, so we'll be OK. You adjust … no one is looking into it too much."
 
In addition to the changes up front, it appears as though DeBoer will re-insert defenseman Peter Harrold, likely in place of rookie Adam Larsson.
 
"There's a chance," DeBoer said of the defensive switch. "We're going to look at some different things there, too. Obviously, we have the luxury of some depth on defense here, and we've got guys that bring different strengths to the table, so [Harrold] is an option."
 
Harrold played the opening nine games of the playoffs, totaling four assists and a plus-2 rating, before being replaced by Larsson in Game 2 of the conference semifinals against the Flyers.
 
"It looks like [I'll play]," Harrold said following Wednesday's 30-minute practice at AmeriHealth Pavilion. "We'll see. It would certainly be a lot better than watching, but I'm just hoping to get pucks through and make a difference on the offensive end. I think we played well for 40 minutes [in Game 1] and kind of got off our game a little bit."
 
Larsson has one goal and a plus-3 rating in five playoff games.
 
DeBoer said that if Larsson is a healthy scratch, it is not because of poor play.
 
"I really liked how Larsson has played since he's gone back in," DeBoer said. "So if we do move Larsson out, it's not a reflection on how he played; it's just getting a different type of element in there."
 
Parise said he wasn't fazed by the line adjustments.
 
"I've played with every centerman and Kovy [Kovalchuk] and I have played together, and Travis and Kovy play together," Parise said. "Patty, Sykora and Zubie [Zubrus] have been together most of the year. Hopefully, it'll produce some goals."
 
Here were the line combinations from Wednesday's practice:
 
Zach Parise -Travis Zajac-Ilya Kovalchuk
Petr Sykora - Patrik Elias- Dainius Zubrus
Alexei Ponikarovsky -Adam Henrique - David Clarkson
Ryan Carter - Stephen Gionta - Steve Bernier
 
Andy Greene - Mark Fayne
Bryce Salvador - Marek Zidlicky
Anton Volchenkov - Peter Harrold
 
Martin Brodeur
Johan Hedberg
 
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter: @mike_morreale
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After being through it and seeing the other [outdoor] games on TV, just the atmosphere is spectacular. To stand here -- and we are essentially almost on the blue line -- and look up [into the stands] and knowing it is going to be packed and playing our biggest rival in this setting is going to be pretty special.

— Bruins president Cam Neely on the 2016 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic between Boston and Montreal at Gillette Stadium on
Jan. 1, 2016