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Posted On Monday, 05.07.2012 / 3:34 PM

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

DeBoer: 'We want to end this as soon as we can'

NEWARK, N.J. -- As has been the case after every game of the Stanley Cup Playoffs this spring, New Jersey Devils coach Pete DeBoer kept his team off the ice during the following off-day as preparations began for Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Semifinal on Tuesday at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.
 
A win on Tuesday will enable the Devils, who hold a 3-1 series lead over the Philadelphia Flyers, to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time in eight seasons.
 
"We want to end this as soon as we can," DeBoer told the media at AmeriHealth Pavilion on Monday afternoon. "We know they're going to play their best game. I'm confident we're going to bring our best game. They're a dangerous team at any point in the series, and this one is always the toughest to win. I like how we're playing so we have to continue to do what we've been doing."
 
The one-game suspension given to Flyers forward Claude Giroux for his illegal hit to the head on Dainuis Zubrus in Game 4 was announced after DeBoer spoke to the media. But he was asked if Giroux's absence would make a difference, one way or another.
 
"If he doesn't play, teams in that situation have a tendency to rise to the occasion," DeBoer said. The Devils were without Ilya Kovalchuk (lower body) for Game 2 in Philadelphia and came away with a series-tying 4-1 victory.
 
Meanwhile, forwards Dainuis Zubrus, who was on the receiving end of Giroux's hit late in the second period, and fourth-line wing Ryan Carter, who was sidelined for Game 4 with a stomach virus, are both expected in the lineup for Game 5.
 
The two-game series lead also holds some added significance as the Devils have never lost a playoff in which they've opened a two-game lead at any point -- they are 14-0. Not since their 2006 conference quarterfinal sweep of the New York Rangers have the Devils enjoyed the luxury of leading a best-or-seven by at least two games.
 
DeBoer said his team would like to continue doing the things in Game 5 that have frustrated the Flyers to a point where they seemingly have no answers.
 
"I think coming into this series we saw what they did to Pittsburgh and wanted to make sure that didn't happen to us," DeBoer said. "We knew that composure and discipline were going to be at a premium for us. When we got our heads wrapped around the fact that we're going to have to walk away from those types of situations and take a punch in the head at different points and not retaliate, I think everything else fell in place."
 
DeBoer also said that the experience his team gained in their seven-game series victory against the Florida Panthers in the conference quarterfinal round has been taken to good use against the Flyers.
 
"They are similar teams … Florida had a big speed-rush type of team just like Philly and that helped prepare us for this series," DeBoer said.
 
Here are the probable line combinations for Game 5:

Zach Parise - Patrik Elias - David Clarkson
Alexei Ponikarovsky - Travis Zajac - Ilya Kovalchuk
Petr Sykora - Adam Henrique - Dainius Zubrus
Ryan Carter - Stephen Gionta - Steve Bernier
 
Bryce Salvador - Marek Zidlicky
Anton Volchenkov - Adam Larsson
Andy Greene - Mark Fayne
 
Martin Brodeur
Johan Hedberg

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale

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Posted On Monday, 05.07.2012 / 1:23 PM

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

Ovechkin expecting another 'warm' welcome at MSG

NEW YORK -- Alex Ovechkin expects to again be the target of another unfriendly embrace from the Madison Square Garden fans in Game 5 Monday.

"Yeah, I can't wait," Ovechkin said while flashing is famous gap-tooth smile Monday morning.

Taking a page out of the Ottawa playbook, where the fans at Scotiabank Place count down from 11:11 every period before chanting in favor of captain Daniel Alfredsson, the folks at MSG have taken to counting down from the 8:08 every period before chanting something that isn't all that kind to Ovechkin.

It includes his nickname, Ovi, but you can pretty much guess what the following word is.

Ovechkin doesn't mind it at all.

"I want to laugh, but I can't," he said.

Ovechkin looks at it as a sign of respect.

"It's always nice to hear from the fans, if they're booing you or cheering you," he said. "You're still out there and you still get some respect."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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Posted On Monday, 05.07.2012 / 12:52 PM

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

Projected Game 5 lineup for Rangers

NEW YORK -- There was some positive news on the injury front for the New York Rangers on Monday morning at Madison Square Garden, as forward Mats Zuccarello skated for the first time since breaking his wrist March 23.

The forward took shots and participated in the team's morning skate in preparation for Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Washington Capitals. The series is tied 2-2, but coach John Tortorella doesn't believe Zuccarello will be back in the lineup any time soon.

Forward Brandon Dubinsky (lower body) also didn't participate in practice and hasn't played since Game 7 against the Ottawa Senators in the first round.

Here's the expected lineup for the Rangers, who shuffled their lines a lot toward the end of Game 4, so consider this an educated guess.

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
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Posted On Monday, 05.07.2012 / 11:42 AM

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

Projected Game 5 lineup for Capitals

NEW YORK -- Judging by their morning skate at Madison Square Garden, the Washington Capitals will likely use the same line for Game 5 as they did for their 3-2 win in Game 4.

Here are their lines, D pairings and goaltending depth:

Alex Ovechkin - Brooks Laich - Marcus Johansson
Jason Chimera - Nicklas Backstrom - Alexander Semin
Matt Hendricks - Jay Beagle - Troy Brouwer
Mike Knuble - Keith Aucoin - Joel Ward

Karl Alzner - John Carlson
Roman Hamrlik - Mike Green
Jeff Schultz - Dennis Wideman

Braden Holtby
Michal Neuvirth

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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Posted On Monday, 05.07.2012 / 11:17 AM

By Alex Galchenyuk -  Special to NHL.com /NHL.com - Alex Galchenyuk draft blog

Galchenyuk: Focus now on the future

Alex Galchenyuk is a forward for the Sarnia Sting of the Ontario Hockey League. The 6-foot, 198-pound forward was born in Milwaukee but is of Russian decent -- his father, Alexander, spent five of his 22 professional seasons playing in the U.S. Alex was the first pick of the 2010 OHL draft, and last season had 31 goals and 52 assists in 68 games. He had 2 goals and an assist in five games for Team USA at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament, and returned to take part in the 2011 NHL Research, Development and Orientation Camp in August. Despite suffering a major knee injury that nearly ended his season before it really began, Galchenyuk has maintained a monthly blog for NHL.com that will chronicle his season leading up to the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.

Hello Everyone.  I want to give you guys a little update and share all the things that have been going on lately.

First of all, I want to start with the OHL playoffs. It was my first time playing in the playoffs, and our team was very motivated to do well and I was obviously even more excited because I was finally back and ready for some action. I felt good out there and wanted to win every game. Unfortunately it didn't end up the way me and my team would have wanted it to, but there was no question we believed in our group and thought we could go deep in the playoffs. Everyone tried very hard and was very upset when it was over. But I would also like to give credit to the Saginaw Spirit; their team played great and so did their goalie.

You know, even looking into the NHL playoffs now, you realize the playoffs are a whole different "season," and anything can happen -- you never know. We just didn't get our bounces back, but overall it was definitely an awesome experience with an awesome group of guys.

I also saw that the final draft rankings from NHL Central Scouting came out. For me personally it's really nice to be in the top five, but I try to not pay much attention to it right now, because I still feel that if I played the whole season I would probably be in a different position right now. But then, on the other hand it really doesn't matter because the thing that matters most is how you get to the next level and how you perform there. Besides, I think in this year's draft there are like six or seven top guys that can go anywhere from 1-7, so it really breaks down to the fact of which team is looking for what type of player so it's all up to the scouts and GMs now.

I will say this: I will be happy with any team, the team that picks me and believes in me. I will be very proud to put their jersey on. It's the NHL.
 
As of right now, I want to be ready for whatever is ahead of me. I'm really excited about the NHL Scouting Combine that will be at the end of this month. I've been looking it up on YouTube for the last couple of years, watching all the things that they do there, so it will be a lot of fun to get a chance to actually do them myself for the first time.

I'm in Sarnia now, working out, skating and getting ready. I'm not saying that I'm specifically doing the things that will be at the Combine, just doing my normal workouts that I usually do in this time of year.

I'm really looking forward to all the things that the next couple of months will consist of; the excitement just keeps building up. I'm very happy where I am right now. It was a difficult season in every single way for me, but I finished it with a feeling that I did everything I could and came out stronger physically and mentally, which is always a good thing.

I'm blessed to have all the wonderful people that stood by me throughout the whole time and all the support that I got from my teammates, family, friends and fans. Thank you.
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Posted On Monday, 05.07.2012 / 10:26 AM

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

Brodeur makes 40th birthday a night to remember

NEWARK, N.J. -- New Jersey Devils goalie Martin Brodeur got his birthday wish on Sunday against the Philadelphia Flyers in the Eastern Conference Semifinal at Prudential Center.
 
In addition to turning back 20 shots in securing a 4-2 victory on the day he turned 40 years old, he also added an assist for a little icing on the cake. The Devils now lead the best-of-seven series, 3-1.
 
Brodeur, who said the day would have been even sweeter had he been able to post a shutout, also established another hockey standard. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Brodeur became the first goalie in NHL history to appear in a playoff game in his teens and his 40s.
 
Brodeur's first postseason game came as 19-year-old when he replaced Chris Terreri in an 8-5 loss to the New York Rangers on April 27, 1992. His victory on Sunday before 17,625 was the 106th of his illustrious career. He is now 2-2 all-time in games played on his birthday.
 
"A shutout would have been better, but that's all right," Brodeur said. "It's great. The guys played awesome. It started a little rocky, but apart from that we were really good. We were on the puck, we were physical and we did the good things to win hockey game tonight."
 
Midway through the first period, backup goalie Johan Hedberg, who turned 39 on Saturday, and Brodeur had their names displayed on the center ice scoreboard to the delight of those in attendance. The ovation was loud, but Brodeur said he didn't see his name until the last second.
 
Brodeur assisted on an empty-net goal by Dainius Zubrus with 44.4 seconds remaining in the third period. The helper enabled him to become the oldest player in NHL history to record a playoff assist on his birthday.
 
"The guys played really well in front of me," Brodeur said. "It's nice to win the game. A lot of people talked about me turning 40 today. I was kind of center stage for whatever reason that is, but it's kind of nice to pull out a win."
 
He now has 12 career playoff points on one goal and 11 assists, moving him ahead of Patrick Roy into second place all-time among goaltenders behind only Grant Fuhr, who had 14 career playoff points (all assists).
 
Devils rookie center Adam Henrique was asked after the game if the team sang "Happy Birthday."
 
"No 'Happy Birthday,' just a big win and that's extra special," he said.
 
Zach Parise said the team presented Brodeur with the best gift possible this time of the year.
 
"A win … that was it," Parise said, grinning.
 
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale


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Posted On Monday, 05.07.2012 / 12:18 AM

By Brian Compton -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Bracket Challenge Blog

Kings finally head back to Conference Finals

Jonathan Quick's remarkable season will continue in the 2012 Western Conference Finals.

Jonathan Quick
Goalie - LAK
RECORD: 8-1-0
GAA: 1.55 | SVP: 0.949
Quick, a finalist for the Vezina Trophy after notching a League-high 10 shutouts, helped the Los Angeles Kings complete a sweep of the St. Louis Blues with Sunday's 3-1 win at the Staples Center. With Quick leading the charge, the Kings are headed to the conference finals for the first time in almost 20 years.

Not since 1993 has Los Angeles made it this far in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. With Sunday's victory, the Kings also became the first team to eliminate the top two seeds in a conference since the NHL adopted the format prior to the 1993-94 season.

Quick is 8-1 this postseason and has stopped 260 of 274 shots for a .949 save percentage. With his help, the Kings killed off all 17 power plays the Blues received in the series.
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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 Sunday, 05.06.2012 / 7:22 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Flyers vs. Devils series blog

Flyers' Couturier will play in Game 4

NEWARK, N.J. -- Philadelphia Flyers center Sean Couturier will play in Game 4 of the team's Eastern Conference Semifinal series against the New Jersey Devils.
 
Sean Couturier
Center - PHI
GOALS: 3 | ASST: 1 | PTS: 4
SOG: 15 | +/-: 2
Couturier sustained a lower-body injury in the first period of Game 3 on Thursday, but did not look restricted in the morning skate Sunday, took line rushes in pre-game warm-ups in his usual spot, between forwards Maxime Talbot and Eric Wellwood.
 
Couturier, the eighth pick of the 2011 Entry Draft, has three goals and an assist in nine playoff games, but has developed into the team's best defensive center.
 
"Sean is an important piece of the team," Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said following the team's skate Sunday morning. "He looked good skating out there. He's smiling, that's always good."
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