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Posted On Thursday, 05.24.2012 / 12:37 AM

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

Staal: 'It'll just take us a little longer'

NEW YORK -- It wasn't quite worthy of being called a guarantee a la Mark Messier following Game 5 against New Jersey in 1994, but Rangers defenseman Marc Staal in his own quiet way did make an emphatic statement following the 5-3 loss in Game 5 Wednesday night.

Marc Staal
Defense - NYR
GOALS: 3 | ASST: 3 | PTS: 6
SOG: 28 | +/-: 1
"We'll regroup and get back and get the next one," Staal said in the somber home dressing room at Madison Square Garden.

Staal was then asked if the Rangers should have some hope going into Game 6, or if they should be crushed because they finally exerted their will and played the way they wanted to play against New Jersey and still could not come up with the victory.

Posted On Wednesday, 05.23.2012 / 11:45 PM

By John Kreiser - Columnist / - Bracket Challenge Blog

Unlikely contributors fueling Devils' playoff ride

The New Jersey Devils have plenty of star power in players like Martin Brodeur, Ilya Kovalchuk and Zach Parise. But they're one win away from their first trip to the Stanley Cup Final in nine years thanks to some of their foot soldiers.

Ryan Carter
Center - NJD
GOALS: 3 | ASST: 2 | PTS: 5
SOG: 13 | +/-: 5
The Devils got two of their goals in Wednesday's 5-3 victory against the Rangers from the one trio of forwards coach Peter DeBoer has left relatively intact -- the fourth line of Ryan Carter, Stephen Gionta and Steve Bernier. Gionta opened the scoring 2:43 into the first period and Carter broke a 3-3 tie with 4:24 left in regulation, finishing off a passout by Gionta.

While most teams are happy if their fourth line can get off the ice unscathed and maybe provide a little energy for the big guns, the Devils continue to get scoring from their fourth unit. The Carter-Bernier-Gionta unit has accounted for eight goals and 16 points in 17 games -- even though Carter and Gionta see less than nine minutes of ice time per game and Bernier plays less than 11 minutes per night. Also, all of the unit's production has come at even strength -- Carter and Gionta (3) have accounted for more 5-on-5 goals than Kovalchuk (2).
Posted On Wednesday, 05.23.2012 / 9:14 PM - 2011-2012 Situation Room blog

NJD @ NYR - 0:32 of the Second Period

At 0:32 of the second period in the Rangers/Devils game, video review upheld the referee's call on the ice that Artem Anisimov's cross-ice pass deflected off Ryan Callahan's leg and into the Devils' net. According to rule 78.4 "if an attacking player has the puck deflect into the net, off his skate or body, in any manner, the goal shall be allowed." Good Goal New York.
Posted On Wednesday, 05.23.2012 / 7:45 PM

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

Dubinsky set to return for Rangers

NEW YORK -- Brandon Dubinsky will make his return to the New York Rangers' lineup Wednesday night for Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the New Jersey Devils.

Dubinsky has missed the last 11 games with a lower-body injury he suffered during Game 7 of the conference quarterfinals against the Ottawa Senators. He's participated in the Rangers' previous four practices and is ready to give the sagging squad some fresh legs.

In seven games against the Senators, Dubinsky had just one assist. But he will provide a boost both in the faceoff circle and on the penalty-killing unit.
Posted On Wednesday, 05.23.2012 / 1:05 PM

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

Coach, Pray, Score? Not so much, says Tortorella

NEW YORK -- If you lit a candle at Our Lady of the Struggling Rangers Goal Scorers, chances are coach John Tortorella thinks you've taken his statement from Tuesday a bit too far.

Following a brief practice, Tortorella was asked what he can do in order to get his best offensive players to play better in the Eastern Conference Finals against the New Jersey Devils. His one-word answer: "Pray."

On Wednesday morning, Tortorella used his time with the media to clarify his suggestion that he was turning to a higher power to get players like Marian Gaborik, Ryan Callahan, Brad Richards and Carl Hagelin going before Game 5 of this series.

"I know I used that word 'pray' yesterday," Tortorella said. "It was a joke. There are a lot more important things to pray about than a win or a goal.  So can I clear that up, please?"

Gaborik and Hagelin don't have a point in the series, Richards hasn't scored a goal and Callahan's only goal was of the empty-net variety in Game 3. With the series tied 2-2, time is running out of those players to get themselves going, but Tortorella has, for a lack of a better word, faith they can turn it around.

"I have total confidence in our guys," Tortorella said.  "It's a great opportunity for us and I'm looking forward to it."

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo

Posted On Wednesday, 05.23.2012 / 12:24 PM

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

Parise, Zubrus enjoying chance to be linemates

NEWARK, N.J. -- When told that linemate Dainius Zubrus referred to him as "a little energy ball" following a herculean effort in Game 4 against the New York Rangers, New Jersey Devils captain Zach Parise shook his head and began laughing.
He also had this response following his team's 40-minute practice at AmeriHealth Pavilion on Wednesday.
"How do I describe Zubie?" Parise asked, tongue in cheek. "How about, dead weight."
Obviously, Parise and Zubrus are having a little fun at a time when the tension heading into a critical Game 5 at Madison Square Garden can be cut with a knife. But keeping it loose and fun is important this time of the season.
Still, it's hard to ignore the impact that Parise had alongside center Travis Zajac and Zubrus in Game 4. In addition to generating nine of the team's 30 shots, the trio produced three goals, five points and a combined plus-1 rating in a 4-1 victory.
As expected, the line will remain intact for Game 5.
"You know how [Zubrus] will play every game, you know he'll play hard and know he will protect the puck down low," Parise said. "You know he's not going to do anything fancy, but that's a good thing. He's going to play up and down and play smart. He's low-risk, and I think that's an easy guy to play with. You know what you're going to get, and you can predict what he's going to do with the puck."
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale

Posted On Wednesday, 05.23.2012 / 12:10 PM

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

Game 5 lineup remains the same for Devils

NEWARK, N.J. -- New Jersey Devils coach Peter DeBoer and his players were back on the ice at AmeriHealth Pavilion on Wednesday, making final preparations prior to boarding the team bus for Game 5 against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS).
The Devils scored a 4-1 victory in Game 4 on Monday to even this best-of-seven, 2-2. New Jersey's final home game of the series will be Game 6 on Friday at Prudential Center (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS). The team hopes to be up by a game with a chance to move on against the Los Angeles Kings in the Stanley Cup Final by that time.
DeBoer told the media after practice that the Devils will not make any lineup adjustments from Game 4, after outshooting (30-29), blocking more shots (13-12) and generating more takeaways (10-4) than their Atlantic Division rivals. The Devils were the first team in the playoffs to score more than three goals against the Rangers in a game this postseason.
It was the first time, in fact, where it appeared the Devils actually drained the will right out of the Rangers. Devils captain Zach Parise was asked how they were able to do that and if it's something that can be repeated in Game 5.
"We just have to score," Parise said. "We were able to get some pucks past [Henrik] Lundqvist and we did a good job in our D-zone … didn't give them a lot of time. They had a couple good attacks and a couple good rushes, but for the most part our defense and forwards did a good job of coming back.
"That's frustrating, as an offensive guy, when every time you have the puck you feel like you have five guys in front of you and there's always someone getting a stick on a pass. We did a good job of that. Whether or not that kind of built up and frustrated them, I don't know, but collectively we did a good job defensively."
DeBoer said that he can sense, at times, when one team is really beginning dictate momentum. It's something he hopes can continue.
"You definitely feel that momentum, and you thrive off that momentum," he said. "You're also very aware that the teams that are left in the playoffs here are very resilient, including the one we're playing, and capable of turning that momentum very quickly. We want to push the pace and dictate and play our game and, when we are, that's when we're at our best. We're also very aware that these teams can turn that on you very quickly."
Here are the probable line combinations for Wednesday:
Zach Parise - Travis Zajac - Dainius Zubrus
Patrik Elias - Adam Henrique - Ilya Kovalchuk
Alexei Ponikarovsky - Jacob Josefson - 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 at: @mike_morreale

Posted On Wednesday, 05.23.2012 / 12:05 PM

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

Game 5 lineup for Rangers could see Dubinsky back

NEW YORK -- Getting a coach to reveal his lineup on a game day during the Stanley Cup Playoffs is akin to getting a government official to hand over top secret documents that could destroy national security.

So while Rangers coach John Tortorella didn't lay out his line combinations Wednesday morning for Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the New Jersey Devils, he admitted change might be good for his slow-starting team in this dead-even series.

"We need something to happen for ourselves," Tortorella said. "We'll try different things, I'll give you that. But it's still a matter of getting it done. At least that's how I feel about it. So we'll see where it goes."

Brandon Prust will definitely return to the lineup after his one-game suspension and replace Stu Bickel, who is likely to return to his spot on the blue line and send Steve Eminger back to the press box. There's also the potential for the return of forward Brandon Dubinsky, who hasn't played since Game 7 of the conference quarterfinals against the Ottawa Senators.

Dubinsky suffered a lower-body injury that cost him the entire second-round series with the Washington Capitals, but he has practiced four of the past five days. He also exited Wednesday's optional morning skate early while forward John Mitchell remained on the ice with the healthy scratches, a sign Tortorella is going to swap the pair.

Dubinsky had just one assist in seven games against the Senators, but he could help in the faceoff circle. During the regular season, he won 51.9 percent of his draws. During the postseason, the Rangers have won 48 percent of faceoffs, 15th out of 16th teams -- only the Devils have won fewer faceoffs.

Here's a best guess at the Rangers' lineup for Game 5 against the Devils:

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

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, 05.23.2012 / 1:52 AM

By John Kreiser - Columnist / - Bracket Challenge Blog

Los Angeles is Kings of the road

The Los Angeles Kings will have the road-ice advantage when the Stanley Cup Final starts next week.

Most teams would rather open a series at home, but the Kings will take the longest road winning streak in Stanley Cup history with them when they open in New York or New Jersey on May 30. The Kings made it 8-for-8 on the road this spring and 10 in a row away from the Staples Center overall by beating Phoenix 4-3 on Tuesday to close out the Western Conference Finals in five games.

The Kings' 10th straight road win moved them past the New York Islanders of 1982 and '83, who won nine straight road games on the way to the last two of their four consecutive Stanley Cups. 

Posted On Wednesday, 05.23.2012 / 1:11 AM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst / - Melrose Minute

Kings' success brings back memories of 1993

I remember one morning I walked into the office in 1993 and I saw Kings owner Bruce McNall and he looked completely dejected and I said to him, "Bruce, what the heck's wrong? We're going to the Stanley Cup Final!"

"I just got requests for 500 tickets for Hollywood," he said. "And I've only got 300 available."

That was Bruce's biggest problem. He had to find 200 extra tickets for the Stanley Cup Final for Hollywood stars. It was an unbelievable time to be part of the Los Angeles Kings. Every night, there were stars all over the place. President Reagan and his wife Nancy were at all of our games and they were in the dressing room after the game meeting the players. After a game, I would walk into the dressing room and Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn would be in my office with Goldie's daughter Kate Hudson, who was just 14 then. The dressing room would always be full of Hollywood stars wanting to meet the players, outside limos would be lined up along the Forum to pick up guys at the Forum Club after the game, and the Forum Club was just a who's who of Hollywood stars. James Woods, was a big hockey fan and he was at all the games. Mary Hart from Entertainment Tonight was a huge hockey fan and she was always there both in the regular season and the playoffs. During the Final that year the Forum was the place to be, the place to go and the place to be seen at.
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It's an incredible feeling just to see it go in and see the Joe go pretty crazy.  Ever since the introduction there, I was kind of feeling the nerves, and to put that one home, I started to feel comfortable and I thought my play started to pick up.

— Nineteen-year-old Red Wings forward Dylan Larkin after scoring a goal in his NHL debut
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