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Stanley Cup Final
Posted On Wednesday, 04.18.2012 / 1:50 PM

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

Flyers non-plussed by Pittsburgh suspensions

VOORHEES, N.J. -- The Flyers are clear their game plan isn't going to change one bit, no matter which players the Penguins have in the lineup for Game 4 on Wednesday.

In the wake of suspensions to forwards Craig Adams (one game), James Neal (one game) and Arron Asham (four games), all announced Tuesday, the Flyers said neither the term of the suspensionsnor the resulting rosetr makeover for the Penguins, will make a difference to them.

"It is what it is," Danny Briere said. "I can't change anything about that. Peter [Laviolette, coach] told us that suspension or not, it would be irrelevant to the game and I truly believe that. These guys have their backs to the walls so I expect them to play with a lot of desperation and that's why we have to be ready and leave it out all there tonight if we want to clinch."

"[NHL Vice President of Player Safety] Brendan Shanahan, I think, did a good job," forward Scott Hartnell said. "For us it really makes no difference who they put in there. We have to play the same way, have to have a good start. It's not like they're going to roll over and die just because of what happened. Whoever they put in there we have to do a job against the top guys and be disciplined."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Wednesday, 04.18.2012 / 1:42 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Penguins vs. Flyers series blog

Penguins continue to rally behind their goaltender

PHILADELPHIA -- Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik said Wednesday morning that anybody pointing a finger at goalie Marc-Andre Fleury and blaming him for Pittsburgh's problems against the Flyers through three games in the series is dead wrong to do so.

"People that point the finger at him are probably the people that whenever he's playing well are like, 'Oh, I knew he'd play well,'" Orpik said. "It's always the so-called experts that have all the answers. You can't control what other people say about you. He knows he has the belief of the guys in this room. That's always easy, finding a guy to point the finger to. There are 20 guys in this and we haven't played well in front of him."

Orpik added that nobody in the Penguins dressing room is upset with Fleury, who has a 6.34 goals-against-average and .798 save percentage in the series. Fleury was pulled after the second period of Game 3.

"I don't know who he is taking heat from. He is not taking heat from anyone in here because we all know we haven't played well," Orpik said. "He probably hasn't played his best. I haven't played my best. Nobody in this room has played their best."

Defenseman Kris Letang also defended Fleury and said he expects him to be at his best in Game 4 Wednesday.

"It's a tough spot for Flower, especially when we're not playing well," Letang said. "But I think he's going to bounce (back) pretty well. He's a great competitor. I'm confident in him."

Both Orpik and Letang said the key for the Penguins in Game 4 is for everyone to be at their best individually.

"If that's the case it'll add up to us giving ourselves a chance to win," Orpik said. "You can't guarantee how the outcome is going to be, but you can control your effort and execution. You try to be at your personal best and hopefully it adds up to a good opportunity to win the game."

The Penguins are confident that they can give themselves that opportunity mostly because they feel as though they beat themselves in the first three games with undisciplined play and uncharacteristic mistakes.

"If you played really well for three games and you were down 3-0 I don't think you'd be as optimistic," Orpik said. "Maybe we're idiots looking at a situation like that, but that's how we believe in this room. We'll see where it takes us tonight.

"Hockey is a weird game. You can outshoot a team 50-10 and their goalie can stand on his head," he continued. "The only thing you control is your effort, your execution and how you play. The officiating and how they play, you can't control that, but you try to make it tough on them. We haven't played well for three games and we all know that. It's just up to us to move forward here and play as best we can."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl


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Posted On Wednesday, 04.18.2012 / 1:32 PM

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

Flyers scoring even without Hartnell chipping in

VOORHEES, N.J. -- The Flyers' 20 goals have been scored by nine different forwards. The only three forwards to play in the series and not score are Eric Wellwood, Zac Rinaldo and Scott Hartnell -- the team's leading goal-scorer in the regular season.

Hartnell had a career-best 37 goals in the regular-season -- the sixth-most in the League -- but he hasn't found the back of the net in the first three games.

Adding more incentive for Hartnell to score is the fact that Wednesday is his 30th birthday.

"Everyone would like to score on their birthday," Hartnell said. "I had some chances, hit the post last game in the last game. Not too, too worried about it."

No one else in the Flyers' locker room is, either.

"I think Scott's done a good job in the series," Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said. "I'm sure at some point you'll see him crack the score sheet, but right now we think he's playing a physical game and getting to those areas."

"Scotty doesn't have to score goals to be good for our team," linemate Claude Giroux added. "He's been in their face, he's been hitting, he's been winning battles. He's playing great right now. I know the score sheet doesn't show any goals, but he's doing a lot of good things for us."

The players believe the fact that their leading goal-scorer hasn't scored and yet they're up 3-0 in the series is a testament to their scoring depth.

"It doesn't matter who scores the goals," Jakub Voracek told NHL.com. "All four lines can score the goals and that's what we're doing right now, and that's why we're scoring so many goals."

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



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Posted On Wednesday, 04.18.2012 / 1:18 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Penguins vs. Flyers series blog

Pens get last chance to put complete game together

PHILADELPHIA -- Penguins captain Sidney Crosby might end up saying something to motivate his team in the dressing room prior to Game 4 against the Flyers, but he's not so sure he has to.

Pittsburgh is in a 0-3 hole with the possibility of being swept Wednesday night at Wells Fargo Center.

"I don't think there is really anything that needs to be said," Crosby said after what will be the Penguins last morning skate of the season if they don't stave off elimination. "We've had a couple of days to digest everything. We've talked as a group about what we need to do better and where our game is, that kind of thing. Now we have to go out and play."

They'll be playing without three forwards. James Neal, Arron Asham and Craig Adams were all suspended late Tuesday by the NHL's Department of Player Safety.

Neal is clearly the biggest loss. He is tied with Crosby for the team lead with five points in the series and he is coming off a regular season in which he scored 40 goals and had 81 points.

"He's a big part of our offense, but we have a lot of depth," Crosby said. "That's something we prided ourselves on all year and we're more than capable."

Dustin Jeffrey, Joe Vitale and Eric Tangradi could all draw into the lineup for the suspended players. Between them they have a combined three games of playoff experience, with Vitale getting two in this series and Tangradi playing in a game last postseason against Tampa Bay.

"I don't think you really need to tell them anything," Crosby said. "They've watched the games and know what to expect. They've been involved in all the meetings and everything we've discussed. Whoever is coming in, their role doesn't change. They have to do it to the best of their abilities. That's really the same situation everyone else is in."

The situation looks grim, but Crosby said he has faith that his team will find a way out of the 0-3 hole.

"We know we're capable of it," he said. "Whether it's a good or bad thing, we haven't put a full game together yet. Knowing that should give us confidence that we're quite capable of winning a hockey game and playing the right way. Our focus is more on just playing the right way and we like the chances that we'll get the right result."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl


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Posted On Wednesday, 04.18.2012 / 12:44 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Penguins vs. Flyers series blog

Penguins won't have Martin in lineup for Game 4

PHILADELPHIA -- Penguins coach Dan Bylsma announced after the morning skate Wednesday that defenseman Paul Martin will not play in Game 4 against the Flyers because of an undisclosed injury.

Bylsma said the rest of the Penguins lineup will be a game-time decision, but he referred to rookie defenseman Simon Despres as having an opportunity Wednesday night.

"I think you're going to see Simon step up in a big way," Bylsma said.

Zbynek Michalek also did not skate Wednesday morning, but there was no reason given for that and his status for Game 4 is up in the air. If he can't play, Brian Strait will be in the lineup. He has been a healthy scratch for the first three games.

Dustin Jeffrey, Eric Tangradi and Joe Vitale all will likely play for suspended players James Neal, Arron Asham and Craig Adams. Vitale played in Games 1 and 2 before being benched for Game 3 in favor of Richard Park. Tangradi played one game in the playoffs last season while Jeffrey will be making his playoff debut.

In the regular season, Jeffrey had six points in 26 games and Tangradi had two points in 24 games. Despres had four points in 18 games.

"It's guys that have played for us and been in roles for us," Bylsma said. "It's a big game, obviously a huge game for them to get dropped into, but they know exactly what to do and what is expected, where they fit in and they've done that for us before."

Here is what the Penguins forward lines looked like in the morning skate:

Steve Sullivan - Sidney Crosby - Pascal Dupuis
Chris Kunitz - Evgeni Malkin - Tyler Kennedy
Eric Tangradi - Jordan Staal - Matt Cooke
Dustin Jeffrey - Joe Vitale - Richard Park

The Penguins rotated their defensemen and since it is unclear if Michalek will play it's too difficult to determine the pairings.
 
Marc-Andre Fleury will get the start in net after being pulled following the second period of Game 3. Fleury has allowed 17 goals on 84 shots in this series and has a 6.34 goals-against average and .798 save percentage.

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl


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Posted On Wednesday, 04.18.2012 / 12:38 PM

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

Rangers see physical series as part of playoff hockey

OTTAWA -- After the Rangers won Game 1 of this series, Senators coach Paul MacLean took a different approach to Game 2 by inserting defenseman Matt Carkner and forward Zenon Konopka into the lineup.

The addition of two physical presences worked, as the Senators won Game 2 to even the series. It came at a price, as Carkner was suspended for Game 3 due to his one-sided, one-man bout with the Rangers' Brian Boyle in the first period.

The Rangers won Game 3, but all signs point to Carkner being back in the lineup for Wednesday night's Game 4 at Scotiabank Place. That doesn't necessarily guarantee a repeat of Game 2, according to the Rangers' Mike Rupp, who believes the bitterness seen in that contest is natural during the postseason.

"Playoff hockey is not really an open brand of hockey," Rupp said. "It creates a lot more confrontations. You're literally digging on ice that you want and everyone wants whether it's in front of the net, where the scrums are usually starting, or in the corners. Those little things can turn into a lot, so you just try to gain whatever you can."

Brandon Prust, who led the NHL in fighting majors this season with 20, said he won't know what to expect until the puck is dropped.

"Who knows? Every game is different," Prust said. "Obviously in Game 2, there were some more hot tempers I guess. You never know what's going to happen in every game. Every day is a new day. It's the playoffs, so anything can happen."

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo
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Posted On Wednesday, 04.18.2012 / 12:28 PM

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

Projected Game 4 lineup for Rangers

OTTAWA -- Best of luck getting a straight answer from either coach in this series about their lineups, but it doesn't appear the New York Rangers will be making any changes in Game 4 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series against the Senators.

Carl Hagelin is still out due to suspension, which means Chris Kreider will make his second appearance in an NHL game. Henrik Lundqvist will make the start in net.

These are the way the lines looked for the Rangers in Game 3, and there's little reason to believe they will change Wednesday night:

Chris Kreider - Brad Richards - Marian Gaborik
Brandon Dubinsky - Artem Anisimov - Ryan Callahan
Ruslan Fedotenko - Brian Boyle - Brandon Prust
John Mitchell - Derek Stepan - 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
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Posted On Wednesday, 04.18.2012 / 12:10 PM

By Erin Nicks -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Rangers vs. Senators series blog

Projected Game 4 lineup for Senators

OTTAWA -- Here are the Ottawa Senators' projected lines for Game 4 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinals series with the New York Rangers at Scotiabank Place:

Milan Michalek - Jason Spezza - Colin Greening
Nick Foligno - Kyle Turris - Bobby Butler
Erik Condra - Zack Smith - Chris Neil
Zenon Konopka - Jim O'Brien - Jesse Winchester

Filip Kuba - Erik Karlsson
Jared Cowen - Sergei Gonchar
Chris Phillips - Matt Carkner

Craig Anderson
Ben Bishop

Mike Hoffman, who was called up from Binghamton on Sunday, spent some time skating with the second line, but coach Paul MacLean was coy about whether he would use Hoffman, only saying that he was "keeping all options open." Hoffman played in one regular season game with the Senators on Dec. 23, and did not register a point.

There was no update on Daniel Alfredsson (concussion), who was absent from the ice for the second consecutive day.

Spezza said the team has closed the book on their 1-0 in Game 3 and needs to focus only on tonight.

"You've got to cut your losses and not hang on to it," he said. "You learn from every game, every game you take something [away from it.] We did a lot of things well last game, now we [just have to] score and for us, I think it would benefit our team if we tried to get out to a lead. We haven't played with a lead for much in the series at all."
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Posted On Wednesday, 04.18.2012 / 11:32 AM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Penguins vs. Flyers series blog

Penguins recall defenseman Despres

PHILADELPHIA -- The Pittsburgh Penguins announced Wednesday morning that defenseman Simon Despres was recalled from the American Hockey League. Despres joined the Penguins for the morning skate prior at Wells Fargo Center in advance of Game 4 against the Flyers (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN, RDS2).

The Flyers lead the series 3-0.

Despres could draw in for either Paul Martin or Zbynek Michalek. Both did not skate Wednesday. It is believed that Martin is battling some type of injury stemming from the hit he took from Brayden Schenn in the first period of Game 3. Schenn received a charging minor for the hit.

The status on Michalek is unclear at this time. Penguins coach Dan Bylsma will likely update his lineup when he addresses the media following the morning skate.

Despres, 20, played 18 regular-season games with the Penguins and had a goal plus three assists and a plus-5 rating. He averaged 14:13 of ice time.

If he plays Wednesday he will be making his Stanley Cup Playoff debut.

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

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Posted On Wednesday, 04.18.2012 / 2:01 AM

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

Three straight overtimes for Coyotes, Blackhawks

When it comes to the Western Conference Quarterfinal between the Phoenix Coyotes and Chicago Blackhawks, 60 minutes just haven't been enough.

Mikkel Boedker
Right Wing - PHX
GOALS: 1 | ASST: 1 | PTS: 2
SOG: 9 | +/-: 2
After a wild third period, the clubs played overtime for a third straight game Tuesday night before Mikkel Boedker gave the Coyotes a 2-1 series lead when he beat Corey Crawford from a sharp angle at 13:15 in a 3-2 win at the United Center.

Overtime was needed again after the teams traded three goals during a 65-second span in the third period. Michael Frolik gave Chicago a 2-1 lead almost immediately after Rostislav Klesla had tied it for Phoenix, but Ray Whitney evened things up again for the Coyotes just 32 seconds later.

The victory has Phoenix halfway towards its first postseason series victory in 25 years. In 1987, the Winnipeg Jets ousted the Calgary Flames in six games.
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Quote of the Day

I'm here to develop a winning culture and a winning team. There is a bright future ahead of this team.  A lot of young, great hockey players here and on the way … a fan base that's passionate about the game of hockey.

— Dan Bylsma after being introduced as new coach of the Buffalo Sabres