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Posted On Sunday, 04.22.2012 / 10:41 AM

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

Projected Penguins lineup

PHILADELPHIA -- Penguins defenseman Paul Martin will sit out for the third straight game with an undisclosed injury and the rest of Pittsburgh's lineup will be a gametime decision, coach Dan Bylsma said Sunday morning prior to Game 6 against the Flyers.

However, don't be surprised to see the Penguins go with 11 forwards and seven defensemen again as they try to stave off elimination for a third time and force a Game 7. They are 2-0 when they play seven blue-liners, and Bylsma said he likes it because it forces him to give his top three centers, Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal, more ice time to potentially allow for better matchups even on the road, where he does not have the last change.

He doesn't have to necessarily worry about rolling four lines because he is essentially using only three lines with extra forwards Craig Adams and Eric Tangradi taking the odd shift here and there. Adams also plays a key role on the penalty kill.

"Depending on the situation we've seen one of those centermen has played with the two extra forwards to make up a line," Bylsma said. "Yeah, I like going to our big guys as much as we can in a situation like this."

Using the extra defensemen also enables Bylsma to have the option to use an extra body on the power play. It also does not tax his top-four defensemen.

Simon Despres played only 5:33 in Game 5, but he was used a bit on the power play. Brian Strait played eight minutes, but he got some time on the penalty kill.

"Each guy gives an element that is important," Bylsma said.

If Bylsma goes with seven defensemen again, here is what the Penguins lineup should look like for Game 6:

Chris Kunitz - Evgeni Malkin - James Neal
Steve Sullivan - Sidney Crosby - Pascal Dupuis
Matt Cooke - Jordan Staal - Tyler Kennedy
Eric Tangradi - Craig Adams

Brooks Orpik - Kris Letang
Matt Niskanen - Zbynek Michalek
Brian Strait - Deryk Engelland
Simon Despres

Marc-Andre Fleury
Brent Johnson

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
Posted On Sunday, 04.22.2012 / 10:24 AM

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

Flyers' lineup likely stays the same for Game 6

PHILADELPHIA -- Flyers coach Peter Laviolette declined to speak with the media because of the early start of Game 6 on Sunday (Noon ET, NBC, TSN), so any lineup changes he might have planned won't be seen until the game starts.

However, it's doubtful the Flyers' lineup will look much different than the group that took the ice for Game 5. On Saturday, Laviolette was complimentary of the job James van Riemsdyk did in his return from a seven-week absence with a broken foot.

The only real change could be on defense, with the possibility of Nicklas Grossmann returning to the lineup. Grossmann sat out Game 5 with an upper-body injury he sustained in Game 4. Grossmann is listed as day-to-day by the team, but skated for a short time twice on Saturday. Whether that means he's healthy enough to play, however, is in question.

Here's the lineup the Flyers likely will have on the ice for Game 6:

Scott Hartnell - Claude Giroux - Jaromir Jagr
Brayden Schenn - Danny Briere - Wayne Simmonds
James van Riemsdyk - Matt Read - Jakub Voracek
Maxime Talbot - Sean Couturier - Eric Wellwood

Braydon Coburn - Kimmo Timonen
Matt Carle - Andreas Lilja
Pavel Kubina - Erik Gustafsson

Ilya Bryzgalov
Sergei Bobrovsky

If Grossmann is able to play, he would return to his usual spot alongside Coburn. Timonen and Carle would form the second pair, and Kubina would play on the third pair with Lilja or Gustafsson.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
Posted On Sunday, 04.22.2012 / 1:06 AM

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

Blues advance for first time in a decade

Not since 2002 had the St. Louis Blues advanced to the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. But on Saturday night, Ken Hitchcock's club changed all that.

Going up against a team that had reached the Western Conference Final the last two years, the Blues disposed of the San Jose Sharks in five games with Saturday's 3-1 win at the Scottrade Center. Including the regular season, the Blues won eight of nine against the San Jose.

In those nine games, the Sharks scored a total of 11 goals.

Jamie Langenbrunner, David Perron and Andy McDonald scored for the Blues, who were 6-7 when Hitchcock replaced Davis Payne behind the bench. St. Louis also entered the season having not qualified for the postseason since 2009.

Special teams played a huge role in the series, as the Blues killed 15 of San Jose's 17 power plays. The Sharks went 0-for-2 with the man advantage Saturday night.

Craig Anderson
Goalie - OTT
RECORD: 3-2-0
GAA: 1.79 | SVP: 0.943
Anderson does it again -- Craig Anderson was spectacular again for the Ottawa Senators on Saturday night.

The Ottawa Senators goaltender made several phenomenal saves to lead his team to a 2-0 win against the top-seeded New York Rangers in Game 5 at Madison Square Garden. Anderson, who finished with 41 saves, lowered his goals-against average to 1.79. Through the first five games of the series, Anderson is boasting a .943 save percentage.

The Rangers have scored only three goals in the past three games, including a 1-0 victory in Game 3. Anderson, meanwhile, improved to 8-1-1 lifetime at MSG.

Since the Blueshirts took a 2-0 lead in the first period of Game 4, Anderson has gone 116 minutes, 32 seconds without allowing a goal.

Theodore bounces back -- Florida Panthers coach Kevin Dineen had complete faith that goaltender Jose Theodore would respond after allowing three goals in the first 6:16 against the New Jersey in Game 3 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal last Tuesday.

All Theodore did Saturday night was stop all 30 shots he faced for his second career postseason shutout as the Panthers moved within a win of the second round with a 3-0 victory at the BankAtlantic Center.

It's been 16 years since Florida has won a playoff series, but Theodore's ability to respond has the Devils on the brink of elimination when the series resumes Tuesday night at the Prudential Center.

Theodore went eight years in between postseason shutouts -- his first one came back on April 19, 2004, when the Montreal Canadiens blanked the Boston Bruins in a 2-0 win.

Dennis Seidenberg
Defense - BOS
GOALS: 1 | ASST: 2 | PTS: 3
SOG: 11 | +/-: 2
Struggling to score -- Goals have been hard to come by for the defending Stanley Cup champions.

When Dennis Seidenberg beat Washington Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby at 17:21 of the second period on Saturday afternoon, it was the Boston Bruins' first goal in 84 minutes, 9 seconds. Rich Peverley had Boston's lone goal in the opening period of Thursday night's 2-1 loss.

The Bruins' lack of offense is a huge reason why the club is playing with its season on the line Sunday afternoon, when the series shifts back to Washington.

Make it five -- For the first time in 61 years, a playoff series has opened with five consecutive overtime games.

The Chicago Blackhawks and Phoenix Coyotes reached an extra session for a fifth time Saturday night, as Nick Leddy erased a 1-0 deficit midway through the third period before captain Jonathan Toews won it in overtime as the Hawks staved off elimination with a 2-1 victory at Jobing.com Arena.

Saturday night marked the first time a series opened with five straight overtime games since the Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs battled in the 1951 Stanley Cup Final.

Follow Brian Compton on Twitter: @BComptonNHL
Posted On Saturday, 04.21.2012 / 10:16 PM

By Jerry Brown -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Coyotes vs. Blackhawks series blog

Korpikoski returns to Coyotes' lineup

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Phoenix Coyotes had one of their wingers back in the lineup as Lauri Korpikoski returned for Game 5 against the Chicago Blackhawks after missing two games with a lower-body injury.
 
Korpikoski, who had 17 goals and 37 assists in the regular season, replaced enforcer Paul Bissonnette in the lineup.
 
The Coyotes lead the series 3-1 and will attempt to win their first playoff series since moving to Phoenix and the first for the franchise since 1987.
 
 

Posted On Saturday, 04.21.2012 / 6:32 PM

By Alain Poupart -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Panthers vs. Devils series blog

Garrison scratched for Game 5

SUNRISE, Fla. — The Florida Panthers again will be without defenseman Jason Garrison for Game 5 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series against New Jersey.

Garrison was a late scratch Thursday because of a lower-body injury and coach Kevin Dineen said Saturday morning a decision on his status for Game 5 would come after warmups. But Garrison wasn't on the ice for warmups.

His status was described by the team Thursday as "day-to-day."

Taking Garrison's place on defense Saturday is Tyson Strachan, who was called up from San Antonio.

The 27-year-old veteran, who played 15 regular season games for the Panthers this season and has played 82 career games, will be making his playoff debut.

Keaton Ellerby, who replaced Garrison in the lineup Thursday but sustained a lower-body injury in the second period, also was among the Panthers scratches Saturday.

Jose Theodore is starting in net for the Panthers after Scott Clemmensen got the nod in Game 4.
Posted On Saturday, 04.21.2012 / 5:51 PM

By Jerry Brown -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Coyotes vs. Blackhawks series blog

Coyotes hope to avoid slow start, being shorthanded

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – The Coyotes have a 3-1 lead in their playoff series with the Blackhawks despite giving up the first goal in three of the four games and losing a forward for the rest of the game three times.

Radim Vrbata was lost on his first shift in Game 1. Martin Hanzal went down early in Game 2. And in Game 4, Paul Bissonnette received a game misconduct for not tying down his jersey – which was pulled off in a fight with Chicago’s Brandon Bollig.
 
“It would help if we don’t lose a player in the first period every night,” Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said. “When you are losing key players, it’s hard to get a rhythm and you are shuffling lines and it changes things. Keeping out whole team on the ice for the period would be a step in the right direction. In the last game (Marc-Andre) Pouliot and (Gilbert) Brule don’t get a lot of time early because they lose their linemate (Bissonnette) and we have to find some rhythm earlier.”
 
Tippett can laugh about the misconduct now.

"My original thought was ‘There is no way he doesn’t have it tied down, so it must have ripped, right?’" Tippett said. "But that wasn’t the case, so we’ll just leave it at that. It’s been addressed."
Posted On Saturday, 04.21.2012 / 5:32 PM

By Jerry Brown -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Coyotes vs. Blackhawks series blog

Boo birds don't bother Coyotes' Smith

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – For two games in Chicago, Phoenix goalie Mike Smith was booed every time he touched the puck from Blackhawk fans who blamed him for Andrew Shaw’s three-game suspension after their collision last weekend in Glendale.
 
But if it was intended to get in his head, it didn’t work. Smith allowed just four goals in the two games, which the Coyotes won in overtime on a pair of Mikkel Boedker goals.
 
“I loved it,” Smith said. “They are passionate fans in Chicago and I wouldn’t expect anything less. If I wasn’t playing hockey I’d be doing the same thing – yelling a screaming at someone. It’s a fun atmosphere but I’m glad to be home.”

If the move was intended to intimidate a goalie that had only one career playoff start in his career before this series, “That was a swing and a miss. It helped me get right into the game,” he said.
 
Smith said he’s not expecting the fans to get on any of the Blackhawks.
 
“Just cheer for us,” he said. “I’m expecting a loud building. Our crowds in the playoffs have been unreal. We’re looking forward to it.”
 
Smith is 10-1-1 in his last 11 starts and has allowed two goals or less in eight of his last nine starts.
Posted On Saturday, 04.21.2012 / 5:21 PM

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

Carter happy for rest, hopes play keeps improving

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. – Sitting around for three days is probably not the ideal routine in a Stanley Cup Playoff series unless a team needs to get healthy.

For Los Angeles Kings forward Jeff Carter, the time is beneficial for healing his ankle and detrimental in that he’s coming off a good game and would have like to get back to playing sooner.

“I would have rather have played every other day,” Carter said Saturday before the Kings left for Vancouver for Game 5 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals on Sunday.

“But it can be good for us, I guess. We got some guys that are a little banged up – bumps and bruises or whatnot – so the extra couple days will definitely help in that way.”

A talking point at the beginning of the series, Carter and linemate Mike Richards each have no points with a minus-3 rating over the past three games.

Carter missed the last five regular season games with a bone bruise in his ankle and returned in time for the start of the series. He said the injury didn’t affect his performance.

“It’s been getting better every game, I think, so it’s not a big issue,” Carter said.

Kings coach Darryl Sutter was typically blunt when asked about what he’s seen from Carter lately.

“I think he’s playing through an injury and I think his last game was his best game,” Sutter said. “What are his strengths? His speed and puck skills. When you’re not playing quite 100 percent it does make a difference.”

Carter had a game-high seven shots on goal and four hits in Game 4. He looked as active and visible as he has in the series, and if he shows his scoring capability he will be the factor that Los Angeles wished for when they acquired him before the trade deadline.

“It was probably the best that I’ve felt in this series,” Carter said. “I was skating and getting on pucks. When you’re doing that, you’re creating chances, so it was a step in the right direction.”

Carter had six goals in 16 regular season games since he came to L.A. in a Feb.23 trade with the Columbus Blue Jackets, who got Jack Johnson and a first round draft pick in return. Outside of a two-goal game against the Anaheim Ducks on March 3, he really hasn’t had a signature game or goal of real significance.

Carter has also been quiet in recent playoffs. He is on a six-game point-less streak, dating to last postseason with Philadelphia.

Richards was also encouraged by Game 5 and knows what his former Philadelphia teammate is capable of doing.

“I talked to him after [Game 4],” Richards said. “He said he felt good. He’s said he it was the best he felt in a long time. Hopefully we can improve on it and get opportunities and chances and shots. He’s got a good enough a shot where the goalie can make the save once in a while but eventually it’s going to go in.”

Mitchell on Vancouver:
Defenseman Willie Mitchell is a knowledgeable source on how to defend the Canucks and he has served as a sort of analyst during the series.

Mitchell played four seasons with Vancouver and against them in the Northwest Division when he was with the Minnesota Wild. He had a detailed take on defending a “new” Canucks team with Daniel and Henrik Sedin.

“Everyone has their own way or own belief of how you play them,” Mitchell said. “Personally, I think you deny them the puck, so that means when other players on their team have the puck, you make sure they don’t get it. So [it’s] meeting them before the puck gets there. If they get the puck, it’s not about eliminating time and space, in my opinion, because if you’re too aggressive against them there’s going to be ice open up in the middle of the ice, and that’s where it always goes.

“They make those blind passes and they just know. Their whole game is about creating 2-on-1s, just bringing the guy into you … so it’s a fine line – being aggressive when they don’t have it, and if they happen to get possession, sometimes you got to sit because they’re not Steven Stamkos. They don’t have that world class shot. But they are world-class playmakers.”

Sutter kept beating the drum that Game 4 was his team’s best game of the series and he reiterated that they’re still the underdog even though they have a 3-1 series lead.

He sounded as if he needed a lot more from his team.

“I liked our five-on-five play [in Game 4] but we’re not going to beat the Vancouver Canucks unless everybody plays to their (level) because of the skill set that they have,” Sutter said. “If we have three or four guys that don’t try to play to their skill set then we’re not going to beat them.”

Clifford remains out:
Kyle Clifford (upper body) did not skate for a third consecutive game, which all but rules him out from returning anytime soon.

Clifford was hit by Byron Bitz on Game 1. It is called an upper-body injury but the team is taking the same protocol they would for a concussion.
Posted On Saturday, 04.21.2012 / 4:57 PM

By Jerry Brown -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Coyotes vs. Blackhawks series blog

Korpikoski could return for Coyotes

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Coyotes winger Lauri Korpikoski took part in the morning skate Saturday and Phoenix coach said Dave Tippett will be a game-time decision for Game 5 against Chicago.
 
Center Martin Hanzal was on the ice but did not take part in the team skate. Tippett said he was doubtful to play in Game 5 after his injuries were re-evaluated on Friday. The Coyotes will also be without Raffi Torres who was slapped with a 25-game suspension by the league Saturday.
 
Korpikoski left Game 2 last Saturday with an apparent lower-body injury in the third period sustained in a collision with Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith. He did not play in Games 3 and 4 and did not return to the ice until Friday, when the team returned from Chicago.
 
“It was a good skate. I feel good so we’ll see,” Korpikoski said. “It’s been so painful to watch … I can’t do it. I just want to be out there. The toughest thing to do is watch and not be able to help. Chicago is a fun city but it was a good road trip for me. It took a year off my life.”
 
Mikkel Boedker, who took Korpikoski’s spot on the line with Taylor Pyatt and Boyd Gordon, had the winning goal in overtime in each of the last two games – leaving Tippett to joke that Korpikoski might have lost his spot.
 
“Tipp’s kind of playing some mind games with me,” Korpikoski said. “(Boedker’s) doing a good job. He scored some big goals.”
 
If Korpikoski plays, he would replace either Marc-Antoine Pouilot or Paul Bissonnette in the Phoenix lineup.
Posted On Saturday, 04.21.2012 / 4:43 PM

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

In Bryz they trust

VOORHEES, N.J. -- After watching Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury steal Game 5 for his team, the Philadelphia Flyers would like to see their goaltender do the same thing in Game 6 on Sunday (Noon ET, NBC, TSN).

"Give credit to their defense and Fleury played a great game in Pittsburgh," Scott Hartnell said. "We had to fight for opportunities and when we had them he was there to make the save. I think it's time for our defense and our goalie to win us a game."

Hartnell quickly added that he thought Bryzgalov was playing well, saying, "You need a goalie who can make those stops. Not that Bryz has played bad, but we'd love to win 1-0 and get a shutout and move on and get some rest and get some guys healthy."

Bryzgalov had a solid outing Game 5, stopping 20 of 23 shots in the 3-2 loss. It was a far cry from his poor performance in Game 4, when he allowed five goals on 18 shots and was pulled early in the second period.

The belief in the team is Bryzgalov can reach the same level as Fleury in Game 6.

"Bryz has made some great stops in the first few games," Hartnell said. "It's 3-0 [in Game 1] and it could have been 4-0 or 5-0 and they could have had that first game in their books. … We believe in Bryz, our organization believes in Bryz, and more importantly, the fans believe in Bryz. We're going to get it done."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Quote of the Day

I first met him when I was 19 years old and he coached me for 13 consecutive years. I don't know how many athletes who have had that pleasure. Al Arbour was a man that left us not only feeling like champions, but left us with a lot of great memories that we can carry on through life.

— Islanders Hall of Fame defenseman Denis Potvin on former coach Al Arbour, who passed away Friday at the age of 82