Round 2
Round 3
Stanley Cup Final
Posted On Saturday, 03.24.2012 / 2:48 PM

By Curtis Zupke - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Bruins, Kings

Here are the projected lineups for Boston and Los Angeles as those two teams meet Saturday night at Staples Center:


Milan Lucic - David Krejci - Jordan Caron
Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - Tyler Seguin
Benoit Pouliot - Chris Kelly - Brian Rolston
Daniel Paille - Gregory Campbell - Shawn Thornton

Zdeno Chara - Dennis Seidenberg
Andrew Ference - Johnny Boychuck
Greg Zanon - Adam McQuaid

Tim Thomas
Marty Turco


Dustin Brown - Anze Kopitar - Justin Williams
Dwight King - Mike Richards - Jeff Carter
Dustin Penner - Jarret Stoll - Trevor Lewis
Kyle Clifford - Colin Fraser - Jordan Nolan

Rob Scuderi - Drew Doughty
Willie Mitchell - Slava Voynov
Matt Greene - Alec Martinez

Jonathan Quick
Jonathan Bernier
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Posted On Saturday, 03.24.2012 / 2:38 PM

By John Manasso - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Noel mum on choice in net against Predators

NASHVILLE – The day after a big comeback against Southeast Division rival Washington, Winnipeg coach Claude Noel was mum on who would start Saturday against the Predators.
Down 3-0 on Friday against the Capitals, the Jets rallied to win 4-3 in overtime to move within four points of the Eastern Conference’s eighth and final playoff spot with eight games to play as goalie Ondrej Pavelec made 20 saves and did not allow a goal after the 5:47 mark of the second period. The Jets hold a game in hand on Washington, which has 82 points.
Pavelec is 28-25-7 with a 2.84 goals-against average and .908 save percentage. Backup Chris Mason, a former Predator who played in the playoffs for Nashville, is 7-6-1 with a 2.40 GAA and .903 save percentage.
“We’ll see at game time,” was all Noel would say. Noel did say right wing Eric Fehr (shoulder) would miss the Saturday night contest.
Here is the projected lineup for the Jets:
Andrew Ladd - Bryan Little - Blake Wheeler
Evander Kane - Alex Burmistrov - Kyle Wellwood
Tanner Glass - Jim Slater - Antti Miettinen
Spencer Machacek - Ben Maxwell - Tim Stapleton
Toby Enstrom - Dustin Byfuglien
Ron Hainsey - Zach Bogosian
Mark Stuart - Randy Jones
Ondrej Pavelec
Chris Mason
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Posted On Saturday, 03.24.2012 / 2:33 PM

By Neil Acharya - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Rangers out to retain hold on first in East

The New York Rangers and Toronto Maple Leafs meet for a fourth and final time Saturday at Air Canada Centre. Toronto took the first two games of the season series but lost 3-0 to the Rangers in their last meeting.
While Martin Biron earned the shutout in that game, the Rangers will start Henrik Lundqvist, who allowed four goals Friday night in a loss to the surging Buffalo Sabres.  The All-Star netminder was in net for both losses earlier in the season to Toronto.
New York sits atop the Eastern Conference but they are in a fight with the Pittsburgh Penguins for that mantle.  A loss in Toronto, combined with a Penguins win in Ottawa, will vault Pittsburgh ahead of the Rangers.
The Maple Leafs are also playing the second of back- to-back contests.  Nazem Kadri scored a lovely shootout goal, faking to the backhand and then going forehand to beat Martin Brodeur and give Toronto a 4-3 victory Friday night in New Jersey.
“I am pretty happy with how it ended,” said Kardi of his heroics at Prudential Center.  “It was pretty nerve wracking going in one-on-one with Marty Brodeur.” 
He also scored a goal in regulation, which gives him five on the season.
The young forward has spent the majority of the season with the Maple Leafs' AHL affiliate, the Toronto Marlies, and was called up on an emergency basis Thursday along with forward Ryan Hamilton after Matt Frattin and Clarke MacArthur both went down to injuries.
The seventh overall pick in the 2009 draft had his first opportunity to play for coach Randy Carlyle on Friday. Carlyle was complimentary of Kadri, but feels that there is much more work ahead for the 21-year-old.
“I don’t want things to get blown out of proportion, that’s one thing about this market, when somebody has success there is a lot of accolades and he earned them last night.” Carlyle said. “But he is a young player that has to push to be better, and give us the type of minutes that are safe ... he has areas to improve and defensive play would be one of them.”
James Reimer stopped 43 shots to earn the victory against the Devils, but there was no indication whether he or Jonas Gustavsson will be starting against the Rangers. Gustavsson has been in net for all three meetings with the Rangers this season.
Injured forward Mike Brown skated Saturday, one of nine forwards and defenseman that took part in the optional skate. He indicated that he is still not ready to play at this juncture but hopes to return within the week.
“I guess if there is practice tomorrow, I will go full practice with the team and hopefully get a few practices in before Tuesday and if not Tuesday then maybe Thursday,” Brown said. “At this point, [I’ll] just see how it is every day and listen to the trainers and wait for them to tell me if I am OK to play.”
Carlyle also expressed that he will go with a similar lineup to the one he deployed Friday night. Here is the projected lineup for the Leafs:
Matthew Lombardi - Tyler Bozak - Phil Kessel
Nazem Kadri - Mikhail Grabovski - Ryan Hamilton
Tim Connolly - David Steckel - Joey Crabb
Jay Rosehill - Carter Ashton - Colby Armstrong

Dion Phaneuf - Carl Gunnarsson
Mike Komisarek - John Michael-Liles
Luke Schenn - Jake Gardiner
Cody Franson

Jonas Gustavsson
James Reimer

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Posted On Saturday, 03.24.2012 / 2:03 PM

By Brian Hedger - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Injuries hamper once-wonderful season for Howard

DETROIT -- Jimmy Howard had just played in his first NHL All-Star Game when a magical season in which he was on pace to set a new League record for wins came to a screeching halt in Vancouver.

A hard shot by Maxim Lapierre struck the Red Wings goalie in the right hand and broke his index finger -- that kept him out for eight games in February. After making five of six starts when he returned, Howard left a game March 4 against Chicago after just one period because of an issue with his groin.

That one kept him out for three straight games. He returned to start three of four before leaving with another groin issue, which still has him sidelined heading into a Saturday night game at Joe Louis Arena against the Carolina Hurricanes.

Ty Conklin will instead get the start with rookie Jordan Pearce filling the back-up role.

"Groins are an important part of being a goaltender," Howard said on Saturday morning, after taking shots for the first time in a week. "It is frustrating. I mean, I thought we got a good handle on it prior to me coming back in L.A. Everything was feeling really good. It was frustrating, but at the same time [I'm] just trying to be optimistic and staying positive, trying to keep my mind in the right frame of mind."

He's also working on rehabbing the groin muscle in question.

"We're trying to really strengthen it so it's stronger than what it was before," Howard said. "We're doing a lot of stuff in the weight room with the bands and stuff, really trying to make it a lot stronger. Not so much stretching it. The flexibility's there, it's just strengthening it.

"I don't know what the magic number is or anything like that for getting ready. Just being out there and taking shots in practice feels good again. I'm hoping it's not going to take that much longer."

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Posted On Saturday, 03.24.2012 / 1:59 PM

By Brian Hedger - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Wings close to having full complement on defense

DETROIT -- It seems like ages ago, but only a month has passed since the Detroit Red Wings traded to get 26-year old Kyle Quincey and create a logjam on their blue line.

At that point, Detroit had eight NHL defensemen and the Wings talked about how important that kind of depth heading into the playoffs.

Rookie Brendan Smith wasn't even up from the minors yet, as he was still developing with Grand Rapids of the American Hockey League. Four days later, in Quincey's second game back with the team that originally drafted him, the Red Wings quickly had their depth challenged when three defensemen got hurt against Quincey's former team, the Colorado Avalanche.

Quincey strained his groin, captain Nicklas Lidstrom sustained a deep bone bruise in his ankle and Jonathan Ericsson fractured his wrist. While Quincey only missed one game, Lidstrom and Ericsson have both missed 11 straight.

Red Wing veteran Mike Commodore was also dealt to the Tampa Bay Lightning hours before the trade deadline expired and then Jakub Kindl left the lineup with an oblique strain that's kept him out for eight games. Smith was recalled from the minors and played solidly, but the Wings are currently without some key pieces on the back end -- especially Lidstrom and Ericsson.

Lidstrom, who is a game-time decision Saturday night against Carolina, is the quarterback of the power play. Ericsson was a big part of the penalty kill with his big frame.

"I think we're going to get [Ericsson] back for next game [Monday]," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "Anytime you lose three [defensemen] like that and your starting goalie and [Pavel Datsyuk] and all these guys ... you know, we've been skinny for a while here. But I think it's been good for our game honestly. You have to work real hard at your game and improving your game defensively because you can't score."

That could start to change in a hurry over the next week, as several of Detroit's injured players start to make their way back into games with the regular season winding down.

Lidstrom might be the first to return, but Ericsson said he's not far off.

"It's been better every day," he said after on-ice work Saturday morning. "I notice the difference every day. It feels good to me. It's in progress and getting closer every day. I said I was ready, but the doctors have their say, too. I think they're making probably the smartest choices, too, if I'm playing or not. Gotta listen to what they're saying, too. It feels pretty good. I feel like I'm close anyway."

Still, he needs to pass a few more tests in order to get clearance.

"There's a few things I kind of need to improve before I'm game ready," Ericsson said. "My range is pretty good, but I'm pretty weak at some spots and I'm not pain-free or anything like that ... so we don't want to make anything worse."

Kindl, however, is ready to go. He'll get back in the lineup Saturday night after dealing with an oblique strain for the first time in his career.

"It's a part of the body you're using it for everything, like stickhandling, shooting [and] skating, so it was a part I couldn't do but now I feel really good and I'm ready to go," he said. "It's part of our sport, injuries. I had to deal with it and I did everything I could to stay in shape and worked hard. Finally I feel good."
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Posted On Saturday, 03.24.2012 / 1:53 PM

By Brian Hedger - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Red Wings getting healthy, hope to find top form

DETROIT -- Slowly but surely, the hobbled Detroit Red Wings are making their way back to the ice as the regular season winds to its close in the next couple weeks.

The biggest question mark, however, is if there is enough time for all of the walking wounded to get back up to top form before the playoffs start?

"When you miss lots of hockey, you know ... it's the NHL," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "It's good games. It's good players. You've got to spend some time playing if you're going to be succesful."

And that's where the Red Wings currently find themselves, with a number of injured regulars still out for a game Saturday night at Joe Louis Arena against the Carolina Hurricanes.

Detroit will still be without starting goalie Jimmy Howard (groin), big-bodied defenseman Jonathan Ericsson (wrist fracture), power forward Johan Franzen (back spasms), center Darren Helm (knee sprain) and backup goalie Joey MacDonald (back issues).

The good news is they will get defenseman Jakub Kindl (oblique strain) back on the blue line after missing eight games, while captain and top defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom might play after missing a career-high 11 straight games with a deep bone bruise in his ankle.

Lidstrom, who took part in Detroit's optional morning skate and looked close to his normal skating form, will be a "game-time" decision after he takes warmups to test it out for a second time in the same day.

"I'm going to be sore for a while," said Lidstrom, who's clearly been frustrated by having to miss so many games in a row. "It's going to be staying with me for a while. It's just a matter of not getting worse. I think that's what they're afraid of ... that it's going to get worse. So, that's why they want me to come down here again and take warmups."

Whether he plays against the Hurricanes or not, it looks like Lidstrom is close to returning and both Ericsson and Franzen hope to be back in action at some point next week. Ericsson is actually hoping to play Monday against the Columbus Blue Jackets after healing enough from a fractured wrist that occured in the same Feb. 25 game against Colorado that knocked Lidstrom out.

Detroit also just got star center Pavel Datsyuk back two games ago after almost a month absence from arthroscopic knee surgery and has several players who've played through some nagging injuries that might've sidelined them had the team been relatively healthy.

The question now, however, is how many Red Wings can return before the playoffs and how soon before the regular season ends?

"It's great to see all the guys getting back out there," said Howard, who's also missed extended time this season with a broken index finger. "We need to get healthy and hopefully we can leave this injury bug behind us. It's been a rough month and half, two months for us in that aspect. At the same point, we've got to find a way to win games."

If they do and get healthy in time for the playoffs, do they still feel like they can be one of the League's elite teams and a Stanley Cup contender this season?

"Yeah, I think so, but you can't just turn it on like that," said Franzen, the Wings' leading goal-scorer (26) who will miss his fourth straight game with his back issue. "You've got to be together for a while and play some good games and get the confidence going. When we get that going, yeah, we are a really good team."

Franzen skated for the second day in a row Saturday morning, including an extensive conditioning skate after the players who were playing on Saturday night left the ice. Franzen said he didn't feel great afterward, but not because of his back -- which he said felt okay.

"Back feels pretty good, but I feel awful out there," he said. "It's been awhile since I've [done] anything, so I've just got to get the lungs back. I feel like I've been out for a while and it's first time skating hard today and doing anything hard actually. So, yeah, I can definitely feel that."

He doesn't have a set date that he hopes to be back, but said the coming week is a strong possibility. He also feels like returning before the end of the regular season is a must if hes going to be at his best in the postseason -- where he's made a lot of noise in long playoff runs before.

"That's important," the 6-foot-3, 223-pound Franzen said. "I'm going to get back before the playoffs start. That's for sure. Need to get some games in and gets the legs back and get the lungs back."
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Posted On Saturday, 03.24.2012 / 1:38 PM

By John Manasso - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Radulov still adjusting, set for home debut

NASHVILLE – Alex Radulov will make his home debut Saturday when the Predators play host to Winnipeg – his first game at Bridgestone Arena in four years.

Radulov, who had a goal in his debut Thursday in 15:54 of ice time while going minus-two at Pittsburgh, said he is still adjusting to being back in the NHL after playing four seasons in Russia’s KHL with its larger ice surface. Jet lag from the time change, in particular, will take a little while. Moscow is nine hours earlier than the Central time zone, where Nashville sits.

The two-time KHL MVP said after the 5-1 loss he was mentally tired.

“Well, first period was a little bit hard because you get into the game and small ice and game was a little bit different,” Radulov said, “But when you get on, the game feel much better. Still, you know, need some time to adjust. Like I said before -- times change. It’s almost 10 hours difference, so it’s a little bit hard. Not looking for any excuses. I just need to get on top of my game and help my teammates.”

Nashville coach Barry Trotz was asked if he would try to calm the excitable Radulov at all going into the game.

“He’s like (Patric) Hornqvist and that’s the espresso line, those two guys,” Trotz said of the wings who are centered by David Legwand. “There’s a lot of energy in those two guys. You don’t really temper it. What makes Rads special is, obviously, he’s got good skills, but his willingness to compete and so he’s sort of like a rink rat. He wants to be there all the time, just like Hornqvist. They both have a lot of joy in their game. They want to be on the ice, they want to be in the important situations so from that standpoint I don’t think I’d want to temper him at all.”

Nashville has lost two straight by a combined 11-4 margin, so the Preds will be looking to get their game back on track Saturday against the Jets.

“It’s a big game for us,” Radulov said of his home opener. “We lost the last game. Everybody understand how important this is for us. … I’m happy to be back. Excited to play first game home. Will be fun, I think."
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Posted On Saturday, 03.24.2012 / 1:33 PM

By Erin Nicks - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Penguins, Senators

KANATA, Ont. – Here are the projected lineups for a Saturday night game between the Ottawa Senators and the Pittsburgh Penguins at Scotiabank Place:


Colin GreeningJason SpezzaMilan Michalek
Zack SmithKyle TurrisDaniel Alfredsson
Nick Foligno – Jim O’Brien – Chris Neil
Rob KlinkhammerKaspars DaugavinsErik Condra

Filip KubaErik Karlsson
Jared CowenSergei Gonchar
Chris PhillipsMatt Carkner

Ben Bishop
Craig Anderson

Bobby Butler, Zenon Konopka, Matt Gilroy and Alex Auld are the healthy scratches. Matt Carkner returns to the lineup after sitting the past 12 games.


Chris KunitzEvgeni MalkinJames Neal
Steve Sullivan - Jordan StaalPascal Dupuis
Matt CookeSidney CrosbyTyler Kennedy
Eric TangradiCraig Adams – Aaron Asham

Paul MartinKris Letang
Brooks OrpikZbynek Michalek
Ben LovejoyDeryk Engelland

Brad Thiessen
Marc-Andre Fleury

Matt Niskanen (unspecified) and Joe Vitale (upper-body) are both day-to-day and did not travel with the team. Brent Johnson (unspecified) is also day-to-day. Richard Park and Dustin Jeffrey are the healthy scratches.

Crosby admitted the ability to vault into first place in the Eastern Conference with a win against the Senators on Saturday night is in the back of the Pens’ minds.

“It’s something we’re aware of and we want to get it but I think if we focus on the way we need to play, those things will take care of themselves,” Crosby said.  “We’ve got some games here before playoffs and we want to make sure we’re playing the right way.”

The Pittsburgh captain also continues to feel better on the ice, but he still wants to work on his timing.

“I’m just (trying to) get comfortable with the speed and decisions,” he said. “There’s so many aspects that go into a full, complete game. You kind of have to learn on the fly, sometimes. There’s only so much you can do as far as practicing – you have to get into games. I think the speed and the decision making takes a little longer (to get back).”
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Posted On Saturday, 03.24.2012 / 1:24 PM

By Lonnie Herman - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Slumping Lightning close homestand against Islanders

TAMPA -- When the Lightning unpacked their bags and settled in at home 14 days ago, they had some serious hopes of making the playoffs. Now, heading into the final game of their season-long, seven-game homestand against the New York Islanders on Saturday night, they are perilously closer to falling into the Eastern Conference cellar rather than finding the postseason.

Going 2-4-0 is not how Tampa Bay hoped this series of games would play out, and they are now a mere two points ahead of the Islanders and the Montreal Canadiens at the bottom of the standings.

To make matters more difficult for the Lightning, New York arrives in the midst of a minor revival, seeking their first three-game win streak since Jan. 17-21. They have racked up consecutive road wins over Montreal and Toronto and are 3-1-1 in their last five away games.

“Those last two wins are building blocks,” Islanders coach Jack Capuano said. “We got contributions from lots of guys and that’s how you are going to win in this League.”

Saturday features the fourth and final matchup this season between these clubs, and the home team won each of the first three meetings. The Islanders have outscored the Lightning 11-6 thus far in the series.

Tampa Bay will continue to field two forward lines composed primarily of recalled AHL players, as none of the seven regulars on the injured list are ready to return. Despite the depleted lineup his club will face, Capuano still sees the game as a good test for the Islanders.

“Yes, the Lightning are beat up,” Capuano said, “but they still have lots of firepower up front. The key for us is to keep guys out of the penalty box.”

Capuano might be looking at some old numbers; after a brief five-game spurt during which their power play converted six times on 15 attempts, the Lightning have reverted back to their season-long form of 15.5 percent -- 24th in the League -- having scored only once in their last 14 extra-man opportunities.

Here are the projected lineups for both teams:


Matt Moulson - John Tavares - PA Parenteau
Josh Bailey - Frans Neilson - Kyle Okposo
Michael Grabner - Casey Cizikas - David Ullstrom
Nino Niederreiter - Marty Reasoner - Matt Martin

Andrew MacDonald - Travis Hamonic
Mark Streit - Dylan Reese
Mark Eaton - Steve Staios

Al Montoya
Evgeni Nabokov


Martin St. Louis - Steven Stamkos - Teddy Purcell
Ryan Malone - Tom Pyatt - Brett Connolly
Tim Wallace - Trevor Smith - JT Wyman
Brandon Segal - Pierre-Cedric Labrie

Eric Brewer - Victor Hedman
Brett Clark - Brendan Mikkelson
Brian Lee - Bruno Gervais
Keith Aulie

Dwayne Roloson
Sebastien Caron
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Posted On Saturday, 03.24.2012 / 1:15 PM

By Bill Meltzer - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Habs to face rested Flyers in Philadelphia

Over the course of the long NHL season, every team periodically finds itself in situations where it plays on back-to-back nights and faces a rested opponent in the second game. That’s the situation the Montreal Canadiens are in tonight as they take on the Philadelphia Flyers at Wells Fargo Center.

The Flyers took a complete day off Friday after a 2-1 shootout victory Thursday over the Capitals. The Habs, meanwhile, downed the Ottawa Senators 5-1 and then flew to Philadelphia.

Mired in the Eastern Conference cellar, the Canadiens have little but personal pride to play for at this point of the regular season. To the credit of the players and coach Randy Cunneyworth, the club has managed to compile points in seven of the last eight games (4-1-3).

Last night, the club dealt a significant setback to the rival Senators. Erik Cole is coming off a game in which he scored a natural hat trick, while Lars Eller and Petteri Nokalainen had single tallies. Saturday, the Habs will attempt to delay Philadelphia from clinching a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The fifth-seeded Flyers will be guaranteed a playoff berth with a victory of any kind (regulation, overtime or shootout) over the Canadiens, or with some help against Winnipeg and Buffalo.

The Canadiens did not conduct a morning skate in Philadelphia. Goaltender Peter Budaj could make just his 13th appearance of the regular season. Workhorse starter Carey Price made 37 saves Friday night. Price has started all three previous games against Philadelphia this season.

With one exception, the Flyers practiced on Saturday morning with the same line combinations used in the Washington game.  Veteran defenseman Andreas Lilja, who took a puck to the throat in Boston last Saturday and missed one game before returning for the last two, did not participate in the morning skate. The club has recalled defenseman Erik Gustafsson from the AHL’s Adirondack Phantoms. Paired with Pavel  Kubina, Gustafsson skated in place of Lilja.

Ilya Bryzgalov is slated to make his 17th start in the Flyers’ last 18 games. For the month of March, he has twice collected First Star of the Week honors, while sporting a 9-1-1 record, 1.24 goals against average and .954 save percentage.

On Thursday, Laviolette made changes on three of the team’s four forward lines, most notably putting Brayden Schenn and Wayne Simmonds on a line with Danny Briere despite the fact that all three players have been mired in lengthy goal-scoring slumps.

The trio generated several scoring chances in the last game, although it did not score a goal. In the climactic shootout, however, Simmonds potted the game-winning tally.

“To put Danny back with a couple guys that he’s been with in the past, he’s been with [Simmonds] in the past, and see if they can’t catch a little bit of fire,” Laviolette explained on Thursday. “I’d like to keep it together and see if they can build on [last game]. You never know, it could be that goal or that one big game that gets the line going where they get some confidence and get some chemistry and get jumping.”

Here are the projected lineups:


Scott HartnellClaude GirouxJaromir Jagr
Brayden Schenn –  Danny BriereWayne Simmonds
Matt Read –  Max Talbot – Jakub Voracek
Eric WellwoodSean CouturierZac Rinaldo

Matt CarleKimmo Timonen
Nicklas GrossmannBraydon Coburn
Erik GustafssonPavel Kubina

Ilya Bryzgalov
Sergei Bobrovsky


Max Pacioretty - David Desharnais - Erik Cole
Rene Bourque - Tomas Plekanec - Lars Eller
Mike Blunden - Ryan White - Louis Leblanc
Brad Staubitz - Petteri Nokelainen - Aaron Palushaj

Josh Gorges - P.K. Subban
Andrei Markov - Alexei Emelin
Chris Campoli - Yannick Weber

Peter Budaj
Carey Price
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Quote of the Day

It's about enjoying the moment. It's pretty cool to get that many people together and that excited about hockey to the point they really want you to mess up. They've got a ton of red jerseys and you have to sit back and appreciate people love hockey that much and you are the one out there who gets to play the game. Just try and stick with that respect for the game and also the mentality that for me it's just about entering the fight and seeing how long I can stay in it.

— Canucks goaltender Ryan Miller on what he expects from the fans in Calgary for Game 6