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Posted On Tuesday, 04.17.2012 / 2:11 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Predators vs. Red Wings series blog

Likely lineups for Wings, Predators

DETROIT -- Here are the lineups the Red Wings and Predators likely will use when they meet Tuesday at Joe Louis Arena in Game 4 of their Western Conference Quarterfinal series (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC):

PREDATORS
Sergei Kostitsyn - Mike Fisher - Martin Erat
Andrei Kostitsyn - Nick Spaling - Alexander Radulov
Gabriel Bourque - Paul Gaustad - Patric Hornqvist
Matt Halischuk - David Legwand - Brandon Yip

Ryan Suter - Shea Weber
Kevin Klein - Roman Josi
Francis Bouillon - Ryan Ellis

Pekka Rinne
Anders Lindback

Forwards Jordin Tootoo, Craig Smith, Colin Wilson will be healthy scratches. Jack Hillen, who played the first two games in place of the injured Hal Gill, could replace Ellis, who made his Stanley Cup Playoff debut in Game 3. Gill (lower body) will not play in Game 4.

RED WINGS
Valtteri Filppula - Henrik Zetterberg - Jiri Hudler
Johan Franzen - Pavel Datsyuk - Danny Cleary
Gustav Nyquist - Justin Abdelkader - Todd Bertuzzi
Drew Miller - Cory Emmerton - Tomas Holmstrom

Nicklas Lidstrom - Ian White
Niklas Kronwall - Brad Stuart
Kyle Quincey - Jonathan Ericsson

Jimmy Howard
Ty Conklin

Forwards Chris Conner, Jan Mursak, Jakub Kindl and Riley Sheahan all will be healthy scratches.
Posted On Tuesday, 04.17.2012 / 2:05 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Predators vs. Red Wings series blog

Wings keep Preds off their ping pong table

DETROIT -- One of the more popular side stories prior to Game 4 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals between the Detroit Red Wings and Nashville Predators on Tuesday (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC) involves table tennis.

After "news" broke on Monday that Red Wings forward Todd Bertuzzi put the kibosh on a game of ping pong between Predators teammates Roman Josi and Brandon Yip at Joe Louis Arena, players and coaches from both teams fielded questions about it Tuesday.

The Red Wings had the tables brought in this season as a pre-game activity in the area located just outside the two locker rooms. Bertuzzi told the Detroit Free Press that he asked a security guard to prevent the Predators from playing.

Yip and Josi confirmed that's what happened and said they were surprised by such a big media flap about it -- including a bunch of online blog posts.

"It was a little funny," Yip said. "It's nothing to look too far into, I don't think. We just went out there to play and ... the security guard said we're not to play. We were a little disappointed, but we went back and did our normal routine. I don't think it will have any affect [on the game] ... except I got a little more TV time today."

Red Wings coach Mike Babcock was asked about it during his meeting with reporters and was told by a team spokesman prior to answering that the incident didn't happen.

"That's why stuff like that is rumors," he said, smiling. "You start that rumor. Lots of rumors going around ... when I'm bored I start them. Good job by you.''

Nashville coach Barry Trotz sounded just as amused by it.

"It really has no effect [on the game]," Trotz said. "If they want a ping pong table in Nashville, I'm more than willing to give them one. It's their toys. We have our toys, all those things, a ping pong table, our balls. We're OK. We've got a soccer ball. We have our things that we do. There's nothing really to it. That's their decision. It's their toy."
Posted On Tuesday, 04.17.2012 / 1:58 PM

By Tim Cronin -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Coyotes vs. Blackhawks series blog

Projected Game 3 lineups

CHICAGO -- With Martin Hanzal and Mike Smith listed as a game-time decisions for Phoenix, here’s how the lineups project for Game 3 of the Western Conference Quarterfinal series between Chicago and Phoenix on Tuesday at the United Center:

COYOTES
Ray Whitney - Martin Hanzal - Radim Vrbata
Mikkel Boedker - Antoine Vermette - Shane Doan
Taylor Pyatt - Boyd Gordon - Gilbert Brule
Raffi Torres - Daymond Langkow - Kyle Chipchura

Keith Yandle - Derek Morris
Oliver Ekman-Larsson - Adrian Aucoin
Rostislav Klesla - Michal Rozsival

Mike Smith
Jason LaBarbera

Justin Pogge is expected to dress and back up LaBarbera if Smith is unable to play.
 
BLACKHAWKS
Patrick Sharp - Jonathan Toews - Viktor Stalberg
Andrew Brunette - Patrick Kane - Marian Hossa
Bryan Bickell - Dave Bolland - Andrew Shaw or Martin Frolik
Brandon Bollig - Marcis Kruger - Jamal Mayers

Duncan Keith - Brent Seabrook
Johnny Oduya - Nick Leddy
Niklas Hjalmarsson - Sami Lepisto

Corey Crawford
Ray Emery

Posted On Tuesday, 04.17.2012 / 1:39 PM

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

Alfredsson suffers 'setback' in recovery

OTTAWA -- Ottawa Senators coach Paul MacLean told reporters Tuesday that team captain Daniel Alfredsson had a "setback" in his recovery from a concussion and his status is unknown for Game 4 of the team's Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series against the New York Rangers.

The Senators took part in an optional practice Tuesday afternoon, following their 1-0 loss to the New York Rangers on Monday night at Scotiabank Place. The Rangers currently lead the Sens 2-1 in their Eastern Conference Quarterfinals series.

Alfredsson, Erik Karlsson and Craig Anderson were absent from the ice. Karlsson and Anderson took a maintenance day, while Alfredsson continues to recover from his concussion. Alfredsson received a blow to the head from the Rangers' Carl Hagelin during the second period of Game 2. The captain participated in the morning skate on Monday and was listed as a game-time decision for Game 3, but did not play. Alfredsson has now suffered a setback in his recovery, leaving his availability for Game 4 unclear.

"We're going to evaluate it and see what it is in the morning," MacLean said. "If [Alfredsson] is better and things go good, we'll evaluate the lineup and make decisions then.

"He's the captain of the team. He's the most experienced player on the team. It's a big loss for any team. I think the team stepped up and played really well. I thought Bobby [Butler] went in and played real well for us. That's what we need to happen. When a team faces adversity, it's an opportunity. We're not replacing Daniel Alfredsson. We don't have that player."

The Senators' practice largely focused on special teams, with MacLean spending most of the skate working with the team's first power play unit of Milan Michalek, Jason Spezza, Butler, Filip Kuba and Sergei Gonchar. The Sens' power play is 1-for-10 through three games, with the only goal on the man-advantage coming from Erik Karlsson in Game 2.
Posted On Tuesday, 04.17.2012 / 1:26 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Predators vs. Red Wings series blog

Red Wings need ice-cold Filppula to heat up

DETROIT -- While his season as a whole can be considered a success, the past month for Valtteri Filppula hasn't been pretty.

The 28-year old Detroit Red Wings forward has scored just one goal in the past 17 games dating to the regular season. He last found the back of the net March 17 at San Jose. He had career-highs of 23 goals, 43 assists and 66 points this season while shifting from center to left wing.

Through Detroit's first three Stanley Cup Playoffs games, however, Filppula has no goals and one assist. He's also taken just six shots on goal, including just two of the Red Wings' 43 in Game 3 on Sunday.

"You create chances to score, but at the end of the day, chances ... they don't count," Filppula said. "We have to find a way to score and hopefully we can do a better job."

The Red Wings have struggled scoring goals in the same timeframe that's seen Filppula's production fall off. They also find themselves down 2-1 in their Western Conference Quarterfinal series against the Nashville Predators and could use an offensive outburst in Game 4 on Tuesday (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC).

"I feel like we've been getting some chances, for sure," Filppula said. "[Sunday's] game, we had a lot of good chances and couldn't score. It's tough, obviously. You hope to get more chances but their goalie is playing really well, too. The more chances, hopefully the better luck you have that some go in."

In the regular season, Filppula led Detroit in goals scored against Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne this season, with four in six games.

"It's a little different," Filppula said of the postseason. "Playoff hockey is always different. There's less room and you don't get as many good chances as you do during the regular season. It's tighter. The biggest thing is getting second shots and second chances and getting goals that way."

Still, the Wings know that when Filppula's firing more pucks at the net, the better it is for their scoring chances.

"I think we saw that [this season] when he was scoring some goals, he was shooting the puck a little more, driving the net, and [that's] something [he] can do an even better job at," Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom said. "It would help [if Filppula heats up]. You're always looking at one player to be that difference and I think Fil can be that difference for us."
Posted On Tuesday, 04.17.2012 / 1:08 PM

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

Zajac feels healthy, contributing for Devils

NEWARK, N.J. -- Despite missing the majority of the regular season with an Achilles injury, New Jersey Devils forward Travis Zajac admits he's feeling as good as ever.
 
The 26-year-old top-line center was limited to just 15 games by a sore left Achilles tendon during the regular season. He had surgery in August, missed training camp and didn't play until Dec. 16, only to be sidelined again after playing against Ottawa on Jan. 2.
 
Zajac is certainly glad to be part of the team at an important time in the season.
 
"I feel like nothing is holding me back on the ice, whether I'm bumping or turning … anything like that," Zajac told NHL.com. "I don't feel anything, and that's a positive. There's no pain or soreness or anything like afterwards, either, so I'm good. It's playoff hockey, so I think there's going to be a few guys playing through injuries during this time of the year."
 
In two playoff games, Zajac has one goal and a team-leading 65.6 percent efficiency on faceoffs, winning 21 of 32 draws.
 
Zajac was asked what the Devils need to correct in Game 3 in order to regain the series lead.
 
"We need to stay off the penalty-kill … we took some unnecessary penalties [in Game 2], but other than that we need to take the play to them," Zajac said. "I think we're good when we're aggressive and controlling the play. We're not a fancy team by any means, and our skill will take over when we get the puck down low and make plays down there. So that's where we have to make the plays against them."
 
Zajac also believes it's only a matter of time before linemate Zach Parise is rewarded with a goal for all his hard work.
 
"I think he's had plenty of shots, but Zach does it all," Zajac said. "He's not scoring, but he does a lot of good things away from the puck in the defensive zone. He has so much skill, the goals will come. The thing is, everyone has to contribute this time of year to help him out."

Posted On Tuesday, 04.17.2012 / 1:07 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Predators vs. Red Wings series blog

Gill improving but out for Game 4 vs. Detroit

DETROIT -- Defenseman Hal Gill will not play for the Nashville Predators on Tuesday in Game 4 of the team's Western Conference Quarterfinal series against the Detroit Red Wings (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC).

Gill went through Nashville's morning skate wearing skate guards, which was the first time he'd done gone through a game-day skate since incurring a lower-body injury in the second-to-last game of the regular season.

Gill hasn't played in the series and also missed the season finale in Colorado. The good news for the Preds -- who lead the series 2-1 -- is that Gill appears to be making good progress, according to Nashville coach Barry Trotz.

"He's improving every day, made some real good improvement," Trotz said of Gill. "He’s not in [Tuesday], but really good improvement. I thought he looked very good, actually."

Gill declined comment through a team spokesman. Whenever he does return, the Preds' penalty killing should get a big boost -- literally. The 6-foot-7, 241-pound Gill -- who was acquired from Montreal in a deal a week before the trade deadline -- takes up a lot of space in front of the net where opposing forwards like to camp.

"That's a specialty for him," Trotz said of Gill's penalty-killing ability. "He's a big man. It's like parking a small car in front of the net sometimes when he's out there."

It also will provide a chance for the Predators' top defense duo of Shea Weber and Ryan Suter to catch a breather. With Gill sidelined, they've been spending a lot of time killing penalties.

"They do a real good job and I think [Kevin Klein] gets underrated on that," Trotz said. "[Suter and Weber] are always the big names, but [Klein and Roman Josi] do a good job, too. They've done a really good job to this point, but I'd be excited to get Hal back, because that's really where he excels -- especially this time of year."

Trotz did say there will be a lineup switch for the Preds in Game 4, but declined to reveal it. Rookie defenseman Ryan Ellis stayed out on the ice for the skate a lot longer than the defenseman he replaced in Game 3, Jack Hillen, which could be a clue.

Hillen played for Gill in the first two games of the series.

Forward Brandon Yip also is expected to draw into Nashville's lineup, at right wing of the fourth line in place of Jordin Tootoo, while David Legwand might start the game at fourth-line center instead of being in the middle of the second line.
Posted On Tuesday, 04.17.2012 / 12:54 PM

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

Panthers' Smithson to make series debut

NEWARK, N.J. -- In an effort to remain strong in the faceoff circle, Florida Panthers coach Kevin Dineen has decided to do a little line tinkering for Game 3 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series against the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday at Prudential Center (7 p.m. ET, NHLN-US, TSN).
 
Dineen has opted to insert Jerred Smithson into his lineup for the first time this series. The 33-year-old Smithson, who was acquired from the Nashville Predators on Feb. 25, led the Panthers with a 56.1-percent faceoff winning percentage (345 for 615) during the regular season. He'll replace Wojtek Wolski in the lineup.
 
"We're always tinkering with our options and deciding what's best for the team," Dineen told reporters after his team's practice Tuesday. "The little adjustments here and there over the course of a series are going to happen, and that's how we feel now."
 
Smithson had one goal and six points in 69 regular-season games this season, but had just one assist in 16 games with the Panthers. 
 
"Jerred has given us good minutes since he's been here," Dineen said. "When you get healthy, you have all these quality options so you spend a day evaluating and sometimes you make game-time decisions like this.
 
"The faceoff circle is an area we concentrated on, especially when you see a guy like [Devils forward] Travis Zajac out there taking draws for them … he's big and strong and does a good job."
 
Here is the probable Game 3 lineup for the Panthers:
 
Tomas Fleischmann - Stephen Weiss - Kris Versteeg
Sean Bergenheim - Marcel Goc - Mikael Samuelsson
Scottie Upshall - Shawn Matthias - Jerred Smithson
Marco Sturm - John Madden - Tomas Kopecky
 
Jason Garrison - Brian Campbell
Dmitry Kulikov - Mike Weaver
Ed Jovanovski - Erik Gudbranson
 
Jose Theodore
Scott Clemmensen
Posted On Tuesday, 04.17.2012 / 12:38 PM

By NHL.com Staff -  /NHL.com - Bruins vs. Capitals series blog

Kelly: Lucic was an angry baby

The battle between Bruins forward Milan Lucic and Washington defenseman Karl Alzner has been captivating to watch throughout the first three games of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series between Boston and Washington.

Monday night, it came to head during a goal-mouth scrum in which Lucic tussled with Matt Hendricks and Alzner. When the participants were separated, Alzner rubbed his eye with his fist, suggesting that Lucic was a crybaby.

Lucic, who took three roughing penalties in Game 3 and was serving a double minor for roughing when the winning goal was scored in the 4-3 victory on Monday that gave Boston a two-games-to-one lead in the series, laughed off the suggestion.

But, Chris Kelly was all too happy to come to the defense of the team's most physical forward with a bit of humor thrown in for good measure, according to a tweet from CSNNE's Joe Haggery (@HackswithHaggs).

"I dont think he ever cried," Kelly told CSNNE's Joe Haggery. "I don't think he cried as a baby. He came out an angry baby. He came out w/an attitude."
Posted On Tuesday, 04.17.2012 / 11:59 AM

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

Devils happy to be home

NEWARK, N.J. -- The New Jersey Devils are hoping some home cooking will produce favorable results Tuesday when they host the Florida Panthers in Game 3 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series (7 p.m. ET, NHLN-US, TSN).
 
The fact the Devils closed the regular season with an 8-1-1 mark in their last 10 home games certainly plays into their advantage. But the team is just 4-9-0 in their last 13 postseason home games.
 
The club actually is 3-7 in playoff games at Prudential Center since moving to Newark in 2007-08.
 
"We have to create energy … it just doesn't come naturally," Devils forward Patrik Elias said following practice Tuesday. "For the fans, they need to experience something special and we need to give them a reason to feel special."
 
Devils coach Peter DeBoer isn't overly concerned by the fact home teams are a combined 8-14 in the Stanley Cup Playoffs this spring.
 
"I don't know why [home teams have struggled], but we're looking forward to playing at home and getting that last change, being able to play in front of our home crowd," DeBoer said. "It's something we're certainly not looking to avoid. I don't think we play any differently whether we're home or on the road.
 
"I know our preparation isn't any different on the road than it is at home. Our identity is an in-your-face, take-away-time-and-space, be-on-top-of-you type of team. I can't speak for other teams, but that won't change for us."
 
DeBoer will keep the same lineup he used for the opening two games of the series, meaning rookie defenseman Adam Larsson will be a healthy scratch for the eighth time in the last nine games, dating back to the regular season.
 
Here is the projected lineup for the Devils for Game 3:

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