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Posted On Monday, 05.30.2011 / 6:23 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Combing the NHL Combine

Time with Tallon

TORONTO -- Dale Tallon wore No. 19 for most of his NHL career, but he's come to be more associated with the number 3.

That's because for the second straight year, Tallon, the general manager of the Florida Panthers, holds the No. 3 pick of the Draft.

And before that, when he was the GM of the Chicago Blackhawks, he had the third pick of the 2007 Entry Draft. That worked out pretty well, when he chose Jonathan Toews. And the early returns on last year's third pick, defenseman Erik Gudbranson, look pretty good.

Will he have the same success with the third pick this year? Tallon is confident he will.

"I think it's a very good position to be in this year," Tallon told NHL.com on Monday, the first day of the NHL Scouting Combine. "We're going to get a good player there."

The third pick isn't the only one the Panthers have. For the second straight year, Florida has double-digit picks. After making 13 selections last year, they have 10 picks this year -- besides their first-round choice, they have two picks in the second round and four in the third.

And if Tallon has his way, they'll have even more choices when the teams convene at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn., on June 24-25.

"If we can achieve that and get a couple more picks this year, that would give us 24, 25 picks in a year -- that's like four drafts," he said. "That really can set us up or the future and give us a strong foundation. That's what we're doing."

Building from the draft up is part of Tallon's rebuilding plan in Florida, which started a year ago when he was hired. It's the same philosophy he used to rebuild the Blackhawks when he was hired as that team's GM in 2005. In his tenure in Chicago, the Hawks added such key components as Toews, Patrick Kane and Niklas Hjalmarsson, to go along with Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Troy Brouwer and Dustin Byfuglien, who were drafted while Tallon was assistant GM in Chicago.

His work in Florida started last year with Gudbranson, a 6-foot-4, 195-pound defenseman with a powerful shot and a nasty edge to his game. Gudbranson had a strong training camp, but was sent back to Kingston of the Ontario Hockey League when he and the team couldn't agree on a contract. He totaled 34 points and 105 penalty minutes in 44 games, and 5 points in seven games for Canada at the 2011 World Junior Championship.

Tallon said he expects Gudbranson to be in South Florida to start 2011-12.

"We're happy with this development and we'll get him taken care of in the next little while, get him signed up," Tallon said. "He's a big part of our future. He's a core guy for us. He's got captaincy-type material as far as character on and off the ice. We think he's going to be a great player for us."

He has high hopes for his two other first-round picks, centers Nick Bjugstad and Quinton Howden.

Bjugstad, a 6-foot-4, 188-pound center taken with the 19th pick, had 8 goals and 12 assists in 29 games as a freshman at the University of Minnesota, and had 2 goals and 2 assists in six games in helping the U.S. win the bronze medal at the 2011 World Junior Championship.

Howden, a 6-2, 182-pound center taken with the 29th pick, had a team-best 40 goals in 60 games for the WHL's Moose Jaw Warriors and he had 2 goals and 3 assists to help Canada win the silver medal at the 2011 WJC.

They weren't the only successes.

"(John) McFarland had a good second half in Saginaw and (Alex) Petrovic had good numbers in Red Deer. … We're happy with all of them. Every one of those kids we drafted had good years last year in their respective leagues and their development has come along nicely. (Director of Player Development) Brian Skrudland has done a real nice job for us in that regard, keeping an eye on those kids and giving them information and mentoring them and helping them along so they've all had a better understanding of what's expected of them. We're happy. We kept a close eye on them. It's important. We don't want them to get astray and get some bad habits. We want them to get a pro and a Panther state of mind. That's what we're trying to instill in our people. And change the whole perception and culture that we have in Florida."

One of the common factors in last year's draft was a combination of size and skill. Eight of their 13 picks were taller than 6-2 and six weigh at least 190 pounds. This year, however, Tallon said the accent might be placed more on skill.

"Probably going to go for more speed and skill," said Tallon. "That's one thing we don't have a lot of, offense yet. We're going to look at probably the same character and same traits but probably go with more speed and skill to offset the size we drafted last year. But it won't preclude us from drafting some big, strong guys this year.

Tallon sees his renovation work in Florida on same path as the one that ended with Stanley Cup glory in Chicago.

"I think it's very similar," Tallon said. "I think the difference moving forward (in Florida) is the flexibility we have contract-wise. We have, depending on what the (salary cap) floor is, just to get to the floor we'll have to spend anywhere from $28 to $30 million -- that's the difference. That can afford us to get some good 27-, 28-, 29-year-old free agents that can be leaders of our team."

In Chicago he added free agents Nikolai Khabibulin, Cristobal Huet, Brian Campbell and Antti Niemi to his home-grown group. Tallon said he plans on being just as active with the Panthers. One of the positions he'll look at closest is in goal. Veteran starter Tomas Vokoun can become an unrestricted free agent July 1, but the team's top prospect is goalie Jacob Markstrom. Also, backup Scott Clemmensen has one year left on his contract.

"We're going to look at Tomas, we're going to look at everything available," said Tallon. "Free agency, trade, those are the ways we're going to see what best suits our situation with young goaltenders with Markstrom, (Sam) Brittain and (Brian) Foster in our system. We have some good young goaltenders. And Scott Clemmensen is a very good backup goaltender, had a good year for us. We're going to get a top goalie. If it's Tomas, great, but we don't know. We're going to talk to him as well."

Beside the player side, Tallon also needs to find a coach. Since firing Peter DeBoer following last season's 14th place finish in the Eastern Conference, Tallon said it's "been an exhaustive search," but hoped to have a new coach in place prior to next month's draft.

"We've talked to and interviewed a tremendous number of quality candidates," said Tallon. "The good thing is we have a lot of guys that want to come to Florida and see us turn this around. That's the good news."

While he might have a young team for the 2011-12 season, he said he doesn't necessarily need a young coach to grow with his players.

"We need a good teacher and a good communicator," he said. "It doesn't matter, the age. I don't look at age as a factor. … I want to have somebody that can relate to young guys and have respect of elder players."

Once he has that in place, Tallon can work on finding a new number to be associated with.

"I don't want to be picking there (No. 3) ever again, unless we get it in a trade," said Tallon. "We need to start moving up the ladder. Been at the front row enough; it was nice being in the back row. That's the goal."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Monday, 05.30.2011 / 3:02 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Combing the NHL Combine

Which prospects are staying busy?

The interview process at the NHL Scouting Combine gives teams a chance to meet as many of the top prospects for the 2011 Entry Draft as possible. Some teams see lots of kids, while others have specific targets in mind.

Apparently, lots of teams are interested in four particular players.

Sarnia Sting forward Brett Ritchie is one of four players that will meet with 29 of the 30 teams during the Combine. The 6-foot-3, 210-pound right wing had 21 goals and 20 assists in just 49 OHL games this season, but broke out in a big way for Canada at the World Under-18 Championships, finishing with 4 goals and 3 assists in seven games as Canada finished fourth. He's No. 36 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters for the Draft.

Three Swedish players also will meet with 29 of the 30 teams -- Djurgarden center Mika Zibanejad, Central Scouting's No. 2-ranked European forward; and Farjestad defensemen Jonas Brodin (No. 3 on Central Scouting's list) and Oscar Klefbom (No. 6).
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Posted On Monday, 05.30.2011 / 2:49 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Combing the NHL Combine

NCAA help for Combine

There are 23 players at this year's Scouting Combine either playing NCAA hockey or considering going there. In years past, those players would be rushed through the Combine in 48 hours, taking all their interviews in one day, their fitness testing the next and then out the door.

NCAA rules allowed the NHL to bring the players to the Combine for no more than 48 hours -- any time longer would be considered an impermissible benefit and cost the player his eligibility. One of the more vivid images of recent Combines was in 2008, when Colin Wilson had to sprint through the Bristol Westin hotel in Toronto immediately after his fitness testing to get back to his room, change into clean clothes, grab his bag and hustle to the airport.

However, the NCAA gave the NHL a waiver just before last year's Combine, exempting the League from that 48-hour rule, and now NHL Central Scouting can plan for NCAA-eligible players to stay for the duration of the Combine.

"It allows us to spread the interviews over the course of the three days (of the interview sessions)," Central Scouting Manager Nathan Ogilvie-Harris, who coordinates scheduling for the Combine, told NHL.com. "The NCAA kids used to do close to 25 to 30 interviews over the two days. Their schedules were hectic. They would finish the fitness testing and we'd be pushing them out the door and scrambling to get them to the airport on time so they wouldn't miss their flights.

"It's made everything more flowing. It's fair to the kids and leads to a more balanced schedule."
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Posted On Monday, 05.30.2011 / 7:01 AM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - NHL.com at the Memorial Cup Final blog

Saint John awaits parade; Cup award winners

Before players of the Memorial Cup champion Saint John Sea Dogs begin thinking of NHL Scouting Combine this week in Toronto, there's one other matter they'll have to consider -- a parade.

The city will welcome the Sea Dogs back following their 3-1 victory over Mississauga in the Memorial Cup final with a homecoming parade on Tuesday at noon to celebrate the remarkable 2010-11 season. The Sea Dogs won their first Rivalry Cup over the Moncton Wildcats and the Jean Rougeau Trophy as regular season champions in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League with a league-record 58 wins. They then capped it off with the team's first ever President's Cup as playoff champs, and a historic victory at the Memorial Cup.


If that isn't deserving of a celebration, what is?

The parade will start at King Square and travel down King Street to a rally at the Market Square boardwalk (rain location, Market Square Atrium) at approximately 12:20 p.m. Saint John fans are being encouraged to come out in blue and white Sea Dogs colors in support of their team, which could see as many as nine players selected in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft in June.

The Sea Dogs became the first team from Atlantic Canada to win the Memorial Cup since its inception in 1919. The roster includes six players born in New Brunswick, three in Nova Scotia and one in Prince Edward Island -- coach Gerard Gallant and GM Mike Kelly are also from PEI.

Saint John also becomes the first team from the QMJHL to win a Memorial Cup not hosted by one of the league's teams since 1996 -- when the Granby Predateurs scored a 4-0 victory over the OHL's Peterborough Petes.

Saint John forward Jonathan Huberdeau, who had 3 goals and 6 points in four games, was named the tournament's most valuable player and defenseman Nathan Beaulieu was placed on the tournament all-star team. Here are the Memorial Cup award winners, announced by the CHL on Sunday.

Stafford Smythe Memorial Trophy (Most Valuable Player)Jonathan Huberdeau, Saint John Sea Dogs

Jonathan Huberdeau of the Saint John Sea Dogs finished tied for second in tournament scoring with six points in four games including three goals and three assists.  The 18-year-old from St-Jerome, Quebec, scored a goal and an assist in the 3-1 Championship Final victory over the Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors.  Eligible for the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, Huberdeau is the third ranked skater by NHL Central Scouting and is the first Quebec-born player to win the Stafford Smythe Memorial Trophy since Danny Groulx of the Victoriaville Tigres in 2002.

Ed Chynoweth Trophy (Top Scorer)Andrew Shaw, Owen Sound Attack

Andrew Shaw of the Owen Sound Attack led the 2011 MasterCard Memorial Cup in scoring with seven points in four games scoring two goals and five assists.  A 19-year-old from Belleville, ON, Shaw recorded a point in all four games and produced three multi-point games completing his third OHL season.
 
George Parsons Trophy (Most Sportsmanlike Player)Marc Cantin, Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors

Marc Cantin of the Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors had two assists in five games and was the only defenceman on the Majors that did not record any penalty minutes.  A 21-year-old from Omemee, ON, the Boston Bruins prospect concludes a five-year OHL career with three appearances in the MasterCard Memorial Cup including a Championship title last season with the Windsor Spitfires.

Hap Emms Memorial Trophy (Outstanding Goaltender)Jordan Binnington, Owen Sound Attack

Jordan Binnington of the Owen Sound Attack had three starts in the 2011 MasterCard Memorial Cup posting a 1-2 record with a tournament-best goals-against-average of 1.42 and save percentage of .951.  The 17-year-old from Richmond Hill, ON, posted the only shutout of the tournament with 29 saves as part of a 5-0 win over the Kootenay Ice.  He is eligible for the 2011 NHL Entry Draft and is the third ranked North American goaltender by NHL Central Scouting.  

Huberdeau and Shaw were also recognized on the tournament All-Star team at forward along with Devante Smith-Pelly of the Mississauga St. Michael's Majors. Smith-Pelly, a prospect of the Anaheim Ducks, had 3 goals and 6 points in five games. A pair of 2011 NHL Entry Draft prospects were named to the tournament All-Star team on defense -- No. 5 Beaulieu (3 points in 4 games) and No. 53 Stuart Percy (4 assists in 5 games) of Mississauga. Binnington was named to the All-Star team in goal.  

2011 MasterCard Memorial Cup Awards:

Stafford Smythe Memorial Trophy (Most Valuable Player) – Jonathan Huberdeau, Saint John Sea Dogs

Ed Chynoweth Trophy (Top Scorer) – Andrew Shaw, Owen Sound Attack

George Parsons Trophy (Most Sportsmanlike Player) – Marc Cantin, Mississauga St. Michael's Majors

Hap Emms Memorial Trophy (Outstanding Goaltender) – Jordan Binnington, Owen Sound Attack

2011 MasterCard Memorial Cup All-Stars:

Goaltender – Jordan Binnington, Owen Sound Attack
Defence – Stuart Percy, Mississauga St. Michael's Majors
Defence – Nathan Beaulieu, Saint John Sea Dogs
Forward – Andrew Shaw, Owen Sound Attack
Forward – Devante Smith-Pelly, Mississauga St. Michael's Majors
Forward – Jonathan Huberdeau, Saint John Sea Dogs

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale

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Posted On Monday, 05.30.2011 / 12:32 AM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - NHL.com at the Memorial Cup Final blog

Cameron's finale?

Dave Cameron has had a tremendous run of success the last four seasons with the Mississauga St. Michael's Majors, capped by this year's run to the Ontario Hockey League finals and the Memorial Cup title game.

But could this be his last game as a junior coach? His name has been tied to the Ottawa Senators coaching job, due to Senators owner Eugene Melnyk also owning the Majors.

Cameron was asked about his feelings if this was his final game as a junior coach:

"I love junior hockey," he said. "I love coaching in the OHL. I consider myself very lucky. I have an unbelievable owner who's allowed me to assemble an unbelievable staff. I have a ton of fun every day; there's not a bad day too often. You get to spend your time around a bunch of young gentlemen who are going to be very successful, it energizes you."

If he does leave, however, Cameron would have liked to go out with a bit of a different ending -- he was the losing coach for Canada in the gold-medal game at the 2011 World Junior Championship; lost in overtime at home in Game 7 of the OHL finals; and lost the Memorial Cup title game in his home rink.

"You never get used to the losing," he said. "They say the losing toughens you; right now I feel like a 10-cent steak."
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Posted On Monday, 05.30.2011 / 12:19 AM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - NHL.com at the Memorial Cup Final blog

History denied

Justin Shugg had won Memorial Cups the last two years with the Windsor Spitfires. An early-season trade sent him to Mississauga and gave him a chance to do something only one other player in the 93-year history of the tournament has done -- win three straight titles.

Shugg came up a bit short Sunday night, as his Majors fell to the Saint John Sea Dogs 3-1. It's the first time in three seasons he's lost the last game he's played in.

"The other side of the spectrum is not very fun," he said.

It might not seem like it in the moment, but Shugg, a Carolina Hurricanes prospect, said at some point in the future he'll look back and realize just how amazing his run through junior hockey has been.

"Right now it's obviously not a good feeling," he said. "When I look back on it, maybe next year, maybe five years, 10 years down the road, I know it should have been a once in a lifetime opportunity -- and I had a chance to come three times."

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Posted On Monday, 05.30.2011 / 12:13 AM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - NHL.com at the Memorial Cup Final blog

Anderson was a Major star

If tonight's game was how Mississauga St. Michael's Majors goalie J.P. Anderson can play going forward, the San Jose Sharks will be very, very happy. Anderson signed with the Sharks during training camp, and despite allowing three goals in the Memorial Cup championship game, he might have been the Majors' best player Sunday at the Hershey Centre.

"J.P., the whole season, has just been unbelievable for us," teammate Brett Flemming told NHL.com. "Even today. He was making some spectacular saves. He's a big part of why we're here."

Anderson stopped 22 shots and blanked a high-octane Saint John power play on four chances.

"You can't talk bad about J.P.," said Majors captain Casey Cizikas. "He's been our best player all year long. … He's the best goalie in the CHL. He carried our team to the point we're at now."
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Posted On Sunday, 05.29.2011 / 8:55 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - NHL.com at the Memorial Cup Final blog

Memorial Cup in-game blog

Third Period

1:21:
The Majors pulled their goalie but Saint John's defense held fort in recording a 3-1 victory to capture its first Memorial Cup championship. As a member of the Brandon Wheat Kings a year ago, the Windsor Spitfires scorched Jacod DeSerres, the 21-year-old goalie, in a 9-1 thumping in the Memorial Cup final. When the Wheat Kings went with younger netminders this season, DeSerres cleared WHL waivers, leaving him free to sign with the Sea Dogs. Deserres stopped 34 pucks en route to the biggest win of his career.

The Sea Dogs’ roster has six players born in New Brunswick, three in Nova Scotia and one in Prince Edward Island. With the triumph, Saint John becomes the first team from the QMJHL to win a Memorial Cup not hosted by one of the league's teams since 1996 -- when the Granby Predateurs scored a 4-0 victory over the OHL's Peterborough Petes. If that weren't enough, Saint John also happened to be the youngest team in this year's Memorial Cup tournament.

3:43: There it is. The QMJHL MVP Jonathan Huberdeau with a great move off an even better feed from linemate Zack Phillips to give the Sea Dogs a 3-1 advantage. It is Huberdeau's third goal of the Memorial Cup tournament in 4 games. Phillips made the play happen when he skated hard down right wing before threading a pass to Huberdeau storming down the slot. Phillips' pass just went underneath a diving Mississauga defenseman Michael D'Orazio before hitting Huberdeau's tape. The No. 3-rated North American prospect then finished it off with a nifty deke in front of J.P. Anderson that sent the goalie on his chest and out of position. Phillips is rated No. 15 on NHL Central Scouting's list of North American skaters.

4:51: Sea Dogs goalie Jacob DeSerres appears so poised out there. Mississauga creating plenty of opportunities around his crease, but DeSerres refuses to budge.

8:29: So Mississauga is now 0-for-5 on the power-play while Saint John remains clinging to a 2-1 lead here in the Memorial Cup final. The Sea Dogs hold a 4-3 edge in shots in the third and the Majors hold a 27-21 lead for the game. Neal Diamond's 'Sweet Caroline' playing in the backround.

13:49:
Both teams are currently waiting to cash in on a mistake - is it a matter of time? Tomas "the magician" Jurco just had a splendid opportunity off a wrist shot from between the circles that Mississauga goalie J.P. Anderson scooped up to force a defensive-zone draw. The Sea Dogs have opened up the third period in relatively strong fashion, outshooting the Majors, 3-0.

Second Period

:01: In a period dominated by Mississauga, the home team outshot Saint John, 15-6, and now holds a 24-17 edge for the game. Majors captain Casey Cizikas almost pulled his team even with one tick on the clock when he collected a feed from the left-wing corner and tried a stuffer at the left post on goalie Jacob DeSerres. DeSerres, who has played extremely well throughout, has turned back 23 shots for the game. The power-play for both teams has struggled. Each team is 0-for-4 with the man advantage.

5:19: Mississauga has cut into the Saint John lead off a splendid 3-on-2 rush. New York Islanders prospect Casey Cizikas (92nd overall in 2009) began the play by skating up the middle of the ice before feeding Justin Shugg in the right circle. Shugg placed a perfectly timed lead-pass to Riley Brace low in the left circle. Brace, who missed on an opportunity very late in the first period, then ripped a shot past Jacob DeSerres, who had no chance on the play. 

8:46: Mississauga was just presented its second power-play opportunity of the period when Michael Kirkpatrick was sent to the box for slashing. Saint John successful denies the Majors to maintain a two-goal lead.

17:00: The host team was given an early power-play to open the second after Saint John's Kevin Gagne was whistled for tripping just 55 seconds into the frame. While Mississauga did have some decent looks, Sea Dogs goalie Jacob DeSerres was up to the challenge each time. Mississauga has outshot Saint John, 4-1, in the second and DeSerres has been equal to the task. The Saint John defense, led by standout draft eligible Nathan Beaulieu, has also played well in front of their keeper.

First Period


15.6: Mississauga's Riley Brace thought he had poked one underneath the pads of Saint John goalie Jacob DeSerres, but the referee whistled the play dead before the puck apparently crossed the line. Brace raised his arms in celebration but there was a whistle just prior to the disk squeaking through the pads. The first period ends with Saint John holding a precarious 2-0 lead while outshooting Mississauga, 11-9.

6:43: Zack Phillips, the third of four possible first-round selections playing for Saint John this season, struck for his 10th goal of the playoffs just as a roughing penalty to Mississauga's Joe Cramarossa expired. Phillips was aided by the quick passing of top draft-eligible Sea Dog Jonathan Huberdeau and Michael Kirkpatrick. The Sea Dogs took advantage of a turnover in the Mississauga end by forward Chris DeSousa. Mississauga has already been called for three minor penalties in the opening period -- wouldn't you love to be a fly on the wall listening to St. Michael's coach Dave Cameron between periods in the locker room?

17:36: It didn't matter that Sea Dogs forward Ryan Tesink was whistled for roughing in the opening five minutes of the game. Simon Despres, a draft pick of the Pittsburgh Penguins (30th overall) in 2009, ripped a shot from the left circle that beat St. Michael's goalie J.P. Anderson over his blocker to the long side. On Despres' short-handed goal, the 2011 World Junior Championship silver medalist used Mississauga defender Stuart Percy as a screen.

20:00: Prior to the game, a tremendous salute to many service men and women here at the Hershey Centre. Additionally, a fantastic video tribute to the late EJ McGuire, who died of cancer on April 7. McGuire, the longtime executive director of NHL Central Scouting, will certainly be missed this week with the NHL Scouting Combine being held in Toronto. McGuire's wife, Terry, and his two daughters, Erin and Jacqueline, were given a very nice applause as they made their way to center ice on the red carper during pre-game festivities.

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Posted On Sunday, 05.29.2011 / 7:40 PM

By David Kalan -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Stanley Cup Final: Canucks vs. Bruins

EA Sticks with its guns, takes Vancouver

Predictions are a funny thing, and getting them right from the start of the postseason is tricky enough. EA SPORTS has managed to do a pretty decent job with its EA SPORTS NHL '11 Simulation Engine, correctly predicting all but one of the 14 postseason series so far in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

But with the Final comes added pressure. EA SPORTS' reputation doesn't simply have two months of prognostications at stake when Boston and Vancouver drop the puck Wednesday night for the 2011 Stanley Cup Final.

There's a whole season of work on the line.

That's because EA SPORTS' simulations didn't just pick Vancouver and Boston to meet for this season's championship in April, this matchup was pegged way back in October. In an impressive Nostradamus act, EA SPORTS' preseason simulation accurately tabbed Vancouver to win the Presidents' Trophy before facing off with Boston for a chance to lift the Stanley Cup. In those initial predictions, the Canucks pulled through and won their first-ever Stanley Cup championship in a taut seven-game Final.

This time around, with a chance to take a mulligan, EA isn't wavering.

According to its latest predictions, the EA SPORTS NHL '11 Simulation Engine is sticking with the Canucks over Boston in what it expects to be a tight series that goes the distance. And that Presidents' Trophy? It factored in handily as the home team won each game, with one of the more thrilling moments an overtime win by the Bruins in Game 6 at TD Garden to force a decisive seventh game.

In the end, that momentum won't be enough for the B's however, as EA SPORTS has the Canucks holding on in front of the Rogers Arena crowd with a 3-1 win in Game 7. Vancouver goalie Roberto Luongo is picked to take home the Conn Smythe Trophy.

If Vancouver winds up bringing the Cup back to Canada for the first time in 18 years, the people at EA SPORTS may want to begin investing in lottery tickets, but duplicating a 14-for-15 record would be an awfully tall order for 2012. For gamers who can't wait to see what kind of changes EA might make for next year's version of the game, which will be released in stores on Sept. 13, NHL '12 is already available for pre-order on XBOX 360 and Playstation 3 at the EA Store.

For the current playoff season, fans are invited to make their own predictions in the EA SPORTS NHL 2011 Playoff Bracket Contest at www.facebook.com/EASPORTSNHL. Participating fans can accrue points for correct predictions with the ultimate prize at the end of Stanley Cup Final of two tickets to the 2012 NHL All-Star Game in Ottawa on the line.

Final Round fan voting is now open at http://www.facebook.com/EASPORTSNHL.
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Posted On Sunday, 05.29.2011 / 6:52 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - NHL.com at the Memorial Cup Final blog

Starting line combinations for Memorial Cup final

The line combinations have been submitted by the coaching staffs of Saint John and Mississauga here at the Hershey Centre for the anticipated Memorial Cup finale.

Saint John Sea Dogs

Alexandre Beauregard-Stephen MacAulay-Mike Thomas
Jonathan Huberdeau-Zack Phillips-Stanislav Galiev
Tomas Jurco-Michael Kirkpatrick-Ryan Tesink
Scott Oke-Danick Gauthier-Steven Anthony

Simon Despres-Aidan Kelly
Nathan Beaulieu-Kevin Gagne
Eric Gelinas-Gabriel Bourret

Goalie - Jacob DeSerres

Mississauga St. Michael's Majors

Justin Shugg-Casey Cizikas-Devante Smith-Pelly
Chris DeSousa-Rob Flick-Riley Brace
Joseph Cramarossa-Jordan Mayer-Maxim Kitsyn
Jamie Wise-Corey Bureau-Mika Partanen

Stuart Percy-Brett Flemming
Marc Cantin-Dylan DeMeio
David Corrente-Michael D'Orazio

Goalie - J.P. Anderson

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Quote of the Day

I'm hoping Bob [Murray] didn't go out and get Dany Heatley just to get someone. I'm sure he's excited and motivated.

— Anaheim Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau on general manager Bob Murray's decision to sign Dany Heatley