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Posted On Sunday, 05.29.2011 / 6:23 PM

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

Majors, Sea Dogs ready for puck drop

The stage is set here at Hershey Centre for MasterCard Memorial Cup championship between the Mississauga St. Michael's Majors and the Saint John Sea Dogs. The fans are filing in to the arena and all are expecting a classic showdown between the top two teams in the Canadian Hockey League.
 
For Mississauga coach Dave Cameron, it's a shot at finally sealing the deal in a final-round game this season. If you'll recall, the 52-year-old coach dropped a 5-3 decision to Team Russia in the gold medal game as the bench boss for the Canadian Junior National Team in the World Junior Championship in Buffalo, N.Y., in January. He then lost 4 of the last 5 games against Owen Sound to drop a seven-game  series to Owen Sound in the Ontario Hockey League championship.
 
Meanwhile, Saint John coach Gerard Gallant, whose team is 12-1 on the road during the playoffs, is seeking his first Memorial Cup. As a player, Gallant lost a shot at a CHL title as a member of the Sherbrooke Castors in 1982 and the Verdun Juniors in 1983.
 
While much talk has been made of the coaches, there's also an interesting twist involving both goalies. Jacob DeSerres of Saint John is looking to rebound in this year's final game after allowing all nine goals as a member of the Brandon Wheat Kings in a 9-1 loss to the Windsor Spitfires in 2010. Mississauga's J.P. Anderson would likely be in the running for tournament MVP with a victory over the offensively-charged Sea Dogs. Anderson, who has allowed just one goal in each of the past three games, sports a sparkling 1.76 goals-against average and .939 save percentage.

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Posted On Sunday, 05.29.2011 / 9:08 AM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Combing the NHL Combine

Get prepared for the NHL Scouting Combine

As the preparation stages begin for the NHL Scouting Combine in Toronto, here's a look at some of the intriguing stories you may want to check out prior to NHL.com's wall-to-wall coverage of the six-day event at the Westin Bristol Place and the Toronto Congress Center.

* Just because Red Deer Rebels center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was No. 1 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of the top North American skaters, it doesn't necessarily mean he'll have the highest average power output of any other player on the board upon completion of the anaerobic fitness exam. The proof will be in the pudding, as the old adage goes, when Nugent-Hopkins is among the top 102 draft-eligible players from North American and Europe to undergo rigorous testing and medical examinations at the NHL Scouting Combine from May 30 to June 4 in Toronto. Mike Morreale has the story.

* Red Deer Rebels center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is the top North American for the 2011 Entry Draft as determined by NHL Central Scouting. The Canadian Hockey League agreed with that decision Saturday, naming him as junior hockey's top draft prospect. Nugent-Hopkins, who led the Western Hockey league with 75 assists and tied for third with 106 points, beat out Kitchener Rangers left wing Gabriel Landeskog and Drummondville Voltigeurs center Sean Couturier. Bill Hoppe has all the details.

* Northeastern University defenseman Jamieson Oleksiak, the tallest draft-eligible player on the board for the 2011 Entry Draft at 6-foot-7, 244-pounds, was making the most of his time in the Boston area prior to heading out to the NHL Scouting Combine in Toronto. Oleksiak informed NHL.com that in addition to taking extra classes, he's hard at work preparing for the rigorous fitness testing he'll undergo at the Toronto Congress Center beginning June 3. Mike Morreale tells us how.

* The Scouting Combine gives NHL clubs a chance to evaluate those future stars of the League less than a month before the 2011 Entry Draft. The top 102 players as rated by NHL Central Scouting in April, including North American and European skaters and goaltenders, have been invited to participate in various team interviews and medical and physical tests. Unlike previous seasons, the Combine fitness testing will be held at the Toronto Congress Center on June 3-4. To help prepare for this year's Combine, NHL.com's Mike Morreale highlighted the top players at each position last week looking to make an impression. Make sure you're up to speed. Left wings | Right wings | Defensemen | Centers | Goalies

* Get the most recent NHL.com mock draft results right here.

* All season long, top prospects Ryan Nugent-Hopkins of Red Deer (WHL), Scott Mayfield of Youngstown (USHL) and Seth Ambroz of Omaha (USHL) have maintained monthly blogs on NHL.com. Each player provided a little insight into their preparation for the Scouting Combine this month. You can check them out here: Nugent-Hopkins | Mayfield | Ambroz
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Posted On Saturday, 05.28.2011 / 1:54 AM

By Corey Masisak -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2011 Eastern Conf. Final: Bruins-Lightning Blog

Entire Game 7 played at even strength

BOSTON -- Tampa Bay's special teams have been an advantage for the Lightning throughout the regular season and into the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

But in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals, there was no special teams advantage to be had. There were no penalties called on either team, so the entire game was played at even strength.

"Obviously our special teams are phenomenal and have been phenomenal all playoffs, but it was just the type of game we played," goalie Dwayne Roloson said. "We play a pretty disciplined style of game and so do they. Give the refs credit -- there wasn't anything out there to call. Guys played hard, and did everything they had to do to get in the game, whether it was block shots or hits or whatever was needed."

Added Boston defenseman Andrew Ference: "The refs let us play. There were penalties that could have been called on either side. But, both teams did have great discipline and played a great hockey game. The refs let us play and I think it was even up and I don't think either team got gypped in that category."

If Ference is correct in saying there were calls that could have been made, then it probably did help the Bruins. Tampa Bay had the sixth-best power play in the League during the regular season and the second-best percentage of any team that reached the second round.

Tampa Bay scored three power-play goals in a span of less than 13 minutes in Game 6 against Boston. The Lightning never found out it if there was any momentum to be carried over with the extra man.

"The power play has been a strength of ours definitely," Tampa Bay Guy Boucher said. You know you are hoping you get one, but come the third period I wasn't hoping for a power play. Two teams who are very disciplined -- I think we respected each other's strengths and I think this was the type of game that [could have] 0-0 penalties. I can't think of any moment I felt there should have been a power play on either side -- that's credit to both teams' discipline and attention to details."

Conversely, the Lightning erased 92.3 percent of opposing teams' extra-man opportunities during this postseason while the Bruins are 5-for-61 with the man advantage. Even if there was a penalty or two called on the Lightning, Tampa Bay may have been to cobble together some momentum by keeping Boston off the scoreboard with the extra man.

Instead, this game played out at even strength. Boston led the NHL in goal ratio at even strength in the regular season and is doing so again during the playoffs.

"We didn't mind that at all," Boston coach Claude Julien said. "I think what I liked about the refereeing tonight, they let the two teams decide the outcome. And I think both teams are very disciplined tonight. Even though, you know, we could question that call, it didn't really matter at that point. It was about staying focused and doing the right thing here. I thought for what this game meant, I thought the referees handled themselves extremely well. I'm not saying that because we won, I'm saying that because even as it was 0-0, I liked the way they were handling it."
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Posted On Friday, 05.27.2011 / 1:22 PM

By NHL.com Staff -  /NHL.com - Combing the NHL Combine

Live from Toronto! It's the NHL Scouting Combine

After the Memorial Cup final is staged at Hershey Centre in Mississauga on Sunday (May 29), it's off to Toronto for the start of the NHL Scouting Combine!

The first day of the Combine should be a relatively slow one while players are interviewed by NHL teams within the Bristol Westin Hotel near Pearson Airport. NHL.com will be here all week, with daily stories and video to be accessed off the site. This event is a great appetizer for the draft, which is just over a month away.

The NHL Scouting Combine, which gives NHL clubs a chance to evaluate those future stars of the League less than a month before the 2011 Entry Draft, will be held May 30 through June 4 in Toronto, Ont.
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Posted On Friday, 05.27.2011 / 1:17 PM

By Shawn P. Roarke -  NHL.com Senior Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2011 Eastern Conf. Final: Bruins-Lightning Blog

Recchi looking for a strong Game 7

Mark Recchi has had an Eastern Conference Finals to forget.

The 42-year-old winger does not have a point in the first six games of this series. He is also a minus-5. He's not even getting many chances. He has just six shots in the series, but three of them came in Game 2. He has just two shots in the past four games.

His goal drought actually stretches back nine games, to Game 1 of the second-round series against the Philadelphia Flyers. But he did deliver in other areas in those first two rounds. In fact, in 17 games, he has 2 goals, 5 assists and a plus-4 rating.

Recchi has been around enough to understand that his fortunes could again change on a dime in this Game 7. And, facing what could be his final game in the NHL, the veteran forward plans to bring his best effort in Friday's do-or-die game.

"I think the first game (against Tampa Bay) I wasn't good," Recchi said. "I think after that I've been OK. I haven't been good, I haven't been bad. 

"You know what? That's all washed away in one game now tonight. You lay it out on the line and go out and have fun with this and get back to the Stanley Cup Final. We've been together all year. And, obviously, you would like to have an impact. But at the same time, teammates, that's why we're here for each other."

Recchi has won two Stanley Cup titles in his career and he knows they are products of 20 players -- or more -- contributing to the cause. So, while he is not happy with his play in the round, he knows he has done his part to deliver his team to the point where it needs just one win to advance to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in 21 years.

"I think earlier in the playoffs our line was terrific and carried a lot of the burden of the team," Recchi said. "Other guys have stepped up and been terrific now. Now it's one game and let's all do it together. That's the important thing is we all have one opportunity to get to the Stanley Cup Final and we'll do it together."
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Posted On Friday, 05.27.2011 / 12:48 PM

By Corey Masisak -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2011 Eastern Conf. Final: Bruins-Lightning Blog

Boucher: Bergenheim 'doubtful' for Game 7

BOSTON -- Sean Bergenheim skated for about 15 minutes Friday morning at TD Garden, but Tampa Bay coach Guy Boucher deemed his return from an undisclosed injury "doubtful" for Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

"I wouldn't say optimistic for now. I'd say he's better," Boucher said. "He might try the warm-up. We'll see. I still have to talk to my therapist and the doctors. There's been some improvement -- to what extent we'll have to wait and see, but [he's] doubtful."

Bergenheim left Game 5 of this series late in the first period with an injury and did not return. He skated without his full set of equipment the morning of Game 6 but did not participate in the pre-game warm-up and did not play.

The Finnish forward has 9 goals, good for third in the League during the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs. He had the lone goal in Game 7 against Pittsburgh in a 1-0 victory against the Penguins in the opening round.

"It would be great," Steven Stamkos said of a potential return for Bergenheim. "He's scored a lot of big goals. It was tough without last game, but we once again proved without a great player we can step up. We've done it all year."

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Posted On Thursday, 05.26.2011 / 6:53 PM

By Corey Masisak -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2011 Eastern Conf. Final: Bruins-Lightning Blog

Bergenheim still being evaluated for Game 7

BOSTON -- Sean Bergenheim has been a valuable source of offense in the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, but the Tampa Bay Lightning may be without him again in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Friday night.

Tampa Bay coach Guy Boucher said Thursday that Bergenheim, who left Game 5 early and did not dress for Game 6 because of an undisclosed injury, is still being evaluated.

"He's seeing our doctors again today, and he's going to have another evaluation tonight and tomorrow morning," Boucher said after the Lightning’s arrival in Boston. "We'll see, but right now it doesn't necessarily look like something positive for us."

Boucher had said the day before Game 6 that he might "go to church" to help get a better diagnosis on Bergenheim, but the Finnish forward was not in the lineup against the Boston Bruins. Bergenheim has been a scoring sensation this spring, scoring 9 goals while playing on the team’s third line.

Teddy Purcell has been the guy who filled some of Bergenheim’s scoring in this series. He leads the Lightning in this series with five goals, including a pair in two of the past three games.

Boucher also said defenseman Pavel Kubina, out since Game 1 of the second round after a hit behind the net by Washington’s Jason Chimera, will not be available. Forward Dana Tyrell replaced Bergenheim in Game 6 as Boucher went with 12 forwards, but Boucher could also turn to Randy Jones if he wants to deploy seven defensemen.
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Posted On Thursday, 05.26.2011 / 9:58 AM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Road to St. Paul 2011 Entry Draft Blog

Don Hay may return as Canadian coach at WJC

According to TSN, Hockey Canada on Thursday afternoon will announce Don Hay as the head coach of Team Canada for the IIHF World Junior Championship, Dec. 26-Jan. 5, in Calgary and Edmonton, Alberta.

It would mark the second time Hockey Canada would turn to Hay to lead the program at the WJC. Hay, who just completed his seventh season as coach of the Vancouver Giants in the Western Hockey League, coached Canada to a gold medal in 1995 with a team full of talented players, including Bryan McCabe, Wade Redden and Ryan Smyth.

During that run in 1995, when Canada finished 7-0-0 in the tournament, Canada's McCabe was named the best defenseman and Marty Murray the top forward.

Canada will play its Pool B games against the U.S., Finland, Czech Republic and Denmark in Edmonton before heading to Calgary for all playoff, relegation and medal games. Defending champion Russia will face Sweden, Switzerland, Slovakia and Lavtia in Pool A.

Check back to NHL.com later today following Hockey Canada's press conference at 4 p.m. ET for further details.

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Posted On Wednesday, 05.25.2011 / 1:43 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Road to St. Paul 2011 Entry Draft Blog

Memorial Cup draft-eligible leaderboard

So who among the 2011 draft eligible players are getting it done at the Memorial Cup after five days of activity within Hershey Centre in Mississauga?

Offensively, the creative wizardry of Tomas Jurco of the Saint John Sea Dogs has been on full display. Jurco, ranked No. 20 on NHL Central Scouting's final list of North American skaters, leads all scorers at the tournament with 4 goals and 5 points through three games.


His teammate, No. 3-ranked Jonathan Huberdeau, is in a five-way tie for second with 4 points (2 goals). In fact, the top four draft-eligible players from Saint John, including Huberdeau, No. 5 Nathan Beaulieu (1-2-3), No. 15 Zack Phillips (0-3-3) and Jurco are among the top seven point producers in the tournament.

Beaulieu ranks first among those defensemen in scoring with 1 goal and 3 points. Mississauga St. Michael's Majors blueliner Stuart Percy, rated No. 53 by Central Scouting, is tied with Beaulieu with 3 points -- all assists. He's in a five-way tie for seventh overall.

Owen Sound goalie Jordan Binnington, ranked third among those North American goalies eligible for the Entry Draft, is 1-0-1 with a tournament-low 1.31 goals-against average and tournament-high .959 save percentage.

Binnington was the third goalie to appear in the OHL finals for the Attack, stealing Game 6 and 7 while posting a 1.94 GAA and .943 save percentage. In 46 regular season games this season, he was 27-12-1-4 with a 3.05 GAA and .899 save percentage.

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale
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Posted On Wednesday, 05.25.2011 / 1:12 PM

By Corey Masisak -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2011 Eastern Conf. Final: Bruins-Lightning Blog

Lightning need Roloson to return with flourish

Dwayne Roloson has built a reputation as a go-to goaltender when his team faces elimination. The Tampa Bay Lighting will need him to continue his excellence in those situations or their surprising postseason run will be over.

"Our thoughts are we have to go shift-by-shift," Roloson said Wednesday morning before Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Boston Bruins. "Sorry if it is cliche-ish, but realistically it is what we have to do. Start with the first one and try to snowball them over and win every shift. We have to go shift-by-shift and try to win a hockey game."

Roloson had the day off for Game 5. Coach Guy Boucher went with backup Mike Smith, who stopped 17 of the 19 shots he faced in a 3-1 loss. Boucher said he told Roloson while the team was still in Boston that he would definitely be back in net for Game 6, and that was his plan regardless of the Game 5 outcome.

The 41-year-old Roloson last took a game off in the final contest of the regular season, when the Lightning eliminated the Carolina Hurricanes with a 6-2 victory.

"I don't think any goalie has played 82 games in a row since they changed the amount of games that we play," Roloson said. "You do it during the regular season, and there is no difference during the playoffs. I think everybody feels rested when they get a day off, so you take it when you can get it."

Roloson has allowed 13 goals in this series while being pulled twice and not playing one contest. That’s the same number he gave up in seven games against Pittsburgh in the opening round.

His .925 save percentage is still fourth among No. 1 goaltenders in this postseason, but his 2.51 goals-against average has dropped to eighth. The Lightning will likely need a performance like the ones he had in the three elimination games against Pittsburgh -- he turned aside 94 of 98 shots in the final three contests of that series, including all 36 he faced in Game 7.

"He's been a horse for us in these playoffs," Steven Stamkos said. "He's battled. He's one of the best competitors on this team. He's going to be ready and willing to prove he's a big reason why we got here as a team. If anything, he's had an extra day's rest and he's ready for tonight."
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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