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Posted On Thursday, 05.19.2011 / 12:09 PM

By Ryan Nugent-Hopkins -  Special to NHL.com /NHL.com - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins draft blog

Nugent-Hopkins looks forward to NHL Combine

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is a center for the Red Deer Rebels of the Western Hockey League. Nugent-Hopkins, selected first overall in the WHL's 2008 bantam draft, was named the league's top rookie in 2009-10 after posting 24 goals and 65 points in 67 games. He was named the top player for Team Orr at the 2011 Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game on Jan. 19. Nugent-Hopkins, rated No. 1 among North American skaters on NHL Central Scouting's final report, had 31 goals, 106 points and a plus-30 rating in 69 games for Red Deer this season. He chipped in with 4 goals, 11 points and a plus-5 rating in nine playoff games. Nugent-Hopkins offered to maintain a monthly blog for NHL.com that will chronicle his season leading up to the NHL Entry Draft in St. Paul, Minn.

Well, it's NHL Combine time. I'm definitely looking forward to it. It's a once in a lifetime opportunity and it's going to be a lot of fun. I know I'm really looking forward to talking with some teams and being able to meet some of the top prospects from around the world, so it's definitely going to be a fun experience. I think I'll be getting there on Tuesday (May 31). Before that, I'll be attending the CHL Award ceremony in Mississauga (at the Living Arts Centre on May 28).

The fact that nothing will be done on the ice is an interesting concept because it gives the general managers and scouts an opportunity to look at us off the ice and what we're like as people instead of just hockey players. So it's a whole different aspect.

I've been in the gym pretty much every day and I've been doing most of the Combine exercises. I'm trying to get as prepared for it as possible and have just been working as hard as I can. (The NHL Scouting Combine will be held May 30 to June 4 in Toronto).

I've heard about the bike tests (Wingate anaerobic measure and aerobic-max VO2) and I know they'll be pretty tough, but I think my cardio is pretty good so I should be OK on the VO2. But the Wingate is pretty tough. I'm trying to prepare myself for that, but I guess you never can prepare yourself enough for it.

As far as the season goes, it was disappointing to lose to Medicine Hat in the playoffs (4-games-to-1). All year they kind of had our number for some reason, but I thought we worked as hard as we could but things just didn't seem to go our way. The first round we played great (in a four-game sweep of Edmoton) and we had a couple of solid games against Medicine Hat, but couldn't get it done.

I think with the way the (WHL champion) Kootaney Ice have been playing in the playoffs, I think they have a very good shot at winning the Memorial Cup.
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Posted On Thursday, 05.19.2011 / 10:37 AM

By NHL Public Relations -  /NHL.com - Road to St. Paul 2011 Entry Draft Blog

NHL Network U.S. will have Memorial Cup covered

The NHL Network U.S. will showcase the best teams in Canadian major junior hockey as they compete for a national championship title in the 2011 MasterCard Memorial Cup tournament. The coverage will feature a combination of live and tape delayed broadcasts throughout the 10 days of competition from the tournament's host city of Mississauga, Ontario.

It marks the fourth consecutive year that the NHL Network will provide fans the opportunity to see the NHL's future stars and 2011 draft-eligible players battling for Canadian Hockey League's supreme trophy.

Those teams challenging for the 2011 MasterCard Memorial Cup include Western Hockey League (WHL) champion Kootenay Ice, Ontario Hockey League (OHL) champion Owen Sound Attack and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) champion Saint John Sea Dogs, plus the host team Mississauga St. Michael's Majors (OHL).

NHL Network U.S. will air Rogers Sportsnet's coverage of all tournament games with the broadcast team of play-by-play man Peter Loubardias, analyst Sam Cosentino and host Rob Faulds. All games will be broadcast in high definition.

Tournament coverage will begin on Saturday at 9:00 a.m. ET with the re-broadcast of the previous night's action between the Saint John Sea Dogs and the host Mississauga St. Michael's Majors. Saint John is led by top-ranked prospects Jonathan Huberdeau (No. 3 ranked) and defenseman Nathan Beaulieau (No. 5 ranked), two of nine Sea Dogs on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking list. Mississauga captain Casey Cizikas, drafted 92nd by the NY Islanders in 2009, will lead the Majors to their first Memorial Cup appearance since 1961.

In the second game of Saturday's double-header, NHL Network U.S. will provide live coverage when the Owen Sound Attack take on the Kootenay Ice at 7:00 p.m. ET.  WHL Eastern Conference MVP and Kootenay center Cody Eakin, drafted 85th by the Washington Capitals in 2009, will lead the Ice against Owen Sound, which is coming off a big Game 7 win in the OHL championship series.  The Attack's 17-year-old, draft-eligible goaltender Jordan Binnington only allowed four goals on 70 shots over the last two games of the series.

Additional live game coverage will be added to the NHL Network U.S. schedule as the NHL’s Conference Finals series conclude.  Fans are encouraged to check the schedule at www.nhlnetwork.com for updates.

All of NHL Network's live broadcasts will feature intermissions originating from the NHL Network studio in Toronto.  NHL Network will also feature nightly Memorial Cup coverage on NHL On The Fly with tournament news and notes and game analysis.

NHL.com also will have special coverage of the tournament in its entirety with a team of reporters and videographers on-site to cover the sights and sounds of the CHL's best.

The 2011 MasterCard Memorial Cup tournament features 25 recently drafted players from 20 NHL Clubs and 17 players eligible for the 2011 NHL Entry Draft who have been ranked by NHL Central Scouting.

2011 MasterCard Memorial Cup on NHL Network U.S. Schedule (all times Eastern)

Date                 Game                                   Time (ET)
Sat., May 21    Saint John vs. Mississauga    9:00 a.m. (tape delay from 5/20)
                        Owen Sound vs. Kootenay    7:00 p.m. (LIVE)
Sun., May 22    Mississauga vs. Kootenay    7:00 p.m. (LIVE)
Tues., May 24    Owen Sound vs. Saint John    12:00 p.m. (tape delay from 5/23)
Wed., May 25    Kootenay vs. Saint John    12:00 p.m. (tape delay from 5/24)
Thurs., May 26    Mississauga vs. Owen Sound     12:00 p.m. (tape delay from 5/25)
Fri., May 27    Tie-Breaker (if necessary)    12:00 p.m. (tape delay from 5/26)
Sat., May 28    Semi-Final    1:00 p.m. (tape delay from 5/27)
Sun., May 29    Championship Game    7:00 p.m. (LIVE)

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Posted On Thursday, 05.19.2011 / 2:10 AM

By Dhiren Mahiban -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2011 Western Conf. Final: Canucks-Sharks Blog

Highlights of the night

VANCOUVER – The Vancouver Canucks had their way with the San Jose Sharks Wednesday night at Rogers Arena, beating the visitors 7-3 to take a 2-0 series lead in the Western Conference Finals.

Here are some of the highlights:

The Turning Point: At 12:05 of the second period, with the game tied 2-2, Chris Higgins hit Kevin Bieksa with a pass in stride through the neutral zone. The man they call 'Juice' made no mistake on his breakaway, beating Antti Niemi low glove-side for his third of these playoffs.

Vancouver would go on to score four more in the third before Ben Eager got the Sharks' third of the night.

The Save: With 2:26 remaining in the second Henrik Sedin feathered a pass cross-ice to defenseman Alexander Edler. However, Niemi came up with a huge right pad save to keep his team in it, and maintain the one-goal game.

The Quote: "(Kevin Bieksa's) a phony. He goes after our top players. He's been asked many times, by lots of players throughout the League (to fight), and he's declined. -- Sharks forward Ben Eager on Bieksa electing to fight Patrick Marleau

Player of the Game: Canucks defenseman Kevin Bieksa had a big night in the team's Game 2 win. He finished with a "Gordie Howe hat trick," collecting a goal, assist and a fight. Bieksa also had five hits in 18:55 of ice time.

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Posted On Wednesday, 05.18.2011 / 10:26 PM

By Dhiren Mahiban -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2011 Western Conf. Final: Canucks-Sharks Blog

Samuelsson update Thursday?

VANCOUVER – Expect an update on injured Canucks forward Mikael Samuelsson on Thursday.

According to a source, the 34-year-old Swede is expected to be out of action for a while. It has not been confirmed, but it's believed Samuelsson has undergone some type of surgery.

On Wednesday morning, Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault told the media that Samuelsson would not travel to San Jose for Games 3 and 4.

Samuelsson suffered a lower-body injury in mid-March during a loss to the Phoenix Coyotes. It's believed Samuelsson re-aggravated the injury during the Canucks' Game 5 loss to the Nashville Predators. He has not played since.

The former Detroit Red Wing also missed Game 1 of the Chicago series, but the team said it was a case of the flu at the time.

Samuelsson had 18 goals and 50 points during the regular season and added a goal and two assists during the playoffs.

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Posted On Wednesday, 05.18.2011 / 9:45 PM

NHL.com - Situation Room blog (2010-2011 season)

SJS-VAN Game 2: 13:03 of the first period

Video review was used to determine that the original shot from the San Jose player crossed the line.  Good goal.

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Posted On Wednesday, 05.18.2011 / 8:47 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - 2011 Western Conf. Final: Canucks-Sharks Blog

Tambellini, Ferriero draw in for Game 2

VANCOUVER, B.C. -- Both the Sharks and Canucks are making changes to their fourth lines for Game 2 tonight.

As expected, Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault is using Jeff Tambellini. After being a scratch in Game 1, Tambellini is replacing Tanner Glass, who did not skate in warm-ups with the Canucks.

Tambellini will be playing only his second playoff game this year and second of his career. He made his Stanley Cup Playoffs debut in Game 6 at Nashville and made a critical defensive play against Martin Erat late in the second period to help preserve the Canucks' 2-1 lead that wound up being the final score.

He will play on the left side of center Cody Hodgson and right wing Victor Oreskovich.

"It's a great opportunity, we're in a good spot so far, I'm just looking to add to what the guys did in Game 1," Tambellini said this morning. "We have a line with Cody in the middle is a guy that can make a really good play and is a reliable centerman, he's got a lot of energy. Hopefully I can bring an element of speed to that and really try to them (the Sharks) in their zone as much as we can."

Ben Ferriero is replacing Jamal Mayers on the Sharks' fourth line and will be in a right wing role beside center Scott Nichol and left wing Ben Eager. Ferriero played all seven games against Detroit, contributing a goal and six penalty minutes.

Sharks defenseman Jason Demers is again a scratch. He was not on the ice for warmups.

Demers was a surprise scratch in Game 1 after playing in all 13 games over the first two rounds of the playoffs. He did not skate Tuesday in the Sharks' full practice at the University of British Columbia and was not on the ice in their optional skate at Rogers Arena this morning.

The team has remained mum on what may ail Demers, if he has an injury at all. Kent Huskins, who played Sunday for the first time since Feb. 19, will again be paired with Marc-Edouard Vlasic to start the game.

Here are the rest of the lineups for Game 2, including the line combinations, defensive pairs and goaltending depth, which, of course, is still the same:

SAN JOSE


Patrick Marleau - Joe Thornton - Devin Setoguchi
Ryane Clowe - Logan Couture - Dany Heatley
Kyle Wellwood - Joe Pavelski - Torrey Mitchell
Ben Eager - Scott Nichol - Ben Ferriero

Dan Boyle - Douglas Murray
Ian White - Niclas Wallin
Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Kent Huskins

Antti Niemi
Antero Niittymaki

VANCOUVER

Daniel Sedin - Henrik Sedin - Alex Burrows
Chris Higgins - Ryan Kesler - Mason Raymond
Raffi Torres - Maxim Lapierre - Jannik Hansen
Jeff Tambellini - Cody Hodgson - Victor Oreskovich

Dan Hamuis - Kevin Bieksa
Alex Edler - Sami Salo
Aaron Rome - Christian Ehrhoff

Roberto Luongo
Cory Schneider

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

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Posted On Wednesday, 05.18.2011 / 3:25 PM

By Dhiren Mahiban -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2011 Western Conf. Final: Canucks-Sharks Blog

Sharks know they must shoot to score

VANCOUVER, B.C. -- The San Jose Sharks led the League in shots with over 2,800 during the regular season and admit it was a big part of their game, but on Sunday night they were outshot 13-7 in the third period and 38-29 overall.

Part of the reason the Nashville Predators were able to push the Canucks to six games in the second round was because of their ability to get lucky bounces from bad angles -- putting pucks on net from all areas of the ice.

The tactic is something the Sharks say they need to do a better job of tonight.

"We pride ourselves on getting a lot of shots and not giving up that many, lately it's kind of been the opposite so we definitely want to get shots on net," said Devin Setoguchi, who had three shots on goal in Game 1. "On a big goalie like (Roberto Luongo), you need to get a lot of shots in because they're so good."

The Sharks seemed to be putting pucks on net from all angles on Luongo early in the Canucks' 3-2 win, with 10 shots through the opening 20, but as the game wore on the Canucks took over and the Sharks had just 19 shots on goal in the final 40 minutes.

"They had the puck most of the third period, they were able to control the play and, for us, part of controlling the game is getting pucks on net and then getting rebounds," said Kyle Wellwood, who had just one shot on goal. "That's going to be a staple of the series for us."

Sixteen of the Sharks' 29 shots came from their top six forwards in the Game 1 loss including five each for Joe Thornton and Logan Couture.

"We led the League in shots because we had the puck and we were able to create chances all over the ice," Wellwood said. "We didn't do that the second half of the first game, so we're hoping we'll have enough energy to mount a strong game tonight."

Sharks coach Todd McLellan says the shot totals is directly related to getting pucks in deep behind the Canucks defense and winning battles on the forecheck.

"If the puck is not on your tape, you can't shoot it," he said. "We feel at this time of the year, you look at the (Tampa Bay-Boston) game last night, pucks going to the net from everywhere. 
 
"It's very hard to defend a shot. If it comes off a goaltender, nobody knows where it's going. It's easier to be on the offensive than the defensive. The more it gets there, the more opportunities you have to play in the opposition's end."
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Posted On Wednesday, 05.18.2011 / 2:31 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - 2011 Western Conf. Final: Canucks-Sharks Blog

Burrows enjoyed playing dad, set for Game 2

VANCOUVER, B.C. -- Alex Burrows wasn't complaining about having two days off between Games 1 and 2. It allowed him to be a daddy for a little while.

Burrows' wife Nancy gave birth to the couple's first child, Victoria, on April 27 at B.C. Women's Hospital. It was the day after he scored the biggest goal of his career and one of the biggest in Canucks' history, the overtime winner in Game 7 against Chicago.

He didn't have much time to celebrate the momentous occasion because less than 24 hours after Victoria was born, the Canucks were playing Game 1 against Nashville. It's been a whirlwind since then for Burrows, but he said his wife has been phenomenal and their families are still visiting from Montreal so they can help out with all the household chores.

"I try to help out as much as I can in the afternoon by changing diapers and cooking dinner, that kind of stuff," Burrows told NHL.com, "but (Nancy) knows once 9:30 or 10 o'clock comes around, the spare bedroom is mine and I'm going to bed."
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Posted On Tuesday, 05.17.2011 / 8:17 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - 2011 Western Conf. Final: Canucks-Sharks Blog

Thornton challenged, Kesler said no way

VANCOUVER, B.C. -- Joe Thornton wanted to get the series off to a bang, so before the puck even dropped in Game 1 he verbally challenged Ryan Kesler to a fight. Kesler didn't oblige and Thornton was kicked out of the circle, but the two admitted Tuesday that it did happen.

"Opening draw last game, Thornton asked me to fight," Kesler said. "I'm not going to engage in that, I'm not going to respond to that. He can talk to me all he wants and he's not going to get anything from me."

When asked why he did it, Thornton said, "Why not?"

"I assume, let's fight," Thornton said smiling. "Let's start the series off with a bang. That's about it."

Was he surprised that Kesler was not a willing combatant?

"No," Thornton said, laughing now.

Well, then was he trying to channel his inner Dave Schultz?

"No, I'm not that tough," Thornton said. "He's competitive. I like playing against competitive guys. It makes you elevate your game.  You want to win every inch out there. It's a great battle."
   
Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

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Posted On Tuesday, 05.17.2011 / 8:03 PM

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

Savard in Boston for Game 2

The Bruins received a welcome visitor before Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Tuesday night at TD Garden.

Injured center Marc Savard, sidelined since suffering a concussion in January, made the trip down to Boston for Game 2, according to the Bruins.

Savard suffered his season-ending concussion – the latest in a series of serious concussions – in Denver in a game against the Avalanche on Jan. 25. He returned home to Ontario and has not been around the Bruins since.

Well, that all changed Tuesday night as Boston prepared for Game 2, hoping to even this series at one game apiece before it heads to Tampa Bay for Thursday's Game 3.

Throughout the week, Boston coach Claude Julien has said Savard is welcome to visit any time he feels willing and able.

"He's part of our hockey club and he's always welcomed here," Julien said earlier this week. "He wants to come down and he's trying to get over a concussion that's really set him back. We've given him that space and being around family is a good thing to help yourself through that. We'll be happy to see him."

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Quote of the Day

I think Loui Eriksson is a player that can be even better than he was last year. I think we started seeing that at the end of the year, and he could be a replacement for Jarome as a possibility.

— Boston Bruins coach Claude Julien on forward Loui Eriksson's potential