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Posted On Saturday, 05.14.2011 / 6:08 PM

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

Oreskovich might get back in

VANCOUVER, B.C. -- Victor Oreskovich skated on the Canucks' fourth line with Tanner Glass and Cody Hodgson in Saturday's practice at Rogers Arena, but when asked afterwards if he is playing in Game 1 Sunday against San Jose, the 24-year-old physical forward said he doesn't know yet.

"We'll see what happens," Oreskovich told NHL.com. "Obviously I'd be real excited to play, but I haven't heard anything yet."

Oreskovich hasn't played since Game 2 against Nashville. Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault used Jeff Tambellini instead of Oreskovich to replace the injured Mikael Samuelsson in Game 6 against the Predators. Samuelsson has been ruled out of Game 1, but Tambellini, whose speed allowed him to erase a breakaway opportunity for Martin Erat in Game 6, is an option.

However, it's possible (likely?) that Vigneault turns to the bigger Oreskovich, who is 6-3 and 215 pounds, to start the Western Conference Finals because the Sharks' forwards are much bigger across the board than the Predators.

"They do have a big strong team, some physical guys up front and physical guys on the back end," Oreskovich said. "I know what I have to bring if I'm in the lineup. I'd love to get that opportunity, but we'll see what happens."

If he does, chances are Oreskovich won't get much more than six or seven minutes of ice time depending on the flow of the game, especially if the Canucks are chasing the score.

Can he establish himself as a physical presence in such a short amount of time?

"It is tough because the guys are good in this League and they don't want to get hit, so finding those big hits isn't easy," Oreskovich said. "It's more about just eliminating guys out of the play, being defensively responsible and if that big hit is there it's there. You don't want to be running out of position just to get that big hit."

He does, however, want Vigneault to give him the chance to make some big hits.

"The coaches have told us all, the guys that aren't in the lineup, to be ready because you never know," Oreskovich said. "Tambellini hadn't played in a while and he came back and played in Nashville, played well and made a big play. You've got to be ready all the time."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

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Posted On Saturday, 05.14.2011 / 12:09 PM

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

Boston's Bergeron back on the ice

Boston forward Patrice Bergeron, sidelined for the past eight days with a concussion, was on the ice on his own Saturday morning at TD Garden in what coach Claude Julien described as a light skate.

Bergeron is not expected back soon -- he will almost assuredly miss both Saturday night's Game 1 and Tuesday's Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals against Tampa Bay here at the Garden. Bergeron suffered the concussion, the third of his career, during Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Flyers.
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Posted On Friday, 05.13.2011 / 5:04 PM

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

Does the other Granlund have the goods?

After witnessing Mikael Granlund's perfectly executed lacrosse-style goal for Finland in its victory against Russia in the semifinal round of the IIHF World Championship on Friday, the big question is whether his younger brother could execute the same type of play.

NHL scouts and general managers probably are pondering that very question right now. After all, 5-foot-10, 169-pound Markus Granlund, who turns 18 on Monday, not only is Mikael's brother, but is No. 9 on NHL Central Scouting's list of European skaters eligible for the 2011 Entry Draft.

The younger Granlund was captain for Finland at the World Under-18 Championship in Germany. He finished second on the team with 10 points (2 goals, 8 assists) as the team finished fifth.

Granlund is regarded as a fantastic skater with outstanding play-making ability. Though not as strong as his Mikael, taken by the Minnesota Wild with the ninth pick of the 2010 Draft, Markus Granlund is a consistent point producer in most games. In six games on loan with the Suomi Under-20 team in the Finnish second division, he had 3 goals and 6 points. He had 11 goals and 21 assists in 15 international games for Finland this season.

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Posted On Friday, 05.13.2011 / 3:42 PM

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

No change in Bergeron's status

It's been a full week since Patrice Bergeron suffered his concussion, on a hit from Philadelphia's Claude Giroux in Game 4 of the last round.

However, there remains no timetable for his return, according to Boston coach Claude Julien, who addressed Bergeron's condition after Friday's practice, the final one before Boston begins the Eastern Conference Finals against Tampa Bay, with Game 1 on Saturday (8 p.m. ET, Versus, CBC, RDS).
 
"I think he's improving, he really is improving," Julien said. "We're optimistic about him. As Peter (Chiarelli, GM) said, we knew he was going to miss the start of the series, and how much he is going to miss I can't tell you right now. But he is on the right track and we're staying positive.

"Again, I say that every day. I'm not going to say much more because when it comes to concussions, you have good news and you have setbacks and you have all kinds of things that can happen. I'm not going to stand here and change my tune every day except to tell you that right now that's going in the right direction."

Bergeron has not been back on the ice since the hit in Game 4 of the Philadelphia series. Once he is cleared to practice, it likely will take several days before he is allowed to play in a game.
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Posted On Friday, 05.13.2011 / 1:42 PM

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

NHL.com releases fourth mock draft of the season

Now that the NHL conference finals are set and those top 102 draft-eligible players from North America and Europe confirmed for the NHL Scouting Combine later this month, it's time to take one more crack at predicting the opening round of the NHL Entry Draft at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn.

Needless to say, all 30 NHL teams have been hard at work since NHL Central Scouting's final release of the top players back in April. They're making their own lists and preparing accordingly with the hope of finding that diamond in the rough.

How will the teams decide to use those valuable picks? No one knows for sure, but NHL.com is willing to take a guess.

NHL.com's three Draft experts -- Mike Morreale, Adam Kimelman and Steven Hoffner -- have once again taken their crystal balls out of storage to predict how the first round might turn out.

The draft order for this exercise is not what the final draft order will look like. The first 14 slots were set by the NHL Draft Lottery, which was held April 12. The next 12 spots set by teams eliminated in the first two rounds of the playoffs -- non-division winners in reverse order of points, followed by division winners the same way. The final four teams will be set following the conference finals and Stanley Cup Final, but for now we're listing them in inverse order of points.

All three of our prognosticators are in agreement that the Edmonton Oilers will select Red Deer Rebels center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins -- Central Scouting's No. 1-ranked North American skater -- with the top pick. The 6-foot, 164-pound center led the Western Hockey League with 75 assists and was tied for third with 106 points.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Red Deer Rebels (WHL)

"I think any time you're selecting at the top of the draft, especially No. 1, these players are there for a reason," Edmonton General Manager Steve Tambellini said. "They have the ability to emotionally handle something; they have the obvious skill so whether they develop into that player, you don't know. But these top players have the ability to, one day, be franchise players."

After the top pick, things start to go in different directions. How do they think the rest of the first round will play out? Well, you'll have to check out all three drafts for yourself.

You can check back in a little more than two months to see how smart our experts really are.

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Posted On Friday, 05.13.2011 / 1:02 PM

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

Canucks recall five from Manitoba

VANCOUVER B.C. -- As promised, the Vancouver Canucks recalled five players from their American Hockey League affiliate in Manitoba on Friday, including goaltender Eddie Lack.

Along with Lack, Vancouver recalled Chris Tanev, Sergei Shirokov, Aaron Volpatti and Alexandre Bolduc.

Lack, a 23-year-old from Norrtalje, Sweden, had a 28-21-4 record in his rookie season in the AHL. The six-foot-four netminder was signed as a free-agent last spring. Lack had a 6-4-0 record in the playoffs to go along with a .932 save percentage and a 1.99 GAA.

Tanev, a defenseman from Toronto, was also a free agent signing last spring and spent 29 games with the Canucks this season registering an assist. With the Moose the 21-year-old had 9 points in 39 regular season games and added 1 goal and 2 assists in 14 playoff games.

Shriokov appeared in two games with the Canucks during the regular season registering a goal. The 25-year-old native of Moscow had 22 goals and 58 points in 76 games during the regular season in Manitoba, and added 7 goals and 10 points in 14 playoff games.

Volpatti also had a brief stint with the Canucks during the season dressing in 15 games with the Presidents' Trophy winners picking up a goal and an assist. In 53 games with the Moose the Revelstoke, BC native had two goals and 74 penalty minutes. The 25-year-old added a goal and three points in 12 playoff games.

Bolduc, who battled with shoulder and ankle injuries throughout the season, dressed in 24 games with the Canucks this season collecting 2 goals and 4 points. The Montreal native added 6 goals and 9 assists in 26 games with the Moose to go along with 4 goals in 14 playoff games.

The Moose were eliminated from the Calder Cup playoffs of on Monday with a 2-1 triple overtime loss to the Hamilton Bulldogs in Game 7 of their second-round matchup.
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Posted On Friday, 05.13.2011 / 12:52 PM

By David Kalan -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2011 Western Conf. Final: Canucks-Sharks Blog

EA SPORTS picks Canucks-Bruins in Final

That mythical perfect March Madness bracket is virtually impossible to achieve, and yet for some reason most of us fill one out anyway. The Stanley Cup Playoffs may not have 68 teams in them with a one-and-done system, but predicting each series in the spring is still highly fickle business.

Even for a computer.

It didn't look like the folks at EA SPORTS were going to have that problem for a while, but eventually the dream had to end. Using their EA SPORTS NHL '11 simulation engine, the video game makers followed up their 8-for-8 first round by nearly tabbing another perfect set, and had Detroit pulled off the incredible Thursday night, they would have had just that. But San Jose's gutsy performance in Game 7 threw a wrench in the mix and gave EA SPORTS its first miss of the postseason.

Fortunately, however, this is no suicide pool, and Simulation Engine is getting a mulligan and a clean slate for the conference finals, particularly after EA SPORTS nearly made good on its prediction of three lower seeds advancing through the second round.

The third round doesn't provide the same kind of daring prognostication, but since EA SPORTS has gone 11-1 so far, questioning the simulation seems foolish, and if EA SPORTS has its druthers, Vancouver and Boston will be meeting to determine who will lift the Stanley Cup in 2011. The Canucks may be facing a San Jose team with an enormous emotional lift after holding off a potentially historic comeback, but according to the computers, Vancouver will overcome a home loss to the Sharks in Game 1 with two straight overtime victories and an eventual Western Conference title in six games.

According to EA SPORTS, the East will be decided in similar fashion, and be a closer series than some might expect, not because of its length but because of its scores. While the Bruins are pegged to grab the Prince of Wales Trophy in six games, two of their wins are slated to come in overtime, with Tampa Bay flashing some sudden-death heroics of its own to stay alive with an overtime win in Game 5 at TD Garden.

EA SPORTS will continue to run simulations after each round of the playoffs, but in addition 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.

Second Round fan voting opens today at http://www.facebook.com/EASPORTSNHL. Start dates for the Stanley Cup Final voting will be announced at the end of the Conference Finals.

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Posted On Thursday, 05.12.2011 / 2:21 PM

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

EA SPORTS picks Canucks-Bruins in Final

That mythical perfect March Madness bracket is virtually impossible to achieve, and yet for some reason most of us fill one out anyway. The Stanley Cup Playoffs may not have 68 teams in them with a one-and-done system, but predicting each series in the spring is still highly fickle business.

Even for a computer.

It didn't look like the folks at EA SPORTS were going to have that problem for a while, but eventually the dream had to end. Using their EA SPORTS NHL '11 simulation engine, the video game makers followed up their 8-for-8 first round by nearly tabbing another perfect set, and had Detroit pulled off the incredible Thursday night, they would have had just that. But San Jose's gutsy performance in Game 7 threw a wrench in the mix and gave EA SPORTS its first miss of the postseason.

Fortunately, however, this is no suicide pool, and Simulation Engine is getting a mulligan and a clean slate for the conference finals, particularly after EA SPORTS nearly made good on its prediction of three lower seeds advancing through the second round.

The third round doesn't provide the same kind of daring prognostication, but since EA SPORTS has gone 11-1 so far, questioning the simulation seems foolish, and if EA SPORTS has its druthers, Vancouver and Boston will be meeting to determine who will lift the Stanley Cup in 2011. The Canucks may be facing a San Jose team with an enormous emotional lift after holding off a potentially historic comeback, but according to the computers, Vancouver will overcome a home loss to the Sharks in Game 1 with two straight overtime victories and an eventual Western Conference title in six games.

According to EA SPORTS, the East will be decided in similar fashion, and be a closer series than some might expect, not because of its length but because of its scores. While the Bruins are pegged to grab the Prince of Wales Trophy in six games, two of their wins are slated to come in overtime, with Tampa Bay flashing some sudden-death heroics of its own to stay alive with an overtime win in Game 5 at TD Garden.

EA SPORTS will continue to run simulations after each round of the playoffs, but in addition 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.

Second Round fan voting opens today at http://www.facebook.com/EASPORTSNHL. Start dates for the Stanley Cup Final voting will be announced at the end of the Conference Finals.

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Posted On Thursday, 05.12.2011 / 9:53 AM

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

Sea Dogs win marathon OT game; Phillips hurting

Saint John Sea Dogs rookie center Ryan Tesink tries to model his game after Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews. What promising young hockey player wouldn't?

But it's one thing to emulate the style of a player and another to showcase some on-ice dramatics reminiscent of that player as well, particularly when the game is on the line. The young Tesink, who is eligible for the 2011 Entry Draft in St. Paul, Minn., on June 24-25, did just that on Wednesday when he ended the longest game in the history of the President's Cup Finals.

Tesink's goal at 19:16 of the second overtime gave the Sea Dogs a 4-3 victory over the Gatineau Olmpiques in Game 4 of their best-of-7 series in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League championship round. The Sea Dogs, which now lead the series, 3-1, have a chance to win their first-ever QMJHL championship on home ice in Game 5 on Friday in a sold-out Harbour Station.
Zack Phillips Saint John Sea Dogs QMJHL

Tesink is one of nine players from the Sea Dogs rated among the top 210 North American skaters eligible for the upcoming draft by NHL Central Scouting. Tesink was regarded as the sixth-best Saint John player, ranked 47th overall, in April. Jonathan Huberdeau, No. 3 on Central Scouting's list, along with No. 5 Nathan Beaulieu and No. 15 Zack Phillips also hit for the Sea Dogs on Wednesday.

Phillips, who has nine goals in the playoffs, did suffer an upper-body injury and didn't play in the third period and overtimes. Coach Gerard Gallant admitted after the game that his injury isn't thought to be serious.

Saint John has yet to lose three straight games all season and lost back-to-back contests only once all year. A year ago, Saint John lost the QMJHL final in six games to the Moncton Wildcats. Gatineau's last appearance in the final, and last championship, was in 2008.

Stanislav Galiev, chosen by the Washington Capitals in the third round (No. 86 overall) last year, set up all four goals, and goalie Jacob DeSerres made 35 saves for the win.

The longest President's Cup Final prior to Wednesday's game was 28:31 into overtime, when Pat LaFontaine gave Verdun a 5-4 win over Longueuil on April 22, 1983. The lone assist on that goal came from current Sea Dogs coach, Gallant.

Tesink began the game-winning sequence when he hit Gatineau's Nicolas Deslauriers, forcing a turnover, which Galiev collected as Tesink drove to the net. Tesink alertly took a whack at the puck following a pass from Galiev and the puck fluttered over goalie Maxime Clermont's left shoulder for the clincher.

"That's the most tired I've ever been and I did not want to go into a third overtime, so we said we had to finish it and we got lucky," said Tesink, who beat Clermont on the Sea Dogs' 64th shot of the game. "It's a great feeling, but it's not over yet, though. [Gatineau] doesn't quit."

Huberdeau, who has a league-leading 15 goals in the playoffs, has performed on a line with Phillips and Galiev most of the postseason.

Beaulieu squared the contest with a power-play goal off a rebound in the third period. Saint John outshot Gatineau, 13-6, in the third but couldn't find another goal as the game required extra time.

In the first overtime, Saint John was called for two early penalties, giving Gatineau a 5-on-3 advantage for 1:24. Sea Dogs coach Gerard Gallant called a timeout and sent out Huberdeau, Beaulieu and Simon Despres to start the penalty kill. With help from Kevin Gagne, Eric Gelinas, Mike Thomas, Stephen MacAulay and Danick Gauthier, the Sea Dogs escaped unscathed.

"Everybody's tired. They're a tired hockey team over there and we're tired and beat up," Gallant said. "It's going to be a battle Friday night. I don't see it being any different than tonight. It was just a battle of two good teams playing hard hockey."
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Posted On Wednesday, 05.11.2011 / 2:38 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2011 WCSF: San Jose-Detroit Live Blog

No news on potential Detroit lineup changes

Detroit coach Mike Babcock said that he would consider any lineup changes for Game 7 on the long plane ride to San Jose.

That means there might be a chance Johan Franzen plays in Game 7 after missing Game 6 because of an ankle injury. Mike Modano played for him on Tuesday in Game 6 and might also be called upon. Veteran Kris Draper was also a healthy scratch in Game 6 after playing in the middle three games of the series.

"We'll take these five-and-a-half hours on the flight to kick everything around," Babcock said. "I'm sure (Franzen) will try lobbying and we'll listen to him. We'll try to make the right decisions, but the only way you know you've made the right decisions are when you win. We'll try to make the right decision on the right players."
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Quote of the Day

He's able to play now, we just want to see other guys. We know what he can do.

— Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper on not rushing Steven Stamkos onto the ice