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Posted On Tuesday, 04.26.2011 / 6:25 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2011 ECQF: Philadelphia-Buffalo Live Blog

"Lappy" talks Masterton Award; fans of Philly

Philadelphia Flyers forward Ian Laperriere is reminded almost every day of the sacrifices he's made as a professional hockey player -- and he couldn't be happier.

As it turns out, the bond he created with those fans of Philadelphia in the short time he has been with the organization has left a lasting impression.

"Everywhere I go, people were nice enough to come up and thank me for taking two pucks in the face," Laperriere told the media after learning he was one of three finalists for the 2010-11 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy.

"It's funny but true and I wish I could have signed here 10 years ago," he continued. "In saying that, I had a great time in L.A. and Colorado and everywhere I played. As long as I got skates on and teammates around me, that's the best place I can be."

Laperriere sustained a severe head injury during last year's playoffs when he blocked a Paul Martin slapshot with his face against New Jersey and suffered a concussion and fractured orbital bone. He returned a little more than a month later to finish the Flyers' playoff run that ended two games short of a championship. He attempted to return in training camp, but could not overcome his concussion-related symptoms and has been on the long-term injury list all season.

Nevertheless, he has served the Flyers in several capacities, particularly as a mentor for young players in the organization. It's a role he's enjoyed.

"I love working with the young guys," he said. "I've gotten a head start to meet those guys and their junior teams. If I have to make that call, I would want to stay in the game whether that be as an assistant or working with the team in some way. I enjoy skating with (Chris) Pronger and (Matt) Walker and with the black aces.

"The happiest place I am is at the rink. I don't know if everyone can say their happiest place is at the office but I can. People say to me, why don't you spend time with your kids, but my kids are at school most of the day; they have their own lives too. I'd love to sit next to them, but I can't."

Flyers coach Peter Laviolette was glad to see Laperriere named a finalist for the Masterton Trophy.

"You're talking about one of the finest people you can meet," Laviolette said. "He's a terrific teammate, terrific friend to a lot of players and somebody you really enjoyed coaching and working with. Having him around still is a positive for our organization. I'm happy for the nomination, well deserved."

Now Laperriere is just hoping to have an opportunity to be in Las Vegas for the Awards ceremony on June 22.

"I knew hockey before I met my wife, so it's something that's going to be with me forever," Laperriere said. "The passion that I brought on the ice was because I loved the game. Off the ice, I always tried to be as normal a guy as I could be."

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale
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Posted On Tuesday, 04.26.2011 / 6:06 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2011 ECQF: Philadelphia-Buffalo Live Blog

Flyers have been here before

Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said he doesn't see any Game 7-related panic in his team. He credits some of that to the experience from Sunday.

"We've already been here," he said in his pre-game media briefing. "We were already faced with this last game. I know it's a Game 7, but our Game 7 was Game 6. We've already got a little bit of experience."

He also said he puts no stock in any momentum that might have been gained from the 4-3 overtime win in Game 6.

"Momentum can be the death of you," he said. "Give me a heavy dose of desperation and I'll be happy."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Tuesday, 04.26.2011 / 4:54 PM

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

Niagara defenseman Hamilton named OHL Scholastic Player of Year

Niagara IceDogs defenseman Dougie Hamilton, NHL Central Scouting's No. 4-rated North American skater eligible for the 2011 Entry Draft in June, has been named the Ontartio Hockey League's Scholastic Player of the Year.

Hamilton, the first defenseman identified on Central Scouting's final report, had an exceptional season in Niagara with 12 goals, 58 points, a plus-35 rating and 77 penalty minutes. He currently leads the IceDogs in assists (12) and points (15) in 13 playoff games. Hamilton is also sporting an impressive plus-8 rating in the postseason.

"I've watched Dougie in the playoffs and he was dominant," OHL scout Chris Edwards said. "He was pinning guys down and his puck movement was great. I hadn't seen the physical side of his game before, not much of it anyway this year, but he was strong all game. He set up the first goal of game on a nice cross-ice to (Ryan) Strome. He moves the puck well, is a great decision-maker and he's a top two defensemen right now … probably will be in the NHL too."

Hamilton is preceded in the rankings by No. 1 Ryan Nugent-Hopkins of Red Deer in the Western Hockey League, No. 2 Gabriel Landeskog of the OHL's Kitchener Rangers and No. 3 Jonathan Huberdeau of the Saint John Sea Dogs (QMJHL). Rounding out the top 10 are No. 5 Nathan Beaulieu of Saint John, No. 6 Sean Couturier of Drummondville (QMJHL), No. 7 Sven Baertschi of the Portland Winterhawks (WHL), No. 8 Ryan Strome of Niagara, No. 9 Ryan Murphy of Kitchener and No. 10 Duncan Siemens of the Saskatoon Blades (WHL).

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Posted On Tuesday, 04.26.2011 / 4:47 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - 2011 WCQF: Vancouver-Chicago Live Blog

It's all on you Vancouver

VANCOUVER, B.C. -- The Blackhawks have believed since Game 1 that the pressure is all on the Canucks, and they're not about to change their tune now.

"We're confident and we're having a lot of fun, but nothing changes coming into this game," captain Jonathan Toews said. "We still feel the pressure is on them. They're the ones that had a 3-0 lead and they're trying to close us out. We're just putting the pressure on them and nothing has changed in that way."

Added Viktor Stalberg: "Really we have nothing to lose. The pressure is on them. This city is not going to be happy if they lose four straight to us. It's going to be fun for us. We can go in with no pressure, just try to play our game and have fun with it."

Patrick Kane said he can sense that the city of Vancouver is on tilt heading into Game 7.

"It's a big hockey city and they were expected to do well this year," Kane said. "They were in a good position after Game 3."

Toews thinks he knows what the Canucks have to do to have a chance to win tonight.

"If they want to beat us they're going to have to play their best game of the series," he said. "We know we're going to bring our best game."

"I certainly think we have momentum going into the game," added coach Joel Quenneville. "We were talking in Game 4 about just getting the momentum changed in our direction and see where it takes us. I think it's taken us to a pretty remarkable place."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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Posted On Tuesday, 04.26.2011 / 4:31 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - 2011 WCQF: Vancouver-Chicago Live Blog

Kane on Canucks: 'They take some stupid penalties'

VANCOUVER, B.C. -- When asked about the comments Vancouver GM Mike Gillis made Monday about the officiating in this series and how the Canucks aren't getting a fair shake, most of the Blackhawks shrugged their shoulders and danced around the issue.

But, Patrick Kane and coach Joel Quenneville attacked Gillis' remarks head on.

"I think maybe him doing that takes the pressure off his players a bit and puts the emphasis on something else," Kane said Tuesday morning. "I mean, the way they play is pretty physical and sometimes they take some stupid penalties. I don't think you can really complain about many calls to be honest with you."

Quenneville pulled a Gillis and cited the facts.

"My only comment to that is I just look at our regular season we were the second fewest penalized team all year long," he said. "That's my defense."

Technically he's not accurate since the Hawks were actually third in total penalties and penalty minutes during the regular season, but they were second in total times shorthanded whereas the Canucks were 24th. Vancouver was also 18th in total penalties and 13th in penalty minutes.

So, what Quenneville is saying is that the trend in this series -- Chicago has had 27 power plays to Vancouver's 16 -- is right on par with what happened for the two squads in the regular season.

Nevertheless, Kane understood why Gillis stepped out in front of the cameras and made his remarks Monday.

"It might be a good move by him to try to get the emphasis on something else and maybe the League or the refs start thinking about it," He said. "But, I don't think it's really going to matter tonight. I think it's going to be a fair game."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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Posted On Tuesday, 04.26.2011 / 2:41 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2011 ECQF: Philadelphia-Buffalo Live Blog

Sabres banged-up but not broken

The Buffalo Sabres could be missing a lot more than just forwards Tim Connolly (upper body) and Jason Pominville (lower body) for Game 7 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal round match against the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday.

Sabres coach Lindy Ruff did confirm that either Patrick Kaleta or Mike Grier would be sidelined but was mum on the status of defenseman Jordan Leopold. According to the Buffalo News, Kaleta is "definitely" out with an apparent hand injury. Grier and Leopold, meanwhile, are listed as game-time decisions.
Lindy Ruff Buffalo Sabres, coach

Meanwhile, Jochen Hecht (upper body), who hasn't played since March 29, and Andrej Sekera (upper body) remain questionable despite the fact they did skate on Tuesday.

"I'm getting better every day," Hecht told reporters after Tuesday's practice. "Am I playable? It's a close call. It's nerve-wracking sitting out. It would make it a lot easier on my nerves just to play. It's definitely hard to watch."

There is some positive news: center Derek Roy returns to the lineup following a four-month absence with a quad injury. Roy claims to be 100 percent, which is good since Ruff expects him to "do a lot."

"Between the regular season and playoffs, there's another notch there where it's got to be quicker and faster," Ruff said. "The intensity is a lot greater, so things are going to have to happen quicker. It might take him a few shifts, but I think he's up to the task.

"We need him to do a lot. We need him to step in and be a big player. It's tough. He hasn't been in a game in four months, but we're ready to give it a go."

Ruff is looking forward to Tuesday's Game 7 against the Flyers.

"We've kind of wrapped our arms around this underdog status and we've been beaten up and lost a lot of players and I think the players' mindset is great," he said. "We have no pressure. We just have to go out and play. These guys have given everything they can give me for 4-1/2 months and battled through adversity. I expect the same (Tuesday). It's a one game showdown and we're looking forward to it."

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Posted On Tuesday, 04.26.2011 / 2:36 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2011 ECQF: Philadelphia-Buffalo Live Blog

Boucher has seen Briere at best, worst

Brian Boucher has a bit of a different perspective on Danny Briere than others might have. The two are teammates now in Philadelphia, but it's not the first time they've been together. They were teammates for most of the 2002-03 season with the Phoenix Coyotes.

Boucher was in his first season in the desert, arriving in an offseason trade with the Flyers. Briere was in what would end up as his final season with the Coyotes, as he was traded in March 2003 to the Buffalo Sabres.

Boucher remembers Briere as a talented player who couldn't find his niche in the lineup. He had scored 32 goals in the 2001-02 season, but had slumped to 17 -- with a minus-21 rating -- in 68 games at the time of his trade.

"(In Phoenix) he was trying to find his way, fighting through being in and out of the lineup and coaches not trusting him on the ice," said Boucher. "The typical stuff that happens to young guys."

Briere was taken by the Coyotes in the first round of the 1996 Entry Draft, but never became the top-flight scorer Phoenix had hoped for. He was waived twice by the Coyotes before getting traded to the Sabres, where he eventually developed into an All-Star. He signed with the Flyers in July 2007, and the pair briefly was reunited before Boucher was sent to the minors and then traded to San Jose. Boucher returned to the Flyers in the summer of 2009, and has had a front-row seat for Briere's rise to playoff stardom the last two seasons.

"He's a resilient guy, has a lot of fight in him," said Boucher. "When he broke into the League, size was always an issue back then. It was always like, this guy's too small. Now that's changed where now size really isn't a factor. If you can skate, you can play.

"Now you can see it. He's a true leader. He can bring it. When he's inspired like he's been, there's nobody better. It's been great."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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Posted On Tuesday, 04.26.2011 / 2:10 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2011 ECQF: Philadelphia-Buffalo Live Blog

This Game 7 is a long time coming for Boucher

Brian Boucher has started one other Game 7 in his NHL career -- the 2000 Eastern Conference Finals against the New Jersey Devils. He stopped 16 of 18 shots that night in a 2-1 loss.

Back then, Boucher was a 23-year-old rookie getting his first taste of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. When he starts Game 7, he'll be a grizzled 34-year-old in his third stint with the Flyers in an NHL journey that's taken him to Phoenix, Calgary, Chicago, Columbus and San Jose, with a couple stops in the American Hockey League included.

"I think what's changed is the fact that there's a lot of years in between then and now," he told reporters Monday. "There's a lot of experience gained. I feel like I'm a better goalie today than I was back then. The fact that I was fresh-faced and had a lot of energy and a lot of spunk, I think that was what carried me at that time. Now I feel like I'm a smarter goaltender. I've learned a lot. Maybe that'll help out."

One of the things he's learned is to laugh off some of the things that come up in the media at playoff time. Like, how the Buffalo News called the Flyers' three starting goalies in the series -- Boucher, Sergei Bobrovsky and Michael Leighton -- the Three Stooges.

When Boucher was asked which his favorite Stooge was, he just laughed.

"That's pretty funny," he said. "Which was the bald-headed one? Curly, that's the guy. Maybe I'll be Curly."

Boucher said the benefit of age also has helped him be able to take his mind off the game.

"For me it's pretty easy," he said. "I've got a family at home and you can't ignore your duties as a father or as a husband. When I get home, it's life as usual. For me, it's easy to (get away from the game). For guys that are single or on their own, it might be more difficult. We've got baseball practice today at 5 p.m. for my son. It's a beautiful day so far, go catch some sunshine."

In five games in this series (three starts, two relief appearances), Boucher is 3-1 with a 2.12 goals-against average and .935 save percentage, both of which rank fifth among all playoff goalies.

"There's a tremendous amount of confidence in Brian Boucher, there's no question about that," coach Peter Laviolette said Tuesday morning.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Monday, 04.25.2011 / 8:37 PM

By Brian Compton -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2011 ECQF: Boston-Montreal Live Blog

Time set for Game 7

While fans of the Boston Bruins are hoping they won't be at TD Garden on Wednesday night, a time has been set for a Game 7 should the Montreal Canadiens come out victorious at the Bell Centre on Tuesday.

Previously listed as "to be determined," Game 7 of this Eastern Conference Quarterfinal will begin at 7 p.m. ET. And, of course, fans can watch the game on Versus in the U.S and CBC and RDS in Canada.
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Posted On Monday, 04.25.2011 / 6:23 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2011 WCQF: Vancouver-Chicago Live Blog

Kopecky travels with Blackhawks

CHICAGO – Injured forward Tomas Kopecky traveled with the Chicago Blackhawks to Vancouver on Monday afternoon as the defending Stanley Cup champions prepare to play Tuesday night's Game 7 of a Western Conference Quarterfinal series.

Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said Kopecky is "progressing" from an upper-body injury sustained in the first game of the series and the team will know more about his availability to play on Tuesday.

Kopecky, who didn’t score and logged one shot in Game 1, played 81 regular-season games and scored 15 goals with 27 assists and 42 points.

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Quote of the Day

The groove of being behind a bench is going to be interesting at first, but thank God we have a few exhibition games to get rid of those cobwebs. Overall the excitement of it all and the freshness and coming back refreshed, all those things are going to be assets. If [the players] come ready to give their best effort in practice and games, good things are going to happen. I'm always looking for results. It's not always on the scoreboard. It's winning and building something.

— Bryan Trottier on making his return to coaching as an assistant with the Sabres