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Posted On Friday, 04.13.2012 / 1:42 PM

By Dan Rosen - Senior Writer / - Penguins vs. Flyers series blog

Penalty killers have been game changers for Flyers

PITTSBURGH -- Their No. 1 goal is to stay out of the penalty box Friday in Game 2, but should the Flyers find that task to be impossible, they have complete confidence in a penalty kill that looked downright dominant in Game 1 against the Penguins.

While the talk in the Penguins dressing room since late Wednesday night has been about making adjustments on the power play, the talk in the Flyers room Friday was about staying consistent with what obviously worked so well.

After falling into a 3-0 hole early in Game 1, Philadelphia stole momentum with a PK that was perfect on three opportunities and gave up only five shots on goal. The Flyers killed off two penalties in the second period, including one when the score was still 3-0, and another early in the third when the deficit stood at 3-1.

Philadelphia was 17th in the League on the PK in the regular season (81.8 percent), but 19-for-22 in six games (86.4 percent) against the Penguins.

"Specialty teams always factors into a game, so if you look at it in that sense it definitely factored," Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said. "I thought at the end of the second we got better and in the third I really liked our period. I'm not sure if that was a direct result of the penalty kills, but if you think about it the penalty kills, if they let one through, that lead maybe becomes too big. It was big enough as it was."

The Flyers were successful on the PK in Game 1 because they did not give the Penguins' power play much room to operate. Goalie Ilya Bryzgalov was also good when called upon, but it was the time and space the Flyers took away from guys like Kris Letang, Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and James Neal that led to their success and to the Penguins' lack of pressure in the attacking zone.

"We have a PK system and we try to do the same thing," Flyers forward Maxime Talbot said. "We know whatever element they put on the ice we have to try to contain him and do the best we can to try to kill the penalty. Yes we have to know who is there, who is left-handed and right-handed, who is a passer and shooter, but we have a way of killing and we have to do it right."

Talbot said the system does not change against the Penguins even though their attack includes superstars like Crosby, Malkin, Letang and Neal.

"You know they're dangerous weapons and instead of trying to fly at them you might contain him more, but in general it doesn't change that much," Talbot said.

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

Posted On Friday, 04.13.2012 / 1:18 PM

By John Manasso - Correspondent / - Predators vs. Red Wings series blog

Predators' Gill rules himself out for Game 2

NASHVILLE – Predators defenseman Hal Gill ruled himself out on Friday for Game 2 of his team’s Western Conference Quarterfinal series with Detroit because of a lower-body injury that continues to plague him.
Nashville acquired the 6-foot-7 defenseman in February for his penalty-killing and shot-blocking abilities from Montreal in preparation for their Stanley Cup Playoff run, but Gill has yet to be available. He skated before the team’s optional skate Friday at Bridgestone Arena but did not feel well enough to go. He said the decision was made in conjunction with the coaching and training staffs.
“It’s getting better,” the 37-year-old Gill said, meeting with the media for the first time since the injury occurred April 5 against Dallas. “It’s something I have to take it day by day and test it without pushing too hard.”
Then he ruled himself out.
“I’m going to give it some more time,” Gill said. “At this point, I don’t think I can help the team so we have some good players that can play, so I’ll let that go.”
Nashville coach Barry Trotz said he would dress seven defensemen again for warm-ups, as he did in Game 1, and then make his decision as to who would be in the lineup – either Jack Hillen, who played in Game 1, or rookie Ryan Ellis. Hillen, 26, seems the likely choice.

Beyond the team’s first pair with Shea Weber, the defense corps is not big. Hillen and Ellis both stand 5-foot-10, but Hillen outweighs Ellis officially by 11 pounds and is a bit more muscular. He played 8:20 and was plus-1 while taking a minor penalty Wednesday.
Nashville had to kill eight penalties in its 3-2 victory in Game 1 and Detroit scored two power-play goals, so Gill’s presence – and his 105 career playoff games -- was missed.
“To win is awesome, I don’t care how it happens,” Gill said, “but those are the games that you want to be a part of. Those are the fun ones. Playoff hockey is the most exciting thing that I’ve ever had in my life so it’s tough not to play.”
Gill said to try and play right now would be foolish and that he just has to be patient.
“There’s being tough and then there’s too much pride and right at this point it would be too much pride to play,” he said. “So, like I said, we got good players, we can win with them.”
Gill refused to handicap his odds for Game 3 on Sunday at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, but said he would travel with the team Saturday for the trip. He said he has been staying in shape, exercising, waiting until he is ready. Game 4 is Tuesday and then the teams have two days off before Game 5, if necessary, back at Bridgestone Arena on April 20, giving him potentially more time to heal.
Posted On Friday, 04.13.2012 / 1:02 PM

By Alain Poupart - Correspondent / - Panthers vs. Devils series blog

Projected Game 1 lineups

SUNRISE, Fla. -- As he indicated earlier this week, Florida coach Kevin Dineen's goalie decision for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series against New Jersey Friday will come down to the wire.

"You know what, all year long I've waited till the end, so we'll give it a couple more hours and give it a good gut check and go from there," Dineen said after the Panthers' morning skate at the BankAtlantic Center.

Dineen has to decide between Jose Theodore, who was the team's No. 1 goalie all season but gave up nine goals in his last two starts, or Scott Clemmensen, who was solid as the backup but tremendous in his last four starts when he went 3-0-1 with a .962 save percentage.

The starting goalie wasn't the only lineup decision Dineen said he still needed to make before the 7 p.m. opening faceoff.

Veteran forward Marco Sturm skated for a second consecutive day after missing practice on Monday and Wednesday, but Dineen wasn't ready to say whether he would take his place on the line with John Madden and Tomas Kopecky.

Krystofer Barch, who was a healthy scratch for the last four regular season games, skated with the Madden line at practice all week.

"He's a big, physical guy, but more importantly he can skate," Dineen said of Barch. "When you're playing a team as skilled as the Devils, you're going to need to be able to move your feet. That's an advantage we've had over the course of the season is we have a lot of guys that move their feet well. We like to think of ourselves as being able to put some speed at teams and Barchy would be a good addition in that way."

Sturm, acquired along with fellow veteran Mikael Samuelsson in the October trade that sent David Booth to Vancouver, battled injuries a good part of the season and appeared in only 48 games for the Panthers.

For the Devils, coach Peter DeBoer confirmed before his team's optional skate that rookie defenseman Adam Larsson would not be in the lineup Friday.

The fourth pick in the 2011 NHL draft, Larsson was a healthy scratch for five of the Devils' last six regular season games.

Larsson had 18 points in 65 games during the regular season, but his minus-7 rating was the worst among the seven New Jersey defensemen currently on the roster.

Here are the projected lines for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series between the Devils and Panthers:

Zach Parise - Travis Zajac - Ilya Kovalchuk
Petr Sykora - Patrik Elias - Dainius Zubrus
Alexei Ponikarovsky - Adam Henrique - David Clarkson
Ryan Carter - Stephen Gionta - Steve Bernier

Andy Greene - Mark Fayne
Bryce Salvador - Marek Zidlicky
Anton Volchenkov - Peter Harrold

Martin Brodeur
Johan Hedberg

Tomas Fleischmann - Stephen Weiss - Kris Versteeg
Sean Bergenheim - Marcel Goc - Mikael Samuelsson
Scottie Upshall - Shawn Matthias - Wojtek Wolski
Marco Sturm - John Madden - Tomas Kopecky

Jason Garrison - Brian Campbell
Dmitry Kulikov - Mike Weaver
Ed Jovanovski - Erik Gudbranson

Jose Theodore
Scott Clemmensen
Posted On Friday, 04.13.2012 / 12:54 PM

By Alan Robinson - Correspondent / - Penguins vs. Flyers series blog

Pens not fazed by having to play from behind in series

PITTSBURGH -- They've done it in the past, now they need to show they can do it again. The Pittsburgh Penguins understand they must prove they can play from behind.
It's been the playing while ahead part that’s been difficult for them.
Twice during their Stanley Cup run in 2009, the Penguins rebounded from 2-0 deficits to win series -- against Washington in the Eastern Conference Semifinals and Detroit in the Stanley Cup Final. They also bounced back from losing the first game against Ottawa in the 2010 conference quarterfinals to win in six games.
But the Penguins couldn't hold a 3-2 series lead against Montreal in the 2010 conference semifinals or a 3-1 series lead against Tampa Bay in the conference quarterfinals last season. And they couldn't hold a 3-0 lead in the first period during their 4-3 overtime loss to the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinals series Wednesday night.
Detecting a theme?
While every team and every season is different, the core group of Penguins has remained the same since 2008-09 -- Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Marc-Andre Fleury, Brooks Orpik, Pascal Dupuis, Tyler Kennedy, Kris Letang and Matt Cooke.
"I think experience from playing games before," Fleury said Friday of the Penguins' bounce-back tendencies. "And the best thing is to forget about it (a loss), the quicker the better. The next day's a new day and I think everybody is excited to have another shot at it."
Of course, in a short series, the "next days" dwindle quickly once the losses start to mount. Hence the Penguins' belief that they must play with a sense of desperation in Game 2, lest they go down 2-0 heading into Game 3 Sunday in Philadelphia.
"I think there's a sense of that in every game. Everyone always talks about the scenarios, the way a series works out. The reality is, everyone's desperate every game," Crosby said. "That's the way it is. There's obviously more emphasis when you've lost a game to bounce back and get the momentum. That's the case in every series. That's the case here tonight. We want to make sure we bounce back."
Even if those outside their room keep focusing on how the Penguins couldn't hold onto a seemingly safe lead in their own arena, Crosby said a hockey team can't do that.
"You lose a game, you have to bounce back. In the regular season, we've had to do that. The playoffs aren't any different," the Penguins captain said. "You have to have a short memory and forget it and move on. The way you play doesn't change. If anything, you should be even more desperate coming off a loss. I don't see that really being an issue."
During the Crosby-Malkin era, the Penguins are 15-8 following a loss in the playoffs.
In 1996, the Penguins lost the first two games at home against Washington in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals only to rebound to win the next four games, but that was long before any of these players' careers had begun.
Posted On Friday, 04.13.2012 / 12:10 PM

By Alan Robinson - Correspondent / - Penguins vs. Flyers series blog

Penguins hope room full of Cs translates into Ws

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins are hoping that a room full of Cs translates into some Ws during their Stanley Cup Playoffs series against the Philadelphia Flyers.
The Penguins made a point of wearing specially-designed playoff T-shirts that feature a "C" on the front following their morning skate before Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals on Friday.
James Neal said they did it for a reason.
On Jan. 13, the Penguins wore taped-on Cs on their practice jerseys during their morning skate in advance of that night's game at Florida. They did so as a sign of team unity -- and to support then-injured team captain Sidney Crosby -- following a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review report that the players had discussed appointing a fill-in captain if Crosby could not return.
Forward Pascal Dupuis, one of the Penguins' most-tenured players, suggested the players wear the Cs.
The Penguins went on to secure a 4-1 victory over the Panthers that not only ended a six-game losing streak but launched them on an eight-game winning streak. From that point, they finished the season with a 30-8-2 record to finish fourth in the Eastern Conference with 108 points, only one point behind the Atlantic Division- and conference-leading New York Rangers.
As the Penguins attempt to bounce back from squandering a 3-0 lead during a 4-3 loss to Philadelphia in Game 1 on Wednesday, the players felt it was the right time to wear the T-shirts, which they have shown off several times since they were released two weeks ago.
"When we were going through a little slump there and when we had a controversy with Sid and that little stuff kind of brought our team back together," Neal said. "We turned a little losing streak around into a winning streak and it kind of brought back some good memories. It's something we pride ourselves in."
Coach Dan Bylsma wasn't aware of any team-unity display by his players.
"That's a playoff T-shirt they made and there's more than one or two themes on the shirt," Bylsma said.
But it's the black "C" on the right shoulder of the gray T-shirt that stands out most.
"That's why we're wearing them today," Neal said.
There's also this: The Penguins first wore the Cs on a Friday the 13th in Florida. The day of Game 2 against the Flyers also is a Friday the 13th. So maybe the Penguins are more than a little bit superstitious.
Posted On Friday, 04.13.2012 / 11:58 AM

By Staff -  / - Bruins vs. Capitals series blog

Krejci misses practice, expects to play Saturday

David Krejci did not skate Friday at practice for the Boston Bruins, one day after being knocked to the ice by a pane of glass at TD Garden during the team's postgame celebration.

After a Friday morning practice at TD Garden, Bruins GM Peter ChiarellI said that Krejci was day-to-day. His status for Game 2 is unknown. Krejci, in brief comments to the media Friday, said he has a sore neck, but expects to play.

"I feel good...I've got a little sore neck but other than that I'm good," Krejci said, according to

Krejci and the rest of the Bruins were celebrating Chris Kelly's goal 78 seconds into overtime to give the Bruins a 1-0 win and 1-0 lead in their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series against the Washington Capitals when a pane of glass fell and hit Krejci.

The force of the blow knocked him to the ice, but Krejci did skate away from the incident after a teammate pushed the pane of glass, which did not shatter, off of him. Krejci centers Boston's top line, but the Bruins went with normal wing Rich Peverley between Milan Lucic and newcomer to the group Jordan Caron during practice Friday.

"He's fine. ... He was a little bit stiff around the neck area this morning. He was scheduled to skate and I talked to the trainer and together we came to terms that it was better if he stayed off and feel even better tomorrow,” coach Claude Julien said. "But he was scheduled to go on and he’s scheduled to play [Saturday]."
Posted On Friday, 04.13.2012 / 10:51 AM

By John Kreiser - Columnist / - Bracket Challenge Blog

It only took 77 years ...

Halley's Comet comes around every 76 years -- or almost as often as the Boston Bruins win a playoff game 1-0 in overtime.

The Bruins did just that in their playoff opener on Thursday, beating the Washington Capitals on Chris Kelly's goal 1:18 into overtime after the teams battled through 60 scoreless minutes of regulation. The last time Boston won 1-0 in overtime in a playoff game was 77 years ago -- March 25, 1935, when Dit Clapper scored 3:26 into the second extra period.

It was the first 1-0 overtime game involving the Bruins since they lost 1-0 to New Jersey in the first round in 1995 -- and the first one ever for the Caps.

One reason for the Bruins' victory was their continuing ability to shut down Alex Ovechkin, who entered Thursday with the fourth-highest points-per-game average in playoff history. Ovi led the Caps with seven hits but had only one shot on goal and has now managed just one goal in his last nine games against Boston since the start of the 2010-11 season.

Tim Terrific -- Tim Thomas started the 2012 postseason the way he ended the playoffs last year -- perfect.

Thomas wasn't severely tested in the Bruins' win against Washington, but he was flawless in stopping all 17 shots he faced before Chris Kelly's game-winner 1:18 into overtime. It was the sixth playoff shutout of his career and his second in a row -- he ended last season by putting up a zero in Boston's 4-0 win at Vancouver in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final. Thomas, the Conn Smythe Trophy winner this past spring, has stopped the last 58 shots he's faced in a span of 123 minutes and 44 seconds since Vancouver's Maxim Lapierre scored with 2:26 remaining in Game 6.
Posted On Thursday, 04.12.2012 / 8:41 PM

By Staff -  / - Panthers vs. Devils series blog

Dineen to lean on ex-Devils for advice

Florida Panthers coach Kevin Dineen hadn't announced as of Thursday night whether Scott Clemmensen would get the start over Jose Theodore in Game 1 of his team's Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series Friday against the New Jersey Devils.

Meanwhile, as a fourth-line center, John Madden's ice time figures to pale in comparison to that of top forwards like Kris Versteeg, Tomas Fleischmann and Stephen Weiss.

Regardless of how much they play, however, Clemmensen and Madden have the ability to have a different kind of impact on this series as ex-Devils who might provide valuable information on some of their former teammates' tendencies.
Posted On Thursday, 04.12.2012 / 8:39 PM

By Kevin Woodley - Correspondent / - Canucks vs. Kings series blog

Kings apologize for post-game tweet

The Los Angeles Kings were all a-Twitter on Thursday.

Unfortunately it had less to do with their Game 1 victory in Vancouver the night before, and more to do with a line that went out on the popular social media network afterwards.

Sent from the team's official Twitter account, @LAKings, shortly after the 4-2 win, it read: "To Everyone in Canada outside of BC, you're welcome," a reference to the Canucks perceived status as one of hockey's most hated teams.

The Kings quickly apologized Thursday morning.

"We encourage our digital team to be creative, interactive and to apply a sense of humor whenever possible," Mike Altieri, the Kings vice president of communications and broadcasting, said in a statement. "To anyone who found it offensive, we sincerely apologize."

Vancouver players dismissed it, saying they are used to the wearing the black hat ever since last year's run to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final cast them in the villain's role -- even in Canada.

"You laugh about it a bit, but we're used to it," backup goalie Cory Schneider said. "Everyone's kinda doing that stuff to us, so it doesn't really bother us a whole lot. We have bigger, more important things to worry about than what their team is putting on Twitter."

Los Angeles players and coach Darryl Sutter also dismissed it for the most part, stressing that it didn't come from anyone in the locker room.

"It's irrelevant to the guys in the room," captain Dustin Brown said. "As players we're all smart enough to know bulletin board material at this time of the year is not a good idea and as players we all understand that. Maybe someone who is control of the Twitter feed needs to understand that as well."

As for perceptions of the Canucks, Brown said it should be considered a compliment.

"When you've been the best team the last two years, you automatically get the role of the most hated team," Brown said. "I mean you look at other sports, you look at the Yankees who have dominated baseball on and off, they are probably the most hated team in baseball. That goes with the territory of being the best."

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