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Posted On Sunday, 04.17.2011 / 9:18 AM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2011 ECQF: Pittsburgh-Tampa Bay Live Blog

Playoff hockey returns to Tampa Bay

The excitement is beginning to build on the west central coast of the Sunshine State as fans of the Tampa Bay Lightning prepare to host their first Stanley Cup Playoff game in four years.

The Lightning scored a 5-1 victory in Game 2 on Friday to even their best-of-7 series with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Penguins coach Dan Bylsma knows keeping emotions in check whether home or away is critical to success.

"Playoff series are a ride of emotions and they came back and answered in Game 2 to tie the series," Bylsma told reporters following Saturday's practice." They are now going home for two home games, home-ice advantage and we have to re-gather ourselves and go in there, and understand how important it is to play our very best game and get a win in Tampa Bay. Change of venues and those emotions are important to manage."

Despite Friday's lopsided loss on home ice, the Penguins aren't in panic mode. In fact, the club feels comfortable playing on the road -- the team led the League in road wins during the regular season with a franchise-record 24 away from Consol Energy Center. That was one road victory short of the Eastern Conference leaders -- the Philadelphia Flyers.

"They have to do the same thing and get ready for Game 3," Bylsma said. "We now know we're going to have to win a game in Tampa Bay to make home-ice matter here in the series. Game 3 and Game 4 will be pivotal games. We have that focus and understanding."

The Lightning will look to grab hold of the series before their sun-drenched fans on Monday in Game 3 at 7:30 p.m. Game 4 is slated right back at St. Pete Times Forum on Wednesday at 7 p.m.

I'll be in Tampa for Games 3 and 4 this week, so keep checking back often for game updates and a look at how Tampa is preparing for playoff hockey once again.
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Posted On Saturday, 04.16.2011 / 8:25 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2011 WCQF: Detroit-Phoenix Live Blog

Franzen OK after Doan hit

DETROIT -- Sitting at his locker after Detroit's 4-3 win at Joe Louis Arena on Saturday, Johan Franzen looked the part of a playoff hockey player.

He had a bloody gauze plug stuffed up his left nostril, stitches zig-zagged on his forehead and more blood crusted near his mouth. His nose was yellowish, swollen and turning purple and though his demeanor was as calm as ever, he was clearly upset about the hit that did all the damage.

While skating into the Phoenix zone, he was hit by Shane Doan from behind and his body wound up careening into the boards with his face hitting first. No penalty was called on Doan and after the game, both head coaches said they thought no call was warranted.

Franzen returned midway through the second period. Also in the second period, Detroit's Darren Helm was called for boarding on a big hit he put on Ed Jovanovski near the end boards behind the Coyotes. Franzen, who thought Doan's hit was illegal, also took issue with Helm being penalized for his.

"From behind? Three feet from the boards?" he asked rhetorically of Doan's hit. "Yeah, usually you get thrown out of the game for that, but I guess shoulder on shoulder like Helmer is worse."

Red Wings coach Mike Babcock didn't think either hit should’ve been penalized, but Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said Helm's hit did warrant the time he served in the penalty box. Doan said he wasn't trying to injure Franzen and didn't think it was that violent of a hit.

"I didn't hit him that hard," Doan said. "I think he lost his balance. Him and I were both racing to get the puck. He sees me coming and he tries to hit me as much as I tried to hit him. Obviously it's a bad situation the way he goes into the boards. You never want to see anybody get hurt."

Still, though he says there is no burgeoning personal "rivalry" with Doan, Franzen was not pleased with what happened. He left the ice immediately and had to be put under observation for possible concussion symptoms while being stitched.

"I don't think me and him is anything," Franzen said of he and Doan. "He plays hard and he's out there trying to get their team fired up and trying to look for big hits. I have no problem with that. I have a problem with bad hits. He should be thrown out of the game. No question about it."

Did he watch the replay?

"No, but I felt where he hit me, my numbers," Franzen said. "Really dangerous hit. I'm happy I just got stitches and nothing else."

Tippett sounded just as irked at Helm's hit on Jovanovski, which knocked him out of the game.

"Jovanovski got run into the boards," Tippett said. "If you look at Franzen, he stops and turns back, he goes into the boards on his own. Doan never hits him. Doan doesn't touch him while his body is on the boards. He stops and spins … Doan hits him four feet in the center of the ice. The one at the end of the rink is Helm running a guy into the end boards. Big difference."

Babcock saw it slightly different.

"Neither one should be a penalty," he said. "Franzen toe-picked and Doan had kind of bumped him. In my opinion, no penalty. Then Helm self-chipped, went in, Jovanovski knew he was there. Helm hit him hard. No penalty."

Face-shield for Franzen? Mule says 'No'

After he came back from the training room, Franzen just had his helmet on with no visor, cage or face shield protecting his stitches – which numbered as many as 21 according to a report on the NBC TV broadcast.

During the broadcast, cameras picked up Babcock talking to Franzen on the bench and appearing to ask him about putting on a visor. Franzen declined. He was also asked about it after the game.

"They were talking about it, but I can't play with that," Franzen said. "It's tilted up, so I think if I would've had a visor going into the boards I probably would've cut my face even more probably."

Babcock said he hopes the face shield will find its way onto Franzen's helmet before game 3 in Phoenix.

"I was amazed he came back with no facial protection," Babcock said. "He'll probably have to get that fixed up. It's important for us to have the Mule and he'll be ready to go next game."


GAME 2 QUOTABLES

RED WINGS


Helm on Datsyuk’s between-the-legs shot: "Second time he's tried it. He's got lots of skill. It doesn't really surprise me. He's pretty amazing. The rebound came to me and I just made sure I got it in the open cage.''

Franzen on concussion concern after Doan hit: "You go flying into the boards … that's always a concern, but I was lucky enough. I think the forehead is pretty strong – strong bone. Used that to take the hit and it worked out good."

Franzen on how his face looks after stitches: "I don't have any looks to worry about. I'm alright."

Datsyuk on his between-the-legs attempt: "Most times it's hard to shoot from here, but you know, if you make a nice move, you have an open small corner. It's a really good save and I'm happy it's a rebound, too."

Datsyuk on Helm's rebound goal off the between-the-legs shot: "I'm little bit upset, because why he don't shoot it between legs?"

More Datsyuk on between-legs shot: "It's spontaneous. Just try to shoot and score. Happy, too, Helm scored off it. Would be looking bad if he didn't score a goal."

Jimmy Howard on Datsyuk move: "He does a lot of crazy stuff in practice. The fact that he pulls it off in practice and almost pulls it off in a Stanley Cup Playoff game is truly remarkable."

COYOTES

Yandle
on late rally: "There's no quit in our group, that's for sure. When we are down that much we work harder."

Dave Tippett on improved Phoenix power play: "You look at two of the goals and they came off shots that were rebounds. I thought our intent around the net was better (today) in the 5-on-3. We had some more poise that we were missing in that first game."

Tippett on special teams play: "We need to bring our power play and our penalty kill together and work on the same page."

Ray Whitney: "Two power-play goals get you behind and when that team smells blood, they're pretty good a picking the pace up."

Shane Doan: "We weren't dissatisfied with the way we played the first 20 minutes. They found ways to get pucks through and to the net and capitalized on their opportunities."

Doan: "Datsyuk's been the best player on the ice for the first two games. He's their best player."
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Posted On Saturday, 04.16.2011 / 6:10 PM

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

PHI-BUF, Game 2, 9:43 of the 1st period

The video review at 9:43 of the 1st period confirmed that the puck crossed the goal line in a legal fashion. Good goal by Buffalo's Thomas Vanek.

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Posted On Saturday, 04.16.2011 / 3:05 PM

By Corey Masisak -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2011 ECQF: Washington-New York Live Blog

Boudreau coy on center swap

Nicklas Backstrom and Jason Arnott switched places in the middle of the top two lines for the Washington Capitals at practice Saturday. Bruce Boudreau downplayed the move, blaming a wardrobe malfunction, but his past history suggests otherwise.

Arnott was between Alex Ovechkin and Mike Knuble on the team's top line for practice at Kettler Capitals Iceplex while Backstrom skated between Marco Sturm and Alexander Semin.

"Actually, they just put on the wrong jerseys so I left them out there for practice," Boudreau said. "I could have changed it, but I knew we were only doing one drill that anything to do with it, so I just left it."

Boudreau has dropped the "wrong jersey" rationale a few times during his tenure as Capitals coach. He's also used the term "just wanted to see what it looked like" when he switches lines around. The deal is this: when Boudreau tries to downplay a line change, it has almost always ended up happening for the next game.

If Backstrom is not skating with the second line against the New York Rangers for Game 3 on Sunday at Madison Square, it might be the first time Boudreau was speaking the truth on the "wrong jersey" rationale since he became the team's coach in November 2007.

"It doesn't matter I think who we play with," Backstrom said. "There are such good players on this team. It is up to the coach to decide who we play with."

This is nothing new for Backstrom -- Boudreau has dropped him to the second line to play with Semin on several occasions during the postseason in the previous three years. Those two combined to have a great series against Philadelphia in 2008, carrying the Washington offense as the Capitals rallied to force Game 7 after being down 3-1.

It worked pretty well again against the Rangers in 2009. Both years Backstrom was switching places with Sergei Fedorov. Now Boudreau has another dependable veteran in Arnott who he can put with Ovechkin and force John Tortorella to decide which duo he wants to put Marc Staal and Dan Girardi on the ice against.

Tortorella has the last change but the choice between deploying his top pairing against Ovechkin or Backstrom/Semin is not an easy one. That is, of course, if Boudreau follows through and makes the switch for the start of Game 3.

"Yeah, I am [used to it]," Backstrom said. "It is nothing wrong with it. Sometimes you have to I guess. ... They're both good players. I just play where coach tells me to."
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Posted On Saturday, 04.16.2011 / 1:15 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2011 WCQF: Detroit-Phoenix Live Blog

Emptying The Notebook

Often, writers get more quotes than we can actually fit into a story. So, as they say in movies, some good stuff winds up on the cutting-room floor.

Here is some notebook items from both sides:
 
RED WINGS

Kirk Maltby, retired "Grind Line" member and now Detroit scout: "There were times we'd get labeled as not being tough enough or not having a tough guy on that line, but as an organization we've always seemed to pride ourselves on not putting somebody in the lineup just because of their toughness. We're not going to just put somebody in the lineup that can't play the game as well as be tough. You have to bring both."

Maltby on tradition the 'Grind Line' started in Detroit: "We were a little unorthodox on how we created the Grind Line. We brought (Joe Kocur) out of the beer leagues. That doesn't happen much. But we do take pride in the fact that we maybe played more minutes than most fourth lines on other teams in those Cup runs. We feel like we were a significant part of it. You need a little bit of everything to have success and fortunately we were there at the right time."

Maltby on current fourth-line center Darren Helm: "His biggest attribute is his skating. He's not the biggest guy in the world, but that might be the biggest misconception of him because he's really strong and is in great shape. We joke around and say if his hands could ever catch up to his feet, he'd be a really dangerous player -- but he loves playing and has good smarts when it comes to penalty killing and forechecking and things like that. Obviously his skatng allows him to do things like that."

Justin Abdelkader: "I'm never going to be satisfied. Being in this profession, if you're satisfied you're in the wrong profession. I don't think any of these players, even our veteran guys, if you ask them whether they're satisfied ... they're still trying to get better each day."

Abdelkader on playing center instead of wing: "That’s kind of my natural position, center. I've kind of been bumped around -- center and wing -- throughout the year. Whatever they play me at, I'm comfortable at each position."

Abdelkader on what he likes most about center: "Just ... maybe the responsibility. You're counted on defensively on faceoffs, obviously. I feel like I've gotten a lot better in taking faceoffs. I would like to be counted on more as we go forward on taking faceoffs. I've just got to keep going out there and winning and getting better."

Mike Babcock on Darren Helm: "Helmer plays the game at a high pace and he drives the 'D' crazy. He turns well. He can take it to the net. He's a good penalty killer. But he plays a heavy game. For a 200-pound guy, he plays heavier than that because he’s so quick and so hard. He's hard to play against."

Babcock on tradition of people throwing octopi onto the ice in Detroit: "I like calamari as much as the next guy. I don't like batter on it, but I like it spicy and cooked. That's part of the tradition here. I just hope the guys that come on to scrape it off aren't digging up the ice. I hate when they dig up the ice. I want it to be smooth. Other than that I don't have a lot of thoughts or concerns about it."

Babcock on Abdelkader playing second-line center: "He's good. At this point he's not a gifted playmaker or anything, but he's a big strong guy. He's very determined. He's good in the face-off circle. Otherwise, we're not as big down the middle. It's great to have a heavy body in that spot."

Babcock on Red Wings camping outside the crease: "We had a lot of called-off goals during the year and we didn't like it, so instead of having (Tomas Holmstrom) have his heels in the paint, we kind of got a six-inch imaginary line there that we use and we do the same with (Danny Cleary) -- making sure our guys are outside the paint. Yet, we still wanted to be right there at the edge, not disrupting the goalie’s play, but being there and being available for rebounds and pushing the goalie back."

Nicklas Lidstrom: "We were told before this series started that they were going to clamp down on sticks parallel to the ice, whether you're hooking someone or have your stick on someone's glove. They've got to be hard on that and I thought they were (In Game 1). They were making those calls. You just have to know going into the games to keep your stick on the ice and try not to hook players and use your stick like that."

Lidstrom on Red Wings PK: "We were aggressive at the right moments and not being too spread out. When we get spread out, they can make those passes through our box and find the opening. We did a good job of being aggressive at the right moments."

Lidstrom on blocking shots: "I'm not one of the big shot blockers, but it takes a lot of courage, because you're not that close to the shooter. When you go down on one knee to block a shot, usually turning sideways, it takes a lot of guts to be able to do that."

COYOTES

Ed Jovanovski on wearing a cage because of facial injury this season: "I haven’t worn one of those since minor hockey. It was the most traumatic injury I've had."

Dave Tippett: "We talked about some areas we feel like we can improve in, but if you look at the game there's some things we did well, too. We've bee a pretty resilient group through the whole season."

Tippett on blocking shots: "It's dangerous, but that's how you win. Simple as that. We had some times where we attempted to block shots and didn't get the job done. It's an area we have to be better at."

Tippett on Bryzgalov: "You look at his games against the Red Wings all season  ... (they) were strong. You get into a tough series, there's certain things, different aspects of a series, how it goes … when your team is chasing a game, you're going to give up more opportunities. Each game is kind of defined by that, but Bryz is a solid player. He's our backbone of our team and when he plays well, we usually fare well."

Ilya Bryzgalov on what the key is to winning Game 2: "I think key is to stop the puck. This is my job. More I stop. More chances we have to win."

Bryzgalov on playing the Red Wings: "Yeah I love it. It's always fun, a great challenge to play against one of the greatest players in the world (Pavel Datsyuk)."

Bryzgalov on Red Wings crowding the front of the net: "I know it's going to happen. I know it will be that way again. I just have to fight through and find the puck."
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Posted On Saturday, 04.16.2011 / 11:19 AM

By Shawn P. Roarke -  NHL.com Senior Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2011 ECQF: Boston-Montreal Live Blog

Julien: Chara should play

Despite being treated at the hospital for dehydration Friday night, Boston defenseman Zdeno Chara is expected to be in the lineup for Saturday's Game 2 at TD Garden

"Until our medical staff tells us he can't go, he's in tonight," Boston coach Claude Julien said Saturday morning after the team's optional morning skate.

The team announced Saturday morning that Chara was treated at a local hospital for dehydration, confirming a story first published by the Boston Herald.

Otherwise, they were very tightlipped about the status of their No. 1 defenseman.

Many of his teammates did not even find out that Chara was hospitalized until they arrived at TD Garden Saturday's morning skate.

Yet, they believed, to a man, that Chara will be in the lineup Saturday night for Game 2 of the best-of-7 series.

"I'll be surprised if he's not in the lineup," center Patrice Bergeron said

Chara skated in Friday's practice after playing a game-high 25 minutes and six seconds in Thursday's Game 1. He was, not, however, his usual dominating self. Several times, Montreal forwards beat him wide with speed in the attacking zone and he lost more puck battles than usual.

His absence, if the doctors hold him back, would be a huge hit to the Bruins, who need to win to avoid heading to Montreal in an 0-2 hole.

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Posted On Saturday, 04.16.2011 / 10:32 AM

By Shawn P. Roarke -  NHL.com Senior Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2011 ECQF: Boston-Montreal Live Blog

Chara hospitalized for dehydration

According to a report in Saturday's Boston Herald, Boston defenseman Zdeno Chara spent Friday night in the hospital, receiving fluids to battle dehydration.

Boston spokesman Matt Chmura confirmed that Chara was in the hospital and is still being evaluated by Boston's medical personnel. His status for Saturday night's Game 2 is yet to be determined.

Chara skated in Friday's practice after playing a game-high 25 minutes and six seconds in Thursday's Game 1. He was, not, however, his usual dominating self. Several times, Montreal forwards beat him wide with speed in the attacking zone and he lost more puck battles than usual.

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Posted On Saturday, 04.16.2011 / 2:38 AM

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

Leading the way

VANCOUVER, B.C. -- It's pretty obvious how valuable playing with the lead has been so far in this series.

Vancouver has gotten it twice and failed to give it up either time. The Blackhawks offered only about 10-12 minutes of pushback in Game 1, but they were fighting back at every turn in Game 2 only to have the Canucks steal momentum right back.

"It shows you have to be focused for 60 minutes," Henrik Sedin said.

Sure it does, but it also shows the Blackhawks haven't been. They talked a great deal after Game 1 about matching Vancouver's intensity and urgency early in Game 2, but it didn't happen.

The Canucks had a goal before the Blackhawks had a shot on goal. It was 2-0 just 30 seconds into the second period.

Chicago outscored Vancouver, 3-2, over the final 39 minutes and 30 seconds, but they could never make up for those first two goals.

"Pretty much the same thing, too little too late," Hawks captain Jonathan Toews said. "You see we start playing with desperation and we start playing the way we can at the end of the game. We get chances and pressure on them, but it's not good enough. We have to find a way to get that intensity and that urgency to our game early on.

"Sometimes it's not always about playing with the lead," he added. "It's not going to be a perfect game, especially on the road. We just kept giving them consistent scoring chances and let them run away with the game. Every time you get a goal and try to come back, you pull within one, you get momentum and we just found ways to give it back to them."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl


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Posted On Friday, 04.15.2011 / 11:47 PM

By Dave Lozo -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2011 ECQF: Washington-New York Live Blog

Avery provides boost, but outcome remains same

WASHINGTON -- The consensus following Game 2 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series with the Capitals on Friday night was the New York Rangers played a far better game than they did in Game 1.

They had a much improved first period, outshooting the Capitals 13-7 while controlling the territorial play, something coach John Tortorella made a point of emphasis between Games 1 and 2.

They held the Capitals to a mere 18 shots after allowing 29 in nearly 80 minutes of Game 1.

But at the end of Game 2, the Rangers were once again on the losing end, falling 2-0 after the Caps scored twice in 1:57 early in the second period to ruin what was a very solid effort by the Rangers up until that point.

"It's a valuable lesson, that's for sure," Tortorella said. "The second shift of the second period, we had some turnovers. It doesn't cause the goal, but I think it causes a momentum change right away in the second period. For about five or six minutes there, they surged on us. They scored a goal, we take a penalty, get an unfortunate bounce, and that's a big part of the game.

"I thought for most of the game, we played much better than the other night, much more of the style we need to play. We got hurt by a surge tonight. Good teams do it. We're going to have to try to get one ourselves as we go to our building."

The lucky bounce came during a Capitals power play. Defenseman Mike Green had his shot from the right point blocked, but it deflected to Jason Arnott as if it was a perfect cross-ice pass, and Arnott buried it to make it 2-0.

"They got a little lucky bounce there and took advantage of it," said Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, who made 16 saves. "We have to stay positive. We need everyone to play their absolute best to have a chance."

Inserting Sean Avery into the lineup in place of Mats Zuccarello seemed to have the desired effect. He played 10:22, much of it in the third period, and was his usually pesky self.

Avery could be found bumping with goaltender Michal Neuvirth and scrapping after the play with any nearby Capitals player who didn't appreciate the tactic. Avery even had three shots, third most on the Rangers.

Tortorella liked what he saw from Avery, so it's probable he'll stay in the lineup for Sunday afternoon's Game 3

"I thought in the third period, that was a pretty good line," Tortorella said of Avery, Brian Boyle and Brandon Prust. "They gave us some zone time. I thought we did some really good forechecking with that line."

The glaring problem for the Rangers was once again the lack of scoring. They have just 1 goal in the series and missed on a couple of golden opportunities in the third period that could have cut the lead in half. The best scoring chance came when Prust found the puck on his stick with Neuvirth out of position, but his shot missed the mostly open net.

"You have to score a goal," Tortorella said. "We just have no room for any mistake when you don’t score a goal or score just one. That's what's happened.

"I'm not discouraged with the hockey club. We need to release some…just as far as scoring a goal. We need to just relax, play the way we did for a number of minutes tonight and just find a way to bang a couple in."

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo
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Posted On Friday, 04.15.2011 / 5:33 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2011 WCQF: Detroit-Phoenix Live Blog

Coyotes hope to match Wings hit for hit

Phoenix prides itself on playing gritty, hard-hitting hockey and none of the Coyotes enjoyed being outhit by the Red Wings 33-28 in Game 1 on Wednesday night.

Captain Shane Doan led Phoenix with eight hits, but wants to see more Coyotes flying around the rink on Saturday afternoon for Game 2 against Detroit at Joe Louis Arena.

"I think in this room we've got to take it a little personal," Doan said of being outhit by what most classify as a skilled finesse team. "A few guys have to take it personal. It has to be a group effort. It can't be one or two guys who lead it. It has to be a whole group."

Coyotes coach Dave Tippett would like to see that group again being led by Doan -- who also has offensive skills, but often benefits offensively from the checks he doles out.

"I like Doan physical, because that's who he is," Tippett said on Friday. "When he's a bull out there, that's when he's at his best. When he's a bull in a china shop, that's even better than just being a bull."
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Quote of the Day

You don't see many. The [Drew] Doughtys, the [P.K.] Subbans, those are guys that create offense from the back and then on top of that ability, the size that he has. In the West you play against some pretty big players, and being able to clear the crease and contain the [Ryan] Getzlafs and the [Corey] Perrys and [Anze] Kopitars and players like that, we're excited about him going back there.

— Sharks general manager Doug Wilson on Brent Burns returning back to defense