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Posted On Friday, 04.22.2011 / 8:40 PM

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

Toews says Torres hit was a motivator

Some are now saying this series changed after Canucks forward Raffi Torres was not suspended by the League for the Game 3 hit he put on Brent Seabrook, in which Seabrook was leveled while looking behind him behind the Hawks net.

Seabrook missed Game 4 and Game 5 and is questionable for Game 6. Meanwhile, the Hawks have played inspired hockey in his absence. Did that Torres hit ignite a salvo that awoke a sleeping bear?

"That's what everyone wants to say," Toews said. "We just like to say it was added motivation on top of the fact that we were down 3-0 to probably our biggest rival in the League right now -- especially when we lose a key player like Brent Seabrook. Every single guy in that locker room was reminded at that point that, ‘Hey, we're letting this team get away with too much,' and you know, we had to hold them accountable a little bit. That little extra motivation thrown on top of that, it fueled the fire for sure."
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Posted On Friday, 04.22.2011 / 8:39 PM

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

Hawks not happy with Hamhuis hit

During a sequence in the second period in Game 5 when things started to get rough between the two teams, Canucks defenseman Dan Hamhuis went high on a hit against Hawks center Dave Bolland and appeared to smash Bolland's head into the glass behind the net.

Bolland, playing just his second game after a severe concussion that kept him out for 17 games, took a penalty on the play and was irate as he headed to the bench -- smashing his stick into pieces. Hawks coach Joel Quenneville didn't know what the fuss was about at first, but got a good look at it on a video replay and agreed with Bolland.

"I was wondering why he was so upset and then I saw the replay and I think coming off his injury, he's got a reason," Quenneville said Friday at O'Hare Airport after the Hawks returned from Vancouver.

Chicago captain Jonathan Toews also thought a penalty should have been called, but took the opportunity on Friday to display his own dry brand of humor when asked about Bolland's reaction.

"He definitely didn't look happy after that," Toews said. "He felt there should've been a call and showed the way he felt … just as long as he doesn't run out of sticks, we'll be all right."
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Posted On Friday, 04.22.2011 / 7:14 PM

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

Hecht on the mend

Jochen Hecht was a surprise participant at the Sabres' morning skate Friday.

It was the first time he was with the team since suffering getting hurt in a game at Toronto on March 29. The Sabres list him as having an upper-body injury, but the Buffalo News is reporting Hecht has a concussion.

"Jochen feels good," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. "He's skating now, and hopefully next day or so he can get involved in full practices."

With Derek Roy also skating and nearing the four-month anniversary of his torn quadriceps, could the Sabres be close to having two major pieces back in their offensive arsenal?

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Friday, 04.22.2011 / 6:44 PM

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

Powe in Carter's spot?

At Friday's morning skate, Darroll Powe moved from the fourth line to Jeff Carter's spot on the wing on Claude Giroux's line with James van Riemsdyk, and could play there in Game 5 Friday.

Carter suffered a lower-body injury during Game 4 and is listed as day-to-day. CSNPhilly.com is reporting Carter has a sprained medial collateral ligament in his right knee and will miss the rest of the series.

Powe had 17 points in 81 games this season, and is a key member of the team's penalty-killing unit.

Coach Peter Laviolette, as is his norm, wouldn't discuss possible lineups. But he did say he likes what Powe can bring playing with more skilled linemates.

"Darroll Powe has been a really effective player for us," Laviolette said Friday morning. "Whatever line he's played on he's been terrific. He brings speed, and he can get in on the forecheck, can create things at the net. He's been a valuable part of our team."

With Carter and Andreas Nodl (upper-body injury) out and Powe moving up, it likely means Ben Holmstrom will make his Stanley Cup Playoff debut. He took shifts on the fourth line in practice Friday morning, with Blair Betts and Daniel Carcillo. The rookie forward was scoreless in two games earlier this season.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Friday, 04.22.2011 / 5:56 PM

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

Pronger in or out?

Still no word yet on Chris Pronger's status for Game 5 here at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. The Flyers list him as day-to-day, and the team's PR staff said no announcement would come until around game-time, which tonight is 7:30 p.m. (VERSUS, TSN, RDS).

Pronger went through the full morning skate and did the normal amount of puck drills, shooting and passing. The big question is, did he take full slap shots. Well, it sort of depends on how you define "slap shot."

Was it a full-on, hardest-shot-competition, stick-blade-scraping-the-ceiling slapper? No. But it certainly wasn't a little flipping wrister. There was definite backswing, and certainly some mustard on the shot.

Some of those shots came after the full team left the ice; Pronger stayed alone and shot for about 20 minutes, working on shots both light and hard, from each of the faceoff dots. He only looked up once as he banged the pucks, and it came on his third-to-last shot from the dot to the right of the net, when he either fanned on a shot or just didn't hit it right and stopped and appeared to wince or grimace. After that, he went back to shooting pucks.

So what does it all mean? Well, if you read CSNPhilly.com, it means he's definitely out. But the Flyers have yet to announce anything, so really, anything is possible.

In the CSNPhilly.com story, the reason being reported for Pronger's absence is continued pain near the fractured area and a belief that the hand isn't strong enough for Pronger to protect himself on the ice.

However, coach Peter Laviolette was asked Thursday to respond to a hypothetical question: Can Pronger still be effective in a limited role?

"Can Chris Pronger play in a game in a limited role and be a factor in the game? Yes," replied Laviolette.

Laviolette answered that question in the hypothetical on Thursday. It will get answered for real sometime in the next 90 minutes.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Friday, 04.22.2011 / 3:05 PM

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

Capitals not worrying about redemption

Saturday afternoon could be a day of redemption for Alex Ovechkin and his Washington Capitals, but neither he nor coach Bruce Boudreau really see it that way.

The Capitals will play host to the New York Rangers in Game 5 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series and, with a 3-1 lead, have a chance to finish off the visitors. They were in this situation one year ago, ahead 3-1 against the Montreal Canadiens with Game 5 at Verizon Center, but ended up losing three straight contests and the series.

"It is new year, new series, new team," Ovechkin said. "I think if you going remember everything bad, then it is going to be bad for you. I think tomorrow first 10 minutes is going to be very important for us and them too."

Whether other players on the team or the coaching staff decide to use what transpired in Game 5 against the Canadiens as motivation for Saturday, Ovechkin is looking forward, not back.

"I don't remember nothing. I forget about it," he said. "We get experience. We know we can't go back. We have to play better every game and every period."

Montreal grabbed an early 2-0 lead in Game 5 against Washington last April and the series was never the same. Jaroslav Halak allowed only three goals in the final three games and the Canadiens were able to eke out just enough offense on the counter-attack to win the final two games as well.

The Canadiens were the attacking team in the first 10 minutes of Game 5, though, and they caught the Capitals for two goals -- both against Ovechkin's line and both scored from the area he typically is entrusted to defend (between the right point and the top of the right faceoff circle).

"I just see everything as team-oriented," Boudreau said. "I don't think we've got anybody thinking about, 'I can redeem myself' or 'I can look better.' We just want to go out there and play as well as we can."

Boudreau said he doesn't expect to show video from Game 5 against Montreal, but that game has been a point of reference for teaching and/or motivational purposes.

"I think they know what happened in Game 5 in the first 10 minutes," he said. "We've talked about it many times during the course of the year."
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Posted On Friday, 04.22.2011 / 10:08 AM

By Dhiren Mahiban -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2011 WCQF: Vancouver-Chicago Live Blog

Blackhawks exposing Canucks

VANCOUVER -- After going down 0-3 in the series Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said his team wasn’t exposing the Canucks for what they were -- "a beatable team."

Chicago made adjustments, and has now outscored the Canucks 12-2 in the last two games of the series, holding the Canucks' big line of Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin and Alexandre Burrows to just one goal and a collective minus-11 in the two wins.

The defending Stanley Cup champions have all the momentum as the series moves to Chicago for another must-win for the Blackhawks on Sunday.

The Blackhawks appear to have found a couple weaknesses in the armor of the Presidents' Trophy winners. First is Roberto Luongo, the Canucks starting goaltender, who has allowed 10 goals on 40 shots in Game 4 and 5 losses.

On Thursday night Duncan Keith, who played with Luongo on Canada's gold medal winning Olympic team, dropped a hint.

"Take a look at our first goal," Keith told reporters.

Chicago's first goal in Game 5 came at 5:54 of the first period when Marian Hossa beat Luongo glove-side for his first of the playoffs. Hossa picked up his second goal of the night, in similar fashion, at 1:26 of the second period.

The glove-side arm is the one Luongo awkwardly fell on in Game 4 while making a save off of Bryan Bickell with just 25 seconds remaining in the first period. The Canucks maintained that Luongo was 100 percent healthy when he was given the day off from practice on Wednesday in Vancouver.

Additionally, once the Blackhawks have managed to build a lead, there's no looking back. Chicago outscored the Canucks 4-1 through 40 minutes at the United Center on Tuesday and subsequently outshot Vancouver 26-13.

In Game 5 Chicago outscored Vancouver 5-0 through the opening 40 minutes with no push back from Vancouver as rookie goaltender Corey Crawford picked up just his second playoff win and first career post-season shutout.

If the Canucks have any intention of winning this series, and avoiding becoming just the fourth team in playoff history to blow a 3-0 lead, they'll have to use their next two days wisely, make the necessary adjustments and be prepared for Game 6 at the Madhouse on Madison.

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Posted On Thursday, 04.21.2011 / 5:15 PM

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

Knuble skates, status for Game 5 in question

ARLINGTON, Va. -- Mike Knuble skated before Washington Capitals practice on Thursday, but when he might return for the team remains to be determined.

Knuble missed Game 4 of Washington's Eastern Conference quarterfinal series with an unspecified injury, but it is believed to be a problem with his right hand/wrist. He was hit by a Mike Green shot during Game 3 and after scoring a goal seconds later, immediately took off his glove to check on his hand/wrist before celebrating.

"I call myself day-to-day," Knuble told reporters who were asked by a team representative not to ask questions about the specifics of his injury. "You've got to do your best to stay in shape and keep your conditioning or whatever.

"[Game 5] is up in the air -- we won't know until tomorrow or maybe even Saturday morning, Saturday game time."

Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau also said Knuble is day-to-day. He was the team's third-leading goal scorer in the regular season with 24.

Knuble did not practice with the team for the two days leading up Game 4, and he confirmed that he didn't travel with the team to New York for the contest.

"I find myself watching the clock all day and trying to be home at the right time, trying to make sure I have my DVR set so I don't miss anything," Knuble said. "Just a weird feeling -- missing a playoff game, watching your team play is much different than missing games in the regular season. It's really hard to go through. Obviously, I was as low as they felt last night and as high as they were after, too."

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Posted On Thursday, 04.21.2011 / 4:45 PM

By Dhiren Mahiban -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2011 WCQF: Vancouver-Chicago Live Blog

Bounce back needed by Canucks

Bouncing back from losses is something the Canucks have managed to do quite well throughout the 2010-11 season, and they'll look to do the same tonight in Game 5 at Rogers Arena.

Canucks starter Roberto Luongo hasn't lost two starts in a row since February 22 and 26 when he did so against the Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins.

The 32-year-old was ventilated for six goals on 28 shots in Tuesday's 7-2 loss and his teammates expect Luongo to be in fine form tonight.

"He's like a warrior, he's a competitor, you know he's going to bounce back and play a solid game," said Alexander Burrows. "(Tuesday) night those were good shots, good clean looks that they had at him. We just have to make sure we play better in front of him and it's a team effort."

Luongo opened the series turning aside all 32 Blackhawks shots in Game 1 for his second career playoff shutout, and then turned aside 30 shots in an impressive 3-2 win Game 3.

Luongo along with Alexander Edler and Henrik Sedin, who all had the day-of on Tuesday, were present at the team's optional skate Thursday morning.

"There's no momentum carry over into the next game unless we allow it," said Kevin Bieksa. "We come out with a different mindset, we'll play like we did in the first three games and we should be fine."

The Canucks are 1-1 in Game 5 against the Blackhawks the previous two springs. Last season Vancouver picked up a 4-1 win at the United Center while Chicago had a 4-2 win in Game 5 of the 2009 Western Conference Semi-Finals at what was then known as GM Place.
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Posted On Thursday, 04.21.2011 / 4:30 PM

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

Cooking up the pressure on Canucks

VANCOUVER, B.C. -- The Blackhawks insist that nothing is different about their predicament save for the confidence they now have after putting up a seven-spot on Vancouver in Game 4.

Pressure?

Please, that's all on the Canucks right now.

"We're the ones that were down 3-0 and just kind of squeaked into the playoffs, so I don't think anybody has really put pressure on us to win a series let alone with the Stanley Cup," Patrick Kane said Thursday morning. "We'll see what happens, but whether it's the media, the fans in Vancouver or just the city in general, a lot of pressure is on the Canucks tonight, for them to close it out here at home in Game 5."

It's a believable argument, one the Blackhawks plan to use to their advantage.

They played a pressure-free game on Tuesday and it worked. Why not just do it again?

"We're just taking trying to stay alive obviously, but the way we played and being able to score the amount of goals we did in the last game gave us confidence that we can come in here and put some pressure on the Canucks and see what happens," Hawks captain Jonathan Toews said. "Obviously there is pressure on them. They want to win here at home and we'll give our best effort to stop that."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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Quote of the Day

I downplayed the first one because I thought it's just a hockey game. We just want to win the game; it's against our rival and we want the two points. I downplayed it, but now having gone through the first one I look back and say, 'Geez, that was really cool.' I think as I've grown a bit older I've got a lot more appreciation for what we're allowed to do every day.

— Capitals forward Brooks Laich on the 2015 NHL Bridgestone Winter Classic, the second one of his career after 2011 in Pittsburgh