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Round 2
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Stanley Cup Final
POSTED ON Monday, 05.21.2012 / 12:54 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Rangers vs. Devils series blog

Henrique no longer a rookie in DeBoer's eyes

NEWARK, N.J. -- It's gotten to a point where New Jersey Devils coach Peter DeBoer won't think twice about giving rookie Adam Henrique a key role between two veteran players this postseason and for good reason.
Henrique, who is a finalist for the Calder Trophy as the NHL's top rookie, spent much of the regular season between captain Zach Parise and Ilya Kovalchuk.
In Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the New York Rangers on Monday at Prudential Center, he'll work with Patrik Elias and Kovalchuk.
"Nothing changes in my game or their game," a confident Henrique told NHL.com. "We're not drawing up a whole new system for this game because we didn't win [Game 3]. We're getting our chances and just have to execute … you have to score goals to win games, and hopefully we will. All the guys like the combinations, so hopefully it gives us a spark."
Henrique, 22, was centering the team's third line with Alexei Ponikarovsky and David Clarkson. The change comes at a time when DeBoer has decided to give Jacob Josefson an opportunity to make his playoff debut with Henrique's former linemates.
For DeBoer, moving Henrique around isn't much of a concern. He has two goals, eight points and a plus-7 rating in 15 playoff games for the Devils.
"I think you forget how young he is, at least I do," DeBoer said. "I think it comes down to hockey sense, and responsibility … he's a responsible player. He's won before, which I think has put him in situations where he's had to play on the right side of the puck and put the puck in the right place and do the right thing. I think that those experiences have really quickened the learning curve at this level for me to be able to put him out there. I don't even think about his age now; we're way beyond that. He just gets the job done."
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale

POSTED ON Monday, 05.21.2012 / 12:22 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Rangers vs. Devils series blog

Devils not worried about Rangers' lineup

NEWARK, N.J. -- Don't expect the New Jersey Devils to adjust their style of play for Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the New York Rangers on Monday (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS) just because hard-hitting Brandon Prust is out of the lineup.
"One guy out, one guy in," Devils coach Peter DeBoer told the media Monday morning. "For us, nothing changes. I'm sure they're going to dress a good lineup and be ready to go."
Prust was suspended one game by the NHL's Department of Player Safety on Sunday for elbowing Devils defenseman Anton Volchenkov in Game 3 at Prudential Center.

There was no word from the Rangers who they might insert into the lineup, but the Devils players said it wouldn't matter.
"At the end of the day, we're not worried about individual parts of their game," Devils forward David Clarkson said. "We've got to focus on ourselves and right now it's to keep getting the shots on net.
"We've got to stay out of the [penalty] box, because it's tough to put them in spots like that and when we do get power plays, we have to find a way to score and put those in."
The Devils haven't lost two straight games in the playoffs since back-to-back defeats against the Florida Panthers in Games 2 and 3 of the first round.
"We've got to come out with our best game and I'm confident we will," DeBoer said.
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale
POSTED ON Monday, 05.21.2012 / 12:14 PM

By Dave Lozo -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Rangers vs. Devils series blog

Game 4 lineup for Rangers likely to feature Bickel

NEW YORK -- With Brandon Prust out of Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals due to a one-game suspension, the Rangers will likely turn to a defenseman to fill the vacated spot at forward.

Stu Bickel, who played four games as a forward in February with the Rangers battling injuries, was dressed as a forward during the Rangers' morning skate at Madison Square Garden on Monday. Bickel was a healthy scratch for Game 3, but is ready to make the adjustment to forward to replace Prust.

Bickel wouldn't reveal for sure if he was in the lineup, but said there was a small adjustment to playing as a fourth-line forward.

"I don't know what's going on as far as tonight goes," Bickel said. "It's still the same game. We all know the systems and everything like that. I don't think it was too tough. It maybe took me a couple shifts. I don't remember that far back exactly how it went. I don't think it was too bad."

Forward Brandon Dubinsky practiced for the third time in four days (the Rangers did not have a practice or morning skate before Game 3) but stayed on the ice long after Bickel went to the locker room and will not play in Game 4. Dubinsky's presence would've given the Rangers more flexibility on the penalty kill, a role Prust has played all season but Bickel has not.

With Dubinsky out of the lineup since Game 7 of the conference quarterfinals, the Rangers have sprinkled the shorthanded ice time among forwards between five main guys -- Brian Boyle, Ryan Callahan, Derek Stepan, Prust and Ruslan Fedotenko. Dubinsky has played a major role on the PK all season, but his absence leaves the Rangers with just four steady penalty-killing forwards.

The next-busiest penalty-killing forwards after that group of six during the postseason are Brad Richards (20 seconds per game) and Artem Anisimov (19 seconds per game). Should the Rangers find themselves in a lot of shorthanded situations against the Devils, they will likely have to call on their depth to help kill the penalties.

The Rangers found a way to get by during the conference quarterfinals with Carl Hagelin lost for three games due to a suspension, as rookie Chris Kreider filled the opening and is now the Rangers' second-leading goal scorer in the playoffs with five.

With Prust out, someone else will need to step up for one game.

"He's a big guy for us. He plays in a lot of key situations," Callahan said of Prust. "He's a guy who brings energy to us. It's an opportunity for someone to step up and step in. You saw earlier in the playoffs when we lost a guy like Hags and Kreids steps in and he plays big. It's an opportunity for somebody and somebody has to grab a hold of it."

The Rangers did not hold a full practice and therefore did not reveal any potential line combinations. But if Bickel replaces Prust, here's what the lineup could potentially look like against the Devils as the Rangers look to extend their lead in the best-of-seven series to 3-1.

Carl Hagelin - Brad Richards - Marian Gaborik
Chris Kreider - Derek Stepan - Ryan Callahan
Artem Anisimov - Brian Boyle - Ruslan Fedotenko
Mike Rupp - John Mitchell - Stu Bickel

Ryan McDonagh - Dan Girardi
Marc Staal - Anton Stralman
Michael Del Zotto - Steve Eminger

Henrik Lundqvist
Martin Biron

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo
POSTED ON Monday, 05.21.2012 / 11:52 AM

By Dave Lozo -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Rangers vs. Devils series blog

Stralman shrugs off alleged illegal hit by Zubrus

NEW YORK -- Rangers coach John Tortorella made a point Sunday to say while Brandon Prust delivered a hit to the head of Anton Volchenkov during Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals, perhaps the NHL should look at a hit the Devils' Dainius Zubrus had on Rangers defenseman Anton Stralman in the same game.

Prust received a one-game ban for his hit and will be out of the lineup for Game 4 on Monday night, but Zubrus' alleged illegal hit went unpunished. At about the eight-minute mark of the second period of Game 3, Zubrus can be seen knocking Stralman to the ice, but Stralman said Monday morning that he had no recollection of that hit.

"I didn't feel anything," Stralman said. "I haven't seen it. I don't know what it looks like. I'm looking forward to the game tonight."

Stralman is sporting a black right eye, but that was from a hit he received earlier in the playoffs and not from Zubrus.

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo
POSTED ON Monday, 05.21.2012 / 11:42 AM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Rangers vs. Devils series blog

Game 4 lineup for Devils sees Josefson in, Sykora out

NEWARK, N.J. -- There were no new surprises with regard to lineup changes on the ice for the New Jersey Devils on Monday during the team's morning skate at Prudential Center.
Coach Pete DeBoer created a bit of stir with several new combinations at Sunday's practice, including the insertion of center Jacob Josefson on the team's third line. The coach confirmed on Monday that Josefson would replace Petr Sykora in the lineup.
What does he expect from Josefson?
"Basically just get in, bring us some energy, play like you did the last three, four weeks of the season," DeBoer said. "He's had a tough year between the injuries and the adversity, really over the last two years and I really felt the last two, three weeks of the season, he had re-found his game and his confidence.  If we can get a version of that player in the lineup [Monday], we'll be a better team."
The Devils have scored just three goals in three games against the New York Rangers and goalie Henrik Lundqvist in this best-of-seven Eastern Conference Finals series that resumes Monday at Prudential Center with Game 4. The Rangers will be looking to take a commanding 3-1 series lead back to Madison Square Garden on Wednesday.
Josefson, who hasn't played since fracturing his left wrist against the Islanders on April 3, will center the Devils' third line between Alexei Ponikarovsky and David Clarkson.
"I've been playing with those guys before and they're both really good at using their body and protecting the puck and creating chances," Josefson told NHL.com. "It's fun to play with them. There may be some nervousness, but that's normal, that's good. When you're a little nervous you know you're ready."
When Sykora finished his skate, a throng of media members surrounded his stall, prompting the veteran forward to smile and proclaim, "I don't get this much media attention when I play."
Josefson, who was limited to 41 games during the regular season because of injuries, had two goals and nine points.
Similar to Sunday, DeBoer had Travis Zajac between Zach Parise and Dainius Zubrus on the top line and rookie Adam Henrique centering the second line between Ilya Kovalchuk and Patrik Elias.
"When the team is struggling to score goals, we're trying to mix, and [line changes] always happens," Kovalchuk said. "So [me and Elias] played together before, during the season. He's a great playmaker, always in a great position. So I think we can help each other a lot and create a lot of chances and hang in there. He can skate, and he's great with the puck so I'm really excited to play with Elias [on Monday]."
The only players who will play in Monday's game, but did not skate at the optional practice were defensemen Bryce Salvador and Andy Greene.
Here are the probable line combinations for Monday:
Zach Parise - Travis Zajac - Dainius Zubrus
Patrik Elias - Adam Henrique - Ilya Kovalchuk
Alexei Ponikarovsky - Jacob Josefson - David Clarkson
Ryan Carter - Stephen Gionta - Steve Bernier
Andy Greene - Mark Fayne
Bryce Salvador - Marek Zidlicky
Anton Volchenkov - Peter Harrold
Martin Brodeur
Johan Hedberg

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale

POSTED ON Sunday, 05.20.2012 / 7:45 PM

By Brian Compton -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Bracket Challenge Blog

Coyotes finally break through on power play

The Phoenix Coyotes finally solved the Los Angeles Kings' phenomenal penalty kill on Sunday afternoon.

Shane Doan
Right Wing - PHX
GOALS: 5 | ASST: 4 | PTS: 9
SOG: 42 | +/-: 3
Coyotes captain Shane Doan ended the Kings' remarkable streak at 30 consecutive successful kills when he beat Jonathan Quick at 14:19 of the opening period. The goal proved to be the game-winner, as Phoenix staved off elimination with a 2-0 win in Game 4 of the Western Conference Final at the Staples Center.

It was the first goal for Doan in five games, and he added an insurance tally midway through the second period to help send the series back to Phoenix for Game 5 on Tuesday night. Doan's first goal was also his club's first on the power play in since Game 1 of the Coyotes' second-round series against the Nashville Predators -- a span of 22 opportunities.
POSTED ON Sunday, 05.20.2012 / 4:43 PM

NHL.com - 2011-2012 Situation Room blog

PHX @ LAK - 11:10 of the Second Period

At 11:10 of the second period in the Coyotes/Kings game, video review conclusively determined that Shane Doan's shot crossed the Kings' goal line, hit the back bar inside the net by the camera and bounced out. Good goal Phoenix.
POSTED ON Sunday, 05.20.2012 / 3:47 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Rangers vs. Devils series blog

Devils baffled by Tortorella's comments

NEWARK, N.J. -- Devils coach Peter DeBoer had one word to describe the gamesmanship comments made by Rangers coach John Tortorella on Sunday.

"Comical," DeBoer said, without elaborating any further.

In defense of DeBoer saying Brandon Prust was "headhunting, plain and simple" when he hit Devils defenseman Anton Volchenkov in the head with an elbow -- a play that earned Prust a disciplinary hearing Sunday morning with the NHL's Department of Player Safety -- Tortorella went off on a rant about how the Devils stay down on the ice to try to draw calls from the officials.

Tortorella specifically pointed out what he viewed as Dainius Zubrus elbowing Anton Stralman and Zach Parise "launching himself" at Michael Del Zotto. He also talked about the Devils using an illegal pick as a set play on the power play to stop the Rangers defensemen from blocking shots.

"There's some gamesmanship right there, huh?" Tortorella said.

The Devils don't know or understand what Tortorella is talking about, especially his remarks about staying down on the ice to draw penalties.

"I don't pay attention to that and I don't know of anyone in here that has done that, unless they're referring to Volchenkov, when he got elbowed in the head," Parise said. "I mean, I don't think anyone in here has done that. Maybe he saw something differently, but I don't think we've done that at all."

Zubrus couldn't even remember a hit on Stralman.

"I don't know what (Tortorella's) thought process is, what's he's thinking," Zubrus said. "The hit on Volchy got quite a bit of attention. Maybe they want to turn the attention away from that."

Asked if he heard from the League about an elbow on Stralman, Zubrus said no.

"I didn't know about any of this until you guys (the media) told me," he added.

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter: @drosennhl
POSTED ON Sunday, 05.20.2012 / 3:30 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Rangers vs. Devils series blog

Brodeur credits Lundqvist, says Devils 'will find a way'

NEWARK, N.J. -- The Devils don't want to heap too much praise on Henrik Lundqvist, but as a four-time Vezina Trophy winner and a fan of the position, Martin Brodeur certainly admires what the Rangers goalie is doing.

"Oh yeah, he's impressive," Brodeur said after practice Sunday. "I think it's a combination of the way that the players are playing in front of him, him making the big saves, controlling his game. What can you say? He's been good. We expected that. He's not surprising anybody. I know he's not surprising me. I know he's that good. We just have to find a way.

"We found a way against (Jean-Sebastien) Giguere in '03. We'll find a way against him."

Brodeur is, of course, referring to the Devils finding a way to get the best of Giguere in the 2003 Stanley Cup Final. Giguere won the Conn Smythe Trophy, but the Devils won the Stanley Cup with a 3-0 win in Game 7 at the Meadowlands.

Lundqvist would be considered a Conn Smythe Trophy favorite if he gets past the Devils. He made 36 saves for the 3-0 win in Game 3 and afterward Devils coach Peter DeBoer gave him credit for being the difference.

"Let's face it, he's playing really well. He's played well all season, all playoffs," Devils captain Zach Parise said. "I think it's important for us to not overanalyze and keep shooting, not pass up opportunities. Just keep shooting. We're getting the chances and they will go in; we just can't allow ourselves to pass up opportunities. Again, it just comes down to us taking advantage of our plays."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
POSTED ON Sunday, 05.20.2012 / 2:34 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Rangers vs. Devils series blog

Sykora likely to be a healthy scratch for Game 4

NEWARK, N.J. -- Petr Sykora has played in every game this season for the Devils after not playing in the NHL at all last season. It's a run of 97 straight games played that Sykora says he's quite proud of.

It's also a streak that will likely come to an end Monday.

Sykora is expected to be a healthy scratch in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Rangers. Jacob Josefson is healthy again after fracturing his wrist on April 3 and in all likelihood will take Sykora's place in the lineup as the Devils try to even the series at Prudential Center.

"It's kind of fresh to me right now," Sykora said after staying on the ice for an extra-long workout after practice Sunday. "I haven't really had time to think about it. Just come in (Monday), stay in shape and just wait until I get a chance again."

Sykora has no points in the last four games and just two goals and two assists in 15 playoff games. He had a goal and an assist to help the Devils win Game 4 against Philadelphia, but has been silent since with only six shots on goal.

"Those are some of the tough decisions you have to make in the playoffs," said Devils coach Peter DeBoer, who also noted the lineup is not finalized yet.

That said, it certainly seems likely that Sykora will not play in Game 4. He was asked how he thinks he has played in the first three games against the Rangers, but Sykora said it's not a fair question for him to answer.

"It's hard to judge yourself the way you play, because you always think you're playing good," Sykora said. "Other people should judge how you play because they see you from the top and they see how you play."

DeBoer and his coaching staff must not have liked what they've seen from Sykora of late.

"I didn't miss a game, but that doesn't mean anything right now," Sykora said.

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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It's hard to walk into that locker room and look those guys in the eye when they've played -- clearly, that was our best game we've played in the series -- and I thought we deserved a better fate tonight.

— Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper on his team's 3-2 loss to the Canadiens in Game 3 on Sunday