Posted On Wednesday, 05.15.2013 / 1:48 PM

By Matt Kalman - Correspondent / - Bruins-Rangers series blog

Three Bruins blueliners missing from practice

BOSTON -- With a little more than 24 hours before the start of the Eastern Conference Semifinal series with the New York Rangers on Thursday (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN, RDS), the Boston Bruins practiced without three of their regular defensemen Wednesday at TD Garden.

Andrew Ference and Wade Redden, who were scratched prior to Game 7 against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday, and Dennis Seidenberg, who played two shifts of the Bruins' dramatic win, all missed the session.

Coach Claude Julien said there was no update on any of the three veterans and said he might not know his lineup until pretty close to the start of Game 1 Thursday.

Even without three key members of their blue line, the Bruins had seven defensemen on the ice, including rookie Torey Krug, who was recalled from Providence of the American Hockey League on Tuesday.

All of Boston's forwards were healthy and on the ice. Here's a look at the Bruins' forward lines and defense pairings from practice:

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Posted On Wednesday, 05.15.2013 / 1:33 PM

By Dan Rosen - Senior Writer / - Bruins-Rangers series blog

Staal, Clowe, Powe sit out Rangers practice

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- If practice Wednesday is any indication, the New York Rangers will start the Eastern Conference Semifinals on Thursday (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN, RDS) without Marc Staal, Ryane Clowe and Darroll Powe.

None of the three injured Rangers participated in practice Wednesday.

Powe was hurt early in Game 3 against the Washington Capitals after a collision with Joel Ward along the boards. Powe didn't return to the series.

Clowe left in the first period of Game 5 after he was boarded by Jason Chimera and his head slammed off the glass. Clowe also did not return to the series.

Staal has been dealing with issues related to his right eye injury sustained March 5. He played 17:17 in Game 3 against Washington but sat out the rest of the series. He had been practicing with the team.

The Rangers' forward lines and defense pairs from Game 7 against Washington stayed intact for practice Wednesday:

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Posted On Tuesday, 05.14.2013 / 4:54 PM

By Brian Hedger - Correspondent / - Blackhawks-Red Wings series blog

Teams to take advantage of extra days off

Neither team plans to stick around long after the first and third games of a Western Conference Semifinal series between the Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks.

The series starts Wednesday at United Center (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC) and the Red Wings plan to fly back to Detroit prior to Game 2 on Saturday (1 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC) in the same arena.

Two days off between games combined with a short flight was too good for the Red Wings to pass up -- regardless how much coach Mike Babcock talked up the great places to eat in Chicago following Detroit's upset of the Anaheim Ducks in Game 7 of their Western Conference Quarterfinal series Sunday night.

"It's a little different," Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard told reporters following a Tuesday practice in Detroit. "I wasn't expecting all of this time off, but we'll definitely use it to our advantage of not really hanging out in Chicago and coming back here. The comfortability is a lot more."

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Posted On Tuesday, 05.14.2013 / 4:27 PM

By Brian Hedger - Correspondent / - Blackhawks-Red Wings series blog

Stalberg could find himself watching start of series

CHICAGO -- Viktor Stalberg has practiced outside of the top four lines, in a white jersey, for each of the three practices the Chicago Blackhawks have held since winning their Western Conference Quarterfinal series last week.

That's usually a designation for a player who is injured -- meaning it's a non-contact jersey -- or for those who aren't being considered for the active lineup. The Blackhawks open their Western Conference Semifinal series against the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday at United Center (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC) and Stalberg isn’t injured.

So that can mean only one thing: He’s in coach Joel Quenneville's doghouse for some reason, likely based on his play in the first round against the Minnesota Wild. The only way to get out is to wait for another chance to impress, after finishing the first series with one assist.

"Stay ready," Quenneville said Tuesday when asked what Stalberg can do to get himself back on his usual spot at right wing of the third line. "Nobody said he's out of the lineup (for Game 1), but … make decisions tough on us."

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Posted On Tuesday, 05.14.2013 / 3:07 PM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst / - Melrose Minute

Melrose: What went wrong with the Leafs

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Posted On Tuesday, 05.14.2013 / 2:48 PM

By Chris Adamski - Correspondent / - Penguins-Senators series blog

Senators to focus on their strengths

PITTSBURGH -- The raw numbers are striking -- and strikingly simple.

The Pittsburgh Penguins led the NHL in goals during the regular season; the Ottawa Senators were the Eastern Conference's best team at preventing them.

So the seventh-seeded Senators know what style of play they will turn to in hopes of succeeding in their Eastern Conference Semifinal series against the top-seeded Pittsburgh Penguins. Game 1 is Tuesday ((7:30 p.m. ET, CBC, RDS, NBCSN) here at Consol Energy Center.

"Giving them odd-man rushes, with their skill, is not going to work to our favor," Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson said. "So we want to play a disciplined game -- but also not just play a passive game. We want to get engaged and get the forecheck going. That's how we're going to generate our chances."

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Posted On Tuesday, 05.14.2013 / 2:08 PM

By Chris Adamski - Correspondent / - Penguins-Senators series blog

Kennedy, Vitale staying in Penguins' lineup

PITTSBURGH -- Tyler Kennedy will be keeping his spot in the Pittsburgh Penguins' lineup when the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Ottawa Senators opens Tuesday (7:30 p.m. ET, CBC, RDS, NBCSN).

Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said it's not just because of Kennedy's inspired play late in the previous round, either.

During the morning skate in advance of Game 1 Tuesday, Pittsburgh showed the same line combinations and defense pairings it did during practice Monday. That means the only apparent change from the lineup Bylsma employed for victories in Games 5 and 6 of the first-round win against the New York Islanders is Deryk Engelland in for Simon Despres on defense.

"It's not just what happened in the first round for our team and the players who played in the first round when it comes to our lineup and the decisions we make," Bylsma said.

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Posted On Tuesday, 05.14.2013 / 1:49 PM

By Chris Adamski - Correspondent / - Penguins-Senators series blog

Vokoun starting in goal for Penguins

PITTSBURGH -- The man at the forefront might have been the only person explicitly and formally informed of a decision from Pittsburgh Penguins coach Dan Bylsma that everyone awaited.

Tomas Vokoun informed reporters Tuesday morning that he would be the team's starting goaltender against the Ottawa Senators in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals on Tuesday (7:30 p.m. ET, CBC, RDS, NBCSN).

"I'm not surprised," defenseman Matt Niskanen said. "He played really well in what was a tough situation to come into like he did last series. He came in after having not played in a while and shut the door."

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Posted On Tuesday, 05.14.2013 / 12:56 PM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - 2013 NHL Draft blog

Nurse, Barkov to sit out fitness portion of Combine


Injuries late in the season and subsequent surgery for prospects Aleksander Barkov of Tappara in Finland and Darnell Nurse of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds of the Ontario Hockey League will keep both players from participating in the fitness portion of the 2013 NHL Scouting Combine, scheduled May 31 and June 1 at Toronto International Centre.

Both players currently are rehabilitating from postseason surgeries and will attend the Combine to interview with NHL scouts and general managers during the six-day event that begins May 27. While both players will undergo medical examinations, they will forego any physical fitness testing.

Barkov, a center, sustained an upper-body injury on the first shift of his team's playoff game against IFK Helsinki on March 27 and was sidelined the remainder of the postseason. He had 21 goals, 48 points and a plus-18 rating in 53 regular-season games for Tappara. NHL Central Scouting's No. 1-ranked European skater had four assists and a plus-3 rating in five playoff games.

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Posted On Tuesday, 05.14.2013 / 10:43 AM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - 2013 NHL Draft blog

Elite 2013 draft prospects highlight Memorial Cup

Portland Winterhawks defenseman Seth Jones is anticipating one heck of a tournament this weekend when he heads an impressive group of top 2013 NHL Draft-eligible prospects at the 2013 MasterCard Memorial Cup.

Seth Jones, Jonathan Drouin, Nathan MacKinnon, NHL Draft (Getty Images / Halifax Mooseheads)

The event, hosted by the Saskatoon Blades of the Western Hockey League, will have the WHL champion Winterhawks, the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League champion Halifax Mooseheads and Ontario Hockey League titlist London Knights joining the Blades for a chance at winning the Canadian Hockey League's ultimate crown. The quartet of teams will play May 17-26 at Credit Union Centre in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

The tournament opens Friday when the Knights face the host Blades. Last year, the Knights lost the Memorial Cup final in overtime 2-1 to Shawinigan.

The Knights completed the four-team field Monday in dramatic fashion when center Bo Horvat, No. 15 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of the top draft-eligible North American skaters, scored with 0.1 seconds left in the third period to give his team a 3-2 victory against the Barrie Colts in Game 7 of the OHL championship series.

"You dream as a kid about scoring a goal like that in a Game 7," Horvat told Canadian Press. "I knew I had to get to the net and look for a rebound."

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Quote of the Day

You've got to focus on playing good hockey. When we do that we give ourselves a chance to win games. Win games and then maybe we''ll have a chance at the end. You can't worry about something like (the division title) when we're not playing our best hockey down the stretch. We'll figure things out together the way we always do and get back on the right page.

— Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews after loss to Flyers on Wednesday left them five points out of first place in Central Division
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