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Posted On Friday, 05.25.2012 / 7:51 PM

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

Eminger in, Bickel sits for Rangers

NEWARK, N.J. -- The only change from Game 5 to Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals is a swap of defensemen among the New York Rangers, with Steve Eminger replacing Stu Bickel as the team's sixth blueliner.

Steve Eminger
Defense - NYR
GOALS: 0 | ASST: 0 | PTS: 0
SOG: 2 | +/-: 0
The lines the New Jersey Devils showed at practice Friday morning remained intact during pregame warmups at Prudential Center, while the Rangers showed the same combinations they had at the start of Game 5.

Eminger is making his fourth appearance of the postseason and third of this series. He played in place of forward Brandon Prust on the Rangers' fourth line in Game 3 and saw time on defense with Michael Del Zotto struggling during the second and third periods. He stayed in the lineup as a defenseman for Game 4, but sat out Game 5.

Here are the combinations the Rangers and Devils displayed during warmups. The Devils lead the best-of-seven series 3-2.
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Posted On Friday, 05.25.2012 / 4:42 PM

By Curtis Zupke -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Devils vs. Kings Stanley Cup Final blog

Gagne still hoping to return during Final

It’s easy to forget that Simon Gagne was one of the key acquisitions for the Los Angeles Kings in the summer. He was supposed to be reunited with former Philadelphia Flyers teammate Mike Richards, but his season effectively ended when he was concussed Dec.26.

Or has it ended?

Gagne got medical clearance earlier this month and is now available to play. It’s a long shot integrating Gagne back into the team, although coach Darryl Sutter sort of backed off his earlier stance that Gagne had no chance at playing in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
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Posted On Friday, 05.25.2012 / 4:39 PM

By Curtis Zupke -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Devils vs. Kings Stanley Cup Final blog

Brown moving past Doan incident

The handshake line episode after Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals seems to be taking on a life of its own.

Phoenix Coyotes captain Shane Doan and teammate Martin Hanzal had words with Los Angeles Kings captain Dustin Brown after Brown’s hit on Michal Rozsival just before the winning goal. Roszival was injured on the play and never returned.

Doan on Friday apologized for his actions, saying he was wrong to dismiss Brown when Brown tried to explain the play during the handshake.

Brown told NHL.com on Friday that “it’s one of those things that’s done and happened and I’m not really thinking about it Phoenix. I’m more focused on moving forward.”

Brown did say the apology was not surprising considering Doan is known as a class guy off the ice.

“I’ve known him a little bit,” Brown said. “I was taken aback a little bit but, hey, it’s an emotional game.”

Brown found himself talking about the hit on Rozsival again and said it was an unfortunate turn of events from the Coyotes’ perspective.

“I play the game hard, and I thought it was a clean hit, and that’s it,” Brown said. “We’re moving on. Again, it happened so quick for them, that I’d like to give them the benefit of the doubt on the emotional level. It’s an emotional game out there.”
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Posted On Friday, 05.25.2012 / 3:12 PM

NHL.com - Devils vs. Kings Stanley Cup Final blog

Kings are heavy on Cup Final experience

The Kings boast eight players who have been the Stanley Cup Final before with other teams and four have won the Cup.

Complete list:

Justin Williams (Hurricanes), Rob Scuderi (Penguins), Dustin Penner (Ducks), Colin Fraser (Blackhawks), Mike Richards (Flyers), Jeff Carter (Flyers), Jarret Stoll (Oilers) and Matt Greene (Oilers).

Stanley Cup winners:

Justin Williams (Hurricanes), Rob Scuderi (Penguins), Dustin Penner (Ducks), Colin Fraser (Blackhawks)
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Posted On Friday, 05.25.2012 / 1:00 PM

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

Devils' fourth line isn't your typical fourth line

NEWARK, N.J. -- The New Jersey Devils' fourth line has become a story in the Eastern Conference Finals for how well it has played and how much it has produced. Ryan Carter, Stephen Gionta and Steve Bernier have combined for six points, including two goals in Game 5.

The notoriety is well deserved, but it's not something the so-called fourth-liners are all that caught up in.

"Hopefully what people are noticing is we're winning games and we're helping the team because that's really what it's about," Carter told NHL.com. "It's good. It's notoriety and it's positive for us as a group and us as a team. We're enjoying that."

Carter, though, said he's not so sure his group should be referred to as a fourth line. Sure, they are coach Peter DeBoer's fourth option and they get the least amount of ice time, but they don't play like your typical fourth line.

Instead of just going on the ice for an odd shift here and there to maybe make a few big hits and eat up some minutes to keep the top nine forwards rested, DeBoer has been using his fourth line to generate offense through the forecheck. Save for the skill and the ice time, the Devils' fourth line plays no different than the other three lines.

"I don't really know that we really reflect on how we look at ourselves, if it's a first line, fourth line, how we do it," Carter said. "We look at it as a shift-by-shift basis and how we play our game."

Carter, though, said the mindset of the fourth-liners has changed as the confidence DeBoer has shown in them has grown.

"We're not worried about who we are out there playing against or who we're not out there playing against," Carter said. "We just go out there and do our thing and that's probably why we're having success. Right now it's on us to go out there and just play our game."

A big key to how they play is Gionta, the 5-foot-7, 185-pound center who did not play in the regular season until the regular-season finale April 7, when he scored the game-winning goal. Gionta has three goals and three assists in 17 playoff games.

"He really opens the ice up for all of us," Carter said. "He's fast at both ends of the ice, so he creates pressure up the ice and if we turn it over in the offensive zone somehow, even if we're ahead of him, he seems to be the first one back and forcing them to make a dump or a play. It all sets up for Marty (Brodeur) to get it, and we're going back in the other direction. His speed is huge for us both ways."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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Posted On Friday, 05.25.2012 / 12:34 PM

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

Eminger could replace Bickel for Rangers in Game 6

NEW YORK -- Rangers coach John Tortorella was a little more forthcoming about his lineup before Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals, admitting changes were coming without being specific about players.

Tortorella was far less revealing Friday morning with the Rangers trailing Devils 3-2 in the best-of-seven series, with Game 6 set for Friday night at Prudential Center (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS).

"I don't know what my lineup's going to be," Tortorella said.

The only likely change is Steve Eminger replacing Stu Bickel as the team's sixth defenseman. Eminger left the ice at practice Friday morning before Bickel, an indication a change is coming.

Tortorella put his lines in a blender at times during Game 5, but this was how they started and they could look the same way Friday night.

Carl Hagelin - Brad Richards - Chris Kreider
Brandon Dubinsky - Artem Anisimov - Ryan Callahan
Ruslan Fedotenko - Derek Stepan - Marian Gaborik
Mike Rupp - Brian Boyle - Brandon Prust

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

Henrik Lundqvist
Martin Biron

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo
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Posted On Friday, 05.25.2012 / 10:34 AM

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

Devils sticking with same lineup

NEWARK, N.J. -- The New Jersey Devils will go for their third straight win and a berth in the Stanley Cup Final on Friday with the same lineup that was good enough to win Games 4 and 5. The lines will not change, either, as the Devils look to close out the New York Rangers in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals at Prudential Center (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS).

The Devils are 2-0 in the playoffs when they have an opportunity to close out a team, having beaten the Panthers in Game 7 of the first round and the Flyers in Game 5 of the conference semifinals.

Devils coach Peter DeBoer changed his lines after the team failed to score a goal in Game 3, and his re-shuffling worked as they won 4-1 in Game 4. He stuck with it in Game 5 and it was good enough for a 5-3 win, even though the Devils felt they were outplayed for large portions of the game and were lucky to get out of Madison Square Garden with a win.

The Devils' fourth line contributed two goals, one each from Stephen Gionta and Ryan Carter. Travis Zajac, Patrik Elias and Zach Parise also scored. The only line that did not contribute a goal or a point was the third line of Jacob Josefson, Alexei Ponikarovsky and David Clarkson. However, Ponikarovsky and Josefson each had an assist in Game 4.

Here is the Devils expected lineup for Game 6:

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

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

Martin Brodeur
Johan Hedberg

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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Posted On Thursday, 05.24.2012 / 5:33 PM

By Curtis Zupke -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Coyotes vs. Kings series blog

Handshake line still in Kings' players thoughts

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- The Los Angeles Kings and Phoenix Coyotes weren't considered to be fierce rivals before this season, but it probably won't be the same from here on out.

The teams staged an entertaining Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals that turned scary with Dustin Brown's hit on Michal Rozsival. Phoenix seemed still to be in shock at the play when Dustin Penner scored the series-clinching overtime goal.

Penner called it a "recipe" for what happened next, as the Coyotes' Martin Hanzal and Shane Doan gave Brown a piece of their mind in the post-series handshake line. It still was a topic two days later.

"Yeah, I've never seen that before," Penner said. "I got chirped in line, too, for my headlock I put on [Antoine] Vermette in Game 2. He wanted to rehash that. I was a little surprised."

Did Penner say anything back?

“I was really surprised," Penner said. "[I said] 'I don’t have time to talk, right now, about this. I've got a flight to catch.'"

Did Penner send a BlackBerry message to Vermette?

"We didn't exchange PIN numbers," he said.

Willie Mitchell was too caught up in emotion to notice the handshake incidents, but he was diplomatic about it.

"It's different, but hey, I know their side of it," Mitchell said. "We put so much into it and they're the same way. They put so much into the preparation, the work, to get to that point. There's a lot of emotion involved and I'm sure they were more emotional at the time because their season ended and sometimes stuff gets a little bit heated and that's why hockey's so heated. The intensity level is high. I was surprised by that, but I also understand it."

Kings coach Darryl Sutter had the same feeling about it when he was asked Wednesday.

"It's an emotional time for everybody," he said. "A lot of times there's handshakes done behind closed doors. You leave it at that. The traditional handshake is wonderful. But lots of things happen behind closed doors ... Shane Doan's an awesome player and an awesome captain and I wish he were playing -- just not at our expense."
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Posted On Thursday, 05.24.2012 / 5:30 PM

By Jeremy Roenick -  NHL Network Contributor /NHL.com - World According to JR

JR: Kings played great, but give Coyotes their due

NHL analyst and former All-Star Jeremy Roenick pens a weekly blog for NHL.com. "World According to JR" touches on all things related to the NHL. This week, Roenick put a wrap on the Western Conference Finals and dove into some of the details that have the Devils within one win of meeting the Los Angeles Kings in the Stanley Cup Final.

Congrats to the Kings, praise for the Coyotes

I don't think any team has been as impressive this spring as the Los Angeles Kings, especially being perfect on the road. They symbolize what we talk about in playoff teams -- how they are supposed to play, rising to occasions, normal people doing abnormal things, getting contributions from everybody. That is them. That is the Kings.

But we have to give the Phoenix Coyotes a standing ovation for their season, the way that they battled and the way that they came together as a team, especially after the All-Star break.

It's as if they came together and decided as a team that they were going to do it, do it hard and do it together. I feel Dave Tippett is one of the best coaches in the NHL, and general manager Don Maloney did a great job of piecing together parts that were really important for this playoff run -- for instance, getting Antoine Vermette was a great addition and he played very well with them.

Maloney did it all while staying within a cap for a team that doesn't have an owner -- and Tippett had this team just going along as business as usual every single day.

It was impressive to watch this team play together. They played the system together. They won by committee, and when you win by committee the way they did you have a lot to be proud of.

Unfortunately the series ended in a heated controversy, with what Phoenix thought was an illegal hit by Dustin Brown. Look, there is really no need to prolong the discussion of whether Brown's hit was illegal or legal, because the Coyotes need to hold their heads high and go to the offseason proud of what happened, not thinking about a controversial call.

The Kings played great. The Kings deserved to win. Their goaltender was fantastic, but Mike Smith also deserves a lot of attention right now because he has put himself into the upper echelon of goalies in the NHL. All of the Phoenix players feel he is the key of their team, the focal point of their team, and it's nice to see them support him for an absolutely fantastic season.

The controversy they should be talking about is the fact Smith isn't up for any year-end awards for how well he played.

Moving forward into the Cup Final, I think if the Kings had a choice, just looking at matchups and matchups only, they would pick the New York Rangers as their opponent because the Rangers struggle to score goals. When you're a team that struggles to score goals playing against a goalie like Jonathan Quick and a team that is playing as well defensively, especially on the PK, as the Kings, it's just a recipe for disaster.

The Devils are pretty close to playing at the level that the Kings are playing with their hard forechecking, in-your-face, physical brand of hockey. I don't think the Kings want to see a team that emulates their success and style of play.

Plus, the Rangers have played a lot of hockey, and they would need to win a third straight Game 7 to make the Final. New York would have to be blowing some serious gas, and that would benefit the rested Kings.

DeBoer and his Devils, but look out for Lundqvist

Peter DeBoer has created a mindset in that Devils locker room that has gotten this team back to respectability, back to being the powerful Devils.

Last year they had one of the worst starts in franchise history and they had to make a valiant comeback just to try to get into the playoff race after being one of the worst teams in the League. You look at them one year later and DeBoer has come in and changed the philosophy and mentality. He's gotten guys like Ilya Kovalchuk to buy into a team system.

Kovalchuk is now doing all the little intangible things that team players do.

DeBoer has matched up lines really well. He's been a great bench coach. He's had a calmness that has filtered through this team. They want to play for this guy and play hard.

I've said it before, Zach Parise could be the hardest-working guy in the National Hockey League. He epitomizes everything you want in a captain. He has had big games in big situations. He just has come up big.

You can't say enough about Stephen Gionta, the little guy, plus Ryan Carter and Steve Bernier. That fourth line has been chipping in. When this team needs someone to chip in, someone usually does, and it usually comes from players on their second, third and fourth lines.

There is not one line that is carrying this team. This team is being carried by four lines.

The Devils have players on their defense corps who are sacrificing the body and staying within themselves. There are no superstars on this defense. You look at this defense and you would think your eyes would light up and your mouth would foam, but they finish hits, block shots, do what they have to do as units of two. They are playing very well.

How about Bryce Salvador? He's become an offensive dynamo in a contract year. He's proving he's worth another good contract.

The Devils' forecheck is as intimidating and frustrating as we've seen in a long time, and it's so much better than that old awful trap system they played in the '90s -- so much better.

So my hat is off to DeBoer for what he has instilled in the dressing room and on the ice.

That said, I think Henrik Lundqvist is going to have himself a great night Friday night and let's just say I hope it goes to Game 7, because between Jersey and the Rangers, that will be epic.
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Posted On Thursday, 05.24.2012 / 4:20 PM

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

Zuccarello healthy, still hoping for a chance

NEW YORK -- Mats Zuccarello is healthy and ready to go. The only problem for the diminutive forward is finding a opening in the lineup.

"If they need me, I'll be ready," Zuccarello said following Rangers practice Thursday afternoon at Madison Square Garden.

Zuccarello has not played since breaking his wrist March 23. He had surgery that cost him the rest of the regular season, but he has recovered to the point where he believes he can play. He has been skating with the Rangers' black aces of late, but his wrist is back at full strength.

Rangers coach John Tortorella made a lineup tweak before Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals, inserting Brandon Dubinsky in place of John Mitchell. Dubinsky missed 11 games with a lower-body injury suffered during Game 7 of the conference quarterfinals, but was playing regularly before the injury. Zuccarello had 2 goals in 10 regular-season games and spent most of the season playing for the Connecticut Whale of the AHL.

Barring injuries or suspensions, Zuccarello will likely be watching from the press box for Game 6 and beyond during the playoffs.

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo
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