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Posted On Thursday, 05.31.2012 / 4:15 PM

By Tal Pinchevsky -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Devils vs. Kings Stanley Cup Final blog

For young players in Final, getting back no certainty

Between Adam Henrique scoring two series-clinching goals and Dwight King notching several big goals in the Western Conference Finals, youth has served both Stanley Cup Final teams well. But for players who have made it to hockey's grandest stage early in their careers, getting back there is far from a guarantee.

"Things happened so quick. It felt like this is what we're supposed to do, be in the Final every year," said Rob Blake, who played in the 1993 Cup Final with the Kings in just his third NHL season. "Ten years later, I realized quickly that that doesn't happen. I can share with young players that you need to take advantage of the opportunity when you can."

Both the Kings and Devils have players on their roster who can speak to that experience. And for a rookie like Henrique, it can only help playing alongside veteran winger Dainius Zubrus. After reaching the 1997 Stanley Cup Final as a rookie with the Flyers, Zubrus has waited 15 years to get back.

"That moment didn't last as long as I wanted and didn't end the way I hoped," Zubrus said of his first Cup Final appearance, in which the Flyers were swept by Detroit. "Fifteen years later, here I am back in the Finals. Obviously, you're lucky to be on a team that gets to this point. You just don't know. You could be traded or going to an organization that might be in a so-called rebuilding process. You just don't know."

It may be easy to take that first Cup Final appearance for granted, but young players can learn from a veteran who has been there before and may not have been sure when they would be back.

"When you're young and naïve, you think, 'We'll get there next year.' It doesn't work that way," said Warren Rychel, a rookie on Blake's 1993 Kings team. "I said to myself, 'Don't worry, we'll get back next year.' It never happens [that easily]. We didn't make the playoffs the year after."
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Posted On Thursday, 05.31.2012 / 3:10 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Combing the 2012 NHL Combine

Kelowna's Sissons is ready for testing

Kelowna Rockets captain Colton Sissons appears fully recovered from a concussion he suffered in February and is looking forward to joining the initial group through the fitness tests at Toronto International Centre on Friday.

The 6-foot-1, 187-pound forward, who is NHL Central Scouting's No. 14-ranked skater in North America, finished second on the team with 26 goals, including a team-leading 13 power play markers, in 58 games as the Rockets finished in sixth place in the Western Conference of the Western Hockey League.

Sissons was injured in the team's 3-2 loss to the Kamloops Blazers on Feb. 11 at Prospera Place in Kelowna.


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Posted On Thursday, 05.31.2012 / 1:21 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Combing the 2012 NHL Combine

Top prospect Jacob Trouba admired Lidstrom

As a native of Michigan, draft-eligible defenseman and top prospect Jacob Trouba of the U.S. National Team Development Program rarely missed an opportunity to watch Detroit Red Wings defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom at work.

When Trouba got word that Lidstrom was calling it a career after 20 seasons in the League on Thursday, he expressed much respect and admiration for one of the greatest defensemen to ever lace on the skates.
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Posted On Thursday, 05.31.2012 / 12:58 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Combing the 2012 NHL Combine

Good view from the back

TORONTO -- Florida Panthers GM Dale Tallon said the best part of being at the draft is sitting in the back row on the draft floor.

With the 23rd pick in the first round of the 2012 NHL Draft, the Panthers will sit near the back of the room at Consol Energy Center for the first time in Tallon's tenure with the team -- Florida had the third pick of the draft the last two years.

However, he's quick to say getting to the back of the room is nice, but staying there is the key.

"It feels great," Tallon told NHL.com. "That's the goal, to stay back there. It's out of necessity you stay in the front row. To be good, you have to be bad. You've got to make the best of the opportunities when you're there. Hopefully the result is a back-row position for a long time."
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Posted On Thursday, 05.31.2012 / 12:40 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Devils vs. Kings Stanley Cup Final blog

Tallon happy for DeBoer's success

TORONTO -- Even though his team lost to the New Jersey Devils in the first round of the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Florida Panthers GM Dale Tallon said he's very happy to see Peter DeBoer experiencing the level of success he's having now.

"Pete's a really good coach and a good person," Tallon told NHL.com from the NHL Scouting Combine. "I'm real happy for his success."

About a year ago, Tallon fired DeBoer as coach of the Panthers after one season of working together. It had been three seasons for DeBoer in Florida, and Tallon thought a change was needed. However, Tallon was quick to point out to NHL.com that it had nothing to do with the job DeBoer did.

"It had nothing to do with his coaching abilities," Tallon said from the NHL Scouting Combine. "Just a matter of bringing in someone that was more my style. Just wanted to make a change."

It certainly worked for both parties -- DeBoer was hired a couple of months later by the Devils and has them in the Stanley Cup Final, while DeBoer's replacement, Kevin Dineen, led the Panthers to the Southeast Division title.

As happy as Tallon is for his former coach, he said he's only rooting for a good series.

"I just want to see good hockey," he said. "I want to see a good series. I got friends on both sides.

"Just wish it was us."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Thursday, 05.31.2012 / 8:15 AM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Combing the 2012 NHL Combine

Top Euro prospect popular with fans at NHL Combine

It's become apparent that even NHL Central Scouting's top European prospect, Filip Forsberg, isn't safe from those rabid hockey fans waiting outside the hotel during lunch break at the 2012 Scouting Combine.

The Swedish sensation, Central Scouting's No. 1-rated skater from Europe, was seen signing autographs on several occasions when he wondered outside during a break between interviews the past few days. For a 17-year-old kid playing in Sweden's second-highest division for Leksand, it's quite overwhelming to be bombarded by people with pens and pictures.
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Posted On Thursday, 05.31.2012 / 7:43 AM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Combing the 2012 NHL Combine

Koekkoek looks to re-establish confidence in scouts

Of all the players attending this year's NHL Scouting Combine coming off serious injury, perhaps no one will be more scrutinized than Peterborough Petes defenseman Slater Koekkoek.

Let's face it, Koekkoek possesses as much raw skill as any other draft-eligible defenseman in the 2012 Draft. But a torn labrum suffered in the third period of a 6-3 loss to the Windsor Spitfires on Nov. 27 limited him to just 26 games this season, forcing scouts to rely on year-old projections.

At the time of the injury, Peterborough coach Mike Pelino told reporters, "Slater may be the most impressive defenseman I've seen in the [Ontario Hockey League] this year. If he's out for one day, we'll miss him, let alone if he's out for an extended period."

Koekkoek logged a ton of minutes and has a knack for playing in any part of the ice, capable of transitioning with a quick pass.


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Posted On Thursday, 05.31.2012 / 1:26 AM

By Brian Hunter -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Devils vs. Kings Stanley Cup Final blog

Fayne: 'It's tough to deal with right now'

NEWARK, N.J. -- One point of emphasis for the New Jersey Devils heading into Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final will be generating more than the 18 shots they put on Los Angeles Kings goalie Jonathan Quick in Wednesday's opener.

Quick stopped 17 of them in the Kings' 2-1 overtime win, but Devils defenseman Mark Fayne was still shaking his head about the puck he couldn't put on net, the one that would have tilted the score in the home team's favor midway through the third period.

Fayne pinched in deep and was rewarded when the rebound of a Ryan Carter shot bounced right onto his stick with Quick out of position and the right side of the net completely open. But the puck was bouncing and Fayne fired it wide.
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Posted On Thursday, 05.31.2012 / 1:14 AM

By Corey Masisak -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Devils vs. Kings Stanley Cup Final blog

Kings get boost from fourth line

NEWARK, N.J. -- The fourth line of the New Jersey Devils earned plenty of plaudits for their work in the opening three rounds of the playoffs, particularly in the conference finals against the rival New York Rangers.

Los Angeles is also a team that uses all four lines regularly, but it has been the guys on their top three that have seen most of the spotlight in the Kings’ march through the Western Conference.

It was L.A.'s fourth line that had a big night in Game 1 of the 2012 Stanley Cup Final.

“You know, they probably had one of the best games in the playoffs so far,” Kings center Anze Kopitar said. “And they had some really good ones before. Tonight they capped it off with a nice goal. Definitely got us going in the first period.

“Seems like we came out a little slower than we wanted to. The way they came out and established the forecheck, had some cycles in their zone, gave us a huge boost.”

Colin Fraser scored the first postseason goal of his NHL career midway through the first period. It was a perfect, fourth-line kind of goal. Jordan Nolan chipped an outlet pass into the New Jersey zone and raced after it. Andy Greene beat him to it, but Nolan hit Greene twice to help dislodge the puck and then turned to find Fraser cutting toward the net.

“He forced the turnover. He was the guy who did all the work,” Fraser said. “He got in on the d-man and turned the puck over and he just found me in the slot. I just tried to get it off as quick as I could. I wasn’t really aiming.”

Added captain Dustin Brown: “Our first goal is a direct result of our forecheck. We had a lot of chances off the forecheck and there was a couple that skipped over our stick, the puck was bouncing. On the flip side of that I think it's harder for those defensemen to make plays with the ice and puck bouncing like that. Our forecheck was good, it needs to get better.”

Fraser missed a couple of games earlier in the postseason because of a personal issue, but he, Nolan and Brad Richardson have been together on the fourth line when they were available since Dustin Penner was moved to the second unit at the onset of the St. Louis series.

Nolan has spent some time on the second line this season, but those three guys have found some chemistry during this postseason. They all played more than 11 minutes, and Nolan was credited with four hits.

“He’s a big body and he’s got lots of speed,” Fraser said of Nolan. “He gets in on the forecheck well. Even [Richardson] on the other side, he’s not as big but he’s got lots of speed. It is kind of nice as the centerman there. We seem to get on pucks first every time and I just try to stay at F3. I take care of the defense and they do the hard work in the corners.”
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Posted On Thursday, 05.31.2012 / 1:05 AM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Devils vs. Kings Stanley Cup Final blog

Slick feed from Williams sparked Kopitar's breakaway

NEWARK, N.J. -- Justin Williams knew Anze Kopitar was heading to that particular area, but he didn't know if he was alone. Heck, Williams didn't even know if Kopitar would get to the blue line fast enough to even receive the pass he was about to send that way.

"It's just an area pass where you hope the guy skates into it," Williams said.

Kopitar did, just in time in fact, at New Jersey's blue line for a breakaway on Martin Brodeur that led to the overtime winner in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final. He deked to his forehand and beat Brodeur at the 8:13 mark of the extra session to give the Kings a 2-1 win and a 1-0 edge in the series.
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Quote of the Day

I feel that responsibility, I've felt it for the last two years. We core guys get a lot of minutes, we get a lot of opportunity out there. Our teammates, the organization and fans look to us to be the guys to put the puck in the net and to create momentum out there.

— Jordan Eberle on taking his game and the Edmonton Oilers to the next level