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Stanley Cup Final
Posted On Friday, 05.17.2013 / 6:23 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Blackhawks-Red Wings series blog

Red Wings need more kick from Mule

CHICAGO -- If the Detroit Red Wings are going to make their Western Conference Semifinals series close, they know they need an ornery "Mule" on the ice against the favored Chicago Blackhawks.

The hard part for Detroit coach Mike Babcock is pushing the right buttons on Johan Franzen, a Swedish power forward nicknamed "Mule" who can score goals by the bunches in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Red Wings need captain Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk to shine, but Franzen has a knack for scoring in the postseason that many players don't possess.

Tapping into that knack consistently, however, can be an issue at times.

Franzen didn't record a point, finished minus-2 and got one shot on goal in the series opener Wednesday at United Center, a 4-1 Chicago victory.

The second game is Saturday (1 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC) in the same building, and the Red Wings hope to see a snorting, sneering Mule on the ice.

"He [can] be pretty mean, but I think he's playing the best hockey when he's a little grumpy," Zetterberg said. "I think maybe it's up to us to get him a little bit grumpy before the games."

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Posted On Friday, 05.17.2013 / 6:12 PM

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

Kings looking to improve on road

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- It was easy for the Los Angeles Kings to joke and shrug off a dangerous-looking facial injury to Anze Kopitar a day later.

Kopitar said he needed about 20 stitches to close a cut near his mouth after he was hit by the puck on a shot by teammate Dustin Brown in the third period of Game 2 of the Western Conference Semifinal series Thursday night.

"There goes the modeling career," coach Darryl Sutter joked. "Best looking Slovenian athlete."

Informed of Sutter's comment, Kopitar said, "I think that ship has sailed long time ago."

Kopitar returned to the "Rocky" theme song at Staples Center, and the Kings delivered one of the franchise's greatest comeback wins in the Stanley Cup Playoffs when they erased a 3-2 deficit in the final two minutes for a 4-3 win against the San Jose Sharks.

Modeling jokes aside, the Kings must put on a serious face as the best-of-7 series moves to HP Pavilion for Games 3 and 4. L.A. leads, 2-0, but it is somewhat misleading given it was largely outplayed in both games.

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Posted On Friday, 05.17.2013 / 3:56 PM

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

Rangers say they won't let OT woes affect confidence

BOSTON -- If Game 2 at TD Garden also goes to overtime, the New York Rangers insist they will be mentally strong enough to handle it.

"We've got a good, confident group here," Rangers forward Mats Zuccarello said. "What we have to do is just be ready for next game and win."

The problem is the Rangers have rarely shown the physical capacity to win an overtime game in the Stanley Cup Playoffs dating to before John Tortorella arrived as coach in 2009.

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Posted On Friday, 05.17.2013 / 3:46 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Blackhawks-Red Wings series blog

Stalberg taking demotion in stride

CHICAGO – Friday, the Chicago Blackhawks hit the ice for a practice during their Western Conference Semifinals series against the Detroit Red Wings. And forward Viktor Stalberg again worked outside the top four forward lines.

After playing 47 games in the regular season and all five games of Chicago’s Western Conference Quarterfinal series at right wing on the third line, Stalberg was bumped from the regular playing group prior to the start of the semifinals.

Stalberg was scratched for Game 1 against the Red Wings in what Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville termed a coach’s decision, and his playing status for Game 2 on Saturday (1 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, RDS) remains up in the air.

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Posted On Friday, 05.17.2013 / 3:02 PM

By Corey Masisak -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Blackhawks-Red Wings series blog

Keith, Handzus said to be 'fine' after missing practice

CHICAGO -- Defenseman Duncan Keith and center Michal Handzus did not participate in practice Friday for the Chicago Blackhawks at United Center, but coach Joel Quenneville said both are fine.

Handzus has now skipped the past three on-ice workouts for the Blackhawks. Quenneville was asked if he is nursing a minor injury he can play through.

"I think he's fine," Quenneville said.

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Posted On Friday, 05.17.2013 / 2:39 PM

By Matt Kalman -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Bruins-Rangers series blog

Bruins hope extra day off benefits banged-up defense

BOSTON -- With two days off between the Game 1 win against the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference Semifinals and Game 2 on Sunday, the Boston Bruins are hopeful at least one of their injured veteran defensemen will be able to heal up in time to get back in the lineup.

"A little early to say," Bruins coach Claude Julien said Friday. "Again, it is two days, and two days in the playoffs makes a big difference as far as getting guys back. There's a possibility, that much I can say. Whether they will or not is too early to say right now."

Dennis Seidenberg, Andrew Ference and Wade Redden missed Game 1 with undisclosed injuries. The Bruins did not practice Friday. They're scheduled for an on-ice session Saturday morning to prep for Game 2.

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Posted On Friday, 05.17.2013 / 2:15 PM

By Matt Kalman -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Bruins-Rangers series blog

Facing Rangers brings back memories for Campbell

BOSTON -- As the son of former New York Rangers coach Colin Campbell, facing that franchise in the Eastern Conference Semifinals brings back memories for Boston Bruins center Gregory Campbell.

"I don't know if I'd call it nostalgia, but I spent a lot of time in New York. It was eight years of my life and my family was there, my sisters graduated high school there, and it was an area that we called home," Campbell said Friday, less than 24 hours removed from the Bruins' 3-2, Game 1 overtime win.

"I've moved around a lot in my life, and New York is a good place to grow up, and I got to see the Rangers win the Stanley Cup in '94. So amazingly enough there are still some people there that were there when my dad was there. So, of course, there will always be a soft spot for me for that team and that city. It's a city much like Boston, they're very passionate as you know, and it's a good place to play hockey."

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Posted On Friday, 05.17.2013 / 1:41 PM

By Chris Adamski -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Senators series blog

Benoit, Latendresse back in for Senators

PITTSBURGH -- After sitting and watching the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the past two weeks, Andre Benoit and Guillaume Latendresse are eager to make an impact for the Ottawa Senators.

Coach Paul MacLean confirmed both will be in the lineup for Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday.

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Posted On Friday, 05.17.2013 / 1:10 PM

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

Rookie Hamilton marvels at Chara's play

BOSTON -- Boston Bruins rookie defenseman Dougie Hamilton has a theory about how Zdeno Chara is able to play 38 minutes in an overtime game, the way he did Thursday night in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

"He maybe plugs himself in at night," Hamilton said. "It's pretty incredible."

The plug-himself-in theory goes along with Hamilton's nickname for his defense partner.

"I keep calling him a machine because of how good he is on the ice for the minutes he plays," Hamilton said.

Chara played 38:02 in Game 1 against the New York Rangers, including more than half of the overtime session, which lasted 15:40 until Brad Marchand scored the winner to give the Bruins a 3-2 victory.

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Posted On Friday, 05.17.2013 / 1:02 PM

By Chris Adamski -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Senators series blog

Spezza return could come as early as Game 3

PITTSBURGH -- It won't be for Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals on Friday night, but Jason Spezza continues to inch closer to a return to the Ottawa Senators lineup.

The team won't rule out the chance his 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs debut will come Sunday.

Coach Paul MacLean said he expects Spezza to join the team for what figures to be an optional practice in Ottawa on Saturday. Spezza, who hasn't played since Jan. 27 because of a back injury that required surgery, has been skating on his own in Ottawa in recent days and MacLean reported the center is making progress.

"We will see him [Saturday] and we'll go through [Saturday's] practice and the pregame skate for Sunday and we'll see where it is," MacLean said after the morning skate Friday at Consol Energy Center. "But if he's available to us, you know, it's Jason Spezza. We're going to have him in the lineup if he's available."

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Quote of the Day

I always feel the pressure to produce offensively. It's disappointing and frustrating when you can't help out your team the way you're supposed to.

— Rangers forward Rick Nash on scoring twice in a 5-1 Game 4 victory against the Lightning on Friday