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Posted On Sunday, 05.20.2012 / 1:36 PM

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

Dubinsky back on the ice at Rangers practice

NEW YORK -- Brandon Dubinsky, who hasn't played since Game 7 of the conference quarterfinals, was on the ice Sunday for the Rangers' optional practice at Madison Square Garden.

It's the second time Dubinsky has practiced since injuring his ankle and first time he wasn't wearing a non-contact jersey.

"It's nice to be back with the guys," said Dubinsky, who offered no timeline for his return. "It's nice to shoot some pucks on a goalie. It just feels good to be around and actually get a chance to jump on the ice."

If Rangers' forward Brandon Prust is suspended for his hit to the head of Anton Volchenkov in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Saturday, coach John Tortorella isn't sure what that will do to his lineup for Game 4 Monday night.

"I don't know what I'm going to do with the lineup," Tortorella said. "I don't think he should be suspended. So I really haven't gone that far, because I don't think he should be."

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo
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Posted On Sunday, 05.20.2012 / 1:33 PM

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

Tortorella fires back on 'headhunter' comment

NEW YORK -- On Saturday, Devils coach Peter DeBoer referred to the Rangers' Brandon Prust as a "headhunter" after his blow to the back of the head of defenseman Anton Volchenkov.

On Sunday, Rangers coach John Tortorella responded to that comment by defending Prust and accusing the Devils of embellishing calls and setting illegal picks during their power plays.

"He's probably one of the most honest players," Tortorella said, before launching into a a big chunk of gamesmanship. "I look at (Dainius Zubrus') elbow to (Anton) Stralman. I look at (Zach) Parise launching himself at (Michael) Del Zotto. Maybe if our players stay down on the ice, we'll get something. We tell our players don't stay down on the ice, get up.

"The picking on the power play. If we want to start discussing officials with the media, I've got a long list here. That's a set play by Jersey -- picking so we can't get to (Ilya) Kovalchuk to block his shot. There's some gamesmanship right there, huh?"

The hit by Prust did not draw a penalty, but it did earn him a hearing with the NHL's Department of Player Safety Sunday morning. He explained the hit following an optional practice at Madison Square Garden, saying Volchenkov ducked into the hit at the last moment.

"I was just trying to get in a check before I was at the end of a shift," Prust said. "I was skating over for a routine check to rub him out and get off the ice and he bailed out of it and turned and kind of went low. It's just kind of a reaction when you're off-balance and your arms go up. I didn't want to do a face-plant into the boards. I had no intent to hit him in the head there."

In regards to the intentional interference with the Devils on the power play, Tortorella was referencing Kovalchuk's goal in Game 2. The puck was moved quickly from the right side of the zone to the left side, and a wide-open Kovalchuk was able to snap a shot over the catching glove of Henrik Lundqvist.

One of the reasons Kovalchuk was all alone was the Devils' Patrik Elias getting in the way of Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi.

"There's been a few times when they try to get in the way in front of the net," Rangers defenseman Marc Staal said. "It's obviously something they've talked about and they're trying to do. We're trying to do our best to get around that, but sometimes you can't and it creates an opportunity for their team. It's more noticeable against these guys. For us as 'D' you want to try to stay loose in case something breaks down. Hopefully this gets the radar up a little bit and helps us out."

As for the notion that the Devils are trying to buy calls by staying down on the ice, Prust said he was surprised that Volchenkov didn't get up right away.

"I didn't even know I elbowed him," Prust said. "I went to the bench and thought maybe I caught him with my knee, maybe charlie-horsed him. I didn't hit him that hard. I think I just grazed his helmet and it slid up. For sure, he's trying to get a penalty when your helmet comes up. It's just natural trying to sell that."

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo
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Posted On Sunday, 05.20.2012 / 12:29 AM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Road to 2012 NHL Draft

Updated order for first round of 2012 NHL Draft

With the conference finals going on, it's time to take a look at how the first half of the playoffs has affected the order of the first round of the 2012 NHL Draft.

The first 14 picks were set by the results of the NHL Draft Lottery held in April. Now that the first two rounds of the playoffs are completed, all but the final four picks are set.

The 12 teams eliminated from the playoffs make up the next set of picks. Non-division winners are placed in inverse order of points. Division winners next are slotted in through the same process. That's why the Pittsburgh Penguins, who had the fourth-most points in the League, have a better draft spot than the Florida Panthers, finished with nine fewer points but won the Southeast Division.

The teams that lose in the conference finals will take picks 27 and 28; the loser in the Stanley Cup Final will pick No. 29; the Stanley Cup winner will take No. 30.

Three teams have multiple first-round picks: Tampa Bay will pick 10th and 19th; Washington has the Nos. 11 and 16 picks; and Buffalo will pick 12th and 21st.

Columbus also could have two first-round picks. They currently have the No. 2 pick and hold an option to take Los Angeles' pick, which can be no worse than No. 27. The Blue Jackets acquired the rights to the pick in the Jeff Carter trade, and either can take the Kings' first pick this year or next.

Three teams currently will sit out the first round: Colorado, which sent it's pick to Washington in the Semyon Varlamov deal; Detroit, which traded it's pick to Tampa Bay as part of the Kyle Quincey trade; and Nashville, which dealt it's pick to Buffalo in exchange for Paul Gaustad.

Also, New Jersey has the option of forfeiting its pick, which can be no worse than 28th, as penalty for circumventing the salary cap in signing Ilya Kovalchuk in 2010. The Devils have to surrender their top pick in either the 2012, 2013 or 2014 draft.

Here's the order as of now. We don't know the how the final four picks will play out, but for fans wondering, the Kings and Coyotes will pick either No. 27, 29 or 30; the Devils and Rangers can pick No. 28, 29 or 30.

1. Edmonton
2. Columbus
3. Montreal
4. N.Y. Islanders
5. Toronto
6. Anaheim
7. Minnesota
8. Carolina
9. Winnipeg
10. Tampa Bay
11. Washington (from Colorado)
12. Buffalo
13. Dallas
14. Calgary
15. Ottawa
16. Washington
17. San Jose
18. Chicago
19. Tampa Bay (from Detroit)
20. Philadelphia
21. Buffalo (from Nashville)
22. Pittsburgh
23. Florida
24. Boston
25. St. Louis
26. Vancouver
27. Conference finals loser
28. Conference finals loser
29. Stanley Cup Final loser
30. Stanley Cup champion

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Saturday, 05.19.2012 / 8:51 PM

By Corey Masisak -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Coyotes vs. Kings series blog

Veteran Coyotes not worried about what future holds

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- There has been plenty of uncertainty for the Phoenix Coyotes around this time of year in recent seasons. When the Coyotes were eliminated by the Detroit Red Wings in each of the past two postseasons, they've had to answer questions about the future whereabouts of the franchise.

Coyotes captain Shane Doan, who came to the desert with the organization from Winnipeg after his rookie season, has had to answer those types of questions more than anyone. As the Coyotes face elimination from the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs on Sunday against the Los Angeles Kings in Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals, there is a different kind of uncertainty for Doan.
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Posted On Saturday, 05.19.2012 / 6:55 PM

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

L.A. preparing for wild sports Sunday

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. – Earlier in the season, Drew Doughty and Mike Richards probably wouldn't have garnered much recognition or cheers by showing up at a Los Angeles Lakers game. But this is no ordinary time to be a sports fan in Los Angeles.

The two were shown on the big screen Friday night for the Lakers-Oklahoma City playoff game and the basketball fans gave the Staples Center co-tenants a proper acknowledgment. While the Kings are playing this deep into spring for the first time in 19 years, the Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers are also in the playoffs in an unprecedented smash-up of local sports on Sunday.

"I think it's great for the city," Rob Scuderi said. "Especially the Kings and the Lakers have been very successful … but for the Kings, it's been kind of a long drought as far as the postseason goes and postseason success. It's fun to see the city kind of rally around it and get into it. It's something that doesn't happen very often. Hopefully all three teams can go even farther."
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Posted On Saturday, 05.19.2012 / 6:18 PM

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

Devils to work on special teams before Game 4

NEWARK, N.J. -- Are the New Jersey Devils losing their "special" swagger against the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference Finals?
 
It would certainly appear that way.
 
Ilya Kovalchuk
Left Wing - NJD
GOALS: 6 | ASST: 7 | PTS: 13
SOG: 47 | +/-: -6
"I think specialty teams have been the different in this series," Devils forward Ilya Kovalchuk said. "They score on their power play and we don't, so we have to work on that [Sunday] at practice."
 
The Rangers opened a 2-1 series lead on the Devils on Saturday at Prudential Center following a 3-0 victory. New Jersey not only allowed at least one power-play to the Rangers in the loss, but finished 0-for-5 on the power play.
 
"We just have to create the lanes and get the puck in the net," Kovalchuk said. "We got some good chances and good looks, but we got a couple stick breaks at the wrong time and we hit the post. I had some chances … we just have to keep working."
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Posted On Saturday, 05.19.2012 / 6:09 PM

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

Make it three in a row for Kreider

Chris Kreider has quickly made a name for himself this postseason.

Less than two months after finishing up his collegiate career at Boston College, the talented rookie tied a franchise mark with the New York Rangers on Saturday afternoon.

Chris Kreider
Left Wing - NYR
GOALS: 5 | ASST: 2 | PTS: 7
SOG: 22 | +/-: -2
Kreider, 21, notched his fifth goal in 15 postseason games in New York's 2-0 win against the New Jersey Devils in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals at the Prudential Center. The 6-foot-3 rookie has now scored in three straight contests, becoming the first Rangers' rookie to do that during the postseason since Don Maloney accomplished the feat back in 1979.

Kreider also set a new record for most playoff goals from a player who has never played in a regular-season game. Montreal's Eddie Mazur had four.
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Posted On Saturday, 05.19.2012 / 6:00 PM

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

DeBoer: 'We gotta find a way to score a goal'

NEWARK, N.J. -- Devils coach Pete DeBoer had no interest in analyzing Game 3 by the plays that made the difference in the Rangers' 3-0 win Saturday.

After giving Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist full credit for being the difference in the Rangers grabbing a 2-1 lead in the Eastern Conference Finals, DeBoer was asked if the couple of shifts prior to Dan Girardi's power-play goal 3:19 into the third period hurt the Devils.
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Posted On Saturday, 05.19.2012 / 4:52 PM

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

Fraser returns after son's medical scare

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. – Colin Fraser is back with the Los Angeles Kings and ready to play after a medical scare with his son removed him from hockey for a precarious few days.

Colin Fraser
Center - LAK
GOALS: 0 | ASST: 0 | PTS: 0
SOG: 8 | +/-: -1
Fraser said Saturday morning that his 19-month-old son, Calder, was hospitalized when the Kings were in Glendale, Ariz.  He immediately returned to his summer home in Sylvan Lake, Alberta, to be with his family and he missed Games 2 and 3 of the Western Conference Finals.

Fraser said "everyone's healthy and I'm back and ready to play." He was simply happy to return to normalcy.

"At first, I didn't know what to do and I said, 'Forget it, I'm going home,'" Fraser said. "Obviously, I want to play and I want to be here and this is obviously something special. But at the end of the day, family comes first, and family is 100 percent, No.1. Hockey is going to come and go, but my family I'll have forever, so it was a no-brainer for me. 
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Posted On Saturday, 05.19.2012 / 12:58 PM

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

Eminger replaces Bickel in Rangers' lineup

NEWARK, N.J. -- The Rangers have a change in their lineup for Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Steve Eminger will replace Stu Bickel and play on the blue line for the first time in the playoffs. He will be paired with Michael Del Zotto.

Eminger played 4:25 of ice time as a fourth-line forward in Game 1 against Washington on April 28. The last time he played a game on defense was March 15 against Pittsburgh.

Bickel played only 4:13 in Game 2 and was on the ice for David Clarkson's game-winning goal in the third period. He has played in every game in the playoffs, but has received over seven minutes of ice time on only three occasions (Game 3 vs. Ottawa, Games 4 and 5 against Washington). He is a minus-2 with four penalty minutes.
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Quote of the Day

There was a lot of talk off the ice. From a player's standpoint, that's not the talk in the room. GMs make decisions, coaches make decisions, but as a team you have to come together and be ready to go, and we are.

— San Jose Sharks forward Tommy Wingels on his team's approach entering training camp