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Posted On Friday, 05.31.2013 / 7:04 PM

By Brian Hedger - Correspondent / - Blackhawks-Kings series blog

Blackhawks try to move size throughout lineup

CHICAGO -- After grinding out a Western Conference Semifinal win in seven games against the Detroit Red Wings, the Chicago Blackhawks returned to practice Friday prior to the start of a conference final against the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday at United Center (5 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS).

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville juggled his forward lines for the workout from what he used in the 2-1 overtime victory in Game 7 against Detroit and appears to be looking for more size up front by adding 6-foot-4, 233-pound power forward Bryan Bickell as the left wing for 6-2, 208-pound Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews.

“I think he’s earned that opportunity [with] how he’s played,” Quenneville said of Bickell, who’s one of Chicago’s top scorers this postseason with five goals and one assist. “Not just his production offensively but physically he’s been engaged and he’s got some speed and he’s had a lot of puck time. When he did get the opportunity [against Detroit] to move up with those guys he did a great job. I think it gives a little more size and presence on that line.”

Posted On Friday, 05.31.2013 / 6:24 PM

By Shawn P. Roarke - Senior Managing Editor / - Penguins-Bruins series blog

Bruins aren't worried about long layoff

PITTSBURGH -- Despite a sketchy history when it comes to long layoffs in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Boston Bruins coach Claude Julien said his team is ready for the Eastern Conference Final despite having a week without a game.

Boston last played this past Saturday when it defeated the New York Rangers to end their second-round series in five games. The Pittsburgh Penguins have had eight days off after eliminating the Ottawa Senators in five games a week ago Friday.

Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final is Saturday at Consol Energy Center (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, RDS).

Posted On Friday, 05.31.2013 / 5:45 PM

By Shawn P. Roarke - Senior Managing Editor / - Penguins-Bruins series blog

Bruins coach Julien waiting to reveal Game 1 lineup

PITTSBURGH -- When it comes to the Boston Bruins' Game 1 lineup, coach Claude Julien isn't going to reveal anything until game time Saturday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, RDS).

"There are some decisions that we are going to make tomorrow, going to be game-time," Julien said Friday, minutes after the Bruins arrived at their hotel here. "There are some decisions that are going to be made and that is the beauty of it that we have decisions we can make.

"I'm certainly not going to tip my hand here and tell you guys who is in and who is out because that is the advantage we have in the playoffs and we definitely want to take advantage of that."

Posted On Friday, 05.31.2013 / 4:32 PM

By Ian McCoshen -  Special to / - Ian McCoshen Draft blog

McCoshen appreciative of Combine experience

Ian McCoshen, No. 24 in NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of the top draft-eligible North American skaters, completed his third season with the Waterloo Black Hawks of the United States Hockey League. The 6-foot-2.5, 207-pound defenseman had 11 goals, 44 points and a plus-35 rating in 53 games this season. Boston College-bound, McCoshen has agreed to submit his thoughts during the 2013 Scouting Combine in Toronto this week.

TORONTO -- Last night I just kind of laid low and watched some TV. I went to bed pretty early because I thought my rest was pretty crucial today. I knew the fitness testing today was going to be tough.

My alarm went off at 8:30 a.m., and then I sat in my room for an hour trying to figure out if I should have breakfast. Should I eat? Should I not eat? But I did go eat. I had an omelet and toast, which is lighter than normal.

I got the building for the testing and did medical testing first. I sat in line and waited for them to take pictures of my body, and then I waited to see the doctors. Then it was a heart test and a vision test, and then they test your hand/eye coordination.

Then I walked into the actual testing room, and all I could think of was, "Oh man, there's a lot of people watching." You just want to compete at all the different tests and do your best. I kind of prepared for the last three weeks, so none of the tests was too out of the ordinary. But they didn't tell me my results on anything - I was looking forward to that.

Posted On Friday, 05.31.2013 / 4:22 PM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - Combing the 2013 NHL Combine

MacKinnon 'would love to play for' Roy, Avalanche

TORONTO -- Halifax Mooseheads center Nathan MacKinnon finally can take a deep breath -- at least for 24 hours.

There's no telling what's next for the 17-year-old, who undoubtedly will be traveling to meet with several NHL teams for personal examinations and interviews now that his part in the 2013 NHL Scouting Combine is complete.

"I don't know if I'm living the dream yet because I'm not in the NHL, but [this week has] been fun," MacKinnon said. "It's been busy for sure. I've had a lot of requests and demands, but obviously I wouldn't trade it for anything. I had a lot of fun this year, and this was just another step toward the draft."

MacKinnon said he would be honored if the Colorado Avalanche selected him No. 1 at the 2013 NHL Draft on June 30. He said playing for new Colorado coach Patrick Roy, who was hired last week, would be a good experience.

Posted On Friday, 05.31.2013 / 4:14 PM

By Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor / - Combing the 2013 NHL Combine

Barkov believes he can be top-seven pick

TORONTO -- The NHL Scouting Combine is an opportunity for teams to learn about the players they might take in the 2013 NHL Draft. But sometimes the players learn something about themselves. That was the case for Aleksander Barkov, NHL Central Scouting's top-rated European skater.

"I didn't know that my English is so good," he said. "I thought that I can't speak but then it was easy."

Barkov already was highly regarded because of his play. The 17-year-old center had 21 goals and 48 points in 53 games with Tappara in sm-Liiga, Finland's top professional league, and had three goals and four assists in seven games for Finland at the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championship.

Posted On Friday, 05.31.2013 / 4:05 PM

By Nathan MacKinnon -  Special to / - Nathan MacKinnon Draft blog

MacKinnon now prepares for NHL Draft

Nathan Mackinnon is in his second season with the Halifax Mooseheads of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League this year. The 6-foot, 182-pound forward has 32 goals, 75 points and a plus-40 rating in 44 regular-season games for the Mooseheads in 2012-13. In 17 playoff games, MacKinnon finished with 11 goals and 33 points to help lead his team to the QMJHL championship. He was then awarded with the Stafford Smythe Memorial Trophy as Memorial Cup MVP after finishing with tournament highs of seven goals and 13 points in four games as Halifax won its first Cup crown. MacKinnon, who served as captain for Team Cherry at the 2013 CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game and represented Canada at the 2013 World Junior Championship in Russia, has offered to provide with a monthly blog leading up to the 2013 NHL Draft in Newark, N.J.

Hello hockey fans!

Well, I must say there was a little anxiety when I got to this stage but for me it's been great. It was a great experience and a lot of fun at the NHL Combine. I really didn't know what to expect since different teams have different approaches and ask different questions, but it was certainly a great experience.

I didn't go through the fitness portion of the testing [on Friday]. I did the medical examinations and the basic stuff, but that was it. Obviously it's tough to miss out on something like [the fitness tests] because you want to see what you have, but at the same time it's been a great experience and I'm looking forward to the Draft.

Posted On Friday, 05.31.2013 / 3:17 PM

By Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor / - Combing the 2013 NHL Combine

Stars' Jackson looking forward to NHL Draft

TORONTO -- Les Jackson has been scouting prospects for the Dallas Stars organization for 25 years, so he knows there are no guarantees when it comes to the NHL Draft.

"Nothing's for sure," he told "We've picked high and never gotten anybody. You just hope that you draft the right guy if there's a player there and you take him. You work with him, develop him, be patient with him and see what you get."

Jackson, the Stars' assistant general manager, oversees the team's amateur scouting department. This year, the Stars have two first-round picks: their own at No. 10 and the Boston Bruins' pick they acquired in the Jaromir Jagr trade (number yet to be determined).

"Anytime you can get two picks it's a good deal," Jackson said. "It's a good draft this year. We're fortunate. We got one late. We wish our first pick was late, but unfortunately it's 10. It's a deep draft, so I think teams are going to do well in the first top of the draft."

Posted On Friday, 05.31.2013 / 2:37 PM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - Combing the 2013 NHL Combine

Nurse will have cheering section at draft, with McNabb

TORONTO -- Sault Ste. Marie defenseman Darnell Nurse anticipates a large family contingent to join him at Prudential Center on June 30 for the NHL Draft.

Nurse, No. 4 on NHL Central Scouting final list of the top draft-eligible North American skaters, is expected to be chosen among the top 10 players. He told that one of his biggest supporters is his uncle Donovan McNabb, who spent 13 seasons as a quarterback in the NFL, including 11 with the Philadelphia Eagles, and is Darnell's uncle by marriage.

"The draft will be a whole family affair, with my aunts and uncles, cousins and my parents," Nurse said at the NHL Scouting Combine. "And Uncle Donovan will be there and he can't wait. He's excited for it too."

Posted On Friday, 05.31.2013 / 2:25 PM

By Sean Monahan -  Special to / - Sean Monahan Draft blog

Monahan completes fitness tests; Draft next

Sean Monahan, NHL Central Scouting's No. 5-rated skater among the top draft-eligible prospects in North America, is a center for the Ottawa 67's of the Ontario Hockey League. The 6-foot-2.25, 187-pound forward led his team with 31 goals, 47 assists, 15 power-play goals and 78 points in 58 games this season for the 67's. Monahan, who was voted among the top three players in four separate categories during the OHL Eastern Conference Coaches Poll in March, has offered to maintain a blog during his stay in Toronto for the NHL Scouting Combine this week.

Hello from the Toronto International Centre!

Well, it's over, the fitness testing is done.

I was really looking forward to this and have been working out for a while now so, obviously I was a little nervous and I had to get something light in my system. So everyone recommended a light breakfast so I had a little fruit smoothie and some oatmeal. I think that was a good choice too.

After that I came in and did the medical testing and it was a process and that was pretty long. I guess I was just getting pretty anxious for the fitness. Once I got there, there were so many people watching and I did get a little more nervous with all the lights on me. But I think I did well and now I know my weaknesses and that's something I'll work on in the summer.

I think the Wingate bike test was the harder of the two tests. It's quick and just 30 seconds and there's a lot of resistance and you have to keep the pace up there but I did the best I could. I'm proud of myself and ready to work on what I need to work on over the summer.

After the tests, I had plenty of interviews to do. I realize this is a process to get to the next level and I want to be a pro and I want to play in the NHL so I think going through this is good experience for me and I'm enjoying all of it.

Overall, the week was great. I got to spend time with good friends and see my competition. I was rooming with [Guelph Storm center] Jason Dickinson and that was fun and meeting all the general managers and scouts was pretty special. I just told them how I feel about my game and what I need to improve on and my goals.

Obviously I'm looking forward to the Draft but I know there's a lot of work to do before that day arrives. I'm just looking forward to getting back in the gym consistently and working hard. I really want to make that jump next year and I think through hard work, it will help me. I feel if I do that and I get drafted I'll be ready for the development camp and make an impression there.

Follow Sean Monahan on Twitter at: @Monahan20

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In respect to the organization and my teammates, it was the best move. When I look back at my career and all the different things I had to overcome, I have no regrets. It was great.

— Devils captain Bryce Salvador on retiring from the National Hockey League Wednesday