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Posted On Sunday, 05.13.2012 / 2:38 PM

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

Parise doesn't expect repeat of MSG brawl

NEWARK, N.J. -- New Jersey Devils captain Zach Parise was reminded on Sunday of the brawl that took place at Madison Square Garden back in March against the New York Rangers in the finale of their season series.
 
There wasn't a player in the locker room that didn't.
 
Just three seconds after the opening faceoff, New Jersey's Cam Janssen, Eric Boulton and Ryan Carter of the Devils were each given five minutes for fighting and defenseman Bryce Salvador a 10-minute misconduct as a third-man in.
 
For the Rangers, Mike Rupp, Stu Bickel and Brandon Prust were given fighting majors. Salvador's misconduct came when he interjected in the Carter-Bickel battle at which time Carter was cut and bleeding on the ice.
 
Parise said he doesn't expect that to happen at any stage of their upcoming series against the Rangers in the Eastern Conference Finals that begins Monday in Manhattan.
 
"The intensity will be there between the teams, but, in the playoffs, you don't see line brawls like that too often or fighting, period," Parise said. "That doesn't mean the rivalry isn't there. We have to play whistle-to-whistle. As far as the fights go, I could be wrong, but you just don't see those very often in the playoffs."
 
Devils wing David Clarkson expects a good, hard-fought series.
 
"I think it is a big rivalry, that's no secret," Clarkson said. "Over the years, it's become heated at times, but at the end of the day, you've got to win and put some things on the side … play disciplined. And that's what we intend to do."
 
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale
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Posted On Sunday, 05.13.2012 / 2:32 PM

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

Devils' Gionta plenty familiar with rivalry

NEWARK, N.J. -- While New Jersey Devils forward Stephen Gionta will be experiencing his first playoff series against the New York Rangers, he certainly is no stranger to the rivalry.
 
Gionta's brother, Brian, spent seven seasons in New Jersey and played a key role in the team's only playoff series triumph over the Rangers in 2006 during the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. The elder Gionta, who is now captain for the Montreal Canadiens, scored two game-winning goals during a four-game sweep of New York that year.
 
"I don't remember that series, but I know about the Rangers' rivalry and look forward to [Monday's] game," Gionta told NHL.com. "I haven't talked to [Brian] since [Sunday's] game, but I'm sure I'll talk to him [Monday]. It's a divisional opponent, so it should make for a fun series."
 
The Devils outscored the Rangers, 17-4, in their four-game annihilation of the Rangers that spring. Stephen Gionta, who was signed by the Devils as a free agent in August, 2010, was 23-years-old at the time.
 
Gionta, who has played a key role on the team's fourth line in the opening two series, said remaining disciplined will be a key against the Rangers.
 
"You always have to keep your emotions in check and we don't want to get into that same type of game that Philly likes to play," Gionta said. "We have to stay disciplined because they can hurt you on the power play. If we find ourselves in that position, it could turn out to be a problem."
 
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale
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Posted On Sunday, 05.13.2012 / 2:28 PM

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

Devils ready for Game 1 against Rangers

NEWARK, N.J. -- For the first time in five days, the New Jersey Devils began practice at AmeriHealth Pavilion on Sunday afternoon with the benefit of full disclosure.
 
In order to advance to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in eight seasons, New Jersey will have to eliminate the rival New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference Finals slated to begin Monday with Game 1 at Madison Square Garden (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS).
 
"We know where we're at and what's at stake," Devils forward Patrik Elias said. "We've had our share of disappointments in the past, missing the playoffs last season, but, for me, it's been a while to be in this position. We're focused, loose and enjoying the moment. You have to have a special group to get this far and I believe we have that here."
 
The Rangers have won four of the previous five playoff series between the teams -- New Jersey earned a four-game sweep in the conference quarterfinals in 2006. The only other time the teams met in the conference finals was 1994, when Stephane Matteau's goal in the second overtime of Game 7 against Martin Brodeur gave the Rangers the victory.
 
"The key against the Rangers is getting pucks by [Henrik] Lundqvist … they're a very defensive team," Devils captain Zach Parise said. "They pressure you all over the ice but they do break down from time to time and he's there to bail them out. So we've got to get some pucks by him."
 
The Rangers are a much different type of opponent than the Devils have already faced in the playoffs. The offenses for the Florida Panthers and Philadelphia Flyers looked to finesse their way into the offensive zone and that played right into New Jersey's hands, particularly against the Flyers in the conference semifinals.
 
The Rangers have proven to be quite the defensive juggernaut in these playoffs, allowing just 1.86 goals-per game in 14 matches. They've also allowed 28.4 shots-per game; New Jersey has yielded 27.4 shots over 12 playoff contests.
 
The biggest discrepancy between the clubs is the offensive firepower displayed in the playoffs. The Devils have averaged three goals per game and the Rangers are hitting at a 2.07 goals-per game clip.
 
When playing five-aside, no team in the playoffs has scored more goals than the Devils (24). The Rangers have connected for 19 goals playing 5-on-5.
 
"Playing five-aside is our strength and it's been that way through both [previous] series," Parise said. "It's going to be important when we get possession of the puck in the zone, to not throw it away or necessarily look for a play right away, because they come back and collapse pretty low and put five guys right in front of the net.
 
"They're waiting for you to turn it over so they can jump up into the rush," Parise continued. "For us, we have to protect the puck well in the offensive zone."

The Rangers, meanwhile, are tops among the four remaining playoff teams in blocked shots (267); the Devils have 131.
 
"I think it's a matter of our defense getting shots off quickly," Parise said. "I think when you find you wind up for those big slappers, that gives them time to get into the lane and block shots. If they can get the shots off quickly, their forwards play pretty low, so getting them off quickly will benefit us. Get it past the first guy and giving our forwards a way to get the puck back if it's not going to get on net.
 
"I don't think it changes our game plan or mentality though. A lot of teams block shots nowadays and you just have to find ways through it."
 
Here were the line combinations during Devils practice on Sunday:
 
Alexei Ponikarovsky - Travis Zajac - Ilya Kovalchuk
Zach Parise - Patrik Elias - David Clarkson
Petr Sykora - Adam Henrique - Dainius Zubrus
Ryan Carter - Stephen Gionta - Steve Bernier
Extras: Eric Boulton - Tim Sestito - Cam Janssen
 
Andy Greene - Mark Fayne
Bryce Salvador - Marek Zidlicky
Anton Volchenkov - Adam Larsson
Extras: Matt Taormina - Peter Harrold
 
Martin Brodeur
Johan Hedberg
 
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale
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Posted On Sunday, 05.13.2012 / 12:23 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Coyotes vs. Kings series blog

Coyotes and Kings projected lineups for Game 1

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Kings have waited since dispatching the Blues exactly one week ago. The Coyotes have been idle since advancing past the Predators last Monday.

Sunday night at Jobing.com Arena they finally get to play another game as the Western Conference Finals get under way at 8 p.m. ET (NBCSN, TSN, RDS).

Due to the early local start time (5 p.m.), there are no morning skates in advance of Game 1. However, both teams practiced Saturday and with Coyotes coach Dave Tippett offering that defenseman Adrian Aucoin will not play in Game 1, the picture for both lineups became crystal clear.

Here are the expected lineups, including lines, defense pairs and goaltending depth for both the Kings and Coyotes:

KINGS

Dustin Penner - Mike Richards - Jeff Carter
Justin Williams - Anze Kopitar - Dustin Brown
Dwight King - Jarret Stoll - Trevor Lewis
Jordan Nolan - Colin Fraser - Brad Richardson

Rob Scuderi - Drew Doughty
Willie Mitchell - Slava Voynov
Matt Greene - Alec Martinez

Jonathan Quick
Jonathan Bernier

COYOTES

Mikkel Boedker - Antoine Vermette - Shane Doan
Ray Whitney - Martin Hanzal - Radim Vrbata
Taylor Pyatt - Boyd Gordon - Lauri Korpikoski
Kyle Chipchura - Daymond Langkow - Gilbert Brule

Keith Yandle - Derek Morris
Oliver Ekman-Larsson - Rostislav Klesla
David Schlemko - Michal Rozsival

Mike Smith
Jason LaBarbera

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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Posted On Sunday, 05.13.2012 / 12:15 AM

By Corey Masisak -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Rangers vs. Capitals series blog

Hunter won't talk about his future with Caps

NEW YORK -- Moments after the Washington Capitals lost Game 7 of their Eastern Conference Semifinal series to the New York Rangers, coach Dale Hunter was asked about his future with the organization.

"[It's] not the time right now," Hunter said.

That time is going to come pretty soon, though. When Hunter agreed to replace Bruce Boudreau as the team's coach in November, he reportedly signed a one-year deal through the remainder of the 2011-12 season.

That means he and the organization have a decision to make. Several players have said they would like to see Hunter return next season, as has general manager George McPhee.

Hunter left the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League to coach in the NHL for the first time. He and his brother Mark are co-owners of the team. Before taking this job, Dale Hunter was the coach and vice president of the Knights while his brother was the team's president. Mark Hunter replaced Dale behind the bench, and the Knights will begin play in the Memorial Cup later this week.

"We do our best and it's probably best team I played [on]," captain Alex Ovechkin said. "You know, group of guys and atmosphere, everybody was - it's unbelievable to play and I hope everybody gonna stay here 'til next year."

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Posted On Saturday, 05.12.2012 / 11:24 PM

By John Kreiser -  NHL.com Columnist /NHL.com - Bracket Challenge Blog

Rangers advance despite lack of firepower

There are two ways to win in the postseason: You can try to outgun your opponent (think Philadelphia vs. Pittsburgh in the first round), or you can try to play shutdown defense, get great goaltending and hope to get enough offense.

The New York Rangers have opted for Plan B -- and they're playing it to perfection,

The Rangers survived Game 7 for the second time in as many series by beating the Washington Capitals 2-1 on Saturday night. It marked the NHL single season-record 14th consecutive playoff game -- every one they've played this spring -- in which the Rangers held the opposition to three goals or less.

Of course, it's not like the Rangers are filling the net. After scoring four times in their playoff opener against Ottawa, the Rangers have gone 13 straight games without getting more than three goals in a game.
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Posted On Saturday, 05.12.2012 / 9:57 PM

NHL.com - 2011-2012 Situation Room blog

11:32 of the Third Period - WSH @ NYR



At 11:32 of the third period in the Rangers/Capitals game, the puck entered the Capitals net. The referee ruled that Braden Holtby made the original save and then the puck entered the net when Brian Boyle's right skate made contact with Holtby resulting in goaltender interference, therefore there was no goal. This was not a reviewable play. Referee's call on the ice stands No Goal New York.
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Posted On Saturday, 05.12.2012 / 7:38 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Coyotes vs. Kings series blog

Quick and Smith share ECHL history

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Both goalies in the Western Conference Finals can be considered Conn Smythe Trophy candidates. Both the Kings' Jonathan Quick and the Coyotes' Mike Smith are largely responsible for their teams' success this postseason.

However, the link between Smith and Quick goes far deeper than just this series -- it goes all the way back to the ECHL.

According to ECHL.com, 10 goalies in the league's 24-year history have scored a goal in a game. Smith and Quick are two of them. Even more ironic is that they both did it in the game in which they picked up their first professional win and shutout.

"Really?" Smith said. "I did not know that."

Oh, but it's true.

Smith scored his ECHL goal and picked up his first win and shutout with the Lexington Men O' War on Oct. 26, 2002. He scored with 56 seconds left in the third period to give his team a 2-0 victory.

"Tough to forget," Smith said. "The bad thing is once you score once, you want more. That feeling of scoring when you're a goaltender is like nothing else, but also it can work against you. You're only thinking about it when their goalie is out. The No. 1 job is to keep the puck out of my end."

Quick scored his goal in his second professional appearance. It was Oct. 24, 2007 and he was with the Reading Royals. He scored with 35 seconds left in the third period to cap a 3-0 win.

The puck rolled the length of the ice and into the net, and since Quick was the last to touch it, he got credit for the goal, according to ECHL.com.

"My only chance is it's the same situation," Quick said. "I don't even know if I can get it to the other end."

Since Smith is considered one of the top puck-handling goalies in the NHL, Quick said if one of the two is going to do it at this level, perhaps even in this series, it'll be the Phoenix goalie -- Smith missed by inches of scaling the puck into the net at the end of the Coyotes' series-clinching 2-1 win against Nashville in Game 5 on Monday.

"For him, it's pretty realistic," Quick said. "He can play the puck pretty well."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

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Posted On Saturday, 05.12.2012 / 7:20 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Coyotes vs. Kings series blog

Brown's son digs Dad's jerseys

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Three-year-old Mason Brown doesn't have blankies; he has his dad's white Kings' jerseys that he carries around and can't be without.

"We have two white ones, and now he knows he has two but we swap them out," L.A. captain Dustin Brown said. "It's a blankie-type thing. He can't be without his jersey. He only likes the white ones, which is great for a 3-year-old -- white."

Obviously Brown make that last statement with more than just a hint of sarcasm -- but don't be fooled, he absolutely loves the idea that his boys have taken to his jersey like this. Four-year-old Jake also has two jerseys, but Brown said it's Mason who absolutely has to have at least one of them with him at all times.

Brown's family, including wife Nicole, Jake, Mason and 1-year-old Cooper are all back in L.A. right now. They'll be watching Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals -- the only real question is which of the two so-called blankies will Mason be carrying.

"We'll see," Dustin Brown said. "It's pretty darn fun."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

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Posted On Saturday, 05.12.2012 / 7:09 PM

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

Beagle out, Halpern in for Caps

NEW YORK -- Capitals forward Jay Beagle will not be in the lineup for Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Rangers on Saturday night, as he did not take part in pregame warmups.

Beagle missed Game 6 of the series on Wednesday with a lower-body injury and did not participate in the game-day skate at Madison Square Garden. He was replaced in the lineup by Jeff Halpern, who had been a healthy scratch since March 23 and will once again be in the lineup. Halpern was a minus-1 in 10:23 of ice time in the Caps' series-tying 2-1 win.

In 12 playoff games, Beagle has one goal and one assist.

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo

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Quote of the Day

Because of the way they play and their skill set I don't think they're fourth-line players, so in my mind I'm looking at one of those guys I'll have to move over to the wing.

— Capitals coach Barry Trotz on his four-player battle for second-line center