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Posted On Thursday, 05.23.2013 / 3:55 PM

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

Clifford likely starting on Kings' top line

LOS ANGELES -- The faces will be the same although some will be rearranged, so to speak, for Game 5 of the Western Conference Semifinals between the Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks on Thursday (10:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN, RDS).

The Kings stuck with their new look at the morning skate, with captain Dustin Brown dropped to the third line and Kyle Clifford on the top line with Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams. Kings coach Darryl Sutter said Wednesday that Clifford might not stay with the top line, but for now it appears he will -- at least at puck drop.

How will Clifford mesh with Kopitar and Williams?

"Ask me at the end of 10:15 [Pacific time]," Sutter said. "Or later."

Sutter said it wasn't really about Clifford so much as the need to get better play from all his forwards. The Brown-Kopitar-Williams line has two points in the series, which prompted a change.

San Jose coach Todd McLellan stuck with his same lines and said forward Martin Havlat is out for Game 5. "And we'll just go day-by-day with him," he said.

McLellan said he didn't know if it was an advantage to see an opponent make changes.

"It's probably best to answer that later on in the series," McLellan said. "We looked at our lineup after two games and wondered if we needed to move some people around. Sometimes injuries dictate that. You guys don't know what's going in our room as far as injuries and bumps and bruises. We don't know what's going on in theirs. Sometimes minutes are cut back … because guys are hurt. We really don't know what's going through either of the locker rooms, and I'm only worried about mine right now."

Posted On Thursday, 05.23.2013 / 2:13 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2013 NHL Draft blog

Bruins' Dougie Hamilton shares draft memories

NEW YORK -- Boston Bruins defenseman Dougie Hamilton may be two years removed from hearing his name called at the NHL Draft, but he still remembers it as if it were yesterday.

The Bruins selected the 6-foot-5, 199-pounder with the ninth choice in the first round of the 2011 Draft at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn. Hamilton realizes that draft day will be a whirlwind for many of the top prospects, particularly those at the top end of everyone's draft board.

He took the time out of his busy Stanley Cup Playoffs schedule to discuss that memorable moment with NHL.com.

"I think most importantly, players just need to try and enjoy it as much as you can," Hamilton told NHL.com. "I think it's definitely a different process where you don't really know where you're going and, obviously, it means a lot where you're going to be living and things like that.

"But most of all, you have to soak it in and really enjoy it."


Posted On Thursday, 05.23.2013 / 1:36 PM

By Tal Pinchevsky -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Bruins-Rangers series blog

Bruins have turned around play in third period and OT

NEW YORK -- In a regular season that saw the Boston Bruins demonstrate a variety of strengths, third-period scoring wasn't exactly one of them. Boston's 39 third-period goals during the season ranked them 19th in the League and they posted an even third-period goal differential. They also posted a 15-4-4 record when leading after two periods, good for a .652 win percentage that ranked 29th.

That alarming trend continued in their opening-round series against the Toronto Maple Leafs, where Boston was outscored 6-5 in the third period and overtime through the series' first six games. But that suddenly changed with the Bruins facing elimination in Game 7, as they scored three times in the third and again in overtime to win it. Since that memorable run, the team has since outscored its opposition 10-3 in the third and overtime.

"I think the biggest criticism for our team was we weren't getting a lot of goals in the third period late in the season," forward Daniel Paille said. "We really wanted to try to fix that. We've done a good job of that in this series, but every game is different."

Posted On Thursday, 05.23.2013 / 1:14 PM

By Tal Pinchevsky -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Bruins-Rangers series blog

Now opponents, Paille and Girardi have deep bonds

NEW YORK -- After he scored the game-winning goal in Game 3 of the Boston Bruins' Eastern Conference Semifinal series against the New York Rangers on Tuesday night, it's fair to say that Daniel Paille's friends and family were thrilled for the forward's big moment on the biggest of stages. But one of Paille's closest friends wasn't so thrilled about the game's final score.

That would be Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi, whose team now faces a steep 3-0 series deficit heading into Thursday's Game 4 at Madison Square Garden. The pair grew up in Welland, Ontario and started playing hockey together as eight-year-olds. They were also junior hockey teammates with the Guelph Storm of the Ontario Hockey League and even served as the best man at each other's weddings, along with friend and former Ranger Andre Deveaux.

With all that history, Paille doesn't see his recent success at Girardi's expense putting a strain on their relationship.

"I'll see after the series," Paille told NHL.com. "I'm sure when this series is done we'll have a good talk and see how things were during the series. For now we both know it's all about business."


Posted On Thursday, 05.23.2013 / 1:03 PM

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

Staal still struggling to get vision issues under control

NEW YORK -- New York Rangers defenseman Marc Staal is still waiting for the day when he can just be another hockey player wearing a visor. It's not Thursday.

Staal skated again Thursday morning at Madison Square Garden, but he isn't expected to play in Game 4 against the Boston Bruins. He hasn't played since Game 3 against the Washington Capitals on May 6 -- and that was his first game since he suffered his right eye injury two months earlier against the Philadelphia Flyers.

"My belief is that in a certain amount of time I'll never have to answer another question about this again," Staal said.

Posted On Thursday, 05.23.2013 / 1:01 PM

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

Blackhawks have positive mindset for Game 4

DETROIT -- Patrick Kane described the mood in the Chicago Blackhawks dressing room as light the morning of Game 4 in the Western Conference Semifinals. Captain Jonathan Toews said it is a happy group.

These quotes wouldn't seem very newsworthy throughout most of the 2012-13 season, considering the way the Blackhawks rolled to the Presidents' Trophy and into the second round of the postseason. But the Blackhawks now are behind the Detroit Red Wings 2-1 in this best-of-7 Western Conference Semifinal series, and there was plenty of attention Thursday morning paid to how the Blackhawks would handle the situation.

Chicago coach Joel Quenneville switched rookie Brandon Saad and veteran Patrick Sharp on the top two forward lines during Game 3 at Joe Louis Arena, and though Quenneville didn't confirm it, all indications have been that is how the lineup will start for the Blackhawks in Game 4 Thursday night (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS).

Posted On Thursday, 05.23.2013 / 12:53 PM

By Tal Pinchevsky -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Bruins-Rangers series blog

Bruins expecting to face a desperate opponent

NEW YORK -- Shortly after a brief morning practice heading into Game 4 of their Eastern Conference Semifinal series against the New York Rangers, the Boston Bruins were expecting a desperate effort from an opponent looking to avoid a series sweep.

Hearing about the Rangers' announcement that forward Brad Richards would be scratched and Arron Asham could be out as well in favor of bigger players Kris Newbury and Micheal Haley did nothing to change that.

"Doesn't matter to me," Bruins coach Claude Julien said when asked about the Rangers' lineup changes. "We're here to win the hockey game tonight. We're going to do whatever it takes."

Posted On Thursday, 05.23.2013 / 12:38 PM

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

Rangers will turn to Hamrlik for injured Stralman

NEW YORK -- New York Rangers defenseman Roman Hamrlik has been practicing in the morning and watching games at night for the past seven-and-a-half weeks. Hamrlik better have been working hard and watching closely because he is expected be smack dab in the middle of the Stanley Cup Playoffs on Thursday at Madison Square Garden.

Hamrlik likely will replace injured defenseman Anton Stralman in the Rangers lineup for their must-win Game 4 against the Boston Bruins at Madison Square Garden (7 p.m. ET, CNBC, TSN, RDS). Stralman was injured late in the second period in Game 3 Tuesday, when Bruins forward Milan Lucic crunched him into the end boards in the defensive zone.

Boston leads the best-of-7 Eastern Conference Semifinal series 3-0.

"I've been watching the games from upstairs and that's a different view," Hamrlik said after the morning skate Thursday. "During the game you see lots of mistakes, but when you're on the ice or on the bench, it's much faster and quicker. Your brain has to [react] really quickly about what you're going to do. For me, I just have to read the play and use my stick, do what I do the best, make the first pass and play good defense."

Posted On Thursday, 05.23.2013 / 11:26 AM

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

Rangers make Brad Richards a healthy scratch

NEW YORK -- New York Rangers center Brad Richards said he will not be in the lineup for a must-win Game 4 Thursday at Madison Square Garden against the Boston Bruins (7 p.m. ET, CNBC, TSN, RDS).

Richards said Rangers coach John Tortorella called him Thursday morning to give him the news that he will be a healthy scratch for the elimination game. The Bruins lead the Rangers 3-0 in the best-of-7 Eastern Conference Semifinal series.

"I'm disappointed," Richards said.

Posted On Thursday, 05.23.2013 / 8:57 AM

By Kevin Weekes -  NHL Network Analyst /NHL.com - Weekes on the Web

Weekes: Red Wings adopting Blackhawks' style

What is so interesting about this Western Conference Semifinal series between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Detroit Red Wings are the similarities between the two organizations.

Chicago has been able to turn its franchise around by emulating Detroit. By that I mean puck possession, good two-way play, making plays offensively, being good offensively, not necessarily running guys through the boards but playing more of a puck possession and skill-type game.

The Hawks rebuilt their team through the draft and with some good trades and those great kids, of course, but it was all with an eye toward playing the Detroit Red Wings' style. Obviously with Scotty Bowman coming aboard as a senior advisor and having his son Stan run the show there as GM, certainly there is a lot of Detroit DNA in the Chicago Blackhawks, and it has shown in how they rebuilt the team and won the Stanley Cup in 2010 and how great they were in the regular season.

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Quote of the Day

That's today's game. That's one of the things you have to deal with when you're a championship team. Guys are going to earn more money based on their performance and what they've achieved, [and] deservedly so. [Saad] falls into that category.

— Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville on Brandon Saad, who was traded by Chicago to the Columbus Blue Jackets this offseason