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Posted On Tuesday, 05.01.2012 / 12:54 PM

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

Larsson ready for first chance at playoff hockey

PHILADELPHIA -- New Jersey Devils rookie defenseman Adam Larsson says he's ready.
 
Larsson, drafted with the fourth pick last June by the Devils with the hope of providing a solid transition from defense to offense, will have to showcase that very skill set on Tuesday when New Jersey battles the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference Semifinal series at Wells Fargo Center.
 
The injury to Ilya Kovalchuk (lower body, day-to-day) has enabled Larsson to get his opportunity. To make room for Larsson along the blue line, Devils coach Pete DeBoer will remove Peter Harrold from defense and put him on the team's fourth line alongside left wing Ryan Carter and center Stephen Gionta.
 
Harrold, 28, had played in just two playoff games as a member of the Los Angeles Kings prior to signing as a free agent by the Devils last August. In eight appearances this year, he has three assists and a plus-2 rating.
 
Larsson has been a healthy scratch for 13 of New Jersey's last 14 games, including the regular season. He'll partner with hard-hitting defenseman Anton Volchenkov. Harrold had averaged 15:11 of ice time along the blue line, but it remains to be seen if DeBoer decides to limit Larsson's.
 
Does Larsson feel he learned a lot by sitting with the assistant coaches and taking in the first eight games of the playoffs?
 
"It's more like what the coaches told me and why I sit out the last few weeks," he said. "All the experience from that, and all the things I worked on now for two or three weeks I hope I will be able to bring to the game [Tuesday]."
 
When asked if he expects a higher intensity level than from the regular season, Larsson smiled.
 
"I don't know … I hope," he said. "I practiced pretty hard during this time and I think that's been good for me."
 
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale

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Posted On Tuesday, 05.01.2012 / 12:28 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Flyers vs. Devils series blog

Flyers hope rust is gone, seek better start

VOORHEES, N.J. -- With the rust from their seven-day layoff fully scraped away, the Flyers are focused on turning the 40-plus solid minutes they played in Game 1 into a full, 60-minute effort in Game 2 of their conference semifinal series against the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC).

"We're hoping that whatever intensity was missing in the first period, it won't take us as long to get going [in Game 2]," Danny Briere said. "Knowing them, knowing their team a little bit more, knowing what to expect a little bit more, should prepare us better. But we keep talking about our starts and it always seems to be the problem. I'm hoping, once again, that we'll be ready to go."

First periods have been an issue seemingly all season for the Flyers, and it's carried into the playoffs, as they've allowed the first goal four times in seven playoff games.

"We weren't happy with the way we started Game 1, [but] that's past us," Kimmo Timonen said. "Now we can only focus on Game 2 and make sure we get a better start. They really came at us in the first period and they … if you look at their game they usually do that in the first period, they really start well in the first period. We've got to be ready today. Sometimes you can lose a game in the first period, and we don't want to do that."

Coach Peter Laviolette said a better start once again has been the message to his team, but he can only hope that's what happens when the puck drops Tuesday.

"The start obviously we talked about and we have to be better in that regard," he said. "Nobody's happy with that. I don't have a crystal ball, but certainly that's the intention, to go out and play a complete 60-minute game."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK


 


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Posted On Tuesday, 05.01.2012 / 11:56 AM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Flyers vs. Devils series blog

Flyers say Kovalchuk's absence changes nothing

VOORHEES, N.J. -- The Philadelphia Flyers remember quite well what happened the last time the opposition lost a key offensive piece -- or at least, they'd like to forget.

So they know that just because Ilya Kovalchuk won't be in the lineup for the New Jersey Devils in Game 2 of the teams' Eastern Conference Semifinal series Tuesday (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC), they can't allow anything to change in the way they approach the game.

"It seems that you always have different guys stepping up," Danny Briere said, "and even more when you have a star player out of the lineup, everyone can rally around that. So that's just as dangerous. We saw it in the first round. James Neal was suspended for that one game, and what was the score of that game?"

That was Game 4, when the Penguins routed the Flyers 10-3.

"That's why it's dangerous," Briere said. "We can't look at it that way [like it's easier now]. We have to play the same way whether he's in or out of the lineup."

Kimmo Timonen said it doesn't really matter who is in the Devils' lineup, because he and his teammates have to focus on what they're doing, rather than what the opposition is doing.

"The focus should be on us, not them," he said. "They're a good team anyway. If he's in or out, it doesn't matter to us. We have to focus on our game and make sure we play our game and we do our job."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK



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Posted On Tuesday, 05.01.2012 / 11:30 AM

By Louie Korac -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Blues vs. Kings series blog

Hitchcock rules Halak out for rest of series

ST. LOUIS -- Not only did the St. Louis Blues lose the first two games on home ice in the Western Conference Semifinals against the Los Angeles Kings, but coach Ken Hitchcock ruled after Game 2 that goalie Jaroslav Halak would not be available for the remainder of the series.

Halak, who started for the Blues when the playoffs began, has a lower-body injury that he suffered in Game 2 of the conference quarterfinals against San Jose when he collided with teammate Barret Jackman early in the second period.

Halak has been skating off and on by himself ever since and before the series with the Kings began, Hitchcock ruled Halak out for Games 1 and 2 and said they would "go from there" as the series progressed.

Hitchcock was asked at the end of his post-game press conference Monday night if Halak would be available for Game 3 Thursday night in Los Angeles.

"No," Hitchcock replied.

Asked if he would be available as a backup, the coach said before departing, "No … Jaro's out for the series. He won't play in the series."

So the Blues will move forward with Brian Elliott, who allowed five goals on 21 shots in Game 2, as the starter and rookie Jake Allen as the backup.

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Posted On Tuesday, 05.01.2012 / 10:50 AM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Flyers vs. Devils series blog

Projected Game 2 lineup for Flyers

VOORHEES, N.J. -- It was almost full attendance for the Philadelphia Flyers at their morning skate Tuesday, as the team got ready for Game 2 of their Eastern Conference Semifinal series with the New Jersey Devils (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC).

The only player missing was forward James van Riemsdyk, who played a major role in the Flyers' win in Game 1, with a goal, three shots on net and a screen on Devils goalie Martin Brodeur that allowed Danny Briere's game-winning goal to get through.

It was van Riemsdyk's third game back after missing nearly seven weeks with a broken foot, but a Flyers official told NHL.com that van Riemsdyk will be in the lineup when the puck drops.

Zac Rinaldo skated in van Riemsdyk's usual spot at the morning skate, but here's how the lineup likely will look when the game starts:

Scott Hartnell - Claude Giroux - Jaromir Jagr
James van Riemsdyk - Danny Briere - Jakub Voracek
Matt Read - Brayden Schenn - Wayne Simmonds
Maxime Talbot - Sean Couturier - Eric Wellwood

Braydon Coburn - Nicklas Grossmann
Matt Carle - Kimmo Timonen
Andreas Lilja - Erik Gustafsson

Ilya Bryzgalov
Sergei Bobrovsky

Pavel Kubina and Andrej Meszaros skated as a fourth defense pair, but neither likely will play -- Meszaros is still working his way back after back surgery in March, while Kubina will be a healthy scratch.

Rinaldo and Jody Shelley also will be healthy scratches.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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Posted On Tuesday, 05.01.2012 / 1:31 AM

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

Ovechkin makes most of few minutes

One would assume that Alex Ovechkin would be among the leaders in ice time for the Washington Capitals, especially in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

But Caps coach Dale Hunter limited his superstar's ice time in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals on Monday night, and Washington skated away with a 3-2 victory against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.

Alex Ovechkin
Left Wing - WSH
GOALS: 3 | ASST: 3 | PTS: 6
SOG: 36 | +/-: -1
Ovechkin, who led Washington with 65 points (38 goals, 27 assists) during the regular season, was on the ice for just 13 minutes and 36 seconds Monday night, just two days after receiving more than 21 minutes in Game 1. Nonetheless, Ovechkin made the most of his limited ice time in Game 2 and scored what proved to be the game-winner via the power play with 7:27 left in regulation.

The 13:36 of ice time Ovechkin played Monday night were the fewest in his NHL postseason career. It was also the fewest in his NHL career in a game -- excluding ejections or injuries. Ovechkin has played fewer than 17 minutes in three of Washington's last five games.

"I feel good. You have to suck it up and use time what Dale is giving to me," Ovechkin said. "First period, two periods I didn't play a lot and I have a couple opportunities I didn't use it. In third, two power plays -- I think on first power play we move well and on second one finally it goes in.

"It's most important thing right now guys just win the series and win the game. If you gonna talk about my game time and all that kind of stuff, it's not a season – it's the playoffs. How I said before, you have to suck it up and play for team."

Not so shorthanded -- Most teams try to stay out of the penalty box. But the Los Angeles Kings seem to do well even when they're whistled for an infraction.

Anze Kopitar
Center - LAK
GOALS: 3 | ASST: 3 | PTS: 6
SOG: 22 | +/-: 7
Not only did the Kings kill all nine St. Louis power plays Monday night, they also received a shorthanded goal from Anze Kopitar in a 5-2 win against the Blues in Game 2 of their Western Conference Semifinal series at the Scottrade Center.

Kings captain Dustin Brown picked up an assist on Kopitar's tally, giving him four shorthanded points this postseason. It's the most any player has had in the Stanley Cup Playoffs since Detroit center Henrik  Zetterberg had five points in 2008.

"It's good to see that emotional investment from Dustin, right? Good to see, and good for him," Kings coach Darryl Sutter said. "Hey, it's what I said before the series. We need him to have a good series."

St. Louis has already allowed two shorthanded goals in this series. The Blues surrendered three shorthanded tallies during the regular season.

Follow Brian Compton on Twitter: @BComptonNHL
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Posted On Monday, 04.30.2012 / 10:47 PM

NHL.com - 2011-2012 Situation Room blog

LA @ STL - 14:15 of the Second Period



At 14:15 of the second period in the Kings/Blues game, the Toronto Situation room initiated a review to determine if Patrik Berglund's shot crossed the goal line. Upon further review it was determined that the puck never crossed the goal line. Referee's call on the ice stands. No Goal St Louis.
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Posted On Monday, 04.30.2012 / 7:20 PM

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

Boyle returns to Rangers' lineup for Game 2

NEW YORK -- After a three-game absence, Brian Boyle is back in the Rangers' lineup for Game 2 of their Eastern Conference Semifinal series with the Washington Capitals on Monday night.

Brian Boyle
Center - NYR
GOALS: 3 | ASST: 0 | PTS: 3
SOG: 18 | +/-: 0
Boyle was knocked out of the lineup with a concussion suffered during Game 5 of the conference quarterfinals against the Ottawa Senators. He took part in the game-day skate Monday and reported feeling better, but was unsure of his status.

The Rangers have won three straight in his absence and will look to take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series with the Capitals.

In five games against the Senators, Boyle scored three goals. He will likely find himself centering the third line with wingers Ruslan Fedotenko and Brandon Prust.
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Posted On Monday, 04.30.2012 / 4:40 PM

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

Harrold's play has kept Larsson on sidelines

NEWARK, N.J. -- Do the New Jersey Devils need another player along the blue line capable of carrying the puck and exploding off the transition in their Eastern Conference Semifinal round series against the high-powered Philadelphia Flyers?
 
Rookie defenseman Adam Larsson, who was drafted fourth last June with the potential of providing that very skill set, could be that guy. The thing is, the only player Larsson could replace at this stage is a healthy Peter Harrold. And head coach Pete DeBoer has been extremely impressed with Harrold's poise and consistency.
 
"He's come in after playing in the minors the entire year and really given us some real solid minutes back there," DeBoer said of Harrold. "He's good defensively, can skate the puck out of trouble and add on the offensive side. He's a low-maintenance guy and you can tell he has some veteran savvy to him; you can tell he's played NHL playoff games before."
 
Harrold, 28, had played in just two playoff games as a member of the Los Angeles Kings prior to signing as a free agent by the Devils last August. In eight playoff games this year, he has three assists and a plus-2 rating.
 
But the key part of DeBoer's analysis on Harrold is the fact he considers him "a low-maintenance guy." If Larsson were inserted into the lineup, the coaching staff would have to monitor his minutes and also determine the ideal points in the game when he would be put on the ice.
 
Larsson has been a healthy scratch for 13 of New Jersey's last 14 games, including the regular season.
 
Harrold, paired mostly with Anton Volchenkov, has averaged 15:11 in ice time during the playoffs. He amassed a season-high 19:18 during the team's double-overtime win against Florida in Game 7 last Thursday.
 
DeBoer gave his team the day off on Monday. Forward Ilya Kovalchuk, who didn't register a shot on goal against the Flyers on Sunday, was unavailable for comment as he was receiving therapeutic treatment prior to boarding the team bus to Philadelphia in the afternoon. It has been rumored that Kovalchuk has been playing hurt in the playoffs.
 
"I think that it's not for a lack of effort with Kovy," DeBoer said. "Great players go through stretches where things aren't working well, and then where they are. You just have to work through it."
 
Here were the line combinations for the Devils during Sunday's game:
 
Ilya Kovalchuk - Travis Zajac - Alexei Ponikarovsky
Zach Parise - Patrik Elias - Dainius Zubrus
David Clarkson - Adam Henrique - Petr Sykora
Ryan Carter - Stephen Gionta - Steve Bernier

Andy Greene - Mark Fayne
Bryce Salvador - Marek Zidlicky
Anton Volchenkov - Peter Harrold
 
Martin Brodeur
Johan Hedberg
 
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale


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Posted On Monday, 04.30.2012 / 4:12 PM

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

Devils get day to regroup before going for series tie

NEWARK, N.J. -- New Jersey Devils coach Pete DeBoer decided to give his club a complete day off on Monday following their Game 1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers in their Eastern Conference Semifinal game on Sunday at Wells Fargo Center.
 
DeBoer informed the media on Monday afternoon at AmeriHealth Pavilion that he is undecided on whether he will stick with the same line combinations he had for Sunday's game against the Flyers.
 
"I'm going to sleep on the line changes," DeBoer said. "I liked some of them. Some of them weren't as effective. It's juggling to try and get four lines that are really contributing in a positive direction and we weren't there [Sunday]."
 
The Devils, who dropped a 4-3 overtime decision to the Flyers, will look to even this best-of-seven series on Tuesday in Philadelphia at 7:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN, CBC).
 
Devils goalie Martin Brodeur, who made 32 saves in Game 1, said there were a lot of positives to take out of the loss -- the most important being the team never quit.
 
"We showed a lot of character," Brodeur said. "It could have been easy after that power-play goal [by Claude Giroux that gave the Flyers a 3-2 lead early in the third period]. We allowed another power play right after, we killed it, and we stuck with it. There's a lot of good things besides winning. I thought we did a good job. We got to be happy, refocus and try to win a game in this building now."
 
Devils captain Zach Parise, who had a goal, assist, three hits and two blocked shots in the game, said his team needs to be faster on the puck.
 
"We need to make better plays through the neutral zone and put the puck in the right spot to allow us to forecheck," Parise told reporters on Monday afternoon before his team bused to Philadelphia. "We turned the puck over too much, and they have a good transition. We made it a lot harder on ourselves."
 
The Devils had six giveaways in the game, as compared to 13 by the Flyers.
 
"We're not going in with mindset of losing that game [Tuesday]," Brodeur said. "They're a confident bunch of guys. They took down the best in the League and played us pretty well in the second and third period [in Game 1]. They feel good about themselves, so we'll have to find a way to put a little doubt in the way they play the game."
 
Parise knows just how infectious confidence can be this time in the season.
 
"I'm sure they're not lacking in the goal-scoring confidence after their first-round series," Parise said. "You can tell they play systems well, and when a team is confident, they play loose. You can tell they're playing like that right now."
 
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale

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Quote of the Day

I downplayed the first one because I thought it's just a hockey game. We just want to win the game; it's against our rival and we want the two points. I downplayed it, but now having gone through the first one I look back and say, 'Geez, that was really cool.' I think as I've grown a bit older I've got a lot more appreciation for what we're allowed to do every day.

— Capitals forward Brooks Laich on the 2015 NHL Bridgestone Winter Classic, the second one of his career after 2011 in Pittsburgh