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Posted On Monday, 04.23.2012 / 12:37 PM

By Erin Nicks -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Rangers vs. Senators series blog

Alfredsson 'looking forward' to returning

OTTAWA -- After missing three games with a concussion, Ottawa Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson is ready to return to the lineup for Game 6 of his team's Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series against the New York Rangers on Monday (7 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC).

Alfredsson was injured midway through Game 2 when he was elbowed in the head by the Rangers' Carl Hagelin.

"I feel good," Alfredsson said. "[Sunday] went well, and I expected to feel good. I'm looking forward to [Monday]."

Alfredsson knows his return will be noted by the Rangers, but doesn't feel like coming back from injury makes him a target.

"I don't think I'm any more of a target than anyone else," he said. "I can't put a stop sign on the back of my jersey. I think everyone knows that if you're going to play in the playoffs, you're going to be expected to be treated the same as everyone else. I feel physically fine to be able to handle the physical play."

The captain downplayed the fact that his re-joining the team coincides with the Senators' first chance to close the series. Ottawa currently leads the best-of-seven matchup 3-2.

"It's just another game," Alfredsson said. "As you go deeper into series, the magnitude gets bigger and bigger -- we expect nothing but the best from the Rangers, and we're going to have to play our best, battle for 60 [minutes] or whatever it's going to take."

Coach Paul MacLean said he's grateful to have his team's leader back in the lineup, and hopes he can help out on special teams.

"[Alfredsson] is the captain, he's been here a long time, I think it means a lot to us to have him back in the lineup," MacLean said. "I think he can make the power play better, and just having him in there is going to be a good shot for our team."

Added Jason Spezza: "[Alfredsson] is our leader and we tried to hold things up pretty well while he was away, but we're always happiest when he's out on the ice with us."
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Posted On Monday, 04.23.2012 / 12:34 PM

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

Rangers hope to rally behind Boyle's absence

OTTAWA -- The Rangers will be without Brian Boyle (concussion) for Game 6 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series against the Ottawa Senators on Monday night.

Boyle did not make the trip to Ottawa after absorbing a bruising hit from Senators forward Chris Neil early in the third period of Game 5. In five games, Boyle has a team-high three goals.

The Senators used an incident in Game 1 when Boyle roughed Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson, who was also called for roughing on the play, to spark the team to victory in Game 2.

Can the Rangers use Boyle's absence in the same way?

"You use everything," Rangers captain Ryan Callahan said. "I mean, you have to have a win to stay in the season. You don't need much more motivation than that. It's a big game for us. You don't want to see a guy like that go down. He's meant so much for us throughout the playoffs so far. It would be nice to come in here and get a win for him."

The Rangers have dropped two straight in the series and have just three goals in their past three games and just one at even strength. They fired 41 shots on Senators goalie Craig Anderson in a 1-0 loss in Game 5, but as well as the Rangers feel they played in that loss, Callahan said they need to find another level with Boyle out of the lineup.

"I think we have to find another level, especially tonight," Callahan said. "I think they're going to come out hard. We have to find a way to get that goal or that next goal. Tonight's a big game for us and we have to be ready for it."

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo

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Posted On Monday, 04.23.2012 / 12:19 PM

By Erin Nicks -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Rangers vs. Senators series blog

Silfverberg ready to start NHL career

OTTAWA -- Jakob Silfverberg, who arrived in Ottawa from Sweden on Sunday, participated in the morning skate Monday and was seen skating on the top line alongside Milan Michalek and Jason Spezza. Silfverberg, who was the first of two second-round picks in the 2009 draft, helped Brynas capture the Swedish Elite League championship April 19. The 21-year-old led Brynas players in postseason scoring with 20 points, including a new league high of 13 goals (surpassing Daniel Alfredsson's 2005 record of 12).

If the Senators want to put Silfverberg in the lineup, he says he's ready to go.

"I feel well-rested," Silfverberg said. "I have had a few days off and I feel better than I did. Last week of our playoffs was at home, so that helped.  It's a dream you have as a child to play in the NHL. It's the best League in the world. It's a dream come true just to be here."

Coach Paul MacLean said that he was "considering" putting Silfverberg in the lineup, but had yet to make a final decision.
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Posted On Monday, 04.23.2012 / 12:12 PM

By Erin Nicks -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Rangers vs. Senators series blog

Game 6 lineup for Senators

OTTAWA -- Here is the projected lineup for the Ottawa Senators heading into Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals (7 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC) at Scotiabank Place on Monday.

Captain Daniel Alfredsson confirmed that he would return to the lineup after being sidelined the last three games with a concussion suffered in Game 2.

Milan Michalek - Jason Spezza - Mark Stone
Nick Foligno - Kyle Turris - Daniel Alfredsson
Colin Greening - Zack Smith - Chris Neil
Erik Condra - Jim O'Brien - Zenon Konopka

Filip Kuba - Erik Karlsson
Jared Cowen - Sergei Gonchar
Chris Phillips - Matt Carkner

Craig Anderson
Ben Bishop
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Posted On Monday, 04.23.2012 / 11:15 AM

By Alain Poupart -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Panthers vs. Devils series blog

Ellerby back on ice, Garrison remains out

CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. -- The Florida Panthers' defensive corps remained in flux after their practice Monday.

Jason Garrison didn't take part in the short practice, but Keaton Ellerby was back on the ice after missing Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series against New Jersey.

Garrison was a late scratch for Game 4 Thursday and also sat out the Panthers' 3-0 victory in Game 5 with a lower-body injury.

Coach Kevin Dineen said Garrison would be making the trip to New Jersey, where the team will meet Tuesday in Game 6.

"It's day-to-day," Dineen said. "We're encouraged that he may get a skate in tomorrow and see if he has a chance of playing tomorrow night."

Ellerby, meanwhile, sat out Game 5 after sustaining a lower-body injury when he was checked into the New Jersey bench by Stephen Gionta. Ellerby, who was in the lineup in Game 4 in place of Garrison, was seeing his first action since March 15.

Dineen said Ellerby's status would be determined by how his body will react to skating on Monday.

With Garrison and Ellerby both out, Tyson Strachan played in his first NHL playoff game in Game 5 after being recalled from San Antonio.

Strachan, who played 67 regular season over parts of four seasons with the St. Louis Blues, appeared in 15 games for the Panthers in 2011-12.

Strachan played 13:26 in Game 5 and finished with a plus-1 ratio.

"He stepped right in and kept things simple," Dineen said. "He created some offense with his powerful shot. That's the advantage of having a guy that's played 15 games during the regular season. He's got a little bit of familiarity with our group, and I thought he did a good job for us."

Along with Garrison, the other player who didn't practice Monday was forward Tomas Fleischmann. Fleischmann played in Saturday's game after not being on the ice for the morning skate.

"Just keep giving him maintenance days," Dineen said. "He seems to react very well to days off. That's the thinking with him."

Fleischmann's place on the Panthers' top line in Monday's practice was taken by Wojtek Wolski, who has been a healthy scratch the last three games.

Here were the Panthers' practice forward lines:

Wojtek Wolski - Stephen Weiss - Kris Versteeg
Sean Bergenheim - Marcel Goc - Mikael Samuelsson
Shawn Matthias - Jerred Smithson - Scottie Upshall
Marco Sturm - John Madden - Tomas Kopecky

Extras:

Krystofer Barch
Mike Santorelli
Matt Bradley (injured)
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Posted On Monday, 04.23.2012 / 10:56 AM

By NHL.com Staff -  /NHL.com - Rangers vs. Senators series blog

Alfredsson to return for Game 6

Ottawa Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson told reporters Monday morning that he would make his return to the lineup for Game 6 of his team's Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series against the New York Rangers on Monday night (7 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC).

Alfredsson took part in the team's optional morning skate, and told reporters he felt good enough to play. He had been out since Game 2 of the series, when he was elbowed in the head by the Rangers' Carl Hagelin and suffered a concussion.

Hagelin was given a three-game suspension for the hit.

The Senators lead the series 3-2.

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Posted On Sunday, 04.22.2012 / 11:26 PM

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

Road teams continue to reign supreme in OT

The first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs is still ongoing, but there have already been 13 games that have gone past regulation.

So far, that has been bad news for the home teams.

The visiting squad won both games that required overtime on Sunday, as Boston's Tyler Seguin and Jarret Stoll of Los Angeles lit the lamp in the extra session. With the victories, the road team is now 10-3 in overtime games this postseason.

Los Angeles won a playoff series for the first time in 11 years and became just the 10th team that finished eighth in the conference to eliminate a No. 1 seed since the National Hockey League adopted the format in 1993-94, and the sixth to upset a Presidents' Trophy winner. Vancouver finished the 2011-12 regular season with an NHL-best 111 points.

The Canucks lost all three games they hosted at Rogers Arena and have been ousted in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2004.

Marc-Andre Fleury
Goalie - PIT
RECORD: 2-4-0
GAA: 4.63 | SVP: 0.834
Nothing special -- The subpar goaltending by Marc-Andre Fleury certainly is a big reason why the Pittsburgh Penguins' season has ended prematurely. But perhaps an ever bigger reason is special teams.

The Philadelphia Flyers set a new franchise record with 12 power-play goals in their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal against the Pens, which ended with Sunday's 5-1 decision at Wells Fargo Center. The Flyers finished the series 12-for-23 with the man advantage, an astonishing 52.2 percent.

Pittsburgh's penalty kill ranked third in the League during the regular season with a success rate of 87.8 percent. But for these six games against its arch nemesis, it was nowhere to be found.

It's now 8-8 -- Sunday marked the 16th playoff game between the Washington Capitals and Boston Bruins.

And, after Seguin scored 3:17 into overtime, each team has now won eight games.

This is the third time in history the Caps and Bruins have faced each other in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and the teams will need a Game 7 to determine the winner. Alex Ovechkin erased a 3-2 deficit late in the third period Sunday, but Seguin -- who is only 20 years old -- won it for Boston early in the extra session.

Seguin led the Bruins during the regular season with 29 goals and 67 points, but was scoreless in the playoffs until notching two points on Sunday.

Wednesday marks the fifth Game 7 for Bruins goalie Tim Thomas and the first for Washington's Braden Holtby. Thomas is 3-2 with a 2.04 goals-against average in Game 7s.

It will be the 10th Game 7 for Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference. He has won five of nine in his career.

Follow Brian Compton on Twitter: @BComptonNHL
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Posted On Sunday, 04.22.2012 / 7:24 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Penguins vs. Flyers series blog

Pens need help on the blue line

PHILADELPHIA -- Two summers ago, the Penguins signed defensemen Paul Martin and Zbynek Michalek to five year contracts, and last season they traded for Matt Niskanen. But, in their first-round series loss to the Flyers it became obvious -- painfully at times for the Penguins and their fans -- that they still need help on the back end.

Pittsburgh gave up 30 goals in the six-game series loss to the Flyers, including 12 on the power play, and not all of them can be attributed to the inconsistent play of goalie Marc-Andre Fleury.

The Penguins won the Stanley Cup three years ago with Hal Gill and Rob Scuderi anchoring the defense and the penalty kill. They didn't have anybody as sturdy and consistent as those two against the Flyers and they got burned to the tune of five goals against per game.

Kris Letang and Niskanen are the exact type of offensive, puck-moving defensemen that a team with speed and talent up front like the Penguins need, but Brooks Orpik and Michalek didn't get enough help in the defensive role from guys like Deryk Engelland and Brian Strait.

Penguins coach Dan Bylsma even tried to compensate by dressing seven defensemen for the last three games with Martin out with an undisclosed injury, but Simon Despres didn't have much of an effect on the games. And, in the two games he played, Ben Lovejoy showed he was not the answer as he struggled defensively and had a costly turnover.

If the Penguins are going to address a need in the offseason, it's on the blue line with a stay-at-home, solid, sturdy, and powerful defenseman. They needed a guy like that against the Flyers.

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Posted On Sunday, 04.22.2012 / 6:02 PM

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

Is this it for Brodeur and Parise in New Jersey?

NEWARK, N.J. -- It has come to that time of the hour where the New Jersey Devils might have to contemplate life without goalie Martin Brodeur and captain Zach Parise if the season does indeed come to a sudden halt on Tuesday at Prudential Center.
 
The Devils need to win the final two games of their best-of-seven Eastern Conference Quarterfinal against the Florida Panthers if they have any intention of extending their season in 2011-12.
 
At the same time, both Brodeur and Parise will become unrestricted free agents at the end of the season. While the chances of Brodeur signing with another team seem rather unlikely at his age, that will not be the case with Parise.
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Posted On Sunday, 04.22.2012 / 3:43 PM

By Erin Nicks -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Rangers vs. Senators series blog

Alfredsson hopeful to play in Game 6

OTTAWA, Ont. – Barring a setback, it appears there is a distinct possibility captain Daniel Alfredsson could play in Game 6 against the Rangers on Monday.

Alfredsson, who has been sidelined with a concussion since Game 2, took part in the optional practice at Scotiabank Place Sunday afternoon, just several hours after Ottawa took a win in Game 5 to take a three-games-to-two lead in their Eastern Conference Quarterfinals series.

“I feel good,” Alfredsson said. “It’s nice to be back on the ice – I skated a bit on my own on [Saturday] as well. Today’s another step and it’s been a good couple of days. I’m hopeful. We’re obviously going to wait until [Monday] but the way the last two days felt, I’m encouraged. So unless something changes, that’s it.”

While he was frustrated by sitting out, the captain has been impressed with the way the team has played in his absence.

“We’ve done a great job on defense and in our own end,” Alfredsson said. “Penalty killing has been outstanding, but also, just playing hard every shift – that’s been our mentality throughout the whole year. We’re going to give it everything we have and see where we end up in the end. We need another gutsy effort [on Monday] and need everyone to bring their best. “
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I'm hoping Bob [Murray] didn't go out and get Dany Heatley just to get someone. I'm sure he's excited and motivated.

— Anaheim Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau on general manager Bob Murray's decision to sign Dany Heatley