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Posted On Saturday, 05.25.2013 / 3:13 PM

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

Desperate Hawks set to unite top guns on one line

CHICAGO -- Near the end of Game 4 with his club desperate for a goal, Chicago coach Joel Quenneville had Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp each on different lines.

After three straight contests where offense was a problem for the Blackhawks, Quenneville may put them all together at the start of Game 5 on Saturday night (8 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, RDS).

Sharp and Kane were on Toews' flanks when the Blackhawks went through line rushes at the morning skate inside United Center. Chicago needs a win against the Detroit Red Wings, or their rivals to the Southeast are going to claim this Western Conference Semifinals series in shocking fashion.

"They've played together in the past, and they've taken some shifts together [recently] here and there," Quenneville said. "I think they like playing with one another and we'll see how it goes."

Posted On Saturday, 05.25.2013 / 2:40 PM

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

Red Wings wary of Blackhawks' stretch passes

CHICAGO -- The Detroit Red Wings have done a commendable job of not allowing the Chicago Blackhawks to possess the puck through the neutral zone in the Western Conference Semifinals.

That has forced Chicago to look for a Plan B to ignite its offense, and one particular tactic the Blackhawks like is a long pass through the zone to a forward waiting near the Detroit blue line. Other teams might just be trying to find a forward to deflect the pass into the offensive end to start the forecheck, but the Blackhawks are looking to connect on that pass and spring one of their skilled forwards on a breakaway or an odd-man rush.

Detroit defenseman Kyle Quincey called these passes haymakers earlier in the series, and it fits -- if chipping the puck in and starting a cycle is the equivalent of a series of jabs to work the body, the Blackhawks are looking to throw a knockout punch.

"They're trying to get behind us with those long passes and stretch us out," Quincey said Saturday morning at United Center before Game 5 of a series the Red Wings lead 3-1. "They're making us skate with them. That's their skill set and we have to match it. It is tough. It is a lot of skating."

Posted On Friday, 05.24.2013 / 8:46 PM

By Matt Kalman - Correspondent / - Bruins-Rangers series blog

Bruins' fourth line putting up their fight on ice

BOSTON -- If the New York Rangers want to get a spark from their new fourth line of Kris Newbury, Micheal Haley and Derek Dorsett by them engaging in extracurricular activities, they’re going to have a hard time finding dance partners.

Several times early in the Rangers’ series-extending 4-3, Game 4 overtime win against the Boston Bruins in the Eastern Conference Semifinals on Thursday, New York’s energy players tried to coax some of Boston’s tougher players to fight, to no avail.

Bruins coach Claude Julien expects that to continue, at least until Boston is in need of a spark.

“I think it was pretty clear. I said it even on TV there between those timeouts: The guys on my fourth line, to me, aren’t worth the trade off with their fourth line right now,” Julien said after the Bruins prepared for Game 5 with a practice Friday at TD Garden. “Those guys are pretty valuable players for us. So whichever way they see their players, I certainly don’t want to see one of mine necessarily in the penalty box with one of theirs, because it plays to their advantage.”

Posted On Friday, 05.24.2013 / 8:28 PM

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

Depth defensemen making difference for Detroit

CHICAGO -- When the Detroit Red Wings lost seven-time Norris Trophy winner Nicklas Lidstrom to retirement after the 2011-12 season, the impact seemed obvious.

But Detroit also began the 2012-13 campaign without steady veteran Brad Stuart, who was traded to the San Jose Sharks just before he was set to become an unrestricted free agent this past summer.

It left two huge holes in the Red Wings defense corps, and Plan A for helping to fill the void, free agent Ryan Suter, ended up with the Minnesota Wild instead.

The Red Wings regrouped, and over the course of this season there has been a youth movement afoot on the team’s back end. Veterans Carlo Colaiacovo and Kent Huskins were signed to offer depth, but it was clear some young defensemen would get a chance to play.

Niklas Kronwall moved up the depth chart and embraced being the team’s new No. 1. Jonathan Ericsson has proven to be a solid partner for him.

A huge reason the Red Wings can eliminate the top-seeded Chicago Blackhawks in Game 5 of the Western Conference Semifinals on Saturday at United Center (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, RDS) has been the play of the blue line after the all-Swede top pairing.

Posted On Friday, 05.24.2013 / 7:55 PM - 2012-2013 Situation Room blog

OTT @ PIT - 6:25 of the First Period

At 6:25 of the first period in the Senators/Penguins game, video review upheld the referee's call on the ice that Mark Eaton's shot first deflected off Brenden Morrow's stick and then his right skate and into the net in a legal fashion. Good Goal Pittsburgh.

Posted On Friday, 05.24.2013 / 7:47 PM

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

Morrow in Penguins lineup, scores opening goal

PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Penguins forward Brenden Morrow must have some power of persuasion.

Morrow, who missed Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday with an undisclosed injury, and took line rushes with the extra forwards at the morning skate Friday, found his way back into the lineup for Game 5.

He scored the first goal of the game 6:25 into the first period.

Morrow said Friday morning he felt better and it would be a game-time decision whether he played.

He replaced forward Beau Bennett, who played in Game 4. To start the game, Morrow was on Pittsburgh's fourth line with Jussi Jokinen and Craig Adams.

Here is what the Penguins lineup looked like for Game 5:

Posted On Friday, 05.24.2013 / 6:48 PM

By Eric Gilmore - Correspondent / - Kings-Sharks series blog

Sharks expect better effort in do-or-die Game 6

SAN JOSE -- San Jose Sharks center Logan Couture was angry and frustrated Thursday night in the wake of a 3-0 loss to the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center in Game 5 of their Western Conference Semifinal.

Couture's mood hadn't improved much, if any, by Friday afternoon, after a brief team meeting as the Sharks tried to regroup from their worst performance of the postseason.

That might be a good thing. Couture, for one, said he plans to use his frustration as motivation Sunday against the Kings at HP Pavilion when the Sharks face an elimination game for the first time this year in the Stanley Cup Playoffs (NBCSN, RDS, TSN).

"I know I will. I hope everyone else does as well," Couture said. "I wasn't happy with the way I played personally. It's going to motivate me for Sunday's game. I hope it motivates the rest of the guys as well."

Posted On Friday, 05.24.2013 / 6:36 PM

By Curtis Zupke - Correspondent / - Kings-Sharks series blog

Greene brings big presence back to Kings

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- From opening day to the end of April, the Los Angeles Kings' dressing room was quieter. They are not a chatty bunch to begin with, and when defenseman Matt Greene was gone, his deep tone was noticeably absent.

"He's a big voice in the locker room, and when he was missing this year, you could really feel it in the atmosphere in the dressing room," defenseman Rob Scuderi said. "It's not something that is necessarily needed to play well, but it lightens the atmosphere and it keeps things loose, which is a big part of a season and the playoffs. It can't be serious all the time. We certainly missed him in that way, and certainly what he brings to us on the ice. We've missed his experience and leadership."

Posted On Friday, 05.24.2013 / 5:54 PM

By Brian Hedger - Correspondent / - Blackhawks-Red Wings series blog

Toews, Blackhawks seek 'controlled emotion'

CHICAGO -- After Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews picked up his third penalty in less than six minutes Thursday night, defenseman Brent Seabrook skated over and settled him down while he sat in the penalty box.

The normally staid Toews came a little unglued in the second period of Game 4 in Chicago's Western Conference Semifinal against the Detroit Red Wings, especially after the first infraction, a high-sticking call he adamantly disputed, resulted in what turned out to be the winning goal in a 2-0 result.

After picking up another high-sticking call for his third straight penalty -- this one much more blatant -- Toews angrily headed toward the box while Seabrook, who's had his own struggles, took action.

"He looked frustrated and I don't know if that was a reason for the penalties," said Seabrook, whose ice time has dropped dramatically the past two games. "It was a little bit of bad luck with his stick. I just tried to calm him down and we need him. He's the best player on the team and our leader. If the rest of the group sees him like that it's going to trickle down.

"We need him to be focused and ready and I just told him to sit down and take a couple of deep breaths and get ready to be back out there because we need him."

Posted On Friday, 05.24.2013 / 3:47 PM

By Dan Rosen - Senior Writer / - Bruins-Rangers series blog

McDonagh key to Rangers' power-play improvement

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- New York Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh played more than 29 minutes in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Boston Bruins on Thursday, marking the fourth time in the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs he's logged at least that much ice time in a game.

However, for the first time in the playoffs, McDonagh had a regular role on the power play. Rangers coach John Tortorella said McDonagh was good in that role, and Tortorella took the blame for not putting him on the power play sooner.

"I think he helped us [in Game 4] on the power play," Tortorella said. "It's me. I [messed] that up not using him early enough and I should have."

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Every D-man who comes from Sweden has watched him play. He was my idol growing up and he's the reason I started to play 'D.'

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