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Posted On Monday, 05.13.2013 / 3:13 PM

By Chris Adamski - Correspondent / - Penguins-Senators series blog

Penguins, Cooke solely focused on winning

PITTSBURGH -- If people still are talking about a feud between the Ottawa Senators and Matt Cooke, no one in the Pittsburgh Penguins' locker room is.

With the Eastern Conference Semifinal series between the teams starting Tuesday, issues surrounding Cooke and the Senators -- Cooke is blamed for the Achilles injury that sidelined Ottawa defenseman Erik Karlsson for more than two months -- have become an afterthought among the players.

"That's all outside the locker room," Penguins forward Pascal Dupuis said. "It's media, it's Twitter, it's Facebook. It's not stuff that [concerns us]."

"The off-ice stuff and accusations and that stuff, it does not play into the series for our team," added Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma. "We're definitely not going to make it a part of the series for our team. Whether there's emotion there on their side -- I don't think so. I think they'll be focused on winning four hockey games."

Posted On Monday, 05.13.2013 / 2:02 PM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst / - Melrose Minute

Melrose: Top storylines from conference quarters

Another week of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs is in the books and it's almost time to start Round 2. With the first round set to wrap up Monday night with Game 7s between the Washington Capitals and New York Rangers, and the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs, here are some things that have stuck out to me from the conference quarterfinals.


The New York Islanders might be done after losing in Game 6, but they leave looking far different from how they did six months ago or even three weeks ago. This is a good hockey team. I think it showed at the end of the season when they finished strong, and then the way they played the Pittsburgh Penguins. You could easily argue New York was the better team in this series and the Penguins are lucky to have won. This team has definitely grown by leaps and bounds the last three or four weeks, and if you're an Islanders fan, it's got to be the best you've felt about this team in 20 years.

John Tavares
Center - NYI
GOALS: 3 | ASST: 2 | PTS: 5
SOG: 21 | +/-: -4
I think this postseason was a sign of things to come for New York. If you look at the Islanders, they're all young, they've got some good veterans like Mark Streit and Lubomir Visnovsky, and I don't see any reason to think the young guys aren't just going to get better. They've found out there are a lot of great kids in their feeder system, like Brock Nelson, who came up and played very well. Finally, of course, they have John Tavares. This guy is for real and there's no doubt that he'll do next year what he did this year as long as he's healthy. Are they going to fight for first overall next year? I don't think so, but the Islanders are certainly a team that will be fighting for a playoff spot next year.
Posted On Monday, 05.13.2013 / 1:44 PM

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

Rangers ignoring past Washington woes

WASHINGTON -- New York Rangers coach John Tortorella is fond of saying home-ice advantage doesn't mean anything unless you get to a Game 7.

Well, the Rangers are in another Game 7 against the Washington Capitals, only this time it's on the road at Verizon Center on Monday (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN, RDS2), where they lost Game 7 of the 2009 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.

So how does Tortorella feel now?

"I think there is an advantage to the home team," he said Monday morning, "but quite honestly we're the visiting team and we really don't care."

Posted On Monday, 05.13.2013 / 1:32 PM

By Staff -  / - Penguins-Senators series blog

Spezza not traveling with Senators

The Ottawa Senators announced Monday that center Jason Spezza would not travel with the team to for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday, instead remaining in Ottawa ton continue his rehabilitation from back surgery.

Spezza had surgery Feb. 1 to repair a herniated disc. On May 10 he began skating with the team's "black aces," its extra players, with the hope that he could return to the team at some point in the series.

In five games this season, Spezza had two goals and three assists. His last game was Jan. 27.

Posted On Sunday, 05.12.2013 / 9:15 PM

By Tal Pinchevsky - Staff Writer / - Capitals-Rangers series blog

In tight series, bad bounces play large role

NEW YORK -- In the New York Rangers and Washington Capitals' evened-up Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, the Capitals hold a slim 12-11 scoring advantage in what has been the closest series so far of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Two games have ended overtime and most contests have been decided by the slightest of bounces.

Heading into Game 7 Monday night in Washington, that likely means that one player's bad bounce could mean the difference between advancing to the second round and going home for the summer.

That was the case in Sunday's Game 6, as Derick Brassard's point shot deflected off the glove of Capitals rookie Steve Oleksy and into the Capitals’ net. That one bad bounce would be the deciding play in New York's 1-0 victory.

Posted On Sunday, 05.12.2013 / 4:38 PM

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

Red Wings put Eaves back in Game 7 lineup

ANAHEIM -- Patrick Eaves didn't know what his personal record in Game 7s in the Stanley Cup Playoffs was until a member of the media told him Sunday morning at Honda Center.

He did know that he played in several (four), and that experience is supplemented by the many he played out in his mind during his childhood in Fairbault, Minn. Eaves' Detroit Red Wings will face the Anaheim Ducks here Sunday night and the winner will advance to the Western Conference Semifinals.

Both teams have several young players who will be playing in a Game 7 in the NHL playoffs for the first time. Detroit coach Mike Babcock's message on that matter is clear, and alluded to what Eaves meant when he mentioned all those Game 7s as a kid.

"You've got to excited to play on this stage," Babcock said. "You grow up dreaming about it, scoring the winning goal in overtime. Anybody who's been involved in hockey knew who they were and who you tried to emulate at the time. You've done it a million times. Just play the game.

"You spend your whole life growing up -- like for me it was Leaf Rapids, Manitoba, road hockey games, I was always Bobby Orr. They were the team, and I loved Bobby Orr. You're always the guy scoring the winning goal in overtime. You've done it your whole life, so just go do it."

Posted On Sunday, 05.12.2013 / 4:22 PM

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

Kings welcome time to rest prior to second round

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- There wasn't much for the Los Angeles Kings to do Sunday except rest and wait for their next opponent in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

About eight forwards and six defensemen participated in an optional skate. Kyle Clifford was not among them, and coach Darryl Sutter gave a defiant "no" when asked about an update. Clifford skated on his own before the morning skate of Game 6 of the Western Conference Quarterfinal series against the St. Louis Blues, but did not play.

Sutter was otherwise glad to get a break in between series.

"It's really good," Sutter said. "Between regular season and first round, we were flying today and practicing tomorrow so it's critical for some guys to recover, not only in terms of injury but energy."

Posted On Sunday, 05.12.2013 / 4:10 PM

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

Kreider returns to Rangers' lineup, replacing Clowe

NEW YORK -- Chris Kreider is back in the New York Rangers lineup to replace injured forward Ryane Clowe for Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals on Sunday at Madison Square Garden.

The Washington Capitals lead the best-of-7 series, 3-2, and can advance to the conference semifinals for a third straight season with a win Sunday.

Kreider played in Game 1 of the series against the Washington Capitals but has been a healthy scratch since. He had five goals in 18 Stanley Cup Playoff games last season.

Posted On Sunday, 05.12.2013 / 3:24 PM

By Tal Pinchevsky - Staff Writer / - Capitals-Rangers series blog

Capitals look to withstand early Rangers attack

NEW YORK -- Washington Capitals coach Adam Oates revealed on Sunday that he would not be making any changes to his lineup heading into Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the New York Rangers.

Sporting mostly the same lineup that has given the team a 3-2 series lead, Oates acknowledged that the Capitals' chances of closing out this opening-round series could hinge on the opening moments in front of what figures to be a raucous Madison Square Garden crowd.

"Obviously it's their building. They're going to feel good in front of their home crowd. We need a good start to get into the game," Oates said. "We expect them to come hard. We just need to handle all the decisions you need to make early to get into the game. We can't give them any more ammo."

Posted On Sunday, 05.12.2013 / 2:50 PM

By Staff -  / - Bruins-Maple Leafs series blog

Bruins without Ference for Game 6

Boston Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference is day-to-day and did not travel with the team for Game 6 of its Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Sunday night at Air Canada Center.

Ference played all 48 regular-season games this season for the Bruins, posting four goals and 13 points, but will miss his second game of this series. He was also out in Game 2 due to a suspension for an illegal hit to the head of Maple Leafs forward Mikhail Grabovski in the series opener.

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— Oilers forward Connor McDavid on moving beyond the anticipation of his long-awaited arrival in the NHL