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Posted On Wednesday, 05.01.2013 / 4:20 PM

By Kevin Woodley -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Canucks-Sharks series blog

Canucks' 'beast' Kesler will be ready for Game 1

VANCOUVER -- Almost lost amid the shock of Vancouver Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo starting the team's Stanley Cup Playoff opener Wednesday against the San Jose Sharks (10:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN, RDS) was the absence of center Ryan Kesler from the morning skate.

Canucks coach Alain Vigneault promised there would be no more surprises before the puck drops for Game 1, insisting Kesler exercised the option on an optional practice, despite the fact every other Vancouver player took part.

"We've got him locked up in the back, we're feeding him raw meat," Vigneault said with a laugh. "The beast will be ready tonight."

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Posted On Wednesday, 05.01.2013 / 4:09 PM

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

Blues set physical tone early in Game 1

HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- After being pushed out of their element by the Los Angeles Kings en route to being swept in the Stanley Cup Playoffs a season ago, the St. Louis Blues felt like the only way to dictate the tempo in the Western Conference Quarterfinals opener between the two teams Tuesday was to initiate the contact and most importantly, push first.

The Blues, who took Game 1, 2-1 on Alexander Steen's shorthanded overtime goal, came out with an intensity that was packed with the kind of physical element that's suited for their style of play.

"I think last year they did it to us," Blues enforcer Ryan Reaves said of the 2012 sweep. "They came out, all four lines were physical. They pushed us out. We really didn't have a response for them.

"I think this year, it's got to be the opposite. We've got to come out and push them out first and then when they push back, we've got to push harder."

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Posted On Wednesday, 05.01.2013 / 3:47 PM

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

Sutter says Greene not ready for Kings

ST. LOUIS -- After dropping Game 1 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals series 2-1 in overtime against the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday night, the Los Angeles Kings held an optional skate Wednesday at Scottrade Center.

A dozen players along with backup goalie Jonathan Bernier participated in advance of Thursday's Game 2.

Among them was defenseman Matt Greene, who missed Game 1 and the regular-season finale with an undisclosed injury.

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Posted On Wednesday, 05.01.2013 / 3:46 PM

By Dan Myers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Blackhawks-Wild series blog

Suter happy for time at home after heavy minutes

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- With Chicago's United Center booked for an NBA playoff game Thursday, a quirk which pushed Game 2 of this Stanley Cup Playoff series back 24 hours, the Minnesota Wild chose to fly home following the game, allowing its players to enjoy the comforts of home despite opening on the road.

"The last two weeks have felt like playoff hockey," coach Mike Yeo said. "So to have a chance to come home and reset, regardless of whatever the outcome of that game was, we thought it would be important for our guys to be able to reset and focus to be ready for the next one."

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Posted On Wednesday, 05.01.2013 / 3:42 PM

By Kevin Woodley -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Canucks-Sharks series blog

Luongo back in goal for Canucks

VANCOUVER -- The Vancouver Canucks added another twist to their season-long goaltending soap opera when the club announced Roberto Luongo will start in net when the Canucks play Game 1 of their first-round Stanley Cup Playoff series against the San Jose Sharks on Wednesday (10:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN, RDS).

The possibility of Luongo playing in the opener was raised when Cory Schneider missed the final two games of the regular season and stayed off the ice for five days with what the team called a "body" injury. However, Schneider skated on his own Sunday and with team since Monday and Tuesday. He said after practice Tuesday he felt good enough to play.

Instead it will be Luongo, who lost the No. 1 job two games into last year's playoffs and started this season as Schneider's backup while expecting a trade that never happened.

"It's kind of funny I'm in this situation, but at the same time I'm not surprised," Luongo said, adding he didn't learn he was starting until Wednesday morning. "The way things have been going the last year, I didn't rule it out, for sure. It's been a fun ride and it's only going to get better from here on out."

The ride won't feature Schneider on the bench. First-year pro Joe Cannata, called up from the American Hockey League when Schneider couldn't practice last week, will dress as the backup.

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Posted On Wednesday, 05.01.2013 / 3:41 PM

By Dan Myers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Blackhawks-Wild series blog

Backstrom, Pominville day-to-day for Wild

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- With an extra day between Games 1 and 2 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals series against the Chicago Blackhawks, the Minnesota Wild flew back to the Twin Cities on Tuesday night following a 2-1 overtime loss.

Originally scheduled to practice Wednesday and Thursday at Xcel Energy Center before flying back to the Windy City on Thursday afternoon, Wild coach Mike Yeo gave his players the day off, although most showed up for treatment and meetings.

The first question of Yeo's press conference regarded the status of goaltender Niklas Backstrom, who sustained a lower-body injury in the final minutes of warm-ups before the game Tuesday. Yeo classified him as day-to-day, saying he would know more after the veteran met with the training staff Wednesday.

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Posted On Wednesday, 05.01.2013 / 3:06 PM

NHL.com - Blues-Kings series blog

Jim Fox reports from St. Louis

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Posted On Wednesday, 05.01.2013 / 2:55 PM

By NHL.com Staff -  /NHL.com - Penguins-Islanders series blog

Video: Game 1 news and notes

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Posted On Wednesday, 05.01.2013 / 2:40 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Blackhawks-Wild series blog

Blackhawks get day of rest after OT win

CHICAGO – A day after opening the Stanley Cup Playoffs by winning an overtime game against the Minnesota Wild, the Chicago Blackhawks stayed off the ice.

The Blackhawks did not practice at United Center, which will be the site of Game 2 of their Western Conference Quarterfinal series, which got off to a nail-biting start Tuesday night with Chicago’s 2-1 win in OT.

That meant goalie Ray Emery and center Dave Bolland, who each missed the series opener with a lower-body injury, had another day off to rest and recover. Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville met with reporters Wednesday and gave a brief update on the injured duo, whose availability for Game 2 on Friday is up in the air.

"I don’t know about Game 2, but hopefully they’ll be skating [Thursday]," Quenneville said. “We’re hopeful on that, but I don’t want to comment too much on Friday right now with them.”

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Posted On Wednesday, 05.01.2013 / 2:30 PM

By Matt Sitkoff -  NHL.com Contributor /NHL.com - NHL Live blog

Bourque talking Bruins on Cisco NHL Live

Six teams get ready to start their quest for the Stanley Cup on Wednesday and Cisco NHL Live on the NHL Network will get you ready for all three games. Hosts EJ Hradek and Steve Mears will take you inside all of the arenas for a live preview of each matchup.

Plus, Hall of Famer Ray Bourque visits the show to help us preview the Boston Bruins' postseason. The Hall of Famer also will discuss his latest off-ice passion.

In the Western Conference, the Chicago Blackhawks have plenty to celebrate. In addition to their overtime win against the Minnesota Wild in Game 1 on Tuesday, it was announced Wednesday that the Presidents' Trophy winners will host the Pittsburgh Penguins next season at Soldier Field next season. Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville will join us to react to that news and look ahead to Game 2 against Minnesota.

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Quote of the Day

I don't think it's really truly going to sink in until we drop the puck, to be honest. I know there's going to be a lot of smoke and mirrors with the media attention and all that. We came [Monday] and it was sort of a light day to get things organized. We just want to focus in on the business aspect, the game itself. That's what we're preparing to do. Get these next couple of days out of the way and it's game on.

— Lightning captain Steven Stamkos on playing in his first Stanley Cup Final