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Posted On Wednesday, 04.25.2012 / 2:04 PM

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

Senators hope for road-ice advantage in Game 7

OTTAWA -- The Ottawa Senators held their final practice on home ice Wednesday morning before departing for New York. The Senators square off against the New York Rangers for Game 7 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinals series on Thursday night (7 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC).

The Senators did not skate any lines, but Daniel Alfredsson was seen running power play drills with Kyle Turris, Chris Neil, Sergei Gonchar and Chris Phillips. Matt Carkner and Zenon Konopka were absent from practice. Coach Paul MacLean said that both were taking "maintenance days." On Tuesday, Konopka was seen moving gingerly around the halls of Scotiabank Place. Mark Borowiecki and Mark Stone participated in the skate, and MacLean said that Borowiecki would be making the trip to Manhattan with the team.

Heading into Game 7, the Sens are hoping to get a boost from the visiting building. Ottawa won both of its regular-season games at Madison Square Garden, and has taken two out of three games in this series on the road.

"We've played well there, there's no question," Alfredsson said. "I think overall during the year, we've been better on the road than we have at home for whatever reason. But Game 7 is Game 7, and getting off to a good start is important. That will be our focus."

Erik Karlsson only has one point in this series -- a goal scored in Game 2 -- and the defenseman admitted the matchup has been frustrating for him at times.

"[It's been] a little bit [frustrating]," Karlsson said. "[The Rangers] are a good team and that's why they won the Eastern Conference. They've got really good goaltending and it's been tough for us. But I think we've done a good job in what we've [accomplished] so far. Obviously I want to do things offensively, but if I have to do something else to help the team win, whether it's throwing hits, blocking shots or playing [well] defensively, you do what you have to. Offensively, right now, it's tough."

Added MacLean: "I don't think [Erik] needs to do more. We just need [Karlsson] to be [Karlsson]. When [Erik] skates, that's obviously when he's at his best. He hasn't skated the way that we needed him to skate, and on [Thursday] we need him to use his skill as a skater to create offense. He's going to be a target on our team and he has to come up with ways to counteract that."
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Posted On Wednesday, 04.25.2012 / 1:58 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Rangers vs. Senators series blog

Lundqvist focused, feeding off energy of series

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Henrik Lundqvist says he plays better when he's upset.

Well, he can recall only a few times in his career when he was as angry after a game as he was following the Rangers' 3-2 win in Game 6 on Monday night. Lundqvist was beside himself that the officials allowed Chris Neil's goal to stand with 32 seconds left in the game despite the fact that he felt he was interfered with and Neil kicked the puck into the net.

"I was really mad," Lundqvist said Wednesday after practice.

So how does he bring that anger into Game 7 Thursday (7 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS)?

It'll have to happen naturally, but if the Senators continue to crash his crease Lundqvist's blood should start to boil.

"I think it's been a similar style hockey each game, a lot of bodies in front, a little more intense, but that's part of the playoffs," said Lundqvist, who on Wednesday was announced as a finalist for the Vezina Trophy. "I expect it to be crowded and a little more physical. I don't mind it. I like when two teams are fighting and competing. I kind of feed from that a little bit. Sometimes I play better when I'm a little upset."

Lundqvist, though, will not go into Game 7 angry. He will instead be focused on anything and everything that is in his power to control.

He's played in enough big games (Game 7 against Washington in 2009, the gold-medal game in the 2006 Olympics, the 2012 Winter Classic) to understand how best to approach this one.

"Mentally you try to block everything you can't control. You focus on the things you can control," he said. "Every time you're in a game where your season is on the line, the mental aspect, it's a bigger challenge. But if you can just control your emotion and focus on the right things, it doesn't have to change. I'm going to approach this game the same way I approached the last game and the game before that."

Lundqvist added that never having won a Game 7 in his career is not at all a factor now. He said he's living in the moment because he wants to win to keep playing.

"You want to go out there and play, enjoy it. It is a great moment," Lundqvist said. "You worked hard all year to be here. I think you have to see it as a great challenge, then you feel more positive about it, don't put too much pressure on it, and just enjoy it."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

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Posted On Wednesday, 04.25.2012 / 1:32 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Rangers vs. Senators series blog

Neil's comments no bother to Del Zotto

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Rangers defenseman Michael Del Zotto had nothing to say when asked for a reaction to Ottawa forward Chris Neil's comment after Game 6 Monday that he's sure he will catch Del Zotto with his head down "one of these times."

"I don't even know what he said," Del Zotto said Wednesday. "I'm just worried about (Game 7 on Thursday). It's a big game for us. We played well last game. It's Game 7 in our building and that's all I'm worried about."

Del Zotto hit Neil hard with 5:37 to play in the third period of Game 6. Neil is the player whose big hit on Brian Boyle gave the Rangers towering center with a concussion. Brandon Prust also fought Neil late in the first period.

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl


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Posted On Wednesday, 04.25.2012 / 1:30 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Rangers vs. Senators series blog

Rangers practice minus Callahan, who gets day off

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Rangers captain Ryan Callahan did not practice Wednesday at the team's suburban training facility, but coach John Tortorella said he was just given an extra day off and he will take the morning skate Thursday prior to Game 7 against Ottawa (7 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS).
 
Callahan blocked a Chris Phillips shot with his hand in the third period of Game 6 on Monday. He still played 30 shifts totaling more than 24 minutes of ice time.

John Scott was filling in for Callahan on a line with Derek Stepan and Chris Kreider.

Brian Boyle (concussion) was the only other player missing from Rangers practice. He has not been on the ice since Game 5, when Senators forward Chris Neil hit him hard in the open ice.

Here were the Rangers' lines and defense pairs during practice Wednesday:

Carl Hagelin - Brad Richards - Marian Gaborik
Chris Kreider - Derek Stepan - John Scott (for Callahan)
Ruslan Fedotenko - Brandon Dubinsky - Brandon Prust
Artem Anisimov - John Mitchell - Mike Rupp

Dan Girardi - Ryan McDonagh
Marc Staal - Anton Stralman
Michael Del Zotto - Stu Bickel

Henrik Lundqvist
Martin Biron

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl


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Posted On Wednesday, 04.25.2012 / 1:08 PM

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

Theodore, Garrison part of Panthers' optional practice

CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. -- Goalie Jose Theodore and defenseman Jason Garrison were back on the ice Wednesday when the Florida Panthers held an optional practice.

Theodore was scratched for Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against New Jersey Tuesday because of what was described as a lower-body injury.

Garrison has missed the last three games of the series after being a late scratch prior to Game 4 Thursday. He hadn't practiced since.

Along with Garrison and Theodore, the only players on the ice for the Panthers on Wednesday were Game 6 healthy scratches Mike Santorelli, Krystofer Barch and Mike Santorelli, along with defenseman Keaton Ellerby, who missed the last two games after sustaining a lower-body injury in Game 4. Ellerby, seeing his first action since March 15, was in the lineup in Garrison's place.

Game 7 is scheduled for Thursday at 8:30 p.m. at the BankAtlantic Center.
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Posted On Wednesday, 04.25.2012 / 12:56 PM

By Corey Masisak -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Bruins vs. Capitals series blog

Projected Game 7 lineup for Capitals

BOSTON -- Jeff Schultz has watched the past three games for the Washington Capitals, but he expects to be back in the lineup for Game 7 of this Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series Wednesday night at TD Garden against the Boston Bruins.

John Erskine replaced Schultz in the lineup for Games 4, 5 and 6, but Schultz skated with Dennis Wideman on Washington's third defense pairing in practice Tuesday, and Erskine stayed on the ice for extra work Wednesday morning.

"It will be great," Schultz said. "It was tough watching, but [Erskine] did a great job after not playing for a long time. Now is it is key for me to come back and fill in for him. It is just a matter of going out there and playing. It isn't about worrying about mistakes or playing time -- just go out there and play and do what you do best and do your job."

Alexander Semin did not take part in the morning skate, but coach Dale Hunter said it was optional and he is fine to play. The Capitals are not expected to make any other changes to the lineup.

Here's how the Capitals should look Wednesday night:

Alex Ovechkin - Brooks Laich - Troy Brouwer
Marcus Johansson - Nicklas Backstrom - Alexander Semin
Jason Chimera - Jay Beagle - Matt Hendricks
Mike Knuble - Keith Aucoin - Joel Ward

Karl Alzner - John Carlson
Roman Hamrlik - Mike Green
Jeff Schultz - Dennis Wideman

Braden Holtby
Michal Neuvirth
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Posted On Wednesday, 04.25.2012 / 12:54 PM

By Matt Kalman -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Bruins vs. Capitals series blog

Caron prepared as last-minute addition to lineup

BOSTON -- Sometimes players perform better when they're surprised.

That's what Boston Bruins forward Jordan Caron found out Sunday, when he learned after warmup that he would be in the lineup for Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against Washington.

Caron, who hadn't played since April 7 in the Bruins' regular-season finale, made his NHL playoff debut in Boston's 4-3 overtime win. Luckily, over the course of his first full season in the NHL, he's gotten used to going long stretches where he's had to stay sharp even when he wasn't going to play.

"I think it's just a lot of it is mental. I think you just need to prepare even if you don't know if you're playing a lot. You've just got to be ready to jump in and do your job," Caron said Wednesday after the Bruins' morning skate.

Caron probably won't find out about his status for Game 7 until after warmup again. Caron and veteran forward Shawn Thornton, who was the healthy scratch in Game 6, rotated in on Boston's fourth line with Daniel Paille and Gregory Campbell during line drills at TD Garden.

In Game 6, Caron's ice time was limited to 4:56 and he and his linemates finished the afternoon with a minus-1 rating. But he threw a big hit that created a scoring chance for Campbell, and during his sporadic playing time he looked like the solid two-way player he was during his 48 games in the regular season. He finished the season with seven goals and 15 points, while skating time on pretty much all of Boston's four lines.

Bruins coach Claude Julien said he spoke with Caron before the start of the series about being on-call.

"Well we talked to him before the series started, because I thought if anything, he was a real good player for us in that last stretch of the regular season. And it was tough to take him out but we went with some experienced guys, first and foremost," Julien said. "The one thing that we said to him -- we said you've got to stay ready because there's going to come a point where we're going to need you, and obviously we did last game."

While Julien would not disclose the reason he made a lineup change up front for the first time in the series, it's widely believed that Boston did not know how much it would get out of an injured Patrice Bergeron. Caron's skill set and versatility made him a better option for the Bruins if they needed someone to play up in the lineup.

The 21-year-old Caron impressed one of his veteran linemates.

"He did really good," Paille said. "Coming in there, stepping in for playing for Bergy possibly as well, I thought he did a good job. Other than getting scored against, I thought we created some opportunities early on. But he did good for his first game."

Once again, Caron will be ready should Julien have the equipment staff hang a No. 38 stall in the rookie's stall for Game 7.

"I think you just got to stay composed and take it as another game. Of course it's different, but you've got to forget about it, jump out there and be confident," Caron said. "I don't know if I'm going to be playing, but if I am I just got to stay calm and do my job."

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Posted On Wednesday, 04.25.2012 / 12:06 PM

By NHL.com Staff -  /NHL.com - Blues vs. Kings series blog

Barry Melrose breaks down Kings-Blues

As a one-time player, coach and broadcaster, who better to size up the second-round matchup between the Kings and Blues than Barry Melrose? Never mind the fact that he was Los Angeles’ head coach for three seasons, guiding them to the 1993 Stanley Cup Final. In his latest video, Barry breaks down a series between two teams that share some interesting similarities.

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Posted On Wednesday, 04.25.2012 / 11:57 AM

By Jeremy Roenick -  NHL Network Contributor /NHL.com - World According to JR

JR: Why I'm picking home teams to win Game 7s

NHL analyst and former All-Star Jeremy Roenick pens a weekly blog for NHL.com. "World According to JR" appears every Wednesday and normally includes Roenick's sharp, can't-miss opinions on What's Clicking and What's Missing in the National Hockey League. However, with three Game 7s upcoming in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, JR switched his format for this week to analyze the games: Washington at Boston; Ottawa at New York; and New Jersey at Florida.

The road teams have dominated in these playoffs so far, but I've got the home teams winning these upcoming Game 7s. Here's why:

Washington at Boston

First off, I think this will be a very low-scoring game. However, I like the Bruins to squeak it out.

They're not going to be nervous. They are coming off a Stanley Cup win and three Game 7s, one of those being in the Stanley Cup Final. They're going to come out flying and feeling good that they got to Game 7 after winning Game 6. And if you want a goalie in the net for a Game 7, you want Tim Thomas.

Thomas is a guy who lives for games like these with the way he plays, his aggression, his style. He likes to be the center of attention, so I think Boston is going to take this just because Thomas is going to try to take over this game himself.

Tyler Seguin getting on the board scoring that overtime goal in Game 6 could spur him as well. He's going to be flying because whenever you're a top guy and you start getting points, score a goal, whatever, that pressure comes off of you and you really start moving better, skating better, making better decisions.

I must admit that I've been impressed with the way Washington has flipped the switch.

The Caps were so back and forth throughout the season with two good games, three bad games, one good game, two bad games. Alex Ovechkin was under scrutiny and Alexander Semin was always under fire and then Nicklas Backstrom was hurt. But all of a sudden, here in the playoffs, they are playing a total team game, which is why they are still in this series and have a chance to win this series.

When you have a guy like Braden Holtby playing so well it sends confidence throughout the team. I think they are playing harder for the kid in net, and that's what Dale Hunter has been trying to get across to this team.

But I just think all that Game 7 experience on Boston's side, especially from the last year, will push them over the top.

Ottawa at New York

I really thought the Senators would win Game 6, but their undisciplined penalties could end up losing the series for them.

When you're on the power play and you take two bad penalties, then you go down 5-on-3, and you let up power-play goals, that is going to kill you every time. As an eighth seed, you can't have an opportunity to close out the No. 1 seed in your own building and then blow a lead to lose it. Ottawa has lost their chance to win this one.

You've got to go with the goaltender, and Henrik Lundqvist has been the best goalie all year and I think he will be the best goaltender in Game 7.

I've also been impressed with the kid, Chris Kreider. He played his best game Monday since he came in in Game 3.

Kreider finally moved his feet, got into the play, used his speed and size, and showed his talent. The kid has good hands for a big guy. He was involved. He wasn't standing on the outside waiting for something to happen. He made things happen and then scored a big goal. I would expect him to be just as good with having a big game under his belt.

But I like the Rangers because of Lundqvist.

New Jersey at Florida

I have no problem saying that this is probably the least intriguing series of the playoffs, and probably the least exciting in terms of the fighting, the physicality and the speed.

However, it is exciting that Florida keeps battling back from deficits. The Panthers go down 3-0 and battle back to win Game 3. They're down 2-0 in Game 6 and battle back to tie it only to lose in overtime.

I just think it's the Panthers' turn. It's their year. They haven't won a series since 1996 and this team is resilient. But they have to play more intense and be more aggressive than they were in Game 6. They sat back. They tried to not make mistakes and it ended up burning them in the end.

Home-ice advantage will be huge for them and getting Jose Theodore back in net, if his injury is healed, is also big.

Scott Clemmensen played well in Game 6, but he wasn't tested much. A lot of the shots were from the outside, from the corner, pucks just thrown at the net. I don't think he was tested all but two or three times, and he let up a weak goal to Steve Bernier and probably could have had the winning goal by Travis Zajac. I guess all in all he played pretty sound, but if Jose can go, he should be in the net.

Dale Tallon has put together a team that might be able to get this done. It's a 51-49 shot for me and I'm going to the home ice.
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Posted On Wednesday, 04.25.2012 / 10:52 AM

By Matt Kalman -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Bruins vs. Capitals series blog

Projected Game 7 lineup for Bruins

BOSTON -- Bruins center Patrice Bergeron took the morning skate with his teammates Wednesday and skated in his usual lineup spot between wingers Brad Marchand and Rich Peverley, as the team prepared for Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Capitals at TD Garden.

Bergeron did not practice Tuesday due to an undisclosed injury he's been battling through since the second period of Game 5 last Saturday. He played in the Bruins' win in Game 6 Sunday, but was off with the rest of his team Monday and then didn't hit the ice Tuesday. After practice Tuesday, Bruins coach Claude Julien said he had no concerns about Bergeron missing a game.

When asked if Bergeron would play in Game 7, Julien said: "Yes, I think so."

It's believed Bergeron's injury is of an upper-body nature because he was only able to take one faceoff in Game 6.

The rest of the Bruins' lines were the same as well. Julien will make a game-time decision between veteran Shawn Thornton and rookie Jordan Caron for the 12th forward position. Caron skated in Thornton's place in Game 6.

Here's the Bruins' projected lineup:

Milan Lucic - David Krejci - Tyler Seguin
Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - Rich Peverley
Benoit Pouliot - Chris Kelly - Brian Rolston
Daniel Paille - Gregory Campbell - Shawn Thornton/Jordan Caron

Zdeno Chara - Dennis Seidenberg
Andrew Ference - Johnny Boychuk
Greg Zanon - Mike Mottau

Tim Thomas
Tuukka Rask

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Quote of the Day

There was a lot of talk off the ice. From a player's standpoint, that's not the talk in the room. GMs make decisions, coaches make decisions, but as a team you have to come together and be ready to go, and we are.

— San Jose Sharks forward Tommy Wingels on his team's approach entering training camp