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Posted On Thursday, 05.31.2012 / 7:43 AM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Combing the 2012 NHL Combine

Koekkoek looks to re-establish confidence in scouts

Of all the players attending this year's NHL Scouting Combine coming off serious injury, perhaps no one will be more scrutinized than Peterborough Petes defenseman Slater Koekkoek.

Let's face it, Koekkoek possesses as much raw skill as any other draft-eligible defenseman in the 2012 Draft. But a torn labrum suffered in the third period of a 6-3 loss to the Windsor Spitfires on Nov. 27 limited him to just 26 games this season, forcing scouts to rely on year-old projections.

At the time of the injury, Peterborough coach Mike Pelino told reporters, "Slater may be the most impressive defenseman I've seen in the [Ontario Hockey League] this year. If he's out for one day, we'll miss him, let alone if he's out for an extended period."

Koekkoek logged a ton of minutes and has a knack for playing in any part of the ice, capable of transitioning with a quick pass.


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Posted On Thursday, 05.31.2012 / 1:26 AM

By Brian Hunter -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Devils vs. Kings Stanley Cup Final blog

Fayne: 'It's tough to deal with right now'

NEWARK, N.J. -- One point of emphasis for the New Jersey Devils heading into Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final will be generating more than the 18 shots they put on Los Angeles Kings goalie Jonathan Quick in Wednesday's opener.

Quick stopped 17 of them in the Kings' 2-1 overtime win, but Devils defenseman Mark Fayne was still shaking his head about the puck he couldn't put on net, the one that would have tilted the score in the home team's favor midway through the third period.

Fayne pinched in deep and was rewarded when the rebound of a Ryan Carter shot bounced right onto his stick with Quick out of position and the right side of the net completely open. But the puck was bouncing and Fayne fired it wide.
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Posted On Thursday, 05.31.2012 / 1:14 AM

By Corey Masisak -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Devils vs. Kings Stanley Cup Final blog

Kings get boost from fourth line

NEWARK, N.J. -- The fourth line of the New Jersey Devils earned plenty of plaudits for their work in the opening three rounds of the playoffs, particularly in the conference finals against the rival New York Rangers.

Los Angeles is also a team that uses all four lines regularly, but it has been the guys on their top three that have seen most of the spotlight in the Kings’ march through the Western Conference.

It was L.A.'s fourth line that had a big night in Game 1 of the 2012 Stanley Cup Final.

“You know, they probably had one of the best games in the playoffs so far,” Kings center Anze Kopitar said. “And they had some really good ones before. Tonight they capped it off with a nice goal. Definitely got us going in the first period.

“Seems like we came out a little slower than we wanted to. The way they came out and established the forecheck, had some cycles in their zone, gave us a huge boost.”

Colin Fraser scored the first postseason goal of his NHL career midway through the first period. It was a perfect, fourth-line kind of goal. Jordan Nolan chipped an outlet pass into the New Jersey zone and raced after it. Andy Greene beat him to it, but Nolan hit Greene twice to help dislodge the puck and then turned to find Fraser cutting toward the net.

“He forced the turnover. He was the guy who did all the work,” Fraser said. “He got in on the d-man and turned the puck over and he just found me in the slot. I just tried to get it off as quick as I could. I wasn’t really aiming.”

Added captain Dustin Brown: “Our first goal is a direct result of our forecheck. We had a lot of chances off the forecheck and there was a couple that skipped over our stick, the puck was bouncing. On the flip side of that I think it's harder for those defensemen to make plays with the ice and puck bouncing like that. Our forecheck was good, it needs to get better.”

Fraser missed a couple of games earlier in the postseason because of a personal issue, but he, Nolan and Brad Richardson have been together on the fourth line when they were available since Dustin Penner was moved to the second unit at the onset of the St. Louis series.

Nolan has spent some time on the second line this season, but those three guys have found some chemistry during this postseason. They all played more than 11 minutes, and Nolan was credited with four hits.

“He’s a big body and he’s got lots of speed,” Fraser said of Nolan. “He gets in on the forecheck well. Even [Richardson] on the other side, he’s not as big but he’s got lots of speed. It is kind of nice as the centerman there. We seem to get on pucks first every time and I just try to stay at F3. I take care of the defense and they do the hard work in the corners.”
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Posted On Thursday, 05.31.2012 / 1:05 AM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Devils vs. Kings Stanley Cup Final blog

Slick feed from Williams sparked Kopitar's breakaway

NEWARK, N.J. -- Justin Williams knew Anze Kopitar was heading to that particular area, but he didn't know if he was alone. Heck, Williams didn't even know if Kopitar would get to the blue line fast enough to even receive the pass he was about to send that way.

"It's just an area pass where you hope the guy skates into it," Williams said.

Kopitar did, just in time in fact, at New Jersey's blue line for a breakaway on Martin Brodeur that led to the overtime winner in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final. He deked to his forehand and beat Brodeur at the 8:13 mark of the extra session to give the Kings a 2-1 win and a 1-0 edge in the series.
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Posted On Thursday, 05.31.2012 / 12:55 AM

By Dave Lozo -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Devils vs. Kings Stanley Cup Final blog

Devils show some nerves in Game 1

NEWARK, N.J. -- The Devils had arguably their worst start to a game during the Stanley Cup Playoffs on Wednesday night.

Through 34 minutes, 30 seconds, they had just six shots on goal. They had a hard time getting out of their own zone, completing a pass was a monumental task and most players were treating the puck like a ticking time bomb instead of making the calm decisions that were a cornerstone to their forecheck and pressure through three rounds.

The Devils could've chalked it up to many reasons. They could have blamed the ice or credited the Los Angeles Kings with playing well, but instead owned up to their shakiness during the early stages of their 2-1 overtime loss in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final at Prudential Center.

"We were excited to start, but I thought we were a little nervous in the first period in the way that we played," goaltender Martin Brodeur said. "I thought we settled in pretty good after that."

Wait, the Devils were nervous?

"It's the Stanley Cup Final," Brodeur said matter-of-factly. "It's not that easy to go out and perform. You have to wait to see what kind of atmosphere it's going to be. Whether it's five times for me or the first time, you get butterflies. It's an exciting time to be part of it. I'm sure the Kings will tell you the same thing. They were probably nervous at times also. It's what hockey's all about."

All but five Devils were playing in their first Final on Wednesday, and perhaps the pressure got to them early. The Devils had 11 giveaways to the Kings' six and while they overcame a 1-0 deficit to tie it late in the second period, they clearly weren't as sharp as they had been during the conference finals against the New York Rangers. >

Even Ilya Kovalchuk, who hasn't been this deep in the playoffs during his career, said his teammates' nerves were evident early.

I think it was probably the worst game in the playoffs for us," Kovalchuk said. "Maybe we were a little too nervous before the game starts. But it's no excuse. We got to make sure we know what we're doing right and get better."

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo


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Posted On Thursday, 05.31.2012 / 12:25 AM

By John Kreiser -  NHL.com Columnist /NHL.com - Bracket Challenge Blog

Road teams continue to thrive in overtime

When it comes to winning in overtime during the Stanley Cup Final, it pays to wear the white sweaters.

Anze Kopitar
Center - LAK
GOALS: 7 | ASST: 9 | PTS: 16
SOG: 52 | +/-: 14
The Los Angeles Kings continued their own success away from home this spring as well as extending the success of visiting teams in the Stanley Cup Final by beating New Jersey 2-1 in OT on Wednesday in Game 1. Anze Kopitar's goal at 8:13 of overtime improved road teams' record in Final games that go past regulation to 6-1 since 2004 and 17-5 since 1990, when Edmonton's Petr Klima scored at 55:13 of extra time in Game 1 to win the longest game in Final history.

Overall, the visiting team has won 44 of the 74 Final games to go past regulation (not counting a pair of ties).
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Posted On Wednesday, 05.30.2012 / 11:03 PM

NHL.com - Devils vs. Kings Stanley Cup Final blog

Most overtime games in one playoff year

Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final is heading to overtime for the first time since 2002, when the Carolina Hurricanes defeated the Detroit Red Wings 3-2 at Joe Louis Arena on a goal by Ron Francis at 0:58 of the first extra period.

Tonight marks the 24th overtime game of the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the third-highest total for one playoff year. Road teams are 14-9 in overtime this postseason. The Kings are 2-0 (goal-scorers: Jarret Stoll, Dustin Penner), the Devils are 4-1 (goal-scorers: Adam Henrique-2, Travis Zajac, Alexei Ponikarovsky).
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Posted On Wednesday, 05.30.2012 / 10:23 PM

NHL.com - 2011-2012 Situation Room blog

LAK @ NJD - 3:58 of the Third period

At 3:58 of the third period in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final, video review confirmed the referee's call on the ice that New Jersey's Zach Parise directed the puck into the Los Angeles net with his glove. No goal New Jersey. According to NHL Rule 67.6, "A goal cannot be scored by an attacking player who bats or directs the puck with his hand into the net. A goal cannot be scored by an attacking player who bats or directs the puck and it is deflected into the net off any player, goalkeeper or official. When the puck enters the net on a clear deflection off a glove, the goal shall be allowed."

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Posted On Wednesday, 05.30.2012 / 7:07 PM

By Arpon Basu -  Managing Editor LNH.com /NHL.com - Combing the 2012 NHL Combine

Senators’ Dorion feels quality of draft class is miscast

There has been some talk that the class of 2012 for the NHL Draft is not as strong as it’s been in other years.

Nonsense, says Ottawa Senators director of player personnel Pierre Dorion.

"I think it’s a good draft class,” Dorion told NHL.com on Wednesday at the NHL Scouting Combine. “At the top, like every draft, there are some good players. I think sometimes because there’s a better quality of defensemen than forwards, people tend to say that it’s not as good of a draft class because you don’t see the offensive production.”

Indeed, eight of the top 12 North American skaters on NHL Central Scouting’s final ranking are defensemen, while nine of the top 18 European skaters play on the blue line.
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Posted On Wednesday, 05.30.2012 / 5:27 PM

By Ryan Murray -  Special to NHL.com /NHL.com - Ryan Murray draft blog

Everett's Ryan Murray set to impress at Combine

Defenseman Ryan Murray, No. 2 on NHL Central Scouting's list of the top draft-eligible North American skaters, served as captain of the Everett Silvertips in the Western Hockey League this season. The 6-foot, 182-pound native of Saskatchewan won a bronze medal playing for Team Canada at the 2012 World Junior Championship and was also the second-youngest player to ever appear for Canada at the Men's World Championships. Despite his busy schedule, Murray will submit two blogs for NHL.com during the 2012 NHL Scouting Combine this week in Toronto.

I finally arrived at the NHL Combine on Tuesday night and began the interviewing process on Wednesday. It's been quite a year. I just returned from the Men's World Championships in Finland and Sweden and that was a pretty incredible experience. Just going over there and being able to meet those top guys and playing with them was something very special.

One team gave me a personality-type test, wanting to get to know me a little better I guess. Other teams have done this with me before, but they either came to Everett or sent me the stuff in the email.

During the interviews, everybody has their scouts and guys in the rooms, and everyone has a little bit of a different tone or attitude toward the questions their asking. But everybody has been really nice. I've heard some horror stories in years' past about the Combine, but luckily nothing like that has happened to me.

I haven't received a whole lot of whacky questions. But one team did ask if they were wasting their time seeing me. I just said, 'I hope not.' I haven't prepared much for the bike tests scheduled Friday. I just got back from Europe last Friday and took a few days off this week. I was working out a little bit to keep in shape.

I hope to learn from this experience and having an opportunity to talk to the scouts is great. They all have their own opinions of you and what they thought about you during the year, so it's just good to hear some feedback regarding your play. The feedback has been good and the scouts have been kind. There have been questions about my family and what kind of player I feel I am.

I have never met [top prospect] Nail Yakupov [of Sarnia], but I'll probably meet him in New York when we go over there. I'll most likely get to see him here at the Combine as well.

When I learned that Edmonton won the draft lottery, it really didn't faze me too much. It really doesn't have much to do with me. I know [the Oilers] need a defenseman, but at the end of the day, anything can happen on draft day. I just take as a grain of sand, and not make a big deal about it. I don't have any expectations.

Well, that's it for now. Thanks for reading. I'll file one more blog after my fitness test on Friday.
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Quote of the Day

You get more opportunity, and at the end of the day those are the times you've got to step up and show what you're made of. Together as a team, that's how you win games. I think we stuck together. That's kind of our philosophy here. We have good leadership and good guys to lean on.

— Calgary Flames forward Sean Monahan after a win against the Nashville Predators on Friday
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