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Posted On Wednesday, 05.16.2012 / 1:09 PM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst / - Melrose Minute

Melrose's PHX-LAK Game 3 Preview

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Posted On Wednesday, 05.16.2012 / 12:49 PM

By Dave Lozo - Staff Writer / - Rangers vs. Devils series blog

Rangers keeping things the same for Game 2

NEW YORK -- The New York Rangers likely will ice the same lineup for Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the New Jersey Devils on Wednesday at Madison Square Garden (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS) as they did in Game 1.

The Rangers have shuffled lines, but they have used the same personnel since center Brian Boyle returned from a concussion for Game 2 of the conference semifinals against the Washington Capitals.

Here's what to expect when the team takes the ice:

Carl Hagelin - Brad Richards - Marian Gaborik
Chris Kreider - Derek Stepan - Ryan Callahan
Artem Anisimov - Brian Boyle - Ruslan Fedotenko
Mike Rupp - John Mitchell - Brandon Prust

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

Henrik Lundqvist
Martin Biron

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo
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Posted On Wednesday, 05.16.2012 / 12:19 PM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - Rangers vs. Devils series blog

Devils could have different look for Game 2

NEWARK, N.J. -- New Jersey Devils coach Peter DeBoer adjusted his line combinations Wednesday in an effort to present a different look against the New York Rangers in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS).
The Devils, who generated their lowest shot total of the playoffs (21) in a 3-0 loss to the Rangers in Game 1 on Monday, are looking to even this best-of-seven series.
In addition to moving captain Zach Parise back to the top line with center Travis Zajac and right wing Ilya Kovalchuk, DeBoer had rookie Adam Henrique centering Alexei Ponikarovsky and David Clarkson, and Patrik Elias between Dainius Zubrus and Petr Sykora.
It would mark the first line adjustments made by DeBoer since Game 1 of the conference semifinals against the Philadelphia Flyers.
"Obviously, we didn't score a goal last game, so on offense, shuffling guys around has been something we've done all year," DeBoer said. "We're definitely not married to those combinations, and I'm not even sure we're going to start with those combinations. It's just how we decided to skate [Wednesday] morning."
The fourth line remained untouched -- Stephen Gionta centering Steve Bernier and Ryan Carter.
"Poni [Ponikarovsky] is a big guy down low and is hard to push off the puck," Clarkson said. "It'll be good. We'll have to get the puck down low and do some cycling and grinding in the corners, and I think sometimes when you move things around a little bit, it's a good thing."
Elias agreed.
"We played with these line combos most of the year," he said. "Pete feels he needs to do something with the lines to get some momentum going. We have no issues and we know each other on the ice, so we'll be OK. You adjust … no one is looking into it too much."
In addition to the changes up front, it appears as though DeBoer will re-insert defenseman Peter Harrold, likely in place of rookie Adam Larsson.
"There's a chance," DeBoer said of the defensive switch. "We're going to look at some different things there, too. Obviously, we have the luxury of some depth on defense here, and we've got guys that bring different strengths to the table, so [Harrold] is an option."
Harrold played the opening nine games of the playoffs, totaling four assists and a plus-2 rating, before being replaced by Larsson in Game 2 of the conference semifinals against the Flyers.
"It looks like [I'll play]," Harrold said following Wednesday's 30-minute practice at AmeriHealth Pavilion. "We'll see. It would certainly be a lot better than watching, but I'm just hoping to get pucks through and make a difference on the offensive end. I think we played well for 40 minutes [in Game 1] and kind of got off our game a little bit."
Larsson has one goal and a plus-3 rating in five playoff games.
DeBoer said that if Larsson is a healthy scratch, it is not because of poor play.
"I really liked how Larsson has played since he's gone back in," DeBoer said. "So if we do move Larsson out, it's not a reflection on how he played; it's just getting a different type of element in there."
Parise said he wasn't fazed by the line adjustments.
"I've played with every centerman and Kovy [Kovalchuk] and I have played together, and Travis and Kovy play together," Parise said. "Patty, Sykora and Zubie [Zubrus] have been together most of the year. Hopefully, it'll produce some goals."
Here were the line combinations from Wednesday's practice:
Zach Parise -Travis Zajac-Ilya Kovalchuk
Petr Sykora - Patrik Elias- Dainius Zubrus
Alexei Ponikarovsky -Adam Henrique - David Clarkson
Ryan Carter - Stephen Gionta - Steve Bernier
Andy Greene - Mark Fayne
Bryce Salvador - Marek Zidlicky
Anton Volchenkov - Peter Harrold
Martin Brodeur
Johan Hedberg
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter: @mike_morreale
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Posted On Wednesday, 05.16.2012 / 12:00 PM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - Rangers vs. Devils series blog

Devils: Brodeur's comments were 'off-the-cuff'

NEWARK, N.J. -- The New Jersey Devils on Wednesday clarified a comment made by goalie Martin Brodeur that appeared in a story in the New York Post on Wednesday morning.

Following his team's Game 1 loss to the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference Finals on Monday, Brodeur was asked by a reporter about the Rangers' propensity to block shots. His response, as printed in the newspaper, read: "Hopefully, we'll be able to hurt a few guys [by] getting one-timers in the foot or their head or something …"

The portion of the quote not included in the newspaper story, and said immediately afterward, was "but [the Rangers] are paying the price to win and that's what hockey is all about."
Following Devils coach Peter DeBoer's press conference with the media Wednesday, the Devils' public-relations department said Brodeur's comments in the Post had no malicious intent.
"Obviously, those were not the intent of his comments at all," Devils assistant director of communications Pete Albietz told the media. "He said he would never even think like that. It was just an off-the-cuff comment. He was just referring to trying to get pucks through [on Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist], and that's it."
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale
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Posted On Wednesday, 05.16.2012 / 10:00 AM

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

JR: Plenty of candidates for Conn Smythe

NHL analyst and former All-Star Jeremy Roenick pens a weekly blog for "World According to JR" touches on all things related to the NHL. This week, Roenick decided to offer his early Conn Smythe Trophy favorites on the four teams remaining in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
There are some good candidates on each team, but I'm narrowing the field of Conn Smythe Trophy candidates. Here goes:
It's pretty much a lockdown, easy shot with Phoenix. It's Mike Smith.
He's been a feel-good story this season, putting himself in the star category of the National Hockey League. He probably could be named as the most improved player in the NHL, as well. This is a guy who was a backup and now he's a focal point of a team in the Western Conference Finals.
Smith is by far the easy choice for the Coyotes.
This is not so clear cut. I think there are two very close candidates for this. Time will tell.
Leading the charge is Jonathan Quick because of his numbers and because of the way he has dominated every single game. His save percentage is off the charts. His goals-against average is excellent.
Dustin Brown
Right Wing - LAK
GOALS: 7 | ASST: 7 | PTS: 14
SOG: 38 | +/-: 11
Yes, the Kings are scoring more than three goals a game in the playoffs, but even if they were struggling to score like they did in the regular season, it wouldn't matter because Quick can win a game for you if you give him just one goal. He can win a game by himself. He has shown he can do it.
However, Dustin Brown is without question beating down his door and could dethrone him.
To say Brown has been a beast would be a huge understatement considering how he has elevated his game. Defensively, offensively, physically -- everything you can ask for in your captain, he has delivered. He has raised his level so high this postseason that his stock has tripled -- quadrupled -- for how he has played.
That's a tough call for L.A. between those two guys.

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Posted On Wednesday, 05.16.2012 / 12:48 AM

By John Kreiser - Columnist / - Bracket Challenge Blog

Los Angeles now Kings of the road

The Los Angeles Kings were among the poorest road playoff teams in NHL history -- until now.

Jonathan Quick
Goalie - LAK
RECORD: 10-1
GAA: 1.45 | SVP: 0.951
Before this spring, the Kings had won just 29 of 95 playoff games away from L.A. since entering the NHL in 1967 -- and that included wins in their last two games at San Jose during their six-game loss to the Sharks in 2011. The back-to-back wins matched the longest road winning streak in the franchise's playoff history.

But the Kings have been flawless away from home this spring. They improved to 7-0 on the road Tuesday night by dominating the Phoenix Coyotes 4-0 in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals. The seven straight wins match a single-season record for consecutive road wins last accomplished by the 2010 Chicago Blackhawks.
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Posted On Tuesday, 05.15.2012 / 8:53 PM

By Dan Rosen - Senior Writer / - Coyotes vs. Kings series blog

Aucoin out for Coyotes; Fraser to miss game for L.A.

Colin Fraser
Center - LAK
GOALS: 0 | ASST: 0 | PTS: 0
SOG: 8 | +/-: -1
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Coyotes defenseman Adrian Aucoin will miss his second straight game with a lower-body injury when Phoenix takes on Los Angeles in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals at Arena on Tuesday.

Phoenix rookie defenseman Michael Stone will make his NHL playoff debut and be paired with Rostislav Klesla.

The Kings will be without fourth-line center Colin Fraser, who had to attend to a family matter. Kyle Clifford will play for Fraser on the Kings fourth line. He hasn't played since logging 2:29 of ice time in Game 1 against Vancouver. Brad Richardson will move to center.
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Posted On Tuesday, 05.15.2012 / 4:23 PM

By Dave Lozo - Staff Writer / - Rangers vs. Devils series blog

Rangers call up six players

NEW YORK -- The New York Rangers announced that six players will join the club from Connecticut of the American Hockey League for the rest of the Stanley Cup Playoffs -- defensemen Tim Erixon and Dylan McIlrath, goaltender Cam Talbot and forwards J.T. Miller, Kris Newbury and Casey Wellman.

Only Erixon and Newbury have spent time with the Rangers this season. The group will serve as spare players -- the Black Aces -- and likely practice separately from the rest of the team going forward.

The 19-year-old Miller was the Rangers' first-round pick (No. 15) in the 2011 Entry Draft. Prior to joining the Whale, where he had one point in eight playoffs games, he played 61 games with the Plymouth Whalers of the Ontario Hockey League, totaling 25 goals and 37 assists.

McIlrath, 20, made his professional debut with Connecticut on April 9 against Bridgeport, and skated in two regular-season games with the Whale. The Rangers' 2010 first-round pick also appeared in five playoff games with Connecticut.  Prior to joining Connecticut, McIlrath had three goals and a career-high 20 assists in 52 games with the Moose Jaw Warriors of the Western Hockey League.

Talbot, 24, posted a 14-15-1 record with a 2.61 goals-against average, .913 save percentage and four shutouts in 33 games with Connecticut.

Wellman, 24, split the season between Connecticut and the Houston Aeros, totaling 23 goals and 24 assists in 57 games. Wellman joined Connecticut on Feb. 3 after the Rangers acquired him from the Minnesota Wild in exchange for Erik Christensen and a conditional seventh-round pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft.

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo
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Posted On Tuesday, 05.15.2012 / 3:00 PM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - Rangers vs. Devils series blog

Brodeur finding game-day silence to be beneficial

NEWARK, N.J. -- New Jersey Devils goalie Martin Brodeur has never been one to shy away from the media, game day or otherwise.
But during the Stanley Cup Playoffs this spring, the future Hall of Fame goalie has decided to refrain from speaking to reporters on game days. He admitted on Tuesday during his morning press conference that the decision has been beneficial.
"You know, in the past, I think there was negative stuff talked to me in the morning," Brodeur said. "I felt early on in the series against Florida, everything I talked about was defending my team, not winning two games in a row, not winning a series since 2007. On game days, I don't need to have that aggravation in my head."
Brodeur is 8-4 with a 2.05 goals-against average and .921 save percentage in 13 playoff appearances.
"I figure, you know what, I'm going to let it be for a time being in morning skates," Brodeur said. "It's been working out good. I've been a lot more positive and not had bad thoughts in my mind."
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale

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Posted On Tuesday, 05.15.2012 / 2:58 PM

By Dan Rosen - Senior Writer / - Coyotes vs. Kings series blog

Kings prepared for bigger push from Coyotes

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- After controlling play in the first period of Game 1, the Kings expect the Coyotes to come out much stronger, faster, harder and more desperate to start Game 2 Tuesday at Arena (9 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN).
The key for L.A. is not just to match it, but try to have the same type of fast start it had in Game 1, when it jumped to a 1-0 lead 3:53 into the game. Despite playing to a 1-1 tie after 20 minutes, the Kings still held a 17-4 advantage in shots on goal and all the momentum heading into the second.
They won the game 4-2 to take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven Western Conference Finals.
"It was tied after the first [in Game 1], but getting the lead or playing with the lead is a lot easier than chasing it," Kings center Anze Kopitar said Tuesday. "We want to come out the same way, but we know they're going to come out stronger than they did in Game 1 so we have to make sure we're ready."
The Kings are aware that Phoenix consistently has hung around in these rope-a-dope games, like it did in Game 1. The Coyotes have been outshot 10 times in the playoffs, but they are 7-3 in those games.
The key is not to let any frustration creep in, because that's usually when the opportunistic Coyotes pounce. The Kings did a good job of that in Game 1 despite going into the second intermission locked in a 2-2 tie.
They expect to have to have the same composed attitude in Game 2.
"Within the last game that we played we told ourselves we couldn't get down, we couldn't get frustrated because we weren't leading 3-0 or 2-0," Kings forward Justin Williams said. "It was a close game right to the end and that's kind of what they've been doing -- they've been able to hang around in games and get big goals from big players because they're capable of doing that. We need to keep pushing ahead, keep pushing forward, and not get frustrated if we can't get the puck in the net."
Here is the Kings projected lineup for Game 2:
Dustin Brown - Anze Kopitar - Justin Williams
Dustin Penner - Mike Richards - Jeff Carter
Dwight King - Jarret Stoll - Trevor Lewis
Brad Richardson - Colin Fraser - Jordan Nolan
Rob Scuderi - Drew Doughty
Willie Mitchell - Slava Voynov
Alec Martinez - Matt Greene
Jonathan Quick
Jonathan Bernier
Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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Quote of the Day

There's no discouragement in that room. There's no issues there at all to be honest with you. It's more about, 'Hey, it's opportunities for players.' And if we become that bad of a team because of one player, it's not a real good sign for our hockey club. So this is part of sports. It's part of hockey.

— Bruins coach Claude Julien on the loss of Zdeno Chara to injury
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