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Posted On Monday, 04.16.2012 / 3:08 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Penguins vs. Flyers series blog

Crosby comments met by smiles, silence from Flyers

VOORHEES, N.J. -- Sidney Crosby made a point of saying after the game Sunday that he does not like anybody on the Flyers. A smiling Claude Giroux responded in kind Monday.

"I guess we've got to be doing something right if he hates us, right?" Giroux said.

Giroux was also asked if the feeling is mutual from the Flyers to the Penguins.

"Well, with the first three games it's gotta be hard to like them," he said. "Obviously we're not big fans of them and that's why this series is so entertaining for the fans."

Flyers coach Peter Laviolette predictably did not take the bait when he was asked for his thoughts on Crosby's comments.

"We're just trying to focus on the next game," he said. "I haven't thought much about it."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl


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Posted On Monday, 04.16.2012 / 1:48 PM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst /NHL.com - Melrose Minute

Melrose: It's been a wild first week of the playoffs

It's only been five days since the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs began and already we've seen an unbelievable amount of great hockey. All of the series have had their own drama -- seven of the first 15 games went into overtime -- and Sunday we saw an action-packed quadruple-header in which two games were decided by one goal, a third nearly featured a three-goal comeback, and a fourth featured enough drama to keep us talking for days.

And on top of it all, the Los Angeles Kings might be on the brink of one of the biggest upsets we've seen in years. Here is what has been on my mind so far during the first round of the playoffs.

The Intensity -- This is the craziest, meanest, toughest, most intense first round I can remember in a long, long time. The hitting, the fighting -- we used to go through whole postseasons and not see two guys drop the gloves, and it just shows how amped up the intensity level is. Even more amazing is that the parity level has caused these series to be mostly completely even, and the ones that aren't, aren't the ones you expected. Right know we've got an eighth seed in the West in Los Angeles that's a game away from sweeping the Presidents' Trophy winners, and in the East we've got an eighth seed in Ottawa that managed a split at the home of the best team in the conference all season. I'm just marveling at how hard the guys are playing, how tough the games are, how physical the games are and how tight each game has been. The product on the ice is just superb.

I've been very impressed with the physical play of San Jose. Two games in a row the Sharks have gone toe to toe with St. Louis and St. Louis is a very tough team physically. Nashville and Detroit have played an intense series just like we thought with two teams that are basically even. I can't believe that one won't go seven games. Los Angeles and Vancouver has been a dirty, nasty series, Ottawa against New York has been a nasty series, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia have played a nasty series and Boston and Washington have been toughing it out, too. After watching Game 1, I didn't know if Alex Ovechkin would be able to play four games with the way he's been hit by the Bruins. The intensity level all around has really amazed me.

Home Sweet Huh? -- Need an indication of how hard the teams are playing? Only two teams managed to sweep the first two games of their series, and each one did it on the road. Every other series has closed out the first two games with a split, and it just goes to show how level our playing field is and how little home ice means because of it. Anybody in the NHL can win in anybody else's building. Home ice, when the buildings used to be different, meant a lot. When Boston was a small rink or Buffalo was a small rink or Chicago was a small rink -- when the ice surfaces were different, home ice meant something. Now that all the rinks are the same and they all look the same and they all seat roughly the same amount of people, home ice isn't a big thing and our athletes don't really care where they play. They're going to play as hard on the road as they do at home. Hockey's always been that way. So now home ice is not a big advantage and what we're seeing is the difference between No. 1 and No. 16 in the NHL is not that great. If the NHL ever winds up changing the playoff format to a 16-team seeded tournament, it's not inconceivable that a No. 16 could beat a No. 1. Look no further than Vancouver and Los Angeles for proof.

Holtby humming along -- I think the greatest story so far has been Washington goalie Braden Holtby. We're talking about a No. 7-seed that's 1-1 against the second-seeded defending Stanley Cup champions with their third goaltender starting and he's given up just one goal in regulation through two games. This kid has been unbelievable. If you look at Game 1, he was basically on his own. Washington was totally outplayed by the Bruins in that game. In Game 2, Washington played better, but Holtby still had to be great and he was. He's been the best story so far, and with the possible exception of L.A.'s Jonathan Quick, he's been the best goalie in the entire field.

The Blues' two-headed monster -- There might be some concern in St. Louis with Jaroslav Halak being out for Game 3, but we've all seen what Brian Elliott did splitting the job with him in the regular season and I think he'll be just fine in the playoffs. He came in Saturday and looked great, and his numbers are just as good as Halak's this season. He may not have Halak's history, but you don't win a Cup with history. Elliott has been every bit as good and I expect him to continue to be Monday (10 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN). Typically having two No. 1 goaltenders doesn't work. As the saying goes, when you have two No. 1 goalies you really have none, but I think this could be an exception to the rule. This season, St. Louis might be a new case of Johnny Bower getting hurt and Terry Sawchuk coming in.

Which Blackhawks team is it? -- We all know what Chicago has done, tying each of the first two games of its series with Phoenix in the final 20 seconds of regulation. Those are some impressive late-game heroics, but the problem for me is I don't know if I love their character because they've played so hard and so smart in the last minute, or if I hate their character because they didn't for the first 59 minutes. In most of the third periods there hasn't been a lot of urgency from Chicago. What is also odd is compared to the other series being played, this one has been a walk in the park. With the exception of Andrew Shaw's collision with Mike Smith, there's been no hitting, no stuff after the whistles, no fighting. The hardest hit has been on a goalie. It's almost like these two teams don't even hate each other. It's been a strange series and I haven't liked how the Blackhawks have played for most of it, but they're 1-1 going back to Chicago, and at this point, I don't really think the Coyotes can play any better than they have.

Is it the New Jersey of old? Or just old New Jersey? -- I think New Jersey and Florida are pretty evenly matched, but I thought the Devils were going to score 10 goals in the first period of Game 1 with how they were playing. They looked unbelievable and Florida looked like it didn't deserve to be there. The Panthers had some early jitters and you can't have that in the playoffs. Patrik Elias' first-period goal went in so easy, and he toasted everyone so badly, that everyone on the Florida bench must have looked at each other and said, "Wow, this isn't what I signed up for." Most guys would have fired that puck right away, and it might have gone under the bar, but Elias had the patience to wait, wait, wait some more and then throw it in when Jose Theodore blinked. Martin Brodeur also looked like his old self, assisting on one goal by throwing the puck up to the blue line for a breakaway. It was deja vu for Devils fans, like everyone went back in time 10 years. After that, though, the Panthers made the first game close and came out strong in Game 2 Sunday to even the series. I'd like to get a copy of Kevin Dineen's speech after the first period of Game 1, because it must have been a beauty. It will be interesting to see which teams show up Tuesday in New Jersey (7 p.m. ET, NHLN-US, TSN).

The Pittsburgh-Philadelphia series has been crazy
-- But you all knew that already didn't you? If you had told me Pittsburgh would score as many goals in this series as they have or that Ilya Bryzgalov would have given up as many as he had and Philadelphia would be up 3-0, I'd have said you were crazy. This series is totally bonkers and it's a mystery as to what's happened to the Penguins. They can't check, they can't hold a lead, their power play looks lost, Evgeni Malkin has been nonexistent -- it's just nuts. This whole series is crazy. Even with the series at 3-0, this has still been the most entertaining series, and the best series, but it has been totally bonkers.
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Posted On Monday, 04.16.2012 / 12:56 PM

By Dave Lozo -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Rangers vs. Senators series blog

Projected Game 3 lineup for Rangers

OTTAWA -- Rangers coach John Tortorella is famous for his propensity to shuffle lines, but he hasn't had to do much of that since the middle of March.

He will have no choice but to make some changes for Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series against the Senators, which is tied at 1-1. Carl Hagelin, a staple of the team's top line for the past month, will begin serving his three-game suspension for an elbow to the head of Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson in Game 2 on Saturday.

The Rangers held an optional practice Monday morning and did not reveal any line combinations, so what follows is complete guess work. Both Chris Kreider and John Scott, forwards who have been healthy scratches the first two games of the series, were off the ice early. Usually, healthy scratches will stay on late and put in extra work with the coaches.

So here's some pure speculation on the Rangers' line combinations. Kreider played a little bit with Derek Stepan during the World Junior Championship in 2010, so that could be a landing spot for him if he plays. Check back during pregame warmups, set to start around 7 p.m. ET, for something more substantial.

Artem Anisimov - Brad Richards - Marian Gaborik
Chris Kreider - Derek Stepan - Ryan Callahan
Brandon Dubinsky - 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 Monday, 04.16.2012 / 12:36 PM

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

Projected Game 3 lineup for Senators

OTTAWA -- Here are the Ottawa Senators' projected lines for Game 3 against the New York Rangers on Monday night at Scotiabank Place:

Milan Michalek - Jason Spezza - Jesse Winchester
Nick Foligno - Kyle Turris - Daniel Alfredsson
Colin Greening - Zack Smith - Chris Neil
Zenon Konopka - Jim O'Brien - Erik Condra

Filip Kuba - Erik Karlsson
Jared Cowen - Sergei Gonchar
Chris Phillips - Matt Gilroy

Craig Anderson
Ben Bishop

Kaspars Daugavins, Rob Klinkhammer and Bobby Butler are the healthy scratches. Matt Carkner will serve a one-game suspension for his incident involving Brian Boyle during Game 2. Daniel Alfredsson (concussion) is a game-time decision. Coach Paul MacLean said the captain has taken his baseline test and passed.

Winchester, the latest addition to the No. 1 line, plans on making room for Jason Spezza and Milan Michalek to do their job.

"I'm going to contribute physically and take pucks to the net," Winchester said. "I'm just going to try and grind their team down and use my body. I have to keep improving and matching everything that they bring to us."

MacLean hopes to use Winchester's wheels to the top line's advantage.

"He plays with speed," MacLean said. "He get can get on the forecheck and use his speed to his advantage. He handles the puck fine. That's what we like."




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Posted On Monday, 04.16.2012 / 12:30 PM

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

Projected Game 3 lineups

Here are the projected lineups for Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series Monday night between the Boston Bruins and Washington Capitals at Verizon Center:

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

Zdeno Chara - Dennis Seidenberg
Andrew Ference - Johnny Boychuk
Greg Zanon - Joe Corvo

Tim Thomas
Anton Khudobin

Injured goaltender Tuukka Rask was on the ice for the morning skate and put in some extra work, but coach Claude Julien said he is not ready to return. Jordan Caron and Mike Mottau will be healthy scratches, while injured defenseman Adam McQuaid did not travel to Washington with the team.

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

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

Braden Holtby
Dany Sabourin

Both injured goalies, Michal Neuvirth and Tomas Vokoun, were on the ice after the morning skate was over. Mike Knuble, Cody Eakin, Jeff Halpern, Dmitry Orlov and John Erskine will be healthy scratches.
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Posted On Monday, 04.16.2012 / 10:00 AM

By Brian Compton -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Bracket Challenge Blog

Can Kings complete improbable sweep?

It's happened only eight times in 19 years, but the Los Angeles Kings are a solid 60-minute effort away from becoming No. 9.

Thanks to a 41-save performance from Jonathan Quick and another tremendous effort from team captain Dustin Brown, the Kings -- who haven't won a playoff series since 2001 -- took a 3-0 lead on the Vancouver Canucks in their Western Conference Quarterfinal with a 1-0 win at the Staples Center on Sunday night.

Jonathan Quick
Goalie - LAK
RECORD: 3-0-0
GAA: 1.33 | SVP: 0.965
Only eight teams that finished eighth in the conference have managed to knock off a No. 1 seed since the National Hockey League adopted the format in 1993. But the Kings, who didn't even know they were playing the Canucks until the final night of the regular season, can eliminate the Canucks with another victory in Game 4 on Wednesday night in Los Angeles.

Vancouver's special teams have struggled in this series, as the Canucks clearly miss injured winger Daniel Sedin. Vancouver went 0-for-4 on the power play Sunday night and is now 0-for-14 in the series.

Los Angeles, meanwhile, treated its fans to something they hadn't seen in quite some time -- a playoff victory on home ice. With Sunday's win, the Kings snapped a five-game playoff skid at Staples Center.

A long time coming -- Fifteen years since their last playoff victory, the Florida Panthers had reason to celebrate after Sunday's 4-2 win against the New Jersey Devils in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal at the BankAtlantic Center.

When Tomas Fleischmann scored an empty-net goal in the game's final second, it sealed Florida's first postseason win since a 3-0 triumph against the New York Rangers on April 17, 1997 -- a span of 5,478 days.

Sunday's win didn't come easily for the Panthers. The club held a 3-0 lead, but the Devils scored twice in the third period and nearly tied it with just under 10 seconds to go before Fleischmann's tally helped Florida even the best-of-seven series at one game apiece.

It's probably a good thing Florida won Sunday, too -- New Jersey is 10-0 all-time when it wins the first two games of a playoff series.

Fleury of goals
-- What's happened to Marc-Andre Fleury?

Marc-Andre Fleury
Goalie - PIT
RECORD: 0-3-0
GAA: 6.34 | SVP: 0.798
Easily one of the top goaltenders in the League during the regular season, the Pittsburgh Penguins' netminder has struggled mightily against the Philadelphia Flyers and was pulled after allowing six goals on 28 shots in the first two periods of Sunday's 8-4 loss at Wells Fargo Center.

Fleury won 42 games during the regular season while boasting a 2.36 goals-against average and .913 save percentage. But, in three appearances in the playoffs, he has a 6.34 GAA and .798 save percentage.

Seventh time's a charm -- The Nashville Predators finally won a playoff game at Joe Louis Arena on Sunday.

After going winless in their first six postseason games in Detroit, the Predators squeaked out a 3-2 victory against the Red Wings in Game 3 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals. Nashville now has a 2-1 lead in this best-of-seven series, with Game 4 to be played in Motown on Tuesday.

The Preds also finally experienced some success on the power play against the Wings. Nashville was 0-for-12 with the man advantage in the series before captain Shea Weber found the back of the net 2:48 into Sunday's contest.

Follow Brian Compton on Twitter: @BComptonNHL
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Posted On Sunday, 04.15.2012 / 10:29 PM

NHL.com - Rangers vs. Senators series blog

Rangers respond to Hagelin suspension

New York Rangers forward Carl Hagelin was suspended for three games Sunday night for elbowing Ottawa Senators forward Daniel Alfredsson during Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series in New York on Saturday.

The incident occurred at 10:32 of the second period. Hagelin was assessed a major penalty for elbowing. Alfredsson suffered an injury as a result of the hit and his status for Monday's Game 3 is unknown. Hagelin will miss Monday's Game 3, as well as Game 4 on Wednesday and Game 5 next Saturday.

Sunday night, the Rangers issued the following statement regarding the suspension:

"The New York Rangers accept the NHL's three-game suspension of Carl Hagelin and will not pursue an appeal. However, we are thoroughly perplexed in the ruling's inconsistency with other supplementary discipline decisions that have been made throughout this season and during the playoffs.  We will have no further comment on this decision."

Ottawa's Matt Carkner was suspended one game for a separate incident in Game 2.
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Posted On Sunday, 04.15.2012 / 8:19 PM

By Eric Gilmore -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Blues vs. Sharks series blog

Sharks hope to capitalize on their chances

SAN JOSE – Two games. Zero points.

That's not the type of production the San Jose Sharks expected from their top line of Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and Joe Pavelski in their Western Conference Quarterfinal series against St. Louis. But that's the reality approaching Game 3 on Monday night at HP Pavilion. Thornton's line has matched up against St. Louis' top line of David Backes, David Perron and T.J. Oshie, which has produced just three points.

"Both lines have had their chances," Thornton said Sunday after practice. "I think me and [Pavelski] had a couple of chances last night. We're feeling good, we're feeling comfortable. Hopefully we can be on the score sheet tomorrow."

Most of those good scoring chances Saturday night in Game 2 came in the first period.

"I thought our first period was our best period of the series so far and we come out of it [trailing] 1-0," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "They did create some opportunities. Where their polish has to come a little better or a little more is on the power play. If [the Blues are] going to take some penalties, undisciplined penalties, we have to make them pay for it. Last night, we weren't as good as we were in Game 1. We were a little disjointed, so we'll look at fixing that."

The Sharks, who went 1-for-15 on the power play against St. Louis during the regular season, went 0-for-4 in Game 2. They went 1-for-3 in Game 1, a 3-2 San Jose victory in double overtime.
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Posted On Sunday, 04.15.2012 / 7:22 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Predators vs. Red Wings series blog

Tough-luck day for rookie Emmerton

DETROIT -- Just one game after scoring his first career goal in the Stanley Cup Playoffs to help his team get a win, Detroit Red Wings rookie Cory Emmerton sat at his locker stall on Sunday afternoon soaking in a very different feeling.

The Red Wings lost Game 3 of their Western Conference Quarterfinals series against the Nashville Predators 3-2 at Joe Louis Arena and Emmerton wound up being the only guy on his team not to record a shot on goal.

Detroit launched a whopping 45 shots on goal, had 19 others blocked and missed the net 15 times, but it was a play by Nashville's Kevin Klein in the third that had Emmerton shaking his head a little bit.

Emmerton was about to cap a rush early in the third by putting home a rebound of Drew Miller's shot into a wide open net when Klein somehow blocked the shot from the low slot with just the shaft of his stick at the last second.

"We had a good breakout there, I tried to beat my guy up the ice and [Miller] did a good job," Emmerton said. "It was a tight spot to make a pass, so he passed up the pass and the puck went off the pads and I just tried to wire it. But the D-man just kind of did like a spin or something with his stick and I don't know how, but I hit him right in the middle of the shaft. It's unbelievable, but it's a tough break."
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Posted On Sunday, 04.15.2012 / 7:20 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Predators vs. Red Wings series blog

Wings again unable to stay out of the box

DETROIT -- It's become a constant mantra now for the Detroit Red Wings, who've suddenly become prone to taking penalties in their first three games of a Stanley Cup Playoffs Quarterfinal series against Nashville.

Detroit has committed 20 penalties, served 43 minutes in the penalty box and given the Predators a whopping 16 power plays already -- including a costly one by Drew Miller just 1:35 into Sunday's 3-2 Game 3 loss at Joe Louis Arena.

Miller was called for goaltender interference on a one-man rush after it appeared he tried to stop and was nudged into Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne.

"I for sure bumped into him, but it's not on purpose," said Miller, who went to the box and watched Shea Weber put the Preds up 1-0 at 2:48 of the first on Nashville's first power-play goal of the series. "It's skating as fast as I can down the ice to try to get to the puck and then shoot it at the net. So, I don't know if I was pushed from behind a little bit or what, or hit him hard. I couldn't even tell you."

Regardless of intent, it was just the start of another penalty-filled game for the Red Wings -- who wound up getting whistled for six infractions overall. Detroit finished the regular season behind only Nashville as the second least penalized team in the NHL, but suddenly has an issue with parading to the box.

It's starting to eat at the Red Wings, too -- whether they're taking their frustrations out on the calls or themselves.

"You've got to be more aware, but you can't use your stick, you can't tug someone [and] you can't, you know, interfere with someone," Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom said. "You've got to be a lot smarter and you've got to think about it, too. Sometimes you've got to take a penalty to stop the scoring chance, but just be more aware of what they're calling out there."

What the officials have called, however, is starting to be a touchy subject in the Detroit locker room. Several Red Wings players were asked leading questions about the officiating in the series overall, but none really took the bait a day after Johan Franzen had some harsh comments about it.

Franzen was also the recipient of two slashing calls on Sunday, with the first one leading to a Nashville 5-on-3 situation for almost half a minute in the second period.

"The regular season, we're not really that kind of team," Henrik Zetterberg said. "All of a sudden in the playoffs we get a lot of penalties. [The] PK's been good, but we knew it [wouldn't] last forever. They've got a good power play. If you keep giving them chances, they will eventually score."
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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