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Posted On Friday, 04.20.2012 / 2:00 PM

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

Flyers expect bounce-back effort from Bryzgalov

PITTSBURGH -- If the Flyers want to close out the series in Game 5 Friday, they know they have to be better in front of goalie Ilya Bryzgalov. It would, of course, help if Bryzgalov was better as well.

Bryzgalov was pulled 3:07 into Game 4 after giving up his fifth goal on 18 shots. He has a 4.95 goals-against average and .844 save percentage in the series, but the Flyers remain confident that he will give them a series-clinching performance in net Friday.

"I'm not worried," Flyers center Claude Giroux said. "He's a professional. He's a veteran. He knows what to do. I think he'll be great tonight."

Bryzgalov certainly looked loose at the morning skate. Prior to leaving the ice, he was doing snow angels around his net.

"I've got a feeling," Giroux added. "He's focused and he wants to win. He can't wait for tonight."

Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said it's not about Bryzgalov.

"I don't think it's fair just to say that Bryz has to have a good game," Laviolette said. "He certainly does. We have great veteran players and you can count on them for a win. We've got great youth in the locker room and you can count on them. We have all year. It's a team sport. If we don't play well in front of Bryzgalov it's going to be more difficult.

"We need big performances out of everybody."

The question is will one of those players be forward James van Riemsdyk? He says he's ready to play for the first time since March 1, when he broke his foot blocking a shot, but van Riemsdyk was not on the ice Friday morning.

Neither was Danny Briere, but Laviolette made the morning skate optional for his players.

Provided Briere plays and van Riemsdyk does not, here's is what the Flyers lines and defense pairs will look like:

Scott Hartnell - Claude Giroux - Jaromir Jagr
Brayden Schenn - Danny Briere - Wayne Simmonds
Maxime Talbot - Sean Couturier - Eric Wellwood
Zac Rinaldo - Matt Read - Jakub Voracek

Kimmo Timonen - Braydon Coburn
Eric Gustafsson - Matt Carle
Andreas Lilja - Pavel Kubina

Ilya Bryzgalov
Sergei Bobrovsky

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl


 
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Posted On Friday, 04.20.2012 / 1:46 PM

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

Alfredsson not traveling with Senators to New York

OTTAWA -- The Ottawa Senators held their final practice on Friday morning prior to departing for New York without captain Daniel Alfredsson. The Sens will face off against the New York Rangers in Game 5 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinals series Saturday night.

Here are the lines as they appeared during practice:

Milan Michalek - Jason Spezza - Bobby Butler
Nick Foligno - Kyle Turris - Mark Stone/Mike Hoffman
Colin Greening - Zack Smith - Chris Neil
Zenon Konopka - Jim O'Brien - Erik Condra

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

Craig Anderson
Ben Bishop

Stone and Hoffman saw time on the second line and coach Paul MacLean confirmed that Stone would be traveling to New York with the team.

“We’re keeping all of our player options open,” he said.

Alfredsson (concussion) did not skate, and MacLean informed the media that the captain would remain in Ottawa, along with Jesse Winchester (upper body). There has been no change in the conditions of either player.
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Posted On Friday, 04.20.2012 / 1:05 PM

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

Grossmann out, Gustafsson in for Game 5

PITTSBURGH -- The Flyers have gone back to their well of defensemen and pulled out Erik Gustafsson to play in Game 5 against the Penguins on Friday. Nicklas Grossmann did not make the trip to Pittsburgh, so Gustafsson said he will appear in his first career Stanley Cup Playoff game.
 
The Flyers lead the series 3-1.

Grossmann was injured early in Game 4 on Wednesday. The team has labeled his injury as an upper-body injury.
 
"I think you just have to stay focused and visualize yourself doing good things on the ice," Gustafsson, who played in 30 regular-season games, told NHL.com. "Once I get out there I'm just going to try to keep it simple, don't make any mistakes. Once you get into the game, it's like any other game."
 
While the Flyers have not provided specifics about the injury, center Claude Giroux on Friday morning intimated that Grossman has a concussion.
 
When asked about Grossmann and the challenge of playing without him in the lineup, Giroux referred to his own concussion and said "it's all about your health."
 
"I had a concussion this year and it's just the worst," he continued. "You can't really do anything. You basically sit on your couch and you can't even watch TV because it messes up with your mind. It's not fun. We hope he gets better soon."
 
Grossmann joins a long list of Flyers' defensemen that are not here with the team. Chris Pronger (concussion) highlights the list, but Andrej Meszaros (back) and Marc-Andre Bourdon (upper-body) are also out.
 
However, Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said he's proud of the way his team has handled the injury situations this season and he expects them to respond in a positive manner again Friday.
 
"The fact that we've lost another defenseman, it's hard to take; but in saying that, our team is filled this spot all year long," Laviolette said. "We have close to 450 man-games lost to injury this year. This isn't something new to us. We'd much rather have Grossmann in there or any of the defensemen you listed, but that's not an option for us. We have to play good team defense and the players that come into the lineup will be expected to play well."

The Flyers have lost 437 man games to injury, but that number includes season-long injuries to Blair Betts and Ian Laperriere.
 
Laviolette said he has confidence in Gustafsson because the Swedish defenseman has earned his spot in the lineup with his play. He suited up for 30 games in the regular season and had five points and a plus-12 rating while averaging close to 17 minutes of ice time per game.
 
"He's a player that got sent back to the minors a couple of times, but it wasn't based on performance, it was based on numbers and being allowed to only dress six defensemen," Laviolette said. "I think he's had a good year. He had one tough injury, but short of that he's done a good job of playing at this level. The minutes he's played, they've increased over time. He's had games where he's played 18, 20, 22 minutes and he's done a good job for us. We have a lot of confidence in Gus and the way he plays the game."
 
The key, though, will be how the Flyers utilize their defense against Evgeni Malkin. Grossman was paired with Braydon Coburn and together they were on the ice a lot against Malkin and his line. Malkin had no goals in the series until he scored two in Game 4.
 
Penguins coach Dan Bylsma credited the Coburn-Grossmann pair for limiting Malkin at even strength even though most of the credit for that has gone to Flyers rookie center Sean Couturier.
 
"They've done a good job of having Grossmann and Coburn play in defensive situations," Bylsma said. "That was really a factor here at home. It wasn't having the Couturier line against Malkin, they really had Coburn and Grossmann on the ice in those situations. Without that matchup for them, if that's the case, there may be some circumstances where you try to have that in your favor given the last change."
 
Coburn pretty much disregarded the question when asked about the challenge of playing without Grossmann.
 
"Every game is a challenge," he said. "They've got world-class talent out there. We've got to find a way to win."
 
Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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Posted On Friday, 04.20.2012 / 12:52 PM

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

Rangers waiting on more offense from top players

NEW YORK -- During a conference call with reporters Thursday, Rangers coach John Tortorella was asked if his best players had been his best players through the first four games of his team's Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series with the Ottawa Senators.

"I'm not about to -- in Game 4 -- to start naming names," Tortorella said. "We've had some people, secondary players, play some good minutes."

Marian Gaborik and Brad Richards, the team's top-two scorers in the regular season, have been almost non-existent at even strength since Game 1 of the series. They each have a goal and two assists, but they picked up their assists on the power play in the first period of Game 4. Richards' lone goal made it 4-0 during the third period of Game 1 when the contest was long since decided.

Following practice Friday at Madison Square Garden, a tight-lipped Tortorella added, "Our top guys, just like everybody, want to be our top guys."

Richards was more open to discussing the topic and agreed they need to put the puck in the net more, starting with Game 5 on Saturday night with the best-of-seven series tied at 2-2. The Rangers lost 3-2 in overtime in Game 4 after letting a 2-0 lead -- and golden chances to make it 3-0 -- slip away.

"Obviously, we just need to score more goals," Richards said. "It's 2-2 and we lose in overtime. (We need to score) more goals or make it 3-0 instead. We want to make big plays."

Captain Ryan Callahan has two goals and an assist in the series and said it's great that Brian Boyle (three goals) and Anton Stralman (two goals) have delivered, but the Rangers' top-flight guys need to be just that over the rest of the series.

"Your best players have to be at their best, especially this time of year. You need them," Callahan said. "You're going to have other guys step up and score some big goals like Boyle has and Stralman has two. For us to win the series, we definitely have to have our top guys going."

Since that four-goal barrage in Game 1, the Senators have outscored the Rangers 6-2 at five-on-five. The key to rectifying that problem, according to Callahan, is getting more traffic in front of Senators goaltender Craig Anderson.

"I think we just have to continue to get pucks to the net, get some bodies there," Callahan said. "I think he's seeing a lot of shots. If we do that and bang in some rebounds, I think we'll be successful."

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo
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Posted On Friday, 04.20.2012 / 12:32 PM

By John Manasso -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Predators vs. Red Wings series blog

Trotz rules Gill out for Game 5

NASHVILLE -- Predators coach Barry Trotz ruled defenseman Hal Gill out for Game 5 on Friday at Bridgestone Arena (8 p.m. ET, CNBC, CBC).
 
With a win against the Red Wings, the Predators would advance to the Western Conference Semifinals for the second straight season.
 
Gill, the Preds' leader in blocked shots and in shorthanded time on ice, has yet to play in this series with a lower-body injury.
 
Gill participated in his first full practice on Thursday and took part in the team’s optional skate. Gill said he would be a game-time decision before Trotz ruled him out. Asked if he expected Gill to play, Trotz said, "No, I don't expect him to play tonight." Then, asked if Gill was out, Trotz responded with a simple "yes."
 
Earlier, Gill was asked if whether he plays depends on pain tolerance or risk of further injury. He responded by saying, "There's a lot of decisions to be made from coaching, the trainers to me. There's a lot of conversation going on right now. To take a page from [former Montreal coach] Jacques Martin, there's a process and we're going to stick with it."
 
That once again leaves either Jack Hillen or rookie Ryan Ellis to take Gill's place in the lineup. Hillen played in Games 1 and 2, Ellis in Games 3 and 4. Neither has averaged more than eight minutes per game.
 
One Nashville defenseman who goes about his game quietly and often gets overlooked is 36-year-old Francis Bouillon. Bouillon leads the series with a plus-5 rating while averaging 14:37, fifth among Preds' defensemen.
 
"I guess I'm lucky," Bouillon said. "[Goalie Pekka Rinne] saved me a few times. I try to play a good game defensively and there's a little bit of luck, too, and I didn't create much offensively, so sometimes it's being in the right place at the right moment, but, defensively, I try to play pretty hard in my own zone and do my best."
 
Trotz called the 5-foot-8, 198-pound Bouillon a "battler."
 
"You talk about a veteran, a veteran always has a lot of pride when it comes to the game and they always seem to elevate their game at playoff time," Trotz said. "Frankie is just one of those guys, he gives you everything he's got. He battles through everything. Pound for pound, he's as tough mentally and physically as anyone you're going to meet.
 
"He's had a real strong series and it's because he's got some veteran poise, some veteran diligence, if you will -- all those things that make you a good pro, and he knows the importance of each and every shift in the playoffs and he's really elevated his game."
 
Bouillon's plus/minus rating has benefitted from playing with defenseman Kevin Klein, one of the unlikely offensive heroes in this series, as Klein has two goals. The two have been paired together on-and-off for most of the last three seasons.
 
Over his final 13 games of the regular season, Bouillon scored four goals. In the previous 663 games in his career, Bouillon had scored 25 times.
 
"It was different a month ago, but now it's like the opposite," Bouillon said. "Kleier skates, shoots and I back him up."
 
Note: On Thursday in practice, rookie forward Craig Smith skated on the fourth line with center Paul Gaustad and wing Brandon Yip, leading to speculation he could play his first game of the series over Matt Halischuk. Trotz said Smith, who had 14 goals during the regular season, would bring speed and determination to the lineup if he plays. Trotz said both Smith and Colin Wilson would be ready if called upon.
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Posted On Friday, 04.20.2012 / 12:19 PM

By Alan Robinson -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins vs. Flyers series blog

Penguins' Martin out again

PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Paul Martin will sit out Game 5 of his team's Easern Conference Quarterfinal series against the Philadelphia Flyers on  Friday (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN) with an undisclosed injury.

Martin also sat out Game 4. The injury could stem back to a hard hit he took from the Flyers' Brayden Schenn in the first period of Game 3.

With Martin out and three players suspended for Game 4 -- forwards Craig Adams, Arron Asham and James Neal -- coach Dan Bylsma went with 11 forwards and seven defensemen, something he almost never does. But Bylsma hinted following the morning skate Friday that he could use the same scheme in Game 5, even though Adams and Neal will play.
 
Rookie defensemen Simon Despres and Brian Strait played in Game 4, as did defense regulars Brooks Orpik, Kris Letang, Zbynek Michalek, Matt Niskanen and Deryk Engelland. Niskanen had a goal and an assist as Pittsburgh won 10-3 to keep the series going.
 
"Paul is a second (unit) power-play guy and plays a lot of minutes in defensive situations," Bylsma said. "Having seven the last game, we were able to use guys in different spots. We could use Brian Strait for some of those minutes and have Simon Despres for the second power-play unit, which he filled in on and did a good job on. That’s why it was a positive thing and could be [Friday]."
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Posted On Friday, 04.20.2012 / 12:12 PM

By NHL.com Staff -  /NHL.com - Penguins vs. Flyers series blog

Giroux: Grossmann has concussion

Philadelphia Flyers center Claude Giroux told reporters Friday that teammate Nicklas Grossmann has a concussion, meaning the defenseman will not be in the lineup for the team when it faces the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 5 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN).

Flyers coach Peter Laviolette later confirmed Grossmann did not make the trip to Pittsburgh, and that rookie Erik Gustafsson will make his Stanley Cup Playoff debut.

Grossmann was hit hard twice in Game 4 on Wednesday. He was elbowed in the head by Penguins center Evgeni Malkin less than four minutes into the game, and then was rocked by forward Tyler Kennedy with 8:21 left in the period. That hit forced Grossmann to skate slowly off the ice and spend time on the bench. He returned, but played just four shifts in the second period, leaving the game for good with 9:20 remaining.

After the game, the Flyers listed Grossmann as day-to-day with an upper-body injury.
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Posted On Friday, 04.20.2012 / 11:00 AM

By Alan Robinson -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins vs. Flyers series blog

Projected Game 5 lineup for Penguins

The Pittsburgh Penguins' likely lineup for Game 5 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinals series against the Philadelphia Flyers:
 
Chris Kunitz - Evgeni Malkin - James Neal
Steve Sullivan - Sidney Crosby - Pascal Dupuis
Matt Cooke - Jordan Staal - Tyler Kennedy
Eric Tangradi - Craig Adams - Richard Park
 
Brooks Orpik - Kris Letang
Matt Niskanen - Zbynek Michalek
Simon Despres/Brian Strait - Deryk Engelland
 
Marc-Andre Fleury
Brent Johnson
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Posted On Friday, 04.20.2012 / 9:30 AM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Panthers vs. Devils series blog

Garrison absence proves pivotal for Panthers

NEWARK, N.J. -- The Florida Panthers were minus a key cog on defense against the New Jersey Devils on Thursday when Jason Garrison was listed as a late scratch for Game 4 at Prudential Center.
 
According to Panthers coach Kevin Dineen, Garrison, who took part in the team's morning skate Thursday, had two lower-body issues and is listed as day-to-day. Garrison had missed five games during the regular-season (Feb. 12-23) with a lower-body injury.
 
"We not only missed Jason on the power-play … we missed him, period," Panthers forward Stephen Weiss said. "Not just on the power-play, but five-on-five and on the penalty kill, as well. He's a big part of our team."
 
The Panthers entered Game 4 with a power play clicking at 60-percent efficiency with Garrison in the lineup, connecting for six power-play goals on 10 chances in the first three games of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series. With the 6-foot-2, 218-pound defenseman sidelined Thursday, however, the Panthers went 0-for-6 with the man advantage.
 
Garrison, who set a franchise record for defensemen with 16 goals in the regular season, was replaced in the lineup by Keaton Ellerby, who played his first game since March 15.
 
Unfortunately for the Panthers, Ellerby was forced to leave the game midway through the second period after New Jersey center Stephen Gionta checked him into the Devils bench where the open door meets the stanchion. It appeared as though Ellerby injured his left leg on the play.
 
Ellerby's status will be updated later Friday in Florida. The Panthers will host the Devils on Saturday in Game 5 at BankAtlantic Center (6:30 p.m. ET, NHLN-US, TSN). The best-of-seven series is tied, 2-2.
 
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale
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Posted On Friday, 04.20.2012 / 1:51 AM

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

Another line in the record book for Brodeur

Martin Brodeur took over another line in the NHL record book on Thursday night.

The NHL's all-time regular-season leader in wins and shutouts added the record for most Stanley Cup shutouts to his Hall of Fame resume by stopping all 26 Florida shots in New Jersey's 4-0 victory in Game 4 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series.

Shutout No. 24 broke a tie with Patrick Roy that had existed since Brodeur blanked Carolina 1-0 on April 23, 2009. It was just his fourth in the last nine years since a 3-0 victory against Anaheim in Game 7 of the 2003 Stanley Cup Final. That shutout was the last of seven he had while leading the Devils to their third championship in nine years.
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