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Stanley Cup Final
Posted On Wednesday, 04.15.2015 / 1:58 PM

By Arpon Basu -  Managing Editor LNH.com /NHL.com - Canadiens-Senators series blog

Senators look to maintain balance as playoffs begin

MONTREAL -- Typical NHL teams will often try to ramp up their games when they enter the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Ottawa Senators are not a typical team.

When the Senators face the Montreal Canadiens in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference First Round series at Bell Centre on Wednesday (7 p.m. ET; NHLN-US, CBC, TVA Sports), it will officially be their first playoff game of the season.

But in reality, the Senators have been playing playoff hockey for the better part of two months and their challenge is not to raise their game, but simply to maintain the nearly unprecedented high level they were already on.

"We put a tremendous amount of effort into making it here," Senators rookie forward Mark Stone said. "We know there's still a long road ahead of us. I think [coach Dave Cameron] is stressing to continue to play the same way, continue to do the same things. At the end of the day we're playing one of the top teams in the conference, but we're just trying to stick to our game."

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Posted On Wednesday, 04.15.2015 / 1:48 PM

By Ben Raby and Katie Brown -  NHL.com Correspondents /NHL.com - Capitals-Islanders series blog

Defenseman de Haan likely in lineup for Islanders

ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- With New York Islanders defenseman Travis Hamonic out indefinitely with an undisclosed injury, defenseman Johnny Boychuk had a simple message ahead of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"With our group, we have a lot of guys that are NHL-ready or have played in the NHL, so it's time for guys to step up," Boychuk said. "They don't need to try to fill the void, but just try to play their game and try to help the team win any way possible."

Hamonic was injured in the Islanders' penultimate game of the regular season after taking a hip check from Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Rob Scuderi. The 24-year-old led the Islanders with an average of 21:47 of ice time per game and had career highs with five goals and 33 points in 71 games.

Hamonic's absence means Calvin de Haan is expected to make his postseason debut Wednesday in Game 1 of the Islanders' Eastern Conference First Round series against the Washington Capitals (7 p.m. ET; USA, SN, TVA Sports 2, MSG+, CSN-DC).

"I’m looking forward to it," said de Haan, one of three Islanders expected to make their NHL postseason debuts, along with forwards Anders Lee and Ryan Strome. "It's going to be exciting. The atmosphere is going to be good. It's going to be intense."

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Posted On Wednesday, 04.15.2015 / 1:30 PM

By Wes Crosby -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Rangers-Penguins series blog

Penguins won't have Ehrhoff, Pouliot for opener

PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Penguins defensemen Christian Ehrhoff and Derrick Pouliot will not be available against the New York Rangers in the series opener Thursday.

Ehrhoff and Pouliot, who each practiced Wednesday, are recovering from upper-body injuries that will force them to miss Game 1 of Pittsburgh's Eastern Conference First Round series against New York at Madison Square Garden (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports, ROOT, MSG). Ehrhoff has practiced with full contact the past two days and seems closer to returning than Pouliot.

"It was nice to get out on the ice again with the guys the last few days," Ehrhoff said. "Unfortunately, I'm not ready to go for Game 1, but it's a day-to-day thing and hopefully it keeps progressing in the right direction. … It's been tough sitting on the sidelines watching the guys battling it out the past few weeks, but I'm glad we're here now.

"Like I said, hopefully I keep progressing in the right direction and help the team soon."

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Posted On Wednesday, 04.15.2015 / 9:23 AM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2015 NHL Draft blog

McDavid sets Erie record for points in playoff series

Erie Otters center Connor McDavid, the projected No. 1 pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, established a team record with 14 points in a playoff series on Tuesday when he had one goal and one assist to help complete a four-game sweep of the London Knights in an Ontario Hockey League Western Conference semifinal before 9,046 at Budweiser Gardens in London, Ontario.

McDavid set the record on an empty-net goal with eight seconds remaining in the third period. He finished with eight goals and six assists in four games against London. Cory Pecker held the previous record of 13 points in a series in 2002, when he finished with 25 goals and 42 points in 21 playoff games.

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Posted On Wednesday, 04.15.2015 / 3:00 AM

By Kevin Weekes -  NHL Network Analyst /NHL.com - Weekes on the Web

Weekes: Pluses, minuses for Senators, Canadiens

Each Wednesday throughout the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Kevin Weekes will be offering his pluses and minuses for the teams competing in the game that intrigues him most that night. Weekes will also be assisting fans with three must-watch elements of the game.

I don't recall a team being on a run quite like the Ottawa Senators were on to get into the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Maybe the New Jersey Devils back in 1988, when Sean Burke came off the Canadian Olympic team and they went on that run to get into a postseason. Maybe that was close to what the Senators have done to get in, but I can't really recall another one in our modern history where it's been the case of a team going on this type of run to get into the playoffs.

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Posted On Tuesday, 04.14.2015 / 7:09 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Canucks-Flames series blog

Short practice for Monahan, will play for Flames

CALGARY -- The appearance by forward Sean Monahan at Calgary Flames was expected. The departure prompted questions.

But Monahan's brief skate Tuesday morning was by design.

"That was the plan," the 20-year-old center said. "Obviously I had a few days off there to get some rest, and the plan was for me to go out there and see how I feel. I felt good and I felt like that's all I needed. The plan was, when I felt like I was OK, I should get off then. That's what we did. We'll go from there.

"Everything's OK. Guys are going to be skeptical and things like that, but it was the plan to at least get my feet under me with the team. I was out there with the team. I was feeling good and I just felt that was the right time for me to get off."

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Posted On Tuesday, 04.14.2015 / 6:27 PM

NHL.com - NHL Live blog

Stars' Benn reflects on scoring title, missing playoffs

Dallas Stars forward Jamie Benn joined NHL Live to look back at the season and discuss winning the Art Ross Trophy as the League's leading scorer.

Benn will have hip surgery after playing through pain in each hip throughout the season.

"I was able to play in every game this year and it wasn't as bad as it sounded, I don't think," Benn said. "It wasn't affecting me out there. I was able to play and get through it."

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Posted On Tuesday, 04.14.2015 / 6:09 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Predators-Blackhawks series blog

Blackhawks likely to scratch Vermette for Game 1

CHICAGO – It was a struggle for Chicago Blackhawks center Antoine Vermette to find the right words after practice Tuesday.

The 32-year-old, acquired Feb. 28 in a trade with the Arizona Coyotes, is likely to be a healthy scratch to start the Western Conference First Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Nashville Predators on Wednesday at Bridgestone Arena (8:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN360, TVA3, CSN-CH, FS-TN).

Vermette, who centered Arizona's top line, was considered by some analysts to be the top forward available prior to the March 2 NHL Trade Deadline. Now he's stuck outside the Blackhawks' top four lines to begin the postseason.

"Obviously I want to play, I want to help the team to win [and be] successful," said Vermette, who didn't score a goal, and had three assists and a minus-2 rating in 19 games after the trade. "Certainly the last thing I want to do is make it about myself and be a distraction."

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Posted On Tuesday, 04.14.2015 / 5:52 PM

By Patrick Williams -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Ducks-Jets series blog

Jets forward Perreault questionable for Game 1

WINNIPEG -- The Winnipeg Jets may not have forward Mathieu Perreault for Game 1 of their Stanley Cup Playoff series against the Anaheim Ducks that starts Thursday at Honda Center (10:30 p.m.; CNBC, TVA, SN, PRIME).

Perreault, who sustained a lower-body injury April 9, did not practice Tuesday before the Jets departed for Anaheim. He missed the Jets' final regular-season game April 11. An offseason addition from the Ducks via free agency, he had 18 goals and 23 assists in 62 games with Winnipeg, and played several key roles on the second and third lines as well as the power play.

"[Perreault] is getting better," Jets coach Paul Maurice said. "We don't want to turn it into a bigger problem than it is, so he'll get out on the ice. He may play based on how he feels after his skate. I expect him to play sooner rather than later."

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Posted On Tuesday, 04.14.2015 / 5:49 PM

By Patrick Williams -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Ducks-Jets series blog

Maurice's influence created winning structure for Jets

WINNIPEG -- When Winnipeg Jets coach Paul Maurice arrived in Jan. 2014, he inherited a team that was beset by a relocation from Atlanta in 2011, years of losing, player turnover and an assortment of coaches. Maurice went to work to restructure the Jets' on-ice systems play and structure, but he also worked to create a new mindset inside the dressing room.

"I think [Maurice] is the biggest factor looking at where we are today," said right wing Blake Wheeler, who has been with franchise since 2011. "He changed everything, realistically. He just brought what we needed. The way he communicates, the way he coaches, it just was a perfect fit for our group, making us realize what we are, and what we are not. It was a perfect hire."

Once a team prone to playing the way that opponents wanted to play, the Jets have learned to adhere to their structure in any situation and even impose their style on other teams.

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Quote of the Day

I mean, any of those 14 teams (in the lottery) it would have been an absolute honor. If I am selected by Edmonton it will be amazing, a dream come true. They have a lot of amazing young players there.

— Likely No. 1 pick Connor McDavid after the Oilers won the 2015 NHL Draft Lottery on Saturday