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Posted On Tuesday, 04.17.2012 / 2:56 PM

By Tim Cronin -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Coyotes vs. Blackhawks series blog

Smith skates, game-time decision for Coyotes

CHICAGO -- Phoenix goaltender Mike Smith took part in the Coyotes' light morning skate Tuesday, but there was no word from him or coach Dave Tippett on whether Smith or Jason LaBarbara would be in goal when Phoenix faced the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 3 of their Western Conference Quarterfinal series.

"It's a game-time decision," Tippett said, extending that to center Martin Hanzal as well.

Smith's status went from his self-proclaimed "100 percent" to questionable when he was held out of the Coyotes' practice on Monday. 

Tippett, displeased with a string of questions about Smith, finally said, "We don't have to tell everybody why a player practices or not."

Smith, hit behind the net in a shoulder-to-chin check by Chicago's Andrew Shaw in Game 2, was not made available for comment. Shaw was suspended for three games on Tuesday afternoon.

If LaBarbara plays, the Coyotes will hardly miss a beat. His 3-9-3 regular season record is deceiving, with his 2.54 goals-against average more indicative of his play. In his only appearance against Chicago this season, he stopped 30 of 35 shots in a 5-2 loss to the Hawks on Oct. 18.

"I know LaBarbera's played well against the Hawks a few times in his career," Chicago center Patrick Sharp said. "I don't think it changes it too much, to be honest with you."

Hanzal (lower body) participated in the two-on-two drills, but left wing Lauri Korpikoski (upper body) is out, Tippett said. He was in workout clothes and didn't take part in the skate.

Shaw, who will be eligible to return for a potential Game 6 of the series, is expected to be replaced by Michael Frolik at right wing on the Hawks' third line.
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Posted On Tuesday, 04.17.2012 / 2:52 PM

By Tim Cronin -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Coyotes vs. Blackhawks series blog

For Blackhawks, local hotel is home away from home

CHICAGO -- Playoff rituals come in all shapes and sizes. One for the Chicago Blackhawks is staying on the road even while at home.

Rather than go home after Tuesday’s morning skate, they checked into a hotel, all part of the "One Goal" atmosphere in the locker room.

For Patrick Kane, that means he doesn't have to cook a pre-game meal.

"We've had success on the road, so you try to keep it that way," Kane said of the plan. "It's fine with a lot of players. If we're going home, we're taking a nap anyway and waking up and going to the rink. There's a nice pre-game meal, so that's a perk, I guess."
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Posted On Tuesday, 04.17.2012 / 2:52 PM

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

Van Riemsdyk still working toward return

VOORHEES, N.J. -- Injured Flyers forward James van Riemsdyk took part in the full practice Tuesday, but he stayed on the ice long after it was over to do extra work and said he does not expect to play in in Game 4 of the team's Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN).

"I'm just taking it day-by-day right now," van Riemsdyk told NHL.com. "I'm on the right path so I'm just going to keep worrying about that. You just have to take it one game at a time and when your number gets called be ready to go."

Van Riemsdyk hasn't played since March 1, when he broke his left foot blocking a shot from the Islanders' Milan Jurcina. He still is wearing a walking boot, but said he will be for a while even after he returns to the lineup.

He said he does expect to return at some point in the postseason, provided the Flyers advance. There's also a chance he plays later in this series if the Penguins can extend it.

"Every day that goes by it feels better so I am hoping to get to that point," van Riemsdyk said.

When asked the hypothetical question of would he be ready to play Wednesday if coach Peter Laviolette called for him, van Riemsdyk smiled and said, "I'll be ready, yup."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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Posted On Tuesday, 04.17.2012 / 2:40 PM

By Tim Cronin -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Coyotes vs. Blackhawks series blog

Coyotes look forward to raucous atmosphere at UC

CHICAGO -- Road teams have the advantage so far in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

But a game hasn't been played in the United Center yet.

The building is loud, to be sure. But is it intimidating?

Phoenix forward Raffi Torres wouldn't go that far.

"It's a building where the fans know the game," Torres said. "It's pretty loud. They won a championship here. They're excited, as they should be. They've got a lot of fun players and keys to a winning team over there."

The capacity is just over 22,000, more than old Chicago Stadium held. That building was louder because there was cubic feet to fill with noise, but it's still ear-splitting when "The Star-Spangled Banner" is belted out.

"It's exciting," Phoenix captain Shane Doan said of the atmosphere. "Obviously, Chicago's got a great history, and it's fun to play in this building. The energy is awesome. The anthem is the biggest change (from other arenas). It's good for both teams."

The Hawks were 27-8-6 at home in the regular season, but Phoenix was 2-0 at the United Center, including 4-1 and 4-3 wins a week apart just after Thanksgiving.        
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Posted On Tuesday, 04.17.2012 / 2:26 PM

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

Seidenberg relishing physical matchup with Ovechkin

WASHINGTON -- Chris Kelly has been the recipient of a Dennis Seidenberg body blow, and he's quite happy to be wearing the same uniform as the stout defenseman.

Seidenberg has been a physical, positionally sound player for his entire career, but spending last season next to Boston captain Zdeno Chara on the Bruins' top defense pairing as they bruised and battered their way to a Stanley Cup earned the German defenseman plenty of recognition and praise.

He's back next to Chara again at the start of the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs, and his titanic collisions with Washington's Alex Ovechkin in this Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series have been epic.

"It doesn't feel great, actually," Kelly said with a chuckle. "I remember him hitting me when he was on Carolina in the corner. It was just a great hit and I ended up on the ice. He’s just a big, strong guy who plays physical, plays honest. I think he’s exactly what the NHL wants in a big, strong defenseman.

"They are too big strong men going at it and being physical. Like I have said before, there is no added slashing or yapping -- it is two big guys battling hard."

Boston coach Claude Julien has done all that he can to make sure Chara is on the ice against Ovechkin, but more often than not it is Seidenberg who ends up engaged in one-on-one battles with the Washington captain because he plays on the right side against the left wing.

Ovechkin leads the League with 17 hits this postseason, while Seidenberg isn't far behind with 12. Many of those have been on each other, and a few of them have been highlight-reel quality.

"It's a tough battle. He's a very thick guy," Seidenberg said. "But it's fun. It's playoff hockey. You play a little harder, and that's what it's all about."

While Chara stands out for his genetics, Seidenberg absorbs and delivers contact like he was crafted from 210 pounds of granite. That Ovechkin has been able to knock him off his feet a couple of times is a significant achievement -- even for one of the League's most ferocious hitters. 

Seidenberg complements brute strength with the ability to skate and position himself well against oncoming attackers. Ovechkin has not found a lot of open ice in this series when Seidenberg is in his vicinity.

"Certain guys get certain assignments during the playoffs and for the last couple years him and [Chara] obviously get matched up against top guys," Boston defenseman Andrew Ference said. "I think he does an extremely good job of being consistent against his matchup. It is not once in a while where he is on top of them -- he is really tough to shake throughout the entire game, and for that matter the entire series. Obviously he has a lot of pride in having that assignment against top guys. Put that with talent and he's a good player as it is. He's just got what it takes. I think he really relishes that role."

Added coach Claude Julien: "He's a guy that has always been good in the playoffs, even before he came to us. He's a big-game player. He's been known as a big-game player, and he continues to show that. Zdeno is as good as you'll get as a defenseman, but when it comes to playoff time, 'Seids' isn't that far behind him, if at all. He's been a real good player for us, a real force, physical, he's loving these kind of challenges and he thrives on it. You need those kinds of players to succeed."
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Posted On Tuesday, 04.17.2012 / 2:11 PM

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

Likely lineups for Wings, Predators

DETROIT -- Here are the lineups the Red Wings and Predators likely will use when they meet Tuesday at Joe Louis Arena in Game 4 of their Western Conference Quarterfinal series (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC):

PREDATORS
Sergei Kostitsyn - Mike Fisher - Martin Erat
Andrei Kostitsyn - Nick Spaling - Alexander Radulov
Gabriel Bourque - Paul Gaustad - Patric Hornqvist
Matt Halischuk - David Legwand - Brandon Yip

Ryan Suter - Shea Weber
Kevin Klein - Roman Josi
Francis Bouillon - Ryan Ellis

Pekka Rinne
Anders Lindback

Forwards Jordin Tootoo, Craig Smith, Colin Wilson will be healthy scratches. Jack Hillen, who played the first two games in place of the injured Hal Gill, could replace Ellis, who made his Stanley Cup Playoff debut in Game 3. Gill (lower body) will not play in Game 4.

RED WINGS
Valtteri Filppula - Henrik Zetterberg - Jiri Hudler
Johan Franzen - Pavel Datsyuk - Danny Cleary
Gustav Nyquist - Justin Abdelkader - Todd Bertuzzi
Drew Miller - Cory Emmerton - Tomas Holmstrom

Nicklas Lidstrom - Ian White
Niklas Kronwall - Brad Stuart
Kyle Quincey - Jonathan Ericsson

Jimmy Howard
Ty Conklin

Forwards Chris Conner, Jan Mursak, Jakub Kindl and Riley Sheahan all will be healthy scratches.
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Posted On Tuesday, 04.17.2012 / 2:05 PM

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

Wings keep Preds off their ping pong table

DETROIT -- One of the more popular side stories prior to Game 4 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals between the Detroit Red Wings and Nashville Predators on Tuesday (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC) involves table tennis.

After "news" broke on Monday that Red Wings forward Todd Bertuzzi put the kibosh on a game of ping pong between Predators teammates Roman Josi and Brandon Yip at Joe Louis Arena, players and coaches from both teams fielded questions about it Tuesday.

The Red Wings had the tables brought in this season as a pre-game activity in the area located just outside the two locker rooms. Bertuzzi told the Detroit Free Press that he asked a security guard to prevent the Predators from playing.

Yip and Josi confirmed that's what happened and said they were surprised by such a big media flap about it -- including a bunch of online blog posts.

"It was a little funny," Yip said. "It's nothing to look too far into, I don't think. We just went out there to play and ... the security guard said we're not to play. We were a little disappointed, but we went back and did our normal routine. I don't think it will have any affect [on the game] ... except I got a little more TV time today."

Red Wings coach Mike Babcock was asked about it during his meeting with reporters and was told by a team spokesman prior to answering that the incident didn't happen.

"That's why stuff like that is rumors," he said, smiling. "You start that rumor. Lots of rumors going around ... when I'm bored I start them. Good job by you.''

Nashville coach Barry Trotz sounded just as amused by it.

"It really has no effect [on the game]," Trotz said. "If they want a ping pong table in Nashville, I'm more than willing to give them one. It's their toys. We have our toys, all those things, a ping pong table, our balls. We're OK. We've got a soccer ball. We have our things that we do. There's nothing really to it. That's their decision. It's their toy."
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Posted On Tuesday, 04.17.2012 / 1:58 PM

By Tim Cronin -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Coyotes vs. Blackhawks series blog

Projected Game 3 lineups

CHICAGO -- With Martin Hanzal and Mike Smith listed as a game-time decisions for Phoenix, here’s how the lineups project for Game 3 of the Western Conference Quarterfinal series between Chicago and Phoenix on Tuesday at the United Center:

COYOTES
Ray Whitney - Martin Hanzal - Radim Vrbata
Mikkel Boedker - Antoine Vermette - Shane Doan
Taylor Pyatt - Boyd Gordon - Gilbert Brule
Raffi Torres - Daymond Langkow - Kyle Chipchura

Keith Yandle - Derek Morris
Oliver Ekman-Larsson - Adrian Aucoin
Rostislav Klesla - Michal Rozsival

Mike Smith
Jason LaBarbera

Justin Pogge is expected to dress and back up LaBarbera if Smith is unable to play.
 
BLACKHAWKS
Patrick Sharp - Jonathan Toews - Viktor Stalberg
Andrew Brunette - Patrick Kane - Marian Hossa
Bryan Bickell - Dave Bolland - Andrew Shaw or Martin Frolik
Brandon Bollig - Marcis Kruger - Jamal Mayers

Duncan Keith - Brent Seabrook
Johnny Oduya - Nick Leddy
Niklas Hjalmarsson - Sami Lepisto

Corey Crawford
Ray Emery

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Posted On Tuesday, 04.17.2012 / 1:39 PM

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

Alfredsson suffers 'setback' in recovery

OTTAWA -- Ottawa Senators coach Paul MacLean told reporters Tuesday that team captain Daniel Alfredsson had a "setback" in his recovery from a concussion and his status is unknown for Game 4 of the team's Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series against the New York Rangers.

The Senators took part in an optional practice Tuesday afternoon, following their 1-0 loss to the New York Rangers on Monday night at Scotiabank Place. The Rangers currently lead the Sens 2-1 in their Eastern Conference Quarterfinals series.

Alfredsson, Erik Karlsson and Craig Anderson were absent from the ice. Karlsson and Anderson took a maintenance day, while Alfredsson continues to recover from his concussion. Alfredsson received a blow to the head from the Rangers' Carl Hagelin during the second period of Game 2. The captain participated in the morning skate on Monday and was listed as a game-time decision for Game 3, but did not play. Alfredsson has now suffered a setback in his recovery, leaving his availability for Game 4 unclear.

"We're going to evaluate it and see what it is in the morning," MacLean said. "If [Alfredsson] is better and things go good, we'll evaluate the lineup and make decisions then.

"He's the captain of the team. He's the most experienced player on the team. It's a big loss for any team. I think the team stepped up and played really well. I thought Bobby [Butler] went in and played real well for us. That's what we need to happen. When a team faces adversity, it's an opportunity. We're not replacing Daniel Alfredsson. We don't have that player."

The Senators' practice largely focused on special teams, with MacLean spending most of the skate working with the team's first power play unit of Milan Michalek, Jason Spezza, Butler, Filip Kuba and Sergei Gonchar. The Sens' power play is 1-for-10 through three games, with the only goal on the man-advantage coming from Erik Karlsson in Game 2.
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Posted On Tuesday, 04.17.2012 / 1:26 PM

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

Red Wings need ice-cold Filppula to heat up

DETROIT -- While his season as a whole can be considered a success, the past month for Valtteri Filppula hasn't been pretty.

The 28-year old Detroit Red Wings forward has scored just one goal in the past 17 games dating to the regular season. He last found the back of the net March 17 at San Jose. He had career-highs of 23 goals, 43 assists and 66 points this season while shifting from center to left wing.

Through Detroit's first three Stanley Cup Playoffs games, however, Filppula has no goals and one assist. He's also taken just six shots on goal, including just two of the Red Wings' 43 in Game 3 on Sunday.

"You create chances to score, but at the end of the day, chances ... they don't count," Filppula said. "We have to find a way to score and hopefully we can do a better job."

The Red Wings have struggled scoring goals in the same timeframe that's seen Filppula's production fall off. They also find themselves down 2-1 in their Western Conference Quarterfinal series against the Nashville Predators and could use an offensive outburst in Game 4 on Tuesday (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC).

"I feel like we've been getting some chances, for sure," Filppula said. "[Sunday's] game, we had a lot of good chances and couldn't score. It's tough, obviously. You hope to get more chances but their goalie is playing really well, too. The more chances, hopefully the better luck you have that some go in."

In the regular season, Filppula led Detroit in goals scored against Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne this season, with four in six games.

"It's a little different," Filppula said of the postseason. "Playoff hockey is always different. There's less room and you don't get as many good chances as you do during the regular season. It's tighter. The biggest thing is getting second shots and second chances and getting goals that way."

Still, the Wings know that when Filppula's firing more pucks at the net, the better it is for their scoring chances.

"I think we saw that [this season] when he was scoring some goals, he was shooting the puck a little more, driving the net, and [that's] something [he] can do an even better job at," Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom said. "It would help [if Filppula heats up]. You're always looking at one player to be that difference and I think Fil can be that difference for us."
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