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Posted On Monday, 05.07.2012 / 6:54 PM

By Corey Masisak -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Coyotes vs. Predators series blog

Wilson to start on top line for Preds

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Colin Wilson has been in this position before.

Wilson, a high draft pick filled with promise but lacking in high-end results, was a healthy scratch at the beginning of the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs before dressing for the final three games and offering a glimmer of hope for future success.

Colin Wilson
Center - NSH
GOALS: 0 | ASST: 0 | PTS: 0
SOG: 3 | +/-: 0
This year he played in only two of the final 12 games of the regular season and not at all against Detroit in the first round of the playoffs. He came back into the lineup for the Nashville Predators in Game 2 of this Western Conference Semifinal series against the Phoenix Coyotes, and in three contests has earned a promotion to the top line.

Maybe, just maybe, Wilson is starting to figure it out at the NHL level.

"An epiphany?" Wilson said. "Yeah, I think just the more throughout my career I've realized that nothing is being given to me in terms of ice time and just motivates me to play that much harder. Whatever they are telling me, I'm going to take it in, soak it in. That's what I've been doing lately, and I have been playing harder defensively. I have tried to step up my game after being healthy scratched." 
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Posted On Monday, 05.07.2012 / 6:36 PM

By Jerry Brown -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Coyotes vs. Predators series blog

Projected lines for Coyotes for Game 5

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- With David Schlemko in for Rostislav Klesla and Lauri Korpikoski a game-time decision, here is tonight's projected lineup for the Phoenix Coyotes:

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

Michal Rozsival - Oliver Ekman-Larsson
Keith Yandle - Derek Morris
David Schlemko - Adrian Aucoin

Mike Smith
Jason LaBarbera
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Posted On Monday, 05.07.2012 / 5:40 PM

By Corey Masisak -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Coyotes vs. Predators series blog

Predators seek defining moment, series comeback

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Every team that wins the Stanley Cup has some defining moments along the way. Last year, it was a pair of overtime goals for Nathan Horton, a can-you-believe-it stick save by Tim Thomas and even when Horton was knocked out of the Cup Final by an illegal hit.

As fictional baseball manager Lou Brown put it, "All we need is something to bring it all together." The Nashville Predators are on the precipice of elimination Monday night, so if they're going to forge an improbable journey to a Stanley Cup championship, one of those series-shifting, season-defining events could happen in Game 5 of this Western Conference Semifinal series.

"We've got to look forward," coach Barry Trotz said. "Tonight is our chance to get a win in Phoenix so we can live another day. We think we have a really good group. I know we have a good leadership group in there. We've had to go through some things. I don't think any team that has done anything special in sport or has won anything hasn't gone through some adversity. Well, this might be our adversity. There are moments that pass you by that you look back 20 years from now and say, 'That was the moment.' You can make a difference, and tonight might be their moment.

"We can get back in the series a little bit and get it to 3-2. That's all we can do. We're not going to win the series tonight. No team has ever won three games in one night in the NHL that I know of. We've just got to win a hockey game. It is going to be a moment-to-moment situation."

The big story leading into Game 5 is the return of Alexander Radulov and Andrei Kostitsyn after missing the past two games. Radulov, the team's leading scorer with six points, and Kostitsyn, the joint goals leader with three, were held out of the lineup for Game 3 for a violation of team rules, which was reportedly breaking curfew the night before the last game here, Game 2.

They were also healthy scratches for Game 4 after the team played well in a 2-0 win in Game 3. The Predators were shut out in Game 4 by Phoenix goaltender Mike Smith, so the duo could be a spark for the offense.

"I have something to prove, basically not to [the media] or to somebody; first of all, it's to myself, and that's about it," Radulov said.

Radulov and Kostitsyn will skate on a line with Nick Spaling, at least to start the contest. Colin Wilson is expected to start on the top line after playing well the past two games. Kostitsyn's brother, Sergei, will drop to the fourth line.

"We practiced yesterday. Before that, we've had a few shifts together," Radulov said of playing with Spaling. "At this time of year, it basically doesn't matter who you play with. You just have to go out there and do your best and show effort and just try to win. We're down 3-1, so we don't have much. We just have to play hard and go out there and win the game."

Added Trotz: "[Radulov] is a pretty proud guy. He wants to be part of this series. He's going to be part of this series. He wants to make a difference. I think we'll talk to him and say, 'This is what we expect and you've got to be part of the format.' He can make a difference. ... I'm glad they want this challenge. It is a big challenge for them. They're coming into a situation where we're behind the eight ball, if you will. They can make a difference tonight. If they do, it might be the thing that changes the whole series."

Trotz said he told the two skilled forwards that they would be back in for Game 5 the morning after Game 4. Nashville had a sparsely-attended optional skate Saturday morning with an extra day off before Game 5, but Radulov and Kostistyn skated and Trotz told them afterwards.

"I just told them, 'You're back in and you can make a difference,'" Trotz said. "I told them, 'It is not going to be easy. People aren't going to let you off the hook. You're going to be judged. You're going to be weighed. All of those things.' I needed to tell them early so they could be in the right frame of mind that, 'Hey, I've got a big task in front of me and I know it is going to be challenging. I know I'm going to get questioned.' I wanted them to have the opportunity to prepare for success, and not just at the last minute say, 'Hey, you're in.' I don't think that would have been fair to them."

Here is the projected lineup for the Predators in Game 5 of this Western Conference Semifinal series against Phoenix at Jobing.com Arena:

Colin Wilson - Mike Fisher - Martin Erat
Gabriel Bourque - David Legwand - Patric Hornqvist
Andrei Kostistyn - Nick Spaling - Alexader Radulov
Sergei Kostistyn - Paul Gaustad - Matt Halischuk/Jordin Tootoo/Craig Smith

Ryan Suter - Shea Weber
Hal Gill - Roman Josi
Kevin Klein - Francis Boullon

Pekka Rinne
Anders Lindback
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Posted On Monday, 05.07.2012 / 5:20 PM

By Jerry Brown -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Coyotes vs. Predators series blog

Pouliot filling in admirably in Korpikoski's absence

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Coyotes winger Lauri Korpikoski ranked fourth on the Phoenix Coyotes with 17 goals and 37 points this season and wears a variety of hats for the team as a special teams performer and responsible checker.
 
But injuries have limited Korpikoski to just five games in the postseason and he has played in just three of the last eight games. Kopikoski is getting closer but is still a game-time decision for Monday night's Game 5 when the Coyotes will try to close out the Nashville Predators and advance to the Western Conference finals for the first time in franchise history.
 
The Coyotes have a quandary. Marc-Antoine Pouliot has played very steady hockey (one assist, plus-one) in averaging about 10 minutes of ice in the last three games. And while Phoenix could use the added surge of offense, Korpikoski would have about a week to rest and get ready for the Western Conference Finals if Phoenix can advance on Monday.
 
"We'll see where he is today," said Tippett, sounding like he was ready to play without Korpikoski. "When we feel like he can contribute to the maximum, that's when he'll play."
 
Pouliot has been a pleasant surprise for the organization this year and his versatility -- playing both the wing and center spots -- and toughness fit in well in this type of series.
 
"He's filled in very well for Korpikoski," Tippett said. "He's a solid player, two-way player, strong on the boards and solid in all parts of the game. He hasn't gotten on the scoreboard, but if you look at the guts of the game he's a heavy player similar to a [Taylor] Pyatt. He's been a good player for us."
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Posted On Monday, 05.07.2012 / 4:34 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Flyers vs. Devils series blog

Flyers feel adversity will bring out their best

VOORHEES, N.J. -- Some teams seem to thrive on adversity, and the Philadelphia Flyers believe they are that kind of team. Whether it's been injuries or scoring slumps or streaks of poor play, the belief in future success never is farther than the next game.

"I have a tremendous amount of confidence we can win a game [Tuesday]," coach Peter Laviolette said. "I don't say that as a sales pitch. This team has had success all year long. Regular season had success, first round had success, Game 1 [against the Devils] had success. … We need to do things better and we need to do them quicker and faster. I think if we do that, then we'll find the results that we're looking for."

They'll have to find those results without top scorer Claude Giroux, who will sit out Game 5 as punishment for his hit to the head of New Jersey's Dainius Zubrus in the second period of Game 4 on Sunday.

However, it's just another slice of adversity for the team to get past.

"It's the belief first of all in your teammates," Danny Briere said. "We've shown all year we can come back. We've faced adversity all year and we've shown we can come back from it. Obviously this is the biggest challenge of the year. But we've shown all year we're not quitters. And that's what makes me believe that the guys are not going to just quit at this point. I might be wrong -- we'll see [Tuesday]. But the character that we've shown all year I really believe is going to come out [in Game 5]."

Kimmo Timonen said part of the message delivered in meetings Monday was for each player to focus on his individual role, and not to worry about trying too hard, or to do someone else's job.

"I'm sure everybody was a little down today, obviously, but stay positive, think about [Game 5] and do your job," he said. "Everybody has a role. If we do our role … everybody can do their role much better than they have been the last three games. That's why I'm really confident and I believe in our team and we can do a better job."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK


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Posted On Monday, 05.07.2012 / 4:12 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Flyers vs. Devils series blog

Flyers using 2010 comeback as touchstone

VOORHEES, N.J. -- Only once in their history have the Flyers rallied from a 3-1 series deficit to win in the playoffs.

It was their magical rally against Boston in the 2010 conference semifinals, when they lost the first three games of that series before winning four straight.

Seven players from that team are still active on the current roster -- forwards Danny Briere, Claude Giroux, Scott Hartnell and James van Riemsdyk, and defensemen Kimmo Timonen, Braydon Coburn and Matt Carle.

Peter Laviolette, who coached that team, said he didn't believe what happened two years ago could have much effect on this year's team.

"It's hearsay," he said. "It's a story from a different team in a different day. … To tell a story or have someone tell a story, I'm not sure if that's going to get the deal done [in Game 5]. It's going to be how we play in certain areas and certain things we do better that will dictate the outcome. Not a good story form a couple years ago."

His players, though, felt different, and believe the lessons they learned in surviving that series can help them now.

"We believed we can beat those guys that time," Timonen said. "We just focused game by game. Don't think about what happens if we lose this game or win this game -- just focus on [Game 5] and believe we can win, we can be a better team than we've been the last three games."

Briere said he doesn't think the story needs to be re-told, because whether his current teammates were there for it or not, they certainly know what happened.

"There's a lot of guys that were there and they remember very well," he said. "Lot of guys have seen it. I think everybody has heard about it. … Definitely it's something that can make you believe. I know I'm using that."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK


 
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Posted On Monday, 05.07.2012 / 3:34 PM

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

DeBoer: 'We want to end this as soon as we can'

NEWARK, N.J. -- As has been the case after every game of the Stanley Cup Playoffs this spring, New Jersey Devils coach Pete DeBoer kept his team off the ice during the following off-day as preparations began for Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Semifinal on Tuesday at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.
 
A win on Tuesday will enable the Devils, who hold a 3-1 series lead over the Philadelphia Flyers, to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time in eight seasons.
 
"We want to end this as soon as we can," DeBoer told the media at AmeriHealth Pavilion on Monday afternoon. "We know they're going to play their best game. I'm confident we're going to bring our best game. They're a dangerous team at any point in the series, and this one is always the toughest to win. I like how we're playing so we have to continue to do what we've been doing."
 
The one-game suspension given to Flyers forward Claude Giroux for his illegal hit to the head on Dainuis Zubrus in Game 4 was announced after DeBoer spoke to the media. But he was asked if Giroux's absence would make a difference, one way or another.
 
"If he doesn't play, teams in that situation have a tendency to rise to the occasion," DeBoer said. The Devils were without Ilya Kovalchuk (lower body) for Game 2 in Philadelphia and came away with a series-tying 4-1 victory.
 
Meanwhile, forwards Dainuis Zubrus, who was on the receiving end of Giroux's hit late in the second period, and fourth-line wing Ryan Carter, who was sidelined for Game 4 with a stomach virus, are both expected in the lineup for Game 5.
 
The two-game series lead also holds some added significance as the Devils have never lost a playoff in which they've opened a two-game lead at any point -- they are 14-0. Not since their 2006 conference quarterfinal sweep of the New York Rangers have the Devils enjoyed the luxury of leading a best-or-seven by at least two games.
 
DeBoer said his team would like to continue doing the things in Game 5 that have frustrated the Flyers to a point where they seemingly have no answers.
 
"I think coming into this series we saw what they did to Pittsburgh and wanted to make sure that didn't happen to us," DeBoer said. "We knew that composure and discipline were going to be at a premium for us. When we got our heads wrapped around the fact that we're going to have to walk away from those types of situations and take a punch in the head at different points and not retaliate, I think everything else fell in place."
 
DeBoer also said that the experience his team gained in their seven-game series victory against the Florida Panthers in the conference quarterfinal round has been taken to good use against the Flyers.
 
"They are similar teams … Florida had a big speed-rush type of team just like Philly and that helped prepare us for this series," DeBoer said.
 
Here are the probable line combinations for Game 5:

Zach Parise - Patrik Elias - David Clarkson
Alexei Ponikarovsky - Travis Zajac - Ilya Kovalchuk
Petr Sykora - Adam Henrique - Dainius Zubrus
Ryan Carter - Stephen Gionta - Steve Bernier
 
Bryce Salvador - Marek Zidlicky
Anton Volchenkov - Adam Larsson
Andy Greene - Mark Fayne
 
Martin Brodeur
Johan Hedberg

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale

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Posted On Monday, 05.07.2012 / 1:23 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Rangers vs. Capitals series blog

Ovechkin expecting another 'warm' welcome at MSG

NEW YORK -- Alex Ovechkin expects to again be the target of another unfriendly embrace from the Madison Square Garden fans in Game 5 Monday.

"Yeah, I can't wait," Ovechkin said while flashing is famous gap-tooth smile Monday morning.

Taking a page out of the Ottawa playbook, where the fans at Scotiabank Place count down from 11:11 every period before chanting in favor of captain Daniel Alfredsson, the folks at MSG have taken to counting down from the 8:08 every period before chanting something that isn't all that kind to Ovechkin.

It includes his nickname, Ovi, but you can pretty much guess what the following word is.

Ovechkin doesn't mind it at all.

"I want to laugh, but I can't," he said.

Ovechkin looks at it as a sign of respect.

"It's always nice to hear from the fans, if they're booing you or cheering you," he said. "You're still out there and you still get some respect."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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Posted On Monday, 05.07.2012 / 12:52 PM

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

Projected Game 5 lineup for Rangers

NEW YORK -- There was some positive news on the injury front for the New York Rangers on Monday morning at Madison Square Garden, as forward Mats Zuccarello skated for the first time since breaking his wrist March 23.

The forward took shots and participated in the team's morning skate in preparation for Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Washington Capitals. The series is tied 2-2, but coach John Tortorella doesn't believe Zuccarello will be back in the lineup any time soon.

Forward Brandon Dubinsky (lower body) also didn't participate in practice and hasn't played since Game 7 against the Ottawa Senators in the first round.

Here's the expected lineup for the Rangers, who shuffled their lines a lot toward the end of Game 4, so consider this an educated guess.

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 Monday, 05.07.2012 / 11:42 AM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Rangers vs. Capitals series blog

Projected Game 5 lineup for Capitals

NEW YORK -- Judging by their morning skate at Madison Square Garden, the Washington Capitals will likely use the same line for Game 5 as they did for their 3-2 win in Game 4.

Here are their lines, D pairings and goaltending depth:

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

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

Braden Holtby
Michal Neuvirth

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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Quote of the Day

When I first became captain here, Monsieur Beliveau came to me and said, 'You're going to be fine. You don't have to change, you got selected because of who you are.'

— Saku Koivu on Thursday, recalling what he was told by the late Jean Beliveau when he was named Canadiens captain in 1999
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