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Posted On Sunday, 04.15.2012 / 5:45 PM

By Alain Poupart -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Panthers vs. Devils series blog

Brodeur's passing ability causing Panthers problems

SUNRISE, Fla. — The Florida Panthers said they were aware of Martin Brodeur’s passing prowess before the start of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series against New Jersey.

They’re even more cognizant after what happened in Game 1.

“You’ve got to be aware every time,” Panthers wing Kris Versteeg said. “Obviously we talked about it with his quick ups. He’s pretty dangerous obviously. Probably the best goaltender in the League at handling the puck, so we’ve got to be aware of him again tonight. He made us pay last game and obviously it was a big goal.”

Brodeur made 24 saves Friday to record his 100th career playoff victory, but it was his tremendous passing ability that was responsible for perhaps the biggest play in New Jersey’s 3-2 victory.

The Panthers were seconds away from killing off a four-minute Devils power play to keep their deficit at 1-0 when they iced the puck and went for a line change.

After stopping the puck in front of his net, Brodeur didn’t hesitate and fired a perfect pass to teammate David Clarkson at the Florida blue line near the boards. The Panthers never were able to set up defensively and Clarkson flipped the puck inside to Dainius Zubrus, who skated in alone on Jose Theodore and beat him with a wrist shot.

Ryan Carter would score 45 seconds later for a 3-0 lead that would hold up.

“If nobody is in my face, I’m able to make some decent passes,” Brodeur said. “It just worked out that Jose did such a great job killing that penalty almost by himself making seven or eight saves on that power play. When they dumped the puck, they just wanted to change, they didn’t really pay attention. I just caught them off guard. I’m sure it’s going to be harder to do now. I’m sure they’ll be aware of it.”

If nothing else, the Panthers learned the hard way they can never relax when Brodeur has the puck.

“You have to pay attention to their goalie,” Panthers defenseman Erik Gudbranson said. “He is the best in the League at moving the puck and he can catch you sleeping, absolutely. Getting the puck in deep and getting hard to the bench is extremely key and being extremely aware of when he has the puck and where you’re placing it as you’re dumping it in.”

The Panthers have plenty of company when it comes to getting burned by Brodeur’s passing.

Friday’s assist was his ninth in the playoffs. He also has a goal, a rink-long wrister into an open net at the end of a 5-2 victory against Montreal on April 17, 1997.

Brodeur had four assists in the just-completed regular season to match his career high.

“I feel like I’ve seen it a thousand times,” Devils captain Zach Parise said. “I can’t say I’m surprised about it. It’s a great play because if you’re an opposing team you can’t relax on a change and I think that’s what they did a little bit there. He’s got a great ability to pass it up and counteract and we were able to catch them. It’s a nice weapon for us to have.”

It’s inevitable that Brodeur will wind up playing the puck at other times in this series. The Panthers just don’t want to make it too easy on him.

“You have to put the puck into a place,” Florida coach Kevin Dineen said. “The game is easy when Marty can go back there and make the kind of direct tape-to-tape passes he can. So it’s more placement, where you end up putting the puck before you actually get in on the forecheck.”
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Posted On Sunday, 04.15.2012 / 5:43 PM

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

Penguins' Fleury pulled after second period

PHILADELPHIA -- The Pittsburgh Penguins started the third period with Brent Johnson in goal, in place of Marc-Andre Fleury.

Fleury allowed six goals on 28 shots through two periods as Philadelphia led 6-4 after 40 minutes.

Fleury entered the game with a 5.45 goals-against average, and in just more than eight periods in the series, he's allowed 17 goals on 84 shots.

The last time Fleury was pulled from a playoff game was Game 5 of the Penguins' first-round series against the Tampa Bay Lightning last year, when he allowed four goals on 14 shots in 25:10 of action.

The move didn't help much as the Flyers scored on the first shot they took on Johnson, by Claude Giroux, 27 seconds into the period.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Sunday, 04.15.2012 / 5:39 PM

By Alain Poupart -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Panthers vs. Devils series blog

Lineups remain same for Game 2

SUNRISE, Fla. — The New Jersey Devils and Florida Panthers both held an optional morning skate in advance of Game 2 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series Sunday at the BankAtlantic Center.

Both coaches said there would be no lineup changes from Game 1, which was won by New Jersey 3-2.

That means that Panthers forward Tomas Fleischmann and Ed Jovanovski, who both sat out Saturday’s practice in what coach Kevin Dineen termed a “maintenance day,” will be available.

Jose Theodore, who stopped 35 of 38 shots Friday, again will be in net for the Panthers.

Fleischmann and Jovanovski were among eight Panthers players not on the ice Sunday morning, although defenseman Brian Campbell skated on his own beforehand.

For the Devils, defenseman Bryce Salvador was the only player who didn’t take part in the optional skate.

Former Devils head coach Jacques Lemaire, who lives in South Florida, watched the workout from the stands alongside general manager Lou Lamoriello.

New Jersey held an optional practice Saturday, with nine players participating.

“I’ve taken the approach with our group, I don’t believe there’s any such thing as too much rest,” coach Pete DeBoer said in explaining the optional workouts. “Our history over the last half of the season was when we’re rested, we play well. When fatigue gets set in a little bit for us, we don’t. We’re going to control that the best we can. We also have a lot of veterans in that room that know their bodies a lot better than I do.

“The trust is they know their body better than I do and I trust that they’ll be ready to go tonight.”

Here are the projected lineups for Game 2:

NEW JERSEY DEVILS

Zach Parise - Travis Zajac - Ilya Kovalchuk
Petr Sykora - Patrik Elias - Dainius Zubrus
Alexei Ponikarovsky - Adam Henrique - David Clarkson
Ryan Carter - Stephen Gionta - Steve Bernier

Andy Greene - Mark Fayne
Bryce Salvador - Marek Zidlicky
Anton Volchenkov - Peter Harrold


Martin Brodeur
Johan Hedberg

FLORIDA PANTHERS

Tomas Fleischmann - Stephen Weiss - Kris Versteeg
Sean Bergenheim - Marcel Goc - Mikael Samuelsson
Scottie Upshall - Shawn Matthias - Wojtek Wolski
Marco Sturm - John Madden - Tomas Kopecky

Jason Garrison - Brian Campbell
Dmitry Kulikov - Mike Weaver
Ed Jovanovski - Erik Gudbranson

Jose Theodore
Scott Clemmensen
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Posted On Sunday, 04.15.2012 / 5:24 PM

By Curtis Zupke -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Canucks vs. Kings series blog

Kings unfazed by goalie change

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. – The Los Angeles Kings predictably didn’t have much reaction to the fact that they will see Corey Schneider in net Sunday night.

Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault announced Sunday afternoon that he is putting Schneider in for Roberto Luongo, whO played the first two games.

The announcement came fater the Kings morning skate on Sunday.

The Kings said it won’t matter much given that both goalies are fully capable. It likely makes for some more video preparation because Schneider has never played against L.A.

“Now that people are talking about him possibly going in, I’m sure we’ll watch some (film),” Drew Doughty said. “But … any goalie in this League is pretty similar. If you’re not getting traffic in front of him, if he’s seeing every shot on net, he’s going to see it. It’s pretty much the same mindset whether Schneider’s in or Luongo’s in.”

Schneider had the NHL’s second-best save percentage in the regular season (.937). But Luongo hasn’t done much to warrant getting pulled, a sentiment shared by at least one Kings player.

“That would be surprising to me [if they changed goalies],” Willie Mitchell said. “It would be really surprising. To be honest with you, I thought [Luongo’s] been their best player over the first two games of the series.”
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Posted On Sunday, 04.15.2012 / 5:16 PM

By Curtis Zupke -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Canucks vs. Kings series blog

Struggles have Canucks facing must-win game

While his teammates danced around the inevitable question about whether Game 3 on Sunday night is a make-or-break game, Ryan Kesler spoke his mind.

“Obviously it’s a must-win game,” Kesler said. “You don’t want to go down, 3-0. We’re going to take it shift by shift tonight and I think improvement on special teams and continuing our improving our five-on-five play.”

As far as special teams, vancouver cOach Alain Vigneault may have had the line of the day when discUssing what he’d like to see differently from his special teams.

“Score a goal and not give up a goal,” he said.

The essence of the series so far is that Vancouver has gone 0-for-10 on the power play and allowed two shorthanded goals and three power-play goals. The Canucks have made tweaks such as moving Chris Higgins from the second power-play unit to the first and replacing Alex Edler with Dan Hamhuis on the first unit.

Vigneault also said that Dale Weise will be inserted in place of Andrew Ebbett on the fourth line.

“There’s obviously a couple of adjustments we need to make here – nothing that we haven’t seen all year,” Vigneault said.  “Give them a lot of credit. They’re putting a lot of pressure on us. They’re taking away our space and time. It’s just a matter of us executing better. We’ve done it at key moments this year, we just haven’t done it so far in this series."

Not only is Edler struggling on the power play, but he has had difficulties in all facets of the first two games, serving up giveaways in Games 1 and 2, including two egregious ones that led to goals. Asked if he gives a sort of pep talk to Edler, Vigneault said, “I think all our players right now are [struggling].

“You look at … [L.A. forwards Anze] Kopitar and [Dustin] Brown and take any one of our top forwards right now. Obviously their guys right now are playing a little bit better than ours. It’s a fine line between a win and a loss and whether it’d be Alex Edler or any one of our other players, everybody needs to know that it’s one game. We don’t need to worry about winning four games here. We need to focus on winning one game.”

Alexandre Burrows - Henrik Sedin - Jannik Hansen
Chris Higgins - Ryan Kesler - David Booth
Mason Raymond - Samuel Pahlsson - Maxim Lapierre
Zack Kassian - Manny Maholtra - Dale Weise

Alex Edler - Sami Salo
Dan Hamhuis - Kevin Bieksa
Keith Ballard - Christopher Tanev

Cory Schneider
Roberto Luongo
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Posted On Sunday, 04.15.2012 / 4:56 PM

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

Sens guardedly optimistic about Alfredsson

KANATA, Ont. – Ottawa coach Paul MacLean played it close to the vest after Sunday afternoon’s optional skate at Scotiabank Place. The news was guardedly positive on Daniel Alfredsson, who received a blow to the head from the Rangers’ Carl Hagelin during Game 2 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series on Saturday.

“[Alfredsson] was feeling good today,” MacLean said. “He’ll be further evaluated and we’ll see what he’s like [on Monday]. At this point, I don’t know [if he’ll take part in the morning skate]. I don’t have an opinion on [the hit] at any time. It’s playoff hockey. It’s Brendan [Shanahan’s] job.”

Carl Hagelin does face a disciplinary hearing with Shanahan on sunday for the elbow, which was penalized by a five-minute major.

MacLean was also happy with the way his team played in Game 2 after appearing to struggle with the pace and intensity of the Stanley Cup Playoffs in Game 1.

“I think the whole game, we played physical. The puck contests were physical. I thought we handled momentum in the second game better, and we handled the 60 minutes [well], not like the first game where we had a four or five minute lull. We need to keep that going.”
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Posted On Sunday, 04.15.2012 / 4:49 PM

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

Sens enjoy day of rest

KANATA, Ont. – The Ottawa Senators held an optional practice Sunday afternoon, with only a handful of  players taking a twirl on the ice.

Colin Greening, Chris Neil, Craig Anderson and Jim O’Brien were witnessed playing a spirited game of soccer in the halls of Scotiabank Place. Kaspars Daugavins, Matt Carkner, Bobby Butler, Rob Klinkhammer, Alex Auld and Ben Bishop were the few who chose to lace up the skates.

“Today is just going to be a rest day for us, and try and get away from the game a little bit,” Jason Spezza said. “Eat well, sleep well … tomorrow we regain our focus. We went over the video of [Saturday’s] game; stuff we did [well], stuff we need to improve on. Now we park that game.”

After tying their series with the Rangers 1-1 at Madison Square Garden, the Sens are content to get back in their own building.

“We’re happy to be home now in front of our fans,” Spezza said. “We’re excited to see the reception we get here. Now we have the opportunity to use the crowd to our advantage. Hopefully they’ll come support us and give us that extra little bit of energy.”
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Posted On Sunday, 04.15.2012 / 4:44 PM

By Curtis Zupke -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Canucks vs. Kings series blog

Down two games, Canucks turn to backup Schneider

SANTA MONICA, Calif.-- Cory Schneider will start in goal for the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday night, coach Alain Vigneault said.

Vigneault said he was satisfied with Roberto Luongo's performance in Games 1 and 2 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals, but he wants to change it up for Game 3 against the Los Angeles Kings.

"Two great goaltenders -- I've used both of them all year long," Vigneault said. "Obviously being down, 2-0, the way we are right now is not a reflection of the goaltending that we've had so far; but it's time to change the momentum a little bit and this is one of the cards we might have."

Luongo has done a tremendous job handling the puck against the Kings' aggressive forecheck. Schneider is not regarded as good a puck handler, but his teammates reiterated it is about trying to reverse their fortunes.

"I think both goalies have done everything we've asked them to do this year," star forward Henrik Sedin said. "Goaltending is not the problem in this series. We're trying to do something new tonight."

Said forward Ryan Kesler, "Lu's played extremely well for us. Being down, 2-0, coach thought he needed to make a change. Obviously Cory would be a starter on any other team, so the apple doesn't fall far from the tree on that one."

Schneider, 26, may be the No.2 goaltender in Vancouver, but he was also the second-best goaltender in the entire NHL when it came to save percentage during the regular season, posting a .937 that trailed only Brian Elliott in St. Louis. And Schneider's 1.96 goals-against average was third in the League, just .01 behind the Kings starter and Vezina Trophy candidate Jonathan Quick.
 
The only thing missing on Schneider's short NHL resume is extensive playoff success.

He did get a surprise – many would say shocking – start in the first round this past season against the rival Blackhawks, playing Game 6 in a hostile Chicago environment after the Canucks blew a 3-0 series lead. But the rookie turned two puck-handling gaffes into goals, and was forced to leave early after cramping up badly while getting beat on a penalty shot that tied the game.

Luongo went back in for Game 7, backstopped a 2-1 overtime victory and led the Canucks to the Stanley Cup Final before struggling in Boston, getting pulled in two of three road games.

Perhaps because of that, the Canucks made sure to get Schneider more and tougher starts this season, including a big Cup rematch victory in Boston and another tough win in Chicago. And they were careful to keep the sophomore stopper fresh down the stretch, splitting time with -- and for the most part out-playing -- Luongo during the final six weeks of the regular season.

--Correspondent Kevin Woodley contributed to this report
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Posted On Sunday, 04.15.2012 / 3:00 PM

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

Projected lineups for Flyers, Penguins

PHILADELPHIA -- Here are the projected lineups for the Flyers and Penguins for Game 3 Sunday at Wells Fargo Center (3 p.m. ET, NBC, TSN).

PENGUINS
Chris Kunitz - Evgeni Malkin - James Neal
Steve Sullivan - Sidney Crosby - Pascal Dupuis
Matt Cooke - Jordan Staal - Tyler Kennedy
Arron Asham - Richard Park - Craig Adams

Kris Letang - Paul Martin
Brooks Orpik - Zbynek Michalek
Matt Niskanen - Deryk Engelland

Marc-Andre Fleury
Brent Johnson

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

Nicklas Grossmann - Braydon Coburn
Kimmo Timonen - Matt Carle
Pavel Kubina - Andreas Lilja

Ilya Bryzgalov
Sergei Bobrovsky

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Sunday, 04.15.2012 / 2:10 PM

NHL.com - 2011-2012 Situation Room blog

NSH @ DET - End of Second Period

At the end of the second period in the Red Wings/Predators game, the official timekeeper determined that time had expired prior to the puck crossing the Nashville goal line. No Goal Detroit.
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Quote of the Day

I didn't even know how to celebrate. I threw my hands up, they gave me a hug, so I guess that's all I needed.

— Sabres forward Tim Schaller on scoring his first NHL goal Sunday against the Bruins