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Posted On Saturday, 05.05.2012 / 2:38 PM

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

Flyers trying to get emotionally invested in series

VOORHEES, N.J. -- In the first round against the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Philadelphia Flyers had no trouble getting emotionally invested in that series from the first puck drop in Game 1, and it seemed to play a large role in their six-game series win.

Reaching that same level through the first three games against the New Jersey Devils in the conference semifinals has been far tougher.

"Of course we hate them," defenseman Andreas Lilja told NHL.com. "You have to hate them, we play them almost every night. We have to get more emotions involved."

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Posted On Saturday, 05.05.2012 / 2:37 PM

NHL.com - 2011-2012 Situation Room blog

NYR @ WSH - 4:46 of the Third Period



At 4:46 of the third period in the Capitals/Rangers game, the Toronto Situation room initiated a review because the puck went into the Rangers net. The referee ruled that he had blown the whistle when Henrik Lundqvist made the initial save and play was dead prior to the puck crossing the Rangers goal line. No Goal Washington.
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Posted On Saturday, 05.05.2012 / 2:21 PM

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

Preds need to solve Coyotes' stifling defense

NASHVILLE -- Just as the Phoenix Coyotes did to the Chicago Blackhawks in the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs -- winning all but one game by one goal -- they are doing the same to the Nashville Predators.

Nashville lost Game 1 in overtime, Game 2 by two goals and Game 4 again by one goal in a 1-0 loss Friday night at Bridgestone Arena.
 
The Coyotes' defense has been stifling. They yielded only five shots in the first period to Nashville in Game 4 and 25 for the game. In that game – and even in Game 3 which Nashville won 2-0 – the Preds have had great difficulty getting shots through to the net.
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Posted On Saturday, 05.05.2012 / 2:08 PM

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

Zidlicky a good fit for Devils

NEWARK, N.J. -- When New Jersey Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello acquired defenseman Marek Zidlicky in February, no one could have imagined the positive impact he'd have in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Well, no one but Lamoriello and the Devils coaching staff.

"At the time we made the trade, we needed someone to come in and play top-two minutes, and those guys aren't easy to find," Devils coach Pete DeBoer said. "Not only that, but come in and run your power play too, so when you're making that list of guys you're looking for and the needs you're looking to fill at the trade deadline, there's only two or three guys in that category. So for Lou to be able to go out and get one like him, we wouldn't be here without Marek."

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Posted On Saturday, 05.05.2012 / 1:49 PM

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

Devils unfazed by Flyers line changes

NEWARK, N.J. -- The New Jersey Devils were back on the ice at AmeriHealth Pavilion on Saturday in preparation for Game 4 of their Eastern Conference Semifinal against the Philadelphia Flyers, scheduled for Sunday at Prudential Center.
 

FLYERS VS. DEVILS

Kovalchuk stars in his return to lineup

By Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer
After sitting out Game 2 with a lower-body injury, Ilya Kovalchuk returned to the Devils' lineup with a vengeance. READ MORE ›
As expected, Ilya Kovalchuk was on the ice and in a pretty jovial mood. Kovalchuk returned to the Devils lineup for Game 3 following a one-game absence (lower body) and notched a playoff career-high three points in a 4-3 overtime victory over the Flyers.
 
The Devils lead the best-of-seven series, 2-1.
 
Coach Pete DeBoer is expecting to see the best Philadelphia has to offer in the postseason. However, the fact the Flyers did a little line shuffling during practice on Saturday has no bearing on how his team will play.
 
"We're concentrating on our game," DeBoer told the media following a 50-minute practice. "Obviously, they have key guys that we need to be aware of when they're on the ice, but we really feel that if we play our game, we don't have to spend an over-extensive amount of time on what they're doing."
 
Kovalchuk agreed.
 
"It's normal when things don't go your way [to change lines] … we did the same thing," Kovalchuk said. "We don't really care what they're doing there. We know how to play against those guys and how to be successful. We just have to go out there and do our job; they have the same faces and it's not like they're bringing five new guys in from somewhere.
 
"It doesn't really matter who plays with whom, it just matters who wants it more."

In addition to Kovalchuk, who said he feels fine and is ready to go for Game 4, rookie defenseman Adam Larsson remained in good graces with head coach Pete DeBoer following another solid showing in Game 3. Larsson logged 20:32 of ice time on 33 shifts in Thursdays' win and also blocked one shot.
 
"I was a bit worried about [Thursday] night," DeBoer said. "You always play the first game back with a lot of adrenaline. We anticipated he wouldn't have any problem returning to the lineup [for Game 2 in Philadelphia], but sometimes the second game hits you a bit. He was out three weeks [as a healthy scratch] but he handled it well and there was no drop off. He played the type of game we needed him to play."
 
Meanwhile, Devils backup goalie Johan Hedberg was celebrating his 39th birthday on Saturday. Starter Martin Brodeur will be celebrating his 40th on Sunday in what he hopes will be a victory.
 
Brodeur has basically rewritten the regular-season record book for goalies by setting marks for career games (1,191), victories (656), shutouts (119) and minutes played (70,028). He also surpassed Hall of Famer Patrick Roy with his 24th career playoff shutout in Game 4 against the Florida Panthers in the conference quarterfinal round.
 
His 26-save 4-0 victory over the Panthers marked his first postseason goose egg since blanking Carolina 1-0 on April 23, 2009. It was his fourth since blanking Anaheim 3-0 in Game 7 of the 2003 Stanley Cup Final to give the Devils their third title in nine years.
 
Here were the line combinations during Saturday's practice:
 
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 Saturday, 05.05.2012 / 12:27 PM

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

Flyers juggle lines at practice

VOORHEES, N.J . -- Following a few line changes in Game 3 of their Eastern Conference Semifinal series with the New Jersey Devils, Flyers coach Peter Laviolette unveiled four new lines at practice Saturday, a day before Game 4 on Sunday (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC).

Danny Briere was centering Scott Hartnell and Jakub Voracek, while Claude Giroux was with James van Riemsdyk and Wayne Simmonds. Brayden Schenn centered Matt Read and Jaromir Jagr, while Maxime Talbot was between Zac Rinaldo and Eric Wellwood.

Putting Hartnell back with Briere could be what Hartnell needs to get on track -- he has just one even-strength point in nine playoff games. When Hartnell and Briere were together in the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Hartnell had 17 points in 23 games and the Flyers advanced to the Stanley Cup Final.

Rinaldo could make his series debut in Game 4 in place of rookie Sean Couturier, who suffered a lower-body injury in the first period of Game 3 when he got tangled along the boards with the Devils' David Clarkson. According to RDS, Couturier skated on his own in a track suit for less than five minutes about an hour before the full team hit the ice.

Another change could come on defense, with Andrej Meszaros possibly returning to the lineup for the first time since March 1. Meszaros had back surgery on March 21, and for the first time was paired with one of the team's regular defenders, Andreas Lilja. The initial prognosis after surgery for Meszaros was 6-8 weeks, and May 2 was six weeks.

If Meszaros comes in, it's likely rookie Erik Gustafsson could sit. Gustafsson on Saturday skated with Pavel Kubina, who has been a healthy scratch for most of the playoffs.

Here is how the Flyers' lineup could look for Game 4:

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

Braydon Coburn - Nicklas Grossmann
Kimmo Timonen - Matt Carle
Andrej Meszaros - Andreas Lilja

Ilya Bryzgalov
Sergei Bobrovsky

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

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Posted On Friday, 05.04.2012 / 11:17 PM

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

Preds turn into 'gang that couldn't shoot straight'

If the Nashville Predators don't get past the Phoenix Coyotes in the Western Conference Semifinals, their inability to capitalize on Grade-A chances in Game 4 will be a big reason.

Mike Smith
Goalie - PHX
RECORD: 7-3
GAA: 1.85 | SVP: 0.946
Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith was flawless in stopping all 25 Nashville shots that were on net in Friday night's 1-0 win. But the Predators hurt themselves even more by firing shots that were off-target -- Nashville missed the net on 14 shots, including a handful of excellent scoring chances in the second period when the Predators carried the play but couldn't cash in.

No player symbolized Nashville's off-target shooting more than Patrik Hornqvist, who ended the second period having taken eight shots at goal -- and getting none on target. He had three blocked and missed the net on the other five, including three glorious chances that saw him hit a post, fire a shot over the crossbar and push a pass from David Legwand wide of the right post.

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Posted On Friday, 05.04.2012 / 9:57 PM

NHL.com - 2011-2012 Situation Room blog

PHX@NSH - 12:48 of third period

At 12:48 of the third period video review was initiated by the Situation Room in Toronto because the puck crossed the goal line. The referee determined that the whistle had blown and the play was dead before the puck crossed the goal line. No goal.

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Posted On Friday, 05.04.2012 / 7:28 PM

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

Blues struggle against team that mirrors them

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- The series has played out the way Blues coach Ken Hitchcock envisioned in that his team is running into a Kings club that has been dialed in since late February-early March.

L.A. had to come on like gangbusters just to get the eighth seed, and now the Kings' grinding style is perfectly suited for the playoffs against a team that plays the same way.

"I think we're getting done to us what we've done to teams all year," Hitchcock said. "I think we're getting it done to us. It's how do we react to this now?

"Everybody that watched the West saw this coming around 65-66 games. I think we all saw this coming. We saw it before we got here. The game 75 [on March 22] that was here was better than any of these games of these playoffs so far. We were on top of it. They were on top of it. It ended up 0-0 (the Kings won 1-0 in a shootout). … When we left the Staples Center we all said, 'Man, whoever gets that team in the playoffs got their hands full.'"

Said forward Jamie Langenbrunner," They're playing a very sound, smart, controlled game. They're forcing us to make mistakes and we've been the one to crack in every game -- and that's kind of been our calling card all year."

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Posted On Friday, 05.04.2012 / 7:23 PM

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

Blues look for answers to keep season alive

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- St. Louis held an optional skate and most players practiced as the task at hand crystalizes for the Blues.

It's not only that they've lost games, but the way in which they've gone down is disturbing. St. Louis has not led this series since the first period of Game 1, and coach Ken Hitchcock had a telling quote about being in that unfamiliar position.

"We're not built for coming from behind all the time," Hitchcock said.

St. Louis seemed to take back Game 3 when it tied it at 1 at the start of the second period, but then disintegrated with more undisciplined play and poor goaltending and fell behind by two goals.

"When we do find ourselves playing from behind we tend to do things that are uncharacteristic of us and dig ourselves in a deeper hole," defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo said.

"We've only played with the lead once in the series and that was short lived. I think we've been a really good team all year playing with the lead. There's no reason things will change now. We just got to find a way to get that lead and carry some sort of positive momentum our way."

The Blues were still at a loss to explain the undisciplined play. They took roughing and slashing penalties in the first period of Game 3 and failed to make Los Angeles retaliate.

Getting a lead in Game 4 would help, but staying at even strength would also go a long way toward extending this series.

"It's huge," Colaiacovo said. "We keep shooting ourselves in the foot by giving then all the momentum. In a series like this we've got to find better ways to control our emotions and make sure we do stay out of the box. Those are some key moments in the game where we took some questionable penalties. Our discipline has to be a lot better in all areas of the game."

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Quote of the Day

I was surprised. I knew I got it. It's tough. You never know how hard it is until it registers on the gun. I got pretty much all I could into and you just hope for the best.

— Nashville Predators defenseman Shea Weber after winning the AMP NHL Hardest Shot event at the 2015 Honda NHL All-Star Skills Competition