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Posted On Saturday, 04.21.2012 / 1:26 PM

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

Projected lineups for Game 5

NEW YORK -- Here's a look at the projected lineups for Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series between the New York Rangers and Ottawa Senators.

Sens forward Jesse Winchester (upper-body) is out with Mark Stone likely making his NHL debut in his place. The Rangers shuffled their lines a bit during practice Friday but should have no lineup changes, but defenseman Steve Eminger (ankle) said he is now day-to-day and could return at any time.

SENATORS

Milan Michalek - Jason Spezza - Bobby Butler
Erik Condra - Kyle Turris - Nick Foligno
Colin Greening - Zack Smith - Chris Neil
Mark Stone - Jim O'Brien - Zenon Konopka

Filip Kuba - Erik Karlsson
Jared Cowen - Sergei Gonchar
Chris Phillips - Matt Carkner

Craig Anderson
Ben Bishop

RANGERS

Artem Anisimov - Derek Stepan - Marian Gaborik
Brandon Dubinsky - Brad Richards - Ryan Callahan
Ruslan Fedotenko - Brian Boyle - Brandon Prust
Chris Kreider - John Mitchell - Mike Rupp

Ryan McDonagh - Dan Girardi
Marc Staal - Anton Stralman
Michael Del Zotto - Stu Bickel

Henrik Lundqvist
Martin Biron

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Posted On Saturday, 04.21.2012 / 1:14 PM

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

Stone could make NHL debut for Senators

NEW YORK -- Mark Stone called his first trip to Manhattan a "culture shock."

He hopes his first NHL game, which will likely be Saturday night against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden, won't be quite as jarring or unsettling.

The 19-year-old who has spent the past four seasons with the Brandon Wheat Kings of the WHL is likely to make his professional debut for the Ottawa Senators in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals with this best-of-seven series tied at 2-2. The 6-foot-2, 188-pound winger was taken in the sixth round of the 2010 NHL Draft and was recalled by the Senators on Monday with no expectations of cracking the lineup.

But an upper-body injury to forward Jesse Winchester during Game 4 opened a spot in the lineup which will likely be filled by Stone, who skated on the team's fourth line at practice with Jim O'Brien and Zenon Konopka.

"I came to Ottawa with no expectations," Stone said. "I just wanted to be around that playoff atmosphere and if I can get in, that'll be something special for me. I just want to help the team the best I can."

Coach Paul MacLean wouldn't confirm his lineup, but talked about what Stone would bring to the table.

"We're keeping everything open at this point," MacLean said. "He's a good young player and has had a big year. He has a big scoring ability, good size. If we choose to use him, I'd like to have him on the power play."

Stone participated in the 2012 World Junior Championships for Team Canada and finished fourth in scoring with seven goals and three assists in six games. Stone's early time in Brandon was marred by a concussion and thumb injury during the 2008-09 season that limited him to 39 games.

Stone broke out in a big way over the next two seasons, with 37 goals and 69 assists in 71 games in 2009-10 and 41 goals and 82 assists in 66 games this season.

Making the jump from junior hockey to the Stanley Cup Playoffs can be daunting, but teammate Nick Foligno believes Stone has the temperament to do it.

"I remember doing it and I had a little more time with training camp and things like that, but he's been thrown in to the fire so to speak with the NHL playoffs," said Foligno, who went from the OHL to the NHL with a 28-game stint in the AHL in between at the start of the 2007-08 season. "He doesn't have a lot of break-in time. He's handled it really well. He's a quiet guy and he's a happy-go-lucky kid who's enjoying being here. I think that will bode well for him."

Foligno's advice, despite Saturday night being the most pressure-packed game of the season for the Senators, is to relax and enjoy the situation as much as possible.

"I think sometimes you come in and try to do too much," Foligno said. "I think we want to see him play the way that got him here. It's the only offer I can give him and just have as much fun with it as possible because it's a blast. There's a lot of pressure, but if you can get some fun out of it, it makes it really enjoyable and hopefully he'll do really well."

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Posted On Saturday, 04.21.2012 / 12:46 PM

By Louie Korac -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Blues vs. Sharks series blog

Projected lineups for Game 5

ST. LOUIS -- Here are the projected lineups for Game 5 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals on Saturday night between the St. Louis Blues and San Jose Sharks from Scottrade Center:

SHARKS

Logan Couture - Joe Thornton - Joe Pavelski
Ryane Clowe - Patrick Marleau - Martin Havlat
Brad Winchester - Andrew Desjardins - Tommy Wingels
Daniel Winnik - Michal Handzus - Torrey Mitchell

Dan Boyle - Marc-Edouard Vlasic
Douglas Murray - Brent Burns
Justin Braun - Colin White

Antti Niemi
Thomas Greiss

The Sharks' healthy scratches include D Jason Demers, D Jim Vandermeer, LW TJ Galiardi, C Dominic Moore and LW Benn Ferriero.

BLUES

David Perron - David Backes - T.J. Oshie
Alex Steen - Patrik Berglund - Andy McDonald
Vladimir Sobotka - Jason Arnott - Chris Stewart
B.J. Crombeen - Scott Nichol - Jamie Langenbrunner

Carlo Colaiacovo - Alex Pietrangelo
Barret Jackman - Kevin Shattenkirk
Kris Russell - Roman Polak

Brian Elliott
Jake Allen

Goalie Jaroslav Halak (lower-body) is still day-to-day after being injured in Game 2. Healthy scratches include forwards Matt D'Agostini, Jaden Schwartz, Chris Porter and Ryan Reaves as well as defenseman Kent Huskins and Ian Cole.
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Posted On Saturday, 04.21.2012 / 12:31 PM

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

MacLean: Alfredsson making progress

NEW YORK -- Ottawa Senators coach Paul MacLean said Saturday morning that captain Daniel Alfredsson skated and is making progress in his recovery from a concussion.

Alfredsson did not join the Senators for their trip to New York and will not play in Game 5 of the Senators' Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series against the Rangers.

Alfredsson has not played since absorbing an elbow to the head from the Rangers forward Carl Hagelin during the second period of Game 2. Hagelin was suspended three games for the hit and is eligible to return to the lineup for Game 6 on Monday.

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Posted On Saturday, 04.21.2012 / 11:45 AM

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

Panthers' Garrison questionable, Strachan recalled

SUNRISE, Fla. — The Florida Panthers once again could be without key defenseman Jason Garrison in Game 5 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series Saturday.

Garrison, who was a late scratch in Game 4 on Thursday because of a lower-body injury, did not take part in the Panthers’ morning skate Saturday and coach Kevin Dineen said his availability will be determined after pregame warmups.

“He’s still a possibility,” Dineen said. “To put him out there for a 13-minute skate didn’t make a lot of sense this morning. We’ll see where he’s at. He’s questionable for tonight. We’re cautious and we’ll see where we end up.”

The Panthers, who also will be without Keaton Ellerby for Game 5, still had six defensemen on the ice at the morning skate after calling up Tyson Strachan from San Antonio of the AHL.

Ellerby, playing his first game since March 15 as Garrison’s replacement, sustained a lower-body injury in the second period of Game 5.

The 27-year-old Strachan played in 15 regular season games for the Panthers after being called up in January, recording three points and a plus-1 ratio, and was signed to a one-year contract extension the following month.

“He’s played some really strong stretches of hockey, so if needed, certainly he can go in and do the job for us,” Dineen said. “The organization has faith in him. We signed him to a contract after a month here and I think that was very deserving that he came in and showed that he can play a regular shift in the NHL. And if he can do it in the regular season, he can do it in the playoffs.”

Strachan has appeared in 82 NHL games during his career, but has yet to play in a playoff game.

He played in San Antonio’s 5-4 overtime victory against the Chicago Wolves on Thursday in Game 1 of their AHL playoff series and flew to South Florida on Friday.

“There’s mixed emotions about that,” Strachan said of leaving his Rampage teammates behind. “Obviously you want them to be winning down there, but at the same time the chance to be up here and in the Stanley Cup Playoffs is a hard one to pass up. Just excited to be here and help out if they need me.”

Garrison, who led all Florida defensemen in the regular season with 16 goals and logged the second-most ice time behind Brian Campbell, clearly is an important player for the Panthers.

But the Devils said they weren’t concerning themselves with Garrison’s status.

“I don’t know exactly who’s in and not in,” captain Zach Parise said. “I don’t know if Garrison (is playing) or who they’ve got in. Regardless, our approach is going to be the same. It’s always been try to make it hard on their D, get it below them, forecheck hard. They’ve got offensive guys that want to jump in the rush, so we’ve got to make it harder for them to do that.”

Teammate Ilya Kovalchuk was more succinct: “It’s their problem, it’s not our problem. We just have to think about our game if he’s playing or not.”

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Posted On Saturday, 04.21.2012 / 10:49 AM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst /NHL.com - Melrose Minute

Melrose's Mullet of the Week

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Posted On Saturday, 04.21.2012 / 10:48 AM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst /NHL.com - Melrose Minute

Barry's Best of the Week

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Posted On Saturday, 04.21.2012 / 12:43 AM

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

Penguins one step closer to making history

The Pittsburgh Penguins had never won a Game 5 in a series when they trailed 3-0 until they beat Philadelphia 3-2 on Friday night. They're hoping for some more firsts in the next few days.

Sidney Crosby
Center - PIT
GOALS: 3 | ASST: 5 | PTS: 8
SOG: 10 | +/-: 0
Now that they've won two games after losing the first three games of a series, they'll try to pull even on Sunday (noon ET; NBC, CBC). If they do, they'll get a chance to become only the fourth team in NHL history to win a series after trailing 3-0.

Including Pittsburgh and Vancouver this year, 170 teams have lost the first three games in a best-of-seven series. The Penguins are just the 15th to get as far as a sixth game -- Vancouver will try to do it against Los Angeles on Saturday.

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Posted On Friday, 04.20.2012 / 7:34 PM

By Kevin Woodley -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Canucks vs. Kings series blog

Luongo: I'm 100 percent behind Schneider

VANCOUVER -- Goaltender Roberto Luongo cut through the four-deep crowd gathered around his locker after practice Friday, looked into the glaring row of camera lights and said all the right things.

Meeting the media for the first time since it was announced that he would be on the bench with his team facing elimination in Game 4 of their Western Conference Quarterfinals in Los Angeles on Wednesday night, the former Canucks' captain threw his support behind replacement Cory Schneider and downplayed talk of his future being somewhere other than Vancouver as premature.

"I'm a competitor, you guys all know that, and it's tough," Luongo said of being benched. "But at the same time, this is about the team and I am not going to put myself ahead of the team. We're in this together, we work hard all year to be in this position and right now I am going to do the best I can to be ready if needed, and 100 percent behind Cory and my teammates."

Luongo never veered off script during his five minutes in the spotlight, saying he hadn't paid any attention to talk the Canucks may need to deal the decade remaining on a 12-year, $64 million contract, which includes a no-trade clause. His insisted his focus is not on the list of teams some are suggesting he could go to, but on a Kings team that Vancouver trails 3-1 in the best-of-seven series.

"Right now is not the time to be thinking of that stuff," said Luongo, who played well the first two games, but has watched Schneider stop 62 of 64 shots since starting Game 3.

Luongo, who holds the Canucks franchise record for wins and shutouts, was focused only on getting ready for Game 5 on Sunday. He said he was preparing just in case something should happen to Schneider - the second-year goaltender was forced out of a surprise first-round playoff start last spring after cramping up on a penalty shot -- but not wishing any harm to his crease counterpart.

"We're good friends," Luongo said of Schneider. "He's been behind me 100 percent since Day One he's been here. He works extremely hard in practice, he's always been a great team guy, so I'm going to do the same for him. … I think he deserves what he's getting. Obviously he's going to be a top-notch goalie in this league for a long time. I'm happy for him, and hopefully we can get the job done here."

As for how Luongo is handling the situation, teammates praised him for keeping it out of the locker room. For a goalie once accused of throwing them under the bus by talking about poor defensive play, and a guy who admittedly regrets some comments about Boston's Tim Thomas during last year's Stanley Cup Final, it's a big step.

"Six years ago or five minutes ago?" Luongo responded with a laugh when asked if he has developed thicker skin during his time in Vancouver. "You get to handle things. I think I am much better at it now than when I got here, and I think it's nice that I have been able to take that step and negotiate those things without letting it affect me."

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Posted On Friday, 04.20.2012 / 7:28 PM

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

Van Riemsdyk returns to Flyers lineup for Game 5

PITTSBURGH -- Flyers forward James van Riemsdyk will play in Game 5 Friday against the Penguins. Zac Rinaldo is a healthy scratch.

Van Riemsdyk hasn't played since breaking his left foot on March 1 when he blocked a shot by Islanders defenseman Milan Jurcina. He has been practicing with the team and was considered a game-time decision; he will make his 2012 playoff debut and start on a line with Matt Read and Jakub Voracek.

The Flyers can close out the series with a win Friday at Consol Energy Center, where they are 7-1-0 since the building opened. 
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Quote of the Day

It's something that you don't really envision starting this way, but when you put the work in you don't feel like it's unwarranted. You definitely don't envision it unfolding this way, but you do think you can be successful at this level.

— Senators goalie Andrew Hammond, who defeated the Jets on Wednesday to improve to 6-0-1 since making his first NHL start on Feb. 18