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Posted On Tuesday, 04.17.2012 / 3:50 PM

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

Kings bracing for possible return of Daniel Sedin

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Teams usually say things don't change much when the opposition gets another player back. But the Los Angeles Kings fully acknowledged the possible addition of Daniel Sedin to the Vancouver Canucks.

"He was an Art Ross [Trophy winner] for scoring," Kings coach Darryl Sutter said. "Wouldn't that make a significant change if we could put a player like that back in our lineup? It's going to be significant to theirs, too."

Sedin was expected to join Vancouver for practice Tuesday afternoon and it was not yet known if he would play in Game 4 on Wednesday. He has been out for almost a month since he was concussed by Duncan Keith of the Chicago Blackhawks.

Sedin's absence is a large reason why Vancouver is facing a 3-0 series deficit in the Western Conference Quarterfinals. Brother Henrik Sedin's game is based a lot on finding Daniel, and Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault said that has forced other forwards to play out of their roles.

"It's not easy (to adjust)," Sutter said. "I don't know if you counter it, but you certainly make yourself aware and make sure the players are very aware of it and how much better they are together than apart."

Not only was Daniel Sedin the NHL's leading scorer last season, he has a particularly damaging history against the Kings. He had four goals and six assists in a six-game quarterfinals win against L.A. in 2010 and has 33 points in 40 regular season games against the Kings.

"They're tricky to play against," Rob Scuderi said. "No doubt about it. They put the puck in space so well with each other that you have to respect. We don't want to change anything, but it doesn't change the fact that they are hard to play against."

Scuderi and Willie Mitchell have been outstanding in forcing Vancouver to take shots from the perimeter. The Canucks had 41 shots in Game 3 but goalie Jonathan Quick didn't face much from between the circles or slot.
Scuderi said it's difficult defending both Sedins because they can't take away both at the same time.

"You can't do it because then you'd be cheating on your defensive system," he said. "Most likely, you'd be playing man-to-man. I haven't heard any team that's played straight up man-to-man for a while.

"I think the biggest thing is they play the puck with space, not necessarily to each other. They have an uncanny knack for knowing where each other is going to go, and go in space, and they certainly use it to their advantage. They create a lot of space for themselves."

Richardson cleared:
Brad Richardson was cleared to play and skated with the fourth line. Richardson underwent emergency appendectomy surgery last Monday.

"To be honest, I just kind of started (feeling well) the last three or four days," Richardson said. "When I came out I started doing some workouts again and getting on the ice, but for the first three or four days you feel [lousy] because of the anesthesia and you're really sore. As soon as you kind of get over that hump, three or four days, you feel really good. Today I felt the best, and I hope I feel even better tomorrow."

Richardson's return is timely because Kyle Clifford remains out with an upper-body injury. Andrei Loktionov, who filled in for Game 3, took a puck in the foot in the third period of that game and wore a non-contact jersey Tuesday.

Richards knows it can be done:
Mike Richards was part of a Philadelphia Flyers team that became the third team in NHL history to erase a 3-0 series deficit, in 2010 against the Boston Bruins.

Naturally, he knows that it's quite possible for Vancouver to pull it off. He wasn't eager to talk about it, though.

"I'm not going to go over that (2010) series," Richards said. "The situation that we're in, we'll take a step forward is something that I think we have to embrace. Even though they're going to come out hard we have to be ready for what they got, but we have to be ready to bring our game, too."

The Canucks actually have a solid history of erasing 3-1 series deficits, having done it in 1992 against the Winnipeg Jets, 1994 against the Calgary Flames and 2003 against the St. Louis Blues. This is the first time in Kings history they've had a 3-0 lead.

Pressed again how much he appreciates that it's possible, Richards said, "I have to appreciate the position that we're in right now, and not the position they're in."
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Posted On Tuesday, 04.17.2012 / 3:38 PM

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

Friendships on hold for Talbot during series

VOORHEES, N.J. -- Maxime Talbot said Tuesday he never experienced the emotional roller coaster a player sometimes can go through when he's about to face his old team and some of his best friends for the first time in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"I think the big test for me was during the regular season, and it went pretty good against the Penguins so personally I just basically built on that," Talbot, who played six seasons with Pittsburgh before joining the Flyers over the summer, said. "When it happened, I take it as a challenge and it's definitely been a good challenge. I like it."

Talbot said he also was prepared for the Flyers-Penguins series because he expected it to happen all along. Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said he never had any reservations or concerns about how Talbot would respond playing against Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, who are some of his best friends.

"I did not have any concerns about Max," Laviolette said. "We never had a conversation or any of that pause in my thought process of using him against any players because maybe it would be hard to play against them. It's not about that right now, and I think it has shown in how Max has played. He's a guy that doesn't care. He's ready to play and it doesn't matter who it is against."

Talbot has played well, too. He's scored a shorthanded goal in each of the last two games and has three goals plus an assist in the series. He's coming off a regular season in which he posted career-highs in goals (19), assists (15) and points (34).

His best season as a Penguin was in 2006-07, when he had 26 points.

"You'd be hard pressed to find a stride on the ice that doesn't matter," Laviolette said of Talbot. "It doesn't matter which way he's going, he accounts for every stride. He makes sure he works. He makes sure he does his job. He's a passionate guy and he's a terrific team guy. We found out offensively he could contribute as well. It's been a terrific addition to our team.

"He's a leader smothered in character. That's been real important for our team."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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Posted On Tuesday, 04.17.2012 / 2:58 PM

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

Couturier no longer a Malkin fan

VOORHEES, N.J. -- Sean Couturier used to admire how Evgeni Malkin played. The key words there, though, are used to.

"He's always going to be a good player, a great player, and he's well-respected around the League," Couturier said. "Right now it's a war out there, so there's no respect."

Couturier, who has limited Malkin to no goals and just one even-strength point through three games of the teams' Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series, added that his admiration for Malkin's game probably won't return even after this series, not with the Penguins being the Flyers' biggest rival.

"Now that I play in this League every night I'm going to try to go hard," he said. "There are no friends out there so there is not going to be any pity, for sure."

"I just think he's another player and I do what I have to do."

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

I watched many times this year the series between the Russians and Canada in 1972, and he was a dominating player there. After I watched the tapes, I respect him a lot more because he turned the series around. He was the guy. In that time, he was the best in the world. It’s a big honor for me to tie him.

— Panthers forward Jaromir Jagr on scoring the 717th goal of his career to tie Phil Esposito for fifth on the NHL's all-time goals list after a 4-3 win vs. the Lightning on Sunday