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Eastern Time Blog

Friday, 04.17.2009 / 11:50 AM / 2009 Playoffs Conference Quarterfinals

By NHL.com Staff

No sign of Schultz
04.17.2009  11:51 a.m. ET

Washington defenseman Jeff Schultz did not skate this morning at the Capitals' practice and Brian Pothier told me today that he is going to be playing Saturday afternoon in Game 2. Schultz, who also didn't practice Thursday, is being listed by the Capitals as day-to-day.

Schultz was the guy that Brandon Dubinsky undressed on his way to scoring the winning goal midway through the third period Wednesday night. Schultz fell down on the play.

More news to come out of Caps' camp later, but suffice to say that both Alex Ovechkin and Mike Green said they need to create more traffic in front of Henrik Lundqvist if they hope to beat the Rangers' gold-medal winning goalie. Green told me they were getting too much from the perimeter in Wednesday's game and without traffic in front of him, Lundqvist is going to stop those shots every single time.

Washington coach Bruce Boudreau still won't announce who will be the starting goalie on Saturday, but he did let on a little bit more than Jose Theodore would likely be his guy. Still, there is nothing etched in stone yet and Boudreau said it's not safe to assume anything.

The Caps had a good skate today and then finished with a light-hearted shootout game. The goalies picked the teams and Sergei Varlamov somehow managed to select Ovechkin, Alexander Semin, Sergei Fedorov and Mike Green to shoot against Theodore. Needless to say Varlamov was at an unfair advantage and he won the shootout competition.

More coming later...

-- Dan Rosen


Quiet before the storm
04.16.2009, 5:51 p.m.

I'm back at the TD Banknorth Center and things are relatively quiet here -- for right now, at least.

I can hear some of the players whooping it up down the hall as they play some soccer to get loosened up, but for the most part a quiet intensity has settled over the building -- even the press room.

Everyone senses, I think, that it is almost time for the serious business to start. I know I feel that way.

The fans, however, are already at full throttle. I caught the T to get here -- and even at 4:45 p.m., it was jammed with Bruins fans. The team is providing a block party next to Causeway Street, in the actual footprint of the old Boston Garden, and fans have been streaming into that area for hours, most sporting the newer black-and-yellow jerseys of the home team. There are a few old-school jerseys -- including several of former cult hero-turned-team vice president Cam Neely -- but they are overwhelmed by the new-school threads sporting names like Chara, Bergeron, Savard, Thomas and Lucic, the new lunchbox cult figure.

We'll be back with the starting lineups in just a bit.

-- Shawn P. Roarke


Oduya kept out of practice
04.16.2009, 5:30 p.m.

Devils defenseman Johnny Oduya didn't practice Thursday afternoon. Coach Brent Sutter said Oduya was just getting some rest and will play Friday night. Jay Leach, a scratch Wednesday night, played alongside Paul Martin, Oduya's usual partner, during practice.

Anyone who thought the Devils would have a light skate Thursday was wrong. Sutter put them through a brisk 30-minute practice with focused drills, teaching sessions, individual instruction and plenty of shooting on goalies Martin Brodeur and Scott Clemmensen.

Both teams conducted spirited practices designed to improve their movement as five-man units. Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice complained Wednesday night that his forwards and defense had too much separation, leading to intercepted passes. Sutter and Maurice used a couple of the same drills that began with breakouts from their own zone.

"I think it's important that you keep their focus," Sutter said of his 30-minute practice, which included private tutoring sessions. "You still have to practice the way you are going to play. You still want sharpness and intensity out there. ... It's a group that isn't going to take anything for granted. It's one game, that's all it is but we did play well and we have to carry that type of play moving forward."

Longtime Devils defensive specialist Jay Pandolfo played a strong game on a line with John Madden and Brendan Shanahan and received an endorsement from Sutter. Pandolfo played every game through Jan. 17, then was a healthy scratch in 12 of the next 15 games; played five games and sat the next six; played twice and sat three times and then played the final six games of the regular season.

"He's a rested player right now, and I don't mean that in a bad way," Sutter said. "His work ethic, his skating -- he's got a high level of energy that you can use and other players can feed off. He's excited to be playing and wants to be a difference out there and he's going out and doing it. Look at his overall game, he's got it at a high level right now and we need that from 'Pando'."

-- John McGourty


Depleted defensemen
04.16.2009, 3:30 p.m.

The Flyers had only five defensemen on the ice for practice Thursday. Kimmo Timonen was given the day off to recover from the charley horse he suffered early in Game 1 on Thursday.

Also, Randy Jones has left the team due to a death in the family. Jones is expected back in time for Game 2 on Friday.

The Flyers had one new line combination, as Darroll Powe took Arron Asham's place alongside Danny Briere and Claude Giroux. Coach John Stevens said it was a reward for Powe's strong play in Game 1.

"I think it's another guy that can take faceoffs," said Stevens. "He's a left-handed centerman and he's got a lot of quickness and can get in and get on top of the puck. He's a straight-line player that get to the net and he's a straight-line player that can get in on the forecheck. … I thought when we moved him up last night he did a good job."

One amusing moment came when Stevens was told his team forced just one giveaway in Game 1.

"One giveaway? Where do you get that stat?" Stevens said with a laugh. "Don't go by that (official game) sheet, we track that ourselves. No disrespect (to the off-ice officials) … that's an arbitrary category."

And the Flyers and Daniel Carcillo are having a conference call with the League right now to determine if Carcillo will be suspended for his incident with the Pens' Max Talbot at the end of Game 1.

More on that as it happens.

-- Adam Kimelman

Brind'Amour skips practice
04.16.09  3:15 P.M. ET

Hurricanes captain Rod Brind'Amour did not practice with the team Thursday but coach Paul Maurice said there's nothing wrong with Brind'Amour, "other than he's old!" He said Brind'Amour will play Game 2 Friday night.

Maurice was in a surprisingly good mood after his team lost Game 1, 4-1, Wednesday night. Surprising only if you don't know Maurice, who prides himself on an even disposition, in public.

"You guys didn't have a bad game last night," he told the media. "Why would I take it out on you?"

Maurice drilled his team for about an hour early Thursday afternoon in preparation for Game 2 Friday at Newark's Prudential Center. Afterward, Maurice said the drills were mostly "to get us moving as five."

Maurice declined to name anyone when asked if anyone played their way out of the lineup Wednesday, saying "you'll know tomorrow."

He responded in a similar manner when asked if the Hurricanes went on the ice late because of his pre-practice coaching. Did he show them video, lecture them or do some chalkboard work, he was asked.

"Oh no, I just told them to head out there whenever they're ready," he said, rolling his eyes. "C'mon, you guys know I can't tell you everything we're doing."

With Brind'Amour absent, Dwight Helminen, a scratch Wednesday, played center on a line with Scott Walker at right wing and either Ryan Bayda, another scratch Wednesday, or Tim Conboy at left wing. Conboy and Patrick Eaves played on the fourth line, centered by Matt Cullen, Wednesday.

Cullen made his first start Wednesday after an eight-game absence due to a foot injury. Maurice used him sparingly in the first period, then increased his ice time. Cullen wound up centering his old line between left winger Ray Whitney and Chad LaRose on the right side. That line scored the Hurricanes' only goal. Cullen centered LaRose and Whitney in practice Thursday.

Eaves played right wing on a line centered by Jussi Jokinen with Sergei Samsonov on the left side. The first line of Eric Staal centering right winger Erik Cole and Tuomo Ruutu on the left side remained the same.

Remember, the Devils are practicing at 3:30 p.m. so check back an hour or so later.

-- John McGourty


Eastern Time Blog - Day 1



Quote of the Day

I remember the first time at Wrigley Field all of us had the long johns, the turtlenecks and the extra equipment because we were afraid of being cold. Halfway through the first period everybody's ripping everything off and we just ended up wearing what we would normally wear for a game at the United Center.

— Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp on the 2009 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic