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2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs

Seven early Conn Smythe Trophy candidates

Thursday, 05.01.2014 / 12:25 PM / 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

The first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs is over. Eight teams have advanced, the second round begins Thursday, and several players have emerged as potential MVP candidates.

It might be too early to crown a champion, way too early in fact, but it's never too early to look at some possible Conn Smythe Trophy candidates.

Here are seven players who emerged in the first round, listed in no particular order:

Five reasons why the Flyers were eliminated

Thursday, 05.01.2014 / 11:33 AM / 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs

Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor

It was a season of peaks and valleys for the Philadelphia Flyers.

From the depths of a 1-7-0 start, they finished third in the Metropolitan Division to return to the Stanley Cup Playoffs after sitting out the 2013 postseason.

Captain Claude Giroux went from zero goals, seven assists and a minus-12 rating in his first 15 games to finish as the League's third-leading scorer and a Hart Trophy finalist.

In their Eastern Conference First Round series against the New York Rangers, they peaked with their backs to the wall to win Game 6 at home, 5-2, but there was one final valley, a 2-1 season-ending loss in Game 7 one night later at Madison Square Garden.

Here are five reasons the Flyers have gotten an earlier start to their offseason than they hoped.

Fans raise close to $200,000 for charity with beards

Thursday, 05.01.2014 / 9:45 AM / 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs

EAST AURORA, N.Y. -- NHL fans across North America have come together this playoff season to raise over $197,000 in the first round of the Stanley Cup® Playoffs. The sixth annual Beard-A-Thon®, proudly presented by Just For Men, encourages hockey enthusiasts to grow their own playoff beards for the 2014 Stanley Cup® Playoffs, or pledge their favorite NHL players. In addition to participating in a great hockey tradition, beard growers are raising money for charities across the nation in a one-of-a kind way.

In the past five seasons, over 30,000 fans have participated in the Beard-A-Thon® program, raising over $2.5 million for charity. This season, the goal is to raise an additional $1 million for NHL team charities.

Currently, Boston Bruins fans have led the way, raising over $67,000 for the Martin W. Richard Charitable Foundation and the Boston Bruins Foundation. Fans of the New York Rangers, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Los Angeles Kings combined have raised over $71,000 for local charities.

2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs Round 2 schedule

Thursday, 05.01.2014 / 1:20 AM / 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs

Below are dates, times, national broadcast information and results for the second round of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Information on the U.S. broadcast for games later in the round will be released as it is determined.

All times listed are ET and subject to change.

Tennessee teenager boasts perfect playoff bracket

Wednesday, 04.30.2014 / 5:23 PM / 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs

Tal Pinchevsky - Staff Writer

More than a half-million entries were submitted for the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs Bracket Challenge. Heading into the trio of Game 7s on Wednesday, only one participant has a chance to claim they correctly predicted each of the teams that would advance in the first round and in how many games.

A student and hockey player at Father Ryan High School in Nashville, Colin Fitts stands alone. And if the New York Rangers, Colorado Avalanche and Los Angeles Kings all win Wednesday, he'll have successfully filled out a perfect bracket for the opening round of the playoffs.

Fitts, 16, is an aspiring journalist who covers the Nashville Predators for the But he didn't exactly draw on his experience covering his favorite team when it came time to file his bracket.

Blackhawks' Versteeg focused on returning to lineup

Wednesday, 04.30.2014 / 3:33 PM / 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs

Brian Hedger - Correspondent

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks got back on the ice Wednesday after taking two days off between series in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Forward Kris Versteeg skated on the fourth line at right wing during line rushes and looks to get back in the lineup for the start of the Western Conference Second Round.

Versteeg, who was reacquired during the first quarter of the regular season in a trade with the Florida Panthers, was a surprising scratch Sunday in Game 6 of the Western Conference First Round series against the St. Louis Blues. Instead, Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville went with rookie forward Joakim Nordstrom, who made his postseason debut at right wing on the fourth line.

"You just have to get ready for the next one," Versteeg said. "Obviously you always want to play, but you have to understand what the coach feels and what's best for the team. It's something you want to fight through and come back and be a factor in helping the team."

'Cupnappers' help NHL find new commercial voice

Wednesday, 04.30.2014 / 11:42 AM / 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs

Davis Harper - Staff Writer

Like the majority of New York Rangers fans this time of year, Nick Kroll had been dreaming about Mark Messier lifting the Stanley Cup in 1994.

"I had a dream one night that Mark Messier came to me and he was holding the Stanley Cup, the '94 Cup," Kroll said. "It was like when I was kid, but I was my age now. And he said to me, 'Go find this, and take this.'"

With a little help from the NHL and NBC, Kroll did exactly as The Captain commanded. The comedian and actor teamed with longtime comedy cohorts Seth Morris and Charlie Sanders to "lift" the Cup from its velvet-lined case as part of a viral video released on April Fools' Day to promote the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Triple-header of Game 7s set for Wednesday

Long-time rivals Rangers, Flyers to clash in Game 7 for first time since 1974

Wednesday, 04.30.2014 / 9:43 AM / 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs

NEW YORK -- The New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers will contest Game 7 of their Stanley Cup Playoffs First Round series tonight at Madison Square Garden in New York (7 p.m., ET, NBCSN, TSN2, RDS), opening a triple-header that also features the Colorado Avalanche hosting the Minnesota Wild (9:30 p.m., ET, CNBC, TSN2, RDS) and the San Jose Sharks welcoming the Los Angeles Kings (10 p.m., ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS2). It marks the fifth time in NHL history and first time since April 22, 2003, that three or more Game 7s will be played on the same day.

This marks the fourth consecutive year that at least three Stanley Cup Playoff first-round series have extended to the limit, capping a thrilling two weeks that have featured 27 comeback wins in the 45 games contested (60%), including a first-round record 10 multi-goal comeback victories, six game-tying goals in the final 2:00 of regulation and 13 overtime games spread over seven series. The 20 seven-game series in the first round since 2008 is nearly triple the number of four-game sweeps (seven) over the same span.

For the first time in 40 years, the long-time division-rival Rangers and Flyers will meet in a Game 7. On May 5, 1974, the Flyers defeated the Rangers 4-3 at the Spectrum in Philadelphia to win their Semifinal series and advance to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in franchise history. Two weeks later, the Flyers became the first expansion team to claim the championship in a six-game triumph over Boston.

Three Game 7s cap first round of playoffs

Tuesday, 04.29.2014 / 11:35 PM / 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs

John Kreiser - Columnist

For the third season in a row, the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs will be capped with a trio of Game 7s. For the first time in 11 years, all three will take place on the same night.

The Philadelphia Flyers made sure of that Tuesday when they beat the New York Rangers 5-2 in Game 6 of their Eastern Conference First Round series at Wells Fargo Center, continuing a pattern that has seen the Rangers win the odd-numbered games and the Flyers take the even-numbered ones.

Neither team will get much rest; the teams will determine the series winner Wednesday at Madison Square Garden in the only games being played on back-to-back nights in the opening round of the playoffs.

The other two first-round series to go seven games are in the Western Conference. The Central Division-champion Colorado Avalanche host the Minnesota Wild in a series that has seen the home team win each of the first six games, and the Los Angeles Kings will try to become the fourth NHL team ever to win a series after falling behind 3-0 when they visit the San Jose Sharks.

Here's a quick look at all three Game 7s:

Roy's early empty-net moves getting noticed

Tuesday, 04.29.2014 / 10:04 PM / 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

Colorado Avalanche coach Patrick Roy might be setting a trend by going to an empty net early enough in games to turn what once was a regular coaching decision into a bigger storyline in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Roy also might be showing NHL coaches what can go wrong when taking a gamble as big as pulling the goaltender in favor of the extra attacker with between two-and-a-half and three minutes remaining.

The verdict is out while the coaching community weighs the pros and cons of Roy's strategy of using the extra attacker earlier than conventional wisdom suggests.

"Since he gave up two in the empty net [Monday], I'm not so sure it's all that wonderful an idea," longtime NHL coach Craig Ramsay told "I think there is nothing wrong with it. I'm certainly not against it. But for me, that's a little early. That's a hope or two."

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Quote of the Day

Yeah, it was a pretty special moment for me. Today was my Dad's [55th] birthday. I have a lot of family in town, so it was a special moment for me to score my first one today. A win definitely would have capped it off, but you can't have everything.

— Sabres rookie Jack Eichel after scoring a goal in his National Hockey League debut
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