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Thornton believes Lightning have Cup-caliber depth

Friday, 05.08.2015 / 4:42 PM / 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs

Evan Sporer - Staff Writer

NEW YORK -- When forward Shawn Thornton and the Boston Bruins won the Stanley Cup in 2011, they did so rolling four lines.

Thornton was a fixture on the Bruins' fourth line, nicknamed the "Merlot Line" for the jersey color its players wore during practice. Thornton, with Gregory Campbell and Daniel Paille, helped the Bruins' top forwards play fewer minutes, and contributed offensively during Boston's Cup run.

Forward depth is key to any deep playoff run, and it's something Thornton, who played for the Florida Panthers this season and has been working as an analyst for NBC Sports Group during the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs, said he sees in the Tampa Bay Lightning.

"Throughout the last five, six, seven years, teams that have had depth that can play their third and fourth line an extra couple of minutes and take the pressure off the top two lines, and can contribute, those are the teams that have had a lot of success," Thornton said. "Tampa Bay is just another team that's showing that."

Blackhawks' Rozsival fractured ankle, season over

Friday, 05.08.2015 / 4:08 PM / Blackhawks vs Wild - 2015 SCP Second Round

Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Michal Rozsival will miss the remainder of the Stanley Cup Playoffs after sustaining a fractured left ankle in Game 4 of their Western Conference Second Round series against the Minnesota Wild.

"He will require surgery to repair it. He is not expected to return to full hockey activity until next season," the Blackhawks said in a statement Friday.

In the second period, Rozsival fell awkwardly in the neutral zone while skating backward to defend Wild forward Thomas Vanek after Nino Niederreiter lifted the puck from the Minnesota end into the Chicago zone. Play continued for 14 seconds with Rozsival unable to get up, and Chicago goalie Corey Crawford made a right-pad save to deny Vanek on a breakaway.

Rozsival could not put weight on his left leg and needed help getting off the ice and to the locker room with 6:37 remaining.

"You hate to see your teammates in pain like that," Chicago left wing Patrick Sharp said.

Capitals' patience with goalies paying off in Hershey

Friday, 05.08.2015 / 1:06 PM / AHL Update

Kinsey Janke - Special to

Though his performance contradicts it, Pheonix Copley wasn't supposed to play for the Hershey Bears in the American Hockey League this season.

Originally penciled in for the ECHL, Copley's fortunes started to change when the Bears' No. 2 goaltender, Eddie Pasquale, needed additional hip surgery that sidelined him for the season. Having signed an entry-level contract with the Washington Capitals in March 2014, Copley was first in line to complete the tandem with starter Philipp Grubauer.

"Grubauer's been our MVP. It's his show, so to speak," Hershey Bears coach Troy Mann said. "But it's very refreshing as a coach to know that we have a guy like Copley, that if he needs to go in for whatever reason, he's certainly capable of winning hockey games for us."

Five reasons Blackhawks advanced to Western Final

Friday, 05.08.2015 / 11:12 AM / Blackhawks vs Wild - 2015 SCP Second Round

Brian Hedger - Correspondent

It was the result hardly anybody expected from the Western Conference Second Round series between the Chicago Blackhawks and Minnesota Wild.

Chicago's sweep of the best-of-7 series was impressive and surprising considering the Blackhawks' inconsistent play in the first round against the Nashville Predators and the Wild having Devan Dubnyk, arguably the hottest goalie entering the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Minnesota dispatched the St. Louis Blues in its opening series, eliminating the Central Division's top team in the regular season, and came into this series with a lot of confidence. Despite losing to Chicago in each of the previous two postseasons, the Wild felt this was their time to turn the tables.

Instead, they were beaten in four straight games by a team playing its best since late December.

Here are five reasons the Blackhawks advanced:

Kane's goal helped Blackhawks finish sweep of Wild

Friday, 05.08.2015 / 10:28 AM / "Obvious Choice" Moments

A fractured clavicle sustained in a game against the Florida Panthers at the end of February was supposed to sideline Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane until some point in the Western Conference Final, assuming they made it that far.

Kane instead returned for the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, is second in the NHL with seven postseason goals and has at least a point in nine of 10 games to ensure the Blackhawks will be a part of the conference final for the fifth time in seven seasons.

Noel: Blackhawks made big plays, steadfast in system

Friday, 05.08.2015 / 9:52 AM / Blackhawks vs Wild - 2015 SCP Second Round

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

For additional insight into the Western Conference Second Round series between the Chicago Blackhawks and Minnesota Wild, has enlisted the help of Claude Noel to break down the action. Noel will be checking in throughout the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Noel was coach for the Winnipeg Jets from 2011-14 and interim coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2009-10. He also coached many years in the minor leagues, including the American Hockey League. In addition, Noel, a former forward, had 138 points in 353 regular-season games in the AHL and played seven games in the NHL with Washington Capitals in 1979-80.

In the end it was more about what the Chicago Blackhawks did well and not what the Minnesota Wild failed to do in four games of the Western Conference Second Round best-of-7 series.

Five reasons Wild were eliminated from playoffs

Friday, 05.08.2015 / 9:12 AM / Blackhawks vs Wild - 2015 SCP Second Round

Dan Myers - Correspondent

For the third consecutive season, the Minnesota Wild were eliminated from the Stanley Cup Playoffs by the Chicago Blackhawks.

This time, the end came in a four-game sweep in the Western Conference Second Round, the first time the Wild had been swept in a playoff series since the 2003 Western Conference Final.

The Wild never scored first and never held a lead.

Here are five reasons the Wild were eliminated:

Wild's top players come up short vs. Blackhawks

Friday, 05.08.2015 / 2:40 AM / Blackhawks vs Wild - 2015 SCP Second Round

Dan Myers - Correspondent

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- For the third year in a row, the Minnesota Wild will spend their summer trying to figure out how they can narrow the gap with the Chicago Blackhawks.

The Blackhawks completed a four-game sweep of their Western Conference Second Round series Thursday with a 4-3 victory. It's the third consecutive year Chicago has ended Minnesota's season, and the second straight year they've done it at Xcel Energy Center.

It was another year of the Wild watching their best players be overshadowed by the Blackhawks stars. Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Sharp, Marian Hossa and Duncan Keith combined for eight goals, 11 assists and a plus-18 rating in the series. Minnesota's Zach Parise, Thomas Vanek, Jason Pominville, Mikko Koivu and Ryan Suter combined for two goals, seven assists and were minus-20.

Vanek did not score a goal, and Pominville did not until 2:18 remained in the third period Thursday.

Suter said a good share of the blame rests with Minnesota's top players.

"It always does, right?" Suter asked rhetorically. "We have to be better, no question about it."

Blackhawks complete sweep but lose Rozsival

Friday, 05.08.2015 / 2:19 AM / Blackhawks vs Wild - 2015 SCP Second Round

Brian Hedger - Correspondent

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- It was a big night for the Chicago Blackhawks, who completed a sweep of the Minnesota Wild in the Western Conference Second Round on Thursday. But the victory came with a price.

Defenseman Michal Rozsival left Game 4 with a lower-body injury at 6:37 of the second period and didn't return. Asked for an update after the series-clinching 4-3 victory, the answer by Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville was brief but telling.

"Tough loss," he said. "Doesn't look good."

Stanley Cup Playoffs notebook: Thursday, May 7

Friday, 05.08.2015 / 1:55 AM / 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs

NHL Public Relations


Ahead 4-1 in the third period, the Chicago Blackhawks surrendered two goals in 51 seconds – as the teams combined for four goals in the final 6:40 of regulation – but held on to complete a four-game sweep of the Minnesota Wild and become the first team to advance to the conference finals in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

* The Blackhawks earned their ninth all-time sweep of a best-of-7 series and their first since the 2010 Western Conference Final vs. the San Jose Sharks. They have won all 11 best-of-7 series in which they held a 3-0 lead.

* Chicago completed a four-game sweep on the road for the first time since the 1996 WQF at the Calgary Flames, when Joe Murphy scored the series-clinching goal at 10:02 of the third overtime.

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