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Features

Playoff Countdown: Big night for Panthers, Senators

Tuesday, 03.31.2015 / 10:57 AM / Expert Picks

NHL.com

Saturday, April 11, marks the conclusion to the 2014-15 regular season. Yet, much remains to be decided in the frantic run to the finish line, including playoff positioning and numerous individual accomplishments and milestones. To celebrate the countdown to the end of the season and the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs on April 15, NHL.com will provide a piece of playoff-related content each day.

Tuesday is an important night in the race for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference.

The Boston Bruins (38-25-13), who currently occupy that spot, along with the Ottawa Senators and Florida Panthers, their two closest pursuers, are all in action. The Senators (37-26-12) trail the Bruins by three points and the Panthers (35-26-15) are four back.

Five Questions: Capitals' Green on current role, future

Tuesday, 03.31.2015 / 3:00 AM / Five Questions With…

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

NHL.com's Q&A feature called "Five Questions With …" runs every Tuesday. We talk to key figures in the game and ask them questions to gain insight into their lives, careers and the latest news.

The latest edition features Washington Capitals defenseman Mike Green:

NEW YORK -- Mike Green has always had the skill to help the Washington Capitals win in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Now he feels he again has the tool to do so as well.

Green's stick has become something of a big deal in Washington because the one he uses on occasion, the discontinued Easton Stealth CNT, is a throwback to his 31-goal, 73-point season in 2008-09, which was by far Green's best season in his 10 years in the NHL.

He has 40 points this season in what is arguably his strongest season since 2008-09. Part of the reason might have something to do with the rare stick, which Easton stopped making in 2007.

"Every time I see that stick and I pick it up, whether it's to sign for a fan or whatnot, I can tell right away why I liked it," Green said Sunday prior to Washington's 5-2 win against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden. "They discontinued it and ever since then I haven't had that same feel."

Seidenberg stepping up game at key time for Bruins

Tuesday, 03.31.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Matt Kalman - NHL.com Correspondent

BOSTON -- When Boston Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg is at his best, he's a player who punishes opponents in battles down low with his body checking and serves as a second goaltender with his shot blocking.

Seidenberg's usually at his best in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. He wrote his legend during the Bruins' run to the 2011 Stanley Cup championship as sidekick to Boston captain Zdeno Chara on the No. 1 pairing. Since then Seidenberg has been a rugged pillar of stability at the most important times for the Bruins.

In case anyone missed it, the Bruins have gotten a head start on playing playoff-caliber games because they're battling the Ottawa Senators, Florida Panthers and others to extend their postseason streak to eight consecutive years. And Seidenberg has again played a central role in the Bruins tightening up their defense and winning two in a row to take a three-point lead on the Senators for the second wild card into the playoffs from the Eastern Conference. The Bruins also lead the Panthers by four points heading into their game at TD Garden on Tuesday (7 p.m., SNE, SNO, SNW, NESN, FS-F).

Lightning continue to win despite spate of injuries

Tuesday, 03.31.2015 / 1:25 AM / Expert Picks

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

MONTREAL – Center Brian Boyle signed with the Tampa Bay Lightning during the offseason as an unrestricted free agent after spending years as a key role player with the New York Rangers.

But while Boyle has not been the Lightning around for that long, in the past two games he has come to epitomize what the Lightning have become over the past two seasons.

During a 4-0 loss to the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday, coach Jon Cooper moved Boyle back to defense when he lost defenseman Jason Garrison very early in the game. Prior to the Lightning's game Monday against the Montreal Canadiens, Boyle talked about how difficult that transition was for him.

"But if it's needed, I want to be effective," Boyle said. "I want to be good back there."

Little did Boyle know how soon he would get another chance.

Five reasons Lightning clinched playoff berth

Monday, 03.30.2015 / 10:24 PM / Expert Picks

Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

The Tampa Bay Lightning showed last season they were more than superstar Steven Stamkos. Despite Stamkos missing four months because of a broken leg, the Lightning finished second in the Atlantic Division.

The players who stepped up in Stamkos' absence have maintained their high level of play or improved in 2014-15, and Stamkos has returned as one of the NHL's top scorers.

It's why the Lightning have reached the 100-point mark and clinched a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the second straight season. Tampa Bay still has a chance at winning its first division title since 2004, when the Lightning won the Southeast Division on the way to winning the Stanley Cup.

Here are five reasons the Lightning clinched a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs:

Whirlwind trip for hockey fanatic has charitable payoff

Monday, 03.30.2015 / 4:32 PM / NHL Insider

Shawn Roarke - Director, Editorial

NEWARK, N.J. -- For years, Rob Suggitt dreamed about visiting every rink in the NHL.

Finally, he acted this year and finds himself in the midst of a whirlwind, month-long tour of hockey across North America.

Suggitt, a self-professed hockey fanatic from Edmonton, is on a quest to visit 30 different NHL rinks in 30 consecutive nights. It is part bucket-list adventure and part charity fundraiser. It has also been an unforgettable experience.

"For me, it's going to be the memories of this trip," Suggitt said as he sat at the Prudential Center before a game Sunday night between the New Jersey Devils and the Anaheim Ducks. "Right now, they are just incredible. As I finish it, I'm going to remember this for the rest of my life."

Fantasy All-Access: Blue Jackets' Atkinson heats up

Matt Sitkoff - NHL.com Contributor

Every Monday, NHL.com contributor Matt Sitkoff identifies waiver wire pickups, roster trends, schedule notes and a prospect to watch in fantasy hockey.

April Fools' Day is celebrated this week and some players have been playing practical jokes on owners all season with streaks of hot and cold play.

Playoff Countdown: Kings, Blackhawks in rematch

Monday, 03.30.2015 / 11:48 AM / Expert Picks

NHL.com

Saturday, April 11, marks the conclusion to the 2014-15 regular season. Yet, much remains to be decided in the frantic run to the finish line, including playoff positioning and numerous individual accomplishments and milestones. To celebrate the countdown to the end of the season and the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs on April 15, NHL.com will provide a piece of playoff-related content each day.

The Tampa Bay Lightning and St. Louis Blues can clinch a berth in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs on Monday while the Los Angeles Kings continue their playoff push in a rematch of the 2014 Western Conference Final.

The Kings (37-24-14) face the Chicago Blackhawks (45-24-6), who they defeated in seven games last spring en route to their second Stanley Cup championship in three seasons.

While the Blackhawks are closing in on a seventh consecutive postseason berth, the Kings enter one point behind the Calgary Flames for third place in the Pacific and two points behind the Winnipeg Jets for the second wild card into the playoffs from the West. They have a game in hand on each of those teams.

Elliott, Allen aim to end Blues playoff struggles in goal

Monday, 03.30.2015 / 3:00 AM / Expert Picks

Louie Korac - NHL.com Correspondent

ST. LOUIS -- When St. Louis Blues coach Ken Hitchcock decided to start rookie goalie Jake Allen in a recent set of back-to-back games against the Detroit Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins, that looming question that seems to hover around the Gateway City came to light again.

"Is there a goalie controversy in St. Louis?"

The question is understandable, considering the events of the past couple of seasons involving Jaroslav Halak, Brian Elliott and last season, when the Blues traded for Ryan Miller.

Elliott always seemed to be in the middle of those events, but Hitchcock made no mistake when asked: Elliott will be the guy going forward into the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and Allen will be right there as the capable backup to give the Blues a formidable 1-2 punch.

Gillies, Welman lead Providence to Frozen Four

Sunday, 03.29.2015 / 11:42 PM / NCAA Update

Connor Mellas - NHL.com Correspondent

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Less than 24 hours after giving up five goals to Miami, Providence goaltender Jon Gillies was back on his game.

Gillies, a third-round pick (No. 75) by the Calgary Flames in the 2012 NHL Draft, made 23 saves Sunday to lead the Friars to a 4-1 victory against Denver in the NCAA East Regional final, sending Providence to the Frozen Four for the first time in 30 years. Providence will face Nebraska-Omaha in one of two national semifinal games.

Gillies, a junior, leads all Hockey East goaltenders with a .929 save percentage and a 2.01 goals-against average. He had no trouble shaking off the wild ending to the semifinal game against Miami, in which the RedHawks nearly overcame a four-goal deficit in the third period.

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Quote of the Day

He's only 17 but he can see the ice so well and he moves the puck and goes to the open ice all the time, so I just think he's a player that is ready to play in the NHL. I'm really looking forward to coaching someone like this.

— U.S. National Junior Team coach Ron Wilson on Auston Matthews, the projected No. 1 pick of the 2016 NHL Draft