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Stanley Cup Final
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Rangers say Lundqvist needs 10 days before return

Wednesday, 03.18.2015 / 10:12 AM / News

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

BOCA RATON, Fla. -- New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist will need approximately 10 days to get ready before playing, general manager Glen Sather said Wednesday at the NHL general managers meetings.

Lundqvist, who hasn't played since Feb. 2 because of a vascular injury, was cleared Tuesday by the Rangers doctors to return to practice.

"Just because he was cleared doesn't mean he's ready to return," Sather said. "I'd say a week to 10 days, probably closer to 10 days."

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Panthers announce new AHL affiliation with Portland

Wednesday, 03.18.2015 / 10:11 AM / News

FloridaPanthers.com

Sunrise, Fla. – The Florida Panthers announced today that the club has entered into a four-year agreement with the Portland Pirates, making the Portland Pirates its American Hockey League affiliate starting next season. The announcement was made jointly by Florida Panthers Executive Vice President & General Manager Dale Tallon and Portland Pirates Chief Operating Officer Brad Church.

"We are extremely pleased to announce this new affiliation with Portland," said Tallon. "Portland is a great hockey town, and we look forward to our prospects continuing to grow and develop in a successful and winning culture in Portland."

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Around the League notebook for Tuesday, March 17

Wednesday, 03.18.2015 / 9:00 AM / News

NHL Public Relations

PRESIDENTS' TROPHY RACE: CANADIENS AND BLUES WIN

The Montreal Canadiens (44-20-7, 95 points) and St. Louis Blues (45-20-5, 95 points) were victorious on Tuesday and sit tied in terms of points with the New York Rangers (44-17-7, 95 points) and Anaheim Ducks (44-20-7, 95 points) for first overall in the NHL. The top eight teams in the overall League standings are separated by only five points.

*The Canadiens defeated the Florida Panthers 3-2, with the teams scoring all five goals in an 11:06 span of the second period. P.K. Subban's 13th of the season at 15:26 stood as the game-winner.

*Subban's game-winning goal was his fifth of the season, second among NHL defensemen behind only Oliver Ekman-Larsson (7) of the Arizona Coyotes. Subban 13-39—52 is tied for second in League scoring among defenseman with the Pittsburgh Penguins' Kris Letang (10-42—52), four behind the Ottawa Senators' Erik Karlsson (18-38—56).

*Canadiens goaltender Dustin Tokarski made a career-high 41 saves to improve to 6-5-3 this season with a 2.66 goals-against average and a .917 save percentage.

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Five things to watch when Blackhawks face Rangers

Wednesday, 03.18.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Brian Compton - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

It may very well be a preview of the Stanley Cup Final when the New York Rangers host the Chicago Blackhawks at Madison Square Garden. This week's Wednesday Night Rivalry game (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TVA, SN1) features two of the top teams in the NHL, each of which seems primed to play deep into the spring.

With the Rangers atop the League standings and the Blackhawks battling for position in the Central Division, there's plenty at stake for each team.

Here are five things to watch between the Rangers and Blackhawks:

1. Who replaces St. Louis?

The Rangers recently lost defenseman Kevin Klein for 3-4 weeks because of an upper-body injury, and now they'll be without forward Martin St. Louis, who sustained a lower-body injury late in a 2-1 win against the Florida Panthers on Sunday.

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Richards chasing Cup with Blackhawks after Rangers

Wednesday, 03.18.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Brian Hedger - NHL.com Correspondent

CHICAGO -- Brad Richards saw this kind of season coming for the New York Rangers back in 2011, when he chose to sign with them instead of multiple suitors as an unrestricted free agent.

But less than a year after helping New York advance to the 2014 Stanley Cup Final, Richards will play at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday as the third-line center for the Chicago Blackhawks (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TVA, SN1).

The Rangers, who lead the NHL with 95 points, bought out the remaining six years of Richards' nine-year, $60 million contract last summer.

Richards signed a one-year contract with the Blackhawks to continue his Stanley Cup quest, and said he harbors no hard feelings toward the Rangers.

"The only negative thing [in New York] was we were three wins away from winning a championship in an Original Six city, a great city, and that's why I was lucky enough to pick and choose this summer and come to an Original Six city here, a great historic franchise," said Richards, whose Rangers lost to the Los Angeles Kings in five games. "That's the only thing that's left out. It would have been nice to close the deal and do that, but a lot of players say that every year."

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Kopitar, Gaborik searching for chemistry with Kings

Wednesday, 03.18.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Curtis Zupke - NHL.com Correspondent

LOS ANGELES -- Anze Kopitar and Marian Gaborik were briefly neighbors in the popular town of Manhattan Beach, Calif., when Kopitar was remodeling a home earlier this season. It's a natural fit: The two are cut from the same cloth, elite European players who enjoy anonymity in Southern California.

But the buddy-movie notion of the two taking Kopitar's dog, Gustl, for a walk on the strand is slightly farfetched.

"We haven't gotten that far yet," Kopitar said.

That also might apply to their ongoing chemistry project this season for the Los Angeles Kings. After Gaborik and Kopitar clicked in last year's Stanley Cup Playoffs, the two will continue searching for that mesh when the Kings look to continue their climb up the Western Conference standings Wednesday at the Anaheim Ducks (10:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN).

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Closer Look: Blackhawks, Rangers like to play fast

Wednesday, 03.18.2015 / 3:00 AM / Closer Look

Evan Sporer - NHL.com Staff Writer

Pace and tempo are concepts talked about in hockey, but somewhat difficult to define. There are no statistics or metrics for pace like ones which exist in basketball, yet there are still teams that carry a reputation for wanting to play fast.

Two teams unafraid to play a quicker game are the New York Rangers and the Chicago Blackhawks. When they play Wednesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN1, TVA Sports), each team will rely on how it exits the defensive zone to push the pace.

At their best, the Rangers and Blackhawks don't spend much time between the blue lines. With good puck-moving defensemen, and systems preaching a quick, north-south game through the neutral zone, each team looks to go on the attack as soon as it wins the puck in its defensive zone.

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Road outside Rogers Arena renamed Pat Quinn Way

Tuesday, 03.17.2015 / 11:16 PM / News

Kevin Woodley - NHL.com Correspondent

VANCOUVER -- The road fans take to watch the Vancouver Canucks play at Rogers Arena will now be known as Pat Quinn Way.

The City of Vancouver renamed a section of the street adjacent to the arena as Pat Quinn Way in a ceremony before the Canucks played the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday.

It was a fitting honor, not only because many believe Quinn saved a floundering franchise when he arrived as team president and general manager in 1987, paving the way for Rogers Arena to be built and open in 1995.

It was fitting because the road runs in front of Gate 16, which was named after Trevor Linden, who was Quinn's first draft pick for the Canucks in 1988 and is now the team's president of hockey operations.

It was also fitting because it came before a game against the Flyers, the team with which Quinn began his coaching career after 606 NHL games as a rugged defenseman with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Canucks and Atlanta Flames.


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Panthers get two goalies when contest ends in tie

Tuesday, 03.17.2015 / 10:06 PM / News

Alain Poupart - NHL.com Correspondent

SUNRISE, Fla. -- The Florida Panthers will have two new backup practice goaltenders Wednesday after their "Goal of a Lifetime" competition ended in a tie.

Bill Ruggiero and Dustin Smith, who were chosen as finalists after 65 participants went through drills and shootouts Monday, were declared co-winners after each stopped three of four shootout attempts during the first intermission of the Panthers game against the Montreal Canadiens at BB&T Center on Tuesday.

Ruggiero and Smith will be on hand when the Panthers practice Wednesday at the arena.

"Gonna get a good night’s sleep and do our best tomorrow," Ruggiero said during the second intermission. "Just being out there on the ice, it’s a great feeling. Practices, you’ve had so many in your life, but to be out there at an NHL practice and that next step that they all have and that level of professional attitude, I’m definitely going to enjoy that."

"[The best part was] getting to meet a lot of the alumni guys," Smith said. "Getting to hang out with Tomas Vokoun yesterday, and obviously getting shot on by these guys out here was such a great experience."

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Rangers goalie Lundqvist cleared to return to practice

Tuesday, 03.17.2015 / 5:40 PM / News

NHL.com

New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist has been cleared to return to practice following an exam and consultation with specialists, the Rangers announced Tuesday.

Coach Alain Vigneault told ESPN Radio New York that there is no timetable for Lundqvist's return to game action. The Rangers play the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday at Madison Square Garden (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN) and are off Thursday, which means Lundqvist will practice Friday. Following back-to-back games this weekend, New York won't practice again until next Tuesday, which creates a challenge to find adequate practice time to get Lundqvist up to speed.

Lundqvist has made progress during on-ice workouts but has yet to take shots up high.

"He'll be skating with the odd player or two, but a goaltender needs to be able to track the puck, needs to be able to practice with bodies in front of him," Vigneault told "The Michael Kay Show." "With our schedule the way it's laid out right now, we don't have the opportunity to give [Lundqvist] a lot of practices. It's obviously going to take a little bit of time here just because we don't have the practice possibilities."

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Quote of the Day

That's the biggest goal I've ever scored. It's a great feeling any time you do that, especially at home. We're one game away from a Stanley Cup berth. It was a huge goal and it felt unbelievable.

— Anaheim forward Matt Beleskey on scoring the overtime winner Monday to give the Ducks a 3-2 series lead against the Blackhawks