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Rangers defenseman McDonagh sits out practice

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- New York Rangers captain Ryan McDonagh did not practice Thursday in advance of Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Madison Square Garden on Friday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said he had no concern about McDonagh's health.

McDonagh has not missed a game in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs; he has three goals, nine points and a plus-3 rating in 18 games, and leads the Rangers with 23:50 of ice time per game.

He did not participate in the morning skate prior to Game 6 at Amalie Arena on Tuesday but played 34 shifts totaling 21:57 in the Rangers' 7-3 win.

Blackhawks' Keith takes hits, makes pivotal plays

Thursday, 05.28.2015 / 12:00 PM / "Obvious Choice" Moments

Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith doesn't express much emotion on the ice. But he certainly found a positive way to react to any anger he had for being hit hard by Anaheim Ducks center Ryan Kesler in the second period of Game 6 of the Western Conference Final on Wednesday.

Keith responded to being rocked by Kesler by assisting on three Blackhawks goals in a 3:45 span, and early in the third period he saved a goal by pulling a loose puck off the goal line to preserve the Blackhawks' 3-2 lead.

Chicago went on to win 5-2 and force Game 7 on Saturday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, TVA Sports).

Capitals' Backstrom has arthroscopic hip surgery

Thursday, 05.28.2015 / 10:28 AM / News

Center Nicklas Backstrom had arthroscopic hip surgery Wednesday and is expected to recover before the start of training camp for the 2015-16 season, the Washington Capitals announced Thursday.

"Nicklas Backstrom underwent a successful arthroscopic surgery on his hip on Wednesday afternoon," the Capitals said in a statement. "Based on the nature of this procedure we are confident that Nick will be completely healthy prior to the start of the 2015-16 regular season."

Senators' Murray to leave GM job after 2015-16: report

Thursday, 05.28.2015 / 9:18 AM / News

Ottawa Senators general manager Bryan Murray expects the 2015-16 season to be his final one in his current position, he told CBC Wednesday.

Murray, 72, announced in November 2014 that he had inoperable Stage 4 colon cancer and he has been receiving chemotherapy since then.

"I'm not as energized as I once was, but age has a little to do with that as well as the sickness," Murray said.

Noel: Keith had elite effort for Blackhawks in Game 6

Thursday, 05.28.2015 / 9:02 AM / Ducks vs Blackhawks - 2015 Western Conference Final

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

For additional insight on the Chicago Blackhawks in the Western Conference Final, 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.

The defense of the Chicago Blackhawks proved too much for the Anaheim Ducks in a 5-2 victory in Game 6 of the Western Conference Final on Wednesday at United Center in Chicago.

McDavid deserves all the comparisons to Crosby

Thursday, 05.28.2015 / 3:00 AM / 2015 NHL Draft

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

Erie Otters captain Connor McDavid has earned the reputation as a generational talent.

It's a label rarely used by NHL scouts. It's never easy to predict how effective any draft prospect will be once he arrives in the NHL, but McDavid appears to be an exception.

Not only is the forward likely to be the No. 1 pick of the 2015 NHL Draft, but many believe he is the best prospect since Pittsburgh Penguins forward Sidney Crosby in 2005.

"Is McDavid the best prospect since Sid?" David Gregory of NHL Central Scouting asked. "Yes, because just about everything he does he does great, and he also wants to get better at it."

Crosby was asked by if it's a fair comparison.

"That's for everyone else to decide," he said. "I think it's human nature. It's hockey; it's what we all do and what we all grow up understanding. So I think the biggest thing for Connor is just to enjoy this whole thing as much as he can."

Top prospect Eichel conjures memories of Kariya

Thursday, 05.28.2015 / 3:00 AM / 2015 NHL Draft

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

Jim Montgomery said he'll never forget the caliber of talent he had skating alongside him as a senior at the University of Maine two decades ago.

It was 1992-93, and the Black Bears had one heck of a freshmen class, with New York natives Chris and Peter Ferraro and 5-foot-11, 180-pound Vancouver native Paul Kariya in the fold.

"Paul was special because here's a guy coming in who played for Canada at the World Junior Championship the year before on a line with Eric Lindros, so everybody knew of the talent," Montgomery said. "But you don't know how talented a player is until you see him on the ice."

Montgomery, now coach at the University of Denver, didn't need to watch many line rushes during practice to conclude Kariya was pretty unique.

A similar scenario took place at Boston University this season when freshman Jack Eichel walked on campus after representing the United States at the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship. Eichel, No. 2 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of the top North American skaters eligible for the 2015 NHL Draft, had a similar presence, demeanor and impact in his first collegiate season.

"I jokingly say he's kind of like the Secretariat of a hockey player," Boston University coach David Quinn said. "If you ever watch Secretariat run, he just looks so different than all the other horses.

"Jack is very much in that mold."

Stanley Cup Playoffs notebook: Wednesday, May 27

Thursday, 05.28.2015 / 1:38 AM / 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs

NHL Public Relations


Duncan Keith (0-3—3) sparked the Chicago Blackhawks to a 3-0 lead in a span of 3:45 during the second period, and Andrew Shaw scored two insurance goals after the Anaheim Ducks had pulled within one to help Chicago stave off elimination and force Game 7 in the Western Conference Final.

* The Blackhawks moved within one victory of their 13th all-time appearance in the Stanley Cup Final and third in the past six seasons (2010, 2013).

* The Blackhawks are 13-1 in their past 14 Game 6s dating to the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs. That includes a 4-1 record in such games when facing elimination.

* The Blackhawks, who lost Game 5 after forcing overtime with two goals in the final two minutes of regulation, have not lost consecutive games this postseason, responding with a win in all five such instances (including three times in this series).

Getzlaf says Ducks' Game 6 loss 'started with me'

Thursday, 05.28.2015 / 1:20 AM / Ducks vs Blackhawks - 2015 Western Conference Final

Corey Masisak - Staff Writer

CHICAGO -- Anaheim Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf was blunt and to the point about what went wrong in a 5-2 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 6 of the Western Conference Final at United Center on Wednesday.

"It started with me," Getzlaf said. "I was terrible tonight and that's on me. I've got to be better and calm our group down as we go."

Getzlaf's line was on the ice for three of Chicago's five goals, but two of them were in the final four minutes of the third period. He was talking more about his play earlier in the game, which evened the best-of-7 series 3-3.

Keith does it all to keep Blackhawks' season alive

Thursday, 05.28.2015 / 12:50 AM / Ducks vs Blackhawks - 2015 Western Conference Final

Brian Hedger - Correspondent

CHICAGO -- It was a sequence during Game 6 of the Western Conference Final on Wednesday that summed up one of the main storylines between the Chicago Blackhawks and Anaheim Ducks.

Anaheim center Ryan Kesler hit Chicago defenseman Duncan Keith hard into the boards at 7:51 of the second period, and Keith responded by assisting on three straight goals.

They propelled the Blackhawks to 5-2 win at United Center that evened the best-of-7 series 3-3. Game 7 is at Honda Center on Saturday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, TVA Sports).

"There's nights where you look at the score sheet and you see how great he can be, how pivotal, how much he means to our team, especially in these big games," Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said of Keith. "But I think whether he's on the score sheet, whether he's making those plays, he's there every night making that difference no matter what."

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Quote of the Day

I first met him when I was 19 years old and he coached me for 13 consecutive years. I don't know how many athletes who have had that pleasure. Al Arbour was a man that left us not only feeling like champions, but left us with a lot of great memories that we can carry on through life.

— Islanders Hall of Fame defenseman Denis Potvin on former coach Al Arbour, who passed away Friday at the age of 82