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Lightning goalie Bishop ready to make playoff debut

Tuesday, 04.14.2015 / 3:00 AM / Lightning vs Red Wings - 2015 SCP First Round

Corey Long - Correspondent

BRANDON, Fla. -- The future of the Tampa Bay Lightning's goaltending situation after this season is unknown, but one thing is clear as they head into the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs: This is Ben Bishop's team, so it's his postseason to succeed or fail.

Although the 6-foot-7 Bishop has never played in an NHL playoff game, he's been among the best in the League over the past two regular seasons, winning 77 games with nine shutouts. And although his goals-against average and save percentage numbers slipped slightly, Bishop faced fewer shots on goal this season because of an improved Lightning defense.

"I think that's one thing people don't consider when they look at my numbers and see the save percentage numbers are a little lower," Bishop, 28, said. "But last year I was facing 35 shots a game, and this year I've had many games were I faced 20 shots or less. Give up two goals on 19 shots and the save percentage won't look as good, but all that matters to me is the win."

Ralph Macchio hopes Islanders prove him wrong

Monday, 04.13.2015 / 9:05 PM / Capitals vs Islanders - 2015 SCP First Round

Jon Lane - Staff Writer

NEW YORK -- On Ralph Macchio's Twitter timeline is a shot of the parking lot at Nassau Coliseum, the venerable building in the background with a close-up of a box of New York Islanders tissues.

A lifelong, die-hard fan, the actor most famous for his starring role in "The Karate Kid" was unable to attend the Islanders' regular-season finale at the Coliseum against the Columbus Blue Jackets, so he shared the photo to express his fandom, along with a hashtag drawn from a famous poem: #NothingGoldCanStay

Robert Frost's poem is featured in the 1967 novel "The Outsiders" and the 1983 film adaptation that starred Macchio and C. Thomas Howell. It was Howell's Ponyboy Curtis character who recited the poem aloud to his friend Johnny Cade (Macchio) while hiding out in an abandoned church.

Macchio saw an opportunity to link the hockey and cinematic worlds together to create his own poignant farewell to the 43-year-old Coliseum.

"'Nothing Gold Can Stay' is about youth," Macchio said. "It's about how times do change and situations do change. You just embrace those great moments. The 43 years at Nassau Coliseum will no longer be. There's the 'Nothing Gold Can Stay,' but you carry that legacy on. I thought that was a quasi-smart way of tying the movie I was in together with the team that I had rooted for."

Rangers' Hayes playing with poise since All-Star break

Monday, 04.13.2015 / 8:13 PM / Rangers vs Penguins - 2015 SCP First Round

Jon Lane - Staff Writer

NEW YORK -- The New York Rangers were reconfigured after losing the 2014 Stanley Cup Final in five games to the Los Angeles Kings. Depth at certain positions, center in particular, was a big question following the departures of Brad Richards and Brian Boyle.

One of the replacements was Kevin Hayes, who won a national championship in 2012 and was a 2014 Hobey Baker Award finalist during his four seasons at Boston College. The No. 24 pick of the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2010 NHL Draft, Hayes signed with the Rangers as a free agent after he could not agree to a contract with the Blackhawks.

Hayes excelled in college as a wing, but he broke camp with the Rangers slotted in as third-line center. The requisite adjustment period led to a slow start; he had 15 points in his first 40 games before blossoming into an integral part of the Rangers, who won the Presidents' Trophy.

Flyers must answer leadership, defense questions

Monday, 04.13.2015 / 7:32 PM / NHL Insider

Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor

VOORHEES, N.J. -- The Philadelphia Flyers believe a lack of consistency in a number of areas is what doomed them to miss the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Playing harder didn't cure those ills. Instead of more hard play, what they might have needed was more hard talk.

During their final media availability Monday at their practice facility, a number of the players cited the season-long absence and eventual trade of defenseman Kimmo Timonen as a big reason for their inability to fix issues as they arose.

"Kimmo was such a big presence in the locker room," forward Jakub Voracek said. "Since I was here every time things didn't go well, we'd have a meeting about it and he always calmed things down. He was being hard on us as well sometimes. As a team we need to get better and I think that's what we were missing."

Confident Blackhawks excited to begin playoffs

Monday, 04.13.2015 / 7:02 PM / Predators vs Blackhawks - 2015 SCP First Round

Brian Hedger - Correspondent

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks lost four straight games to end the regular season, but they didn't look or sound like a team in a funk heading into the Stanley Cup Playoffs at practice Monday.

Perhaps that was because it was right wing Patrick Kane's first full-contact practice since Feb. 24, when he fractured his left clavicle against the Florida Panthers.

The Blackhawks were a confident group, even several hours before they learned that Kane has been cleared to return for Game 1 of their Western Conference First Round series against the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena on Wednesday.

"It was a good day today," said veteran center Brad Richards, who will play in Game 1 after missing the final three games with an upper-body injury. "Everybody was chatting, and it was loud out there, and the pace was probably the best pace we've had in a while.

"No matter how beat up you are or how sore you are, this time of year, players that play 82 games, you get through it and there's just a different level of energy for some reason that becomes available to the body. It's amazing what your mind can do with just excitement and a new beginning."

Blackhawks' Kane cleared to return for Game 1

Monday, 04.13.2015 / 6:23 PM / Predators vs Blackhawks - 2015 SCP First Round

Brian Hedger - Correspondent

CHICAGO -- Chicago Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane has been cleared to play in Game 1 of the Western Conference First Round against the Nashville Predators, the Blackhawks announced.

Kane, who sustained a fractured left collarbone Feb. 24 against the Florida Panthers, was a full participant in practice Monday. It was the first time since his surgery Feb. 25 that he practiced without wearing a white, non-contact jersey.

“Patrick has been working extremely diligently with his rehabilitation and has recently returned to full-contact practice without any difficulty," Blackhawks team physician Dr. Michael Terry said in a statement. "After discussions with Patrick and the team, and examining Patrick today, we collectively feel it is appropriate, with minimal risk, for him to return to full participation.”

Kane didn't take any full hits in practice Monday. He seemed unsure afterward whether he would be able to join the rest of the Blackhawks for their first game of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Bridgestone Arena on Wednesday (8:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TVA Sports, SN360, CSN-CH, FS-TN).

"I'm not really sure," Kane said. "We're not at that point yet. That's something that has to be discussed with a lot of different people internally, and ultimately at the end I have to feel like I can play and feel good out there. I have to feel safe too. That's probably one of the most important things right now."

Capitals confident with Trotz behind bench for playoffs

Monday, 04.13.2015 / 5:42 PM / Capitals vs Islanders - 2015 SCP First Round

Katie Brown - Correspondent

ARLINGTON, Va. -- After missing the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season and failing to advance past the Eastern Conference Second Round in six previous appearances, the Washington Capitals believe they have what it takes to go all the way.

"I think we're optimistic that the style we play is more suited to the playoffs than we've ever had in the past," Washington general manager Brian MacLellan said.

When the Capitals host the New York Islanders in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference First Round series on Wednesday, they'll be looking to start writing a new page to their history.

Once regarded as a one-dimensional offensive powerhouse, Washington has earned a reputation across the NHL as a tough, hard-hitting team that's still a scoring threat.

"In the past we were maybe sort of a rush team," forward Brooks Laich said. "I don't think we're as high flying, high octane [an] offense as we once were, but I think we're a lot more difficult to play against this way. It should bode well for a sustained playoff run."

Shanahan says no shortcuts for Maple Leafs rebuild

Monday, 04.13.2015 / 4:22 PM / News

Mike Brophy - Correspondent

TORONTO -- When Brendan Shanahan interviewed a year ago for the position of Toronto Maple Leafs president, the reason he wanted the job was to build a team capable of winning the Stanley Cup.

That remains Shanahan's primary goal, and he hopes the organization's restructuring that began Sunday is a major step in that direction.

Shanahan fired general manager Dave Nonis, his coaching staff including interim coach Peter Horachek and assistants Steve Spott, Chris Dennis and Rick St. Croix, chief pro scout Steve Kasper and director of player development Jim Hughes. Some members of the scouting staff were also let go.

Shanahan said he has no interest in being Maple Leafs GM, and added his plan is not something unique from what the other 29 teams in the NHL are trying to accomplish. It is about drafting, developing and showing patience with players.

"The challenge in Toronto is not coming up with the plan but sticking to the plan," Shanahan said. "That is the hard part. Our vision is to draft and develop our own players. I think every decision we make has to be about building a winning organization that can sustain itself year after year after year through the draft."

Bruins humbled as postseason streak comes to end

Monday, 04.13.2015 / 4:20 PM / NHL Insider

Matt Kalman - Correspondent

BOSTON -- Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask was blunt when asked to assess the season that concluded Saturday because the Ottawa Senators and Pittsburgh Penguins each won their games and eliminated the Bruins from contention for a place in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"Well, what's failed, F? Because you know, if you don't make the playoffs, you've failed," Rask said at TD Garden on Monday. "You know, it doesn't matter what happened, if you don't make the playoffs you've failed. I mean, if we were to make the playoffs, who knows what could have happened. So the line there is very thin, and we really felt like we had a group of guys to make a good run in the playoffs. But we failed because we didn't make the playoffs and we'll never find out."

The Bruins, who held their breakup day Monday, had good reason to believe they might've had a run in them. Most of the core of the team was part of a Stanley Cup championship in 2011, an Eastern Conference title in 2013 and a Presidents' Trophy win 12 months ago. Boston reached the playoffs seven straight seasons before this one.

Hitchcock not revealing Game 1 goaltender for Blues

Monday, 04.13.2015 / 3:07 PM / Blues vs Wild - 2015 SCP First Round

Louie Korac - Correspondent

ST. LOUIS -- St. Louis Blues coach Ken Hitchcock has kept everyone guessing regarding his starting goalie for Game 1 of the Western Conference First Round against the Minnesota Wild on Thursday (9:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TVA, SN360, FS-N, FW-MW, FS-WI).

The veteran coach continued the guessing game Monday, but judging by Hitchcock's comments after practice, veteran Brian Elliott may have the slight edge over Jake Allen as to who starts Game 1 at Scottrade Center.

Elliott, who made 23 saves to defeat the Wild 4-2 in the regular-season finale on Saturday, is 7-2-0 with a 2.32 goals-against average and .895 save percentage with two shutouts against Minnesota. He was 6-0-0 against the Wild before back-to-back losses against them, 3-1 on March 14 and 6-3 on March 21.

Allen, who is 4-1-1 overall in his past six starts, is 1-0-0 with a 2.38 GAA and .920 save percentage in two appearances (one start) against the Wild.

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[Stamkos] is a great teammate and a great leader, that's why he's got the 'C'. He brings that tremendous work ethic to the rink and he's one of the top players in the game. I know if I put the passes where they are supposed to be, there's a very good chance he's going to put it in the back of the net.

— Lightning forward Jonathan Drouin
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