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Canucks back dealing with playoff goalie questions

Tuesday, 04.14.2015 / 10:24 PM / Canucks vs Flames - 2015 SCP First Round

Kevin Woodley - Correspondent

VANCOUVER -- It wouldn't be the Stanley Cup Playoffs here without questions about goaltending.

With memories of Roberto Luongo-Cory Schneider controversies lingering, first-year Vancouver Canucks coach Willie Desjardins wouldn't reveal his starting goalie for Game 1 of the Western Conference First Round against the Calgary Flames on Wednesday (10 p.m ET; CBC, USA, TVA Sports).

All signs point to Eddie Lack starting ahead of Ryan Miller, if for no other reason than Miller said he is not fully recovered from spraining his right knee Feb. 22. Desjardins said Miller is ready to play when needed, but the coach isn't about to reveal whether that will be in Game 1.

"It makes a difference knowing which goaltenders are going to start, and this time of year you look for all the advantages you can get," Desjardins said. "It's not that you don't want to share information, but you want to win, so you try to find every edge."

First playoff trip for most of Flames roster

Tuesday, 04.14.2015 / 9:12 PM / Canucks vs Flames - 2015 SCP First Round

Aaron Vickers - Correspondent

CALGARY -- It's about enthusiasm, not inexperience. Open minds, not star-struck eyes.

It's the message Calgary Flames coach Bob Hartley delivered to his players about to skate in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time.

"Our team is built on passion. Willingness to compete, willingness to suffer, and that's our DNA, that's our culture," Hartley said. "I wish I could go to the local pharmacy and buy some experience, but I can't. You have to earn this, but that's the only part missing. On the other side, we have great leadership and we have great will. That's been our story all year and we're not going to change it."

The Flames, in the playoffs for the first time since 2009, have little experience on their side heading into Game 1 of the Western Conference First Round at the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday (10 p.m. ET; CBC, USA, TVA Sports).

NBC's Emrick, McGuire say wild cards can go far

Tuesday, 04.14.2015 / 6:37 PM / 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

Be very aware of the wild-card teams when the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs begins Wednesday.

NBC Sports Group will provide extensive coverage of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs on NBC, NBCSN and NHL Network, and on NBC Universal's USA Network and CNBC. It is the fourth straight year NBC Sports Group will cover every playoff game.

"There's no better time in the year; it's that time when overtimes can go until 2 or 3 in the morning and the excitement just reigns supreme," NBC Sports Group executive producer Sam Flood said.

Flood and the broadcast team of play-by-play man Mike "Doc" Emrick and "Inside the Glass" analyst Pierre McGuire previewed the playoffs Tuesday.

USA Hockey names 16 to World Championship roster

Tuesday, 04.14.2015 / 6:06 PM / News

USA Hockey on Tuesday announced the first 15 players who will represent the United States at the 2015 IIHF World Championship, which will be played May 1-17 in the Czech Republic.

The initial group includes 10 skaters who played in the NHL this season: defensemen Justin Faulk (Carolina Hurricanes), Jake Gardiner (Toronto Maple Leafs), Torey Krug (Boston Bruins), John Moore (Arizona Coyotes) and Connor Murphy (Arizona Coyotes); and forwards Mark Arcobello (Arizona Coyotes), Matt Hendricks (Edmonton Oilers), Trevor Lewis (Los Angeles Kings), Jeremy Morin (Columbus Blue Jackets) and Ben Smith (San Jose Sharks).

Goaltender Alex Lyon (Yale University), defenseman Mike Reilly (University of Minnesota), and forwards Dylan Larkin (University of Michigan), Steve Moses (Jokerit, KHL) and Dan Sexton (Nizhnekamsk Neftekhimik, KHL) round out the current group.

Penguins putting rough finish to season in the past

Tuesday, 04.14.2015 / 4:35 PM / Rangers vs Penguins - 2015 SCP First Round

Wes Crosby - Correspondent

PITTSBURGH -- Mike Johnston never has been a coach in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and doesn't want his first trip to end prematurely.

After an inconsistent first regular season with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Johnston will lead them into Game 1 of their Eastern Conference First Round series against the New York Rangers on Thursday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports, ROOT, MSG). Pittsburgh limped to the playoffs in a way they hadn't experienced under Dan Bylsma and Michel Therrien, who each led Pittsburgh to the Stanley Cup Final, with Bylsma winning a championship in 2009.

Johnston said he isn't looking at the success his predecessors brought to the organization. He's looking at Thursday.

2015 NHL Awards to be held on June 24 in Las Vegas

Tuesday, 04.14.2015 / 4:30 PM / NHL Awards

NEW YORK – The NHL Awards™ will return to Las Vegas this summer at the world-famous MGM Grand Hotel & Casino, the National Hockey League announced today. The NHL Awards will be held on Wednesday, June 24, at the renowned MGM Grand Garden Arena.

It marks the first year that the NHL Awards will be held at the MGM Grand, home to world-class entertainment, dining and nightlife, as well as concerts, championship boxing and premier sporting and special events. When the biggest stars from the NHL® and hockey fans from around the world descend on the MGM Grand in June, it will mark the seventh year of a successful partnership with Las Vegas and the sixth time the NHL will honor the best hockey players in the world and the top performances of the season in Las Vegas.

Blackhawks' Kane to return in Game 1 vs. Predators

Tuesday, 04.14.2015 / 4:23 PM / Predators vs Blackhawks - 2015 SCP First Round

Brian Hedger - Correspondent

CHICAGO -- Chicago Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane made it official after practice Tuesday that he will play against the Nashville Predators in Game 1 of the Western Conference First Round at Bridgestone Arena on Wednesday (8:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TVA Sports, SN360, CSN-CH, FS-TN).

Kane will play seven weeks after surgery Feb. 25 to repair his fractured left collarbone. He'll be in his familiar spot at right wing on the second line and take a spot on the Blackhawks' top power-play unit.

"Yeah, that's the plan," Kane said of playing Game 1. "It's exciting. It's been a long 50 days here so it's a credit to a lot of hard work from, obviously, the doctors and the trainers and just listening to them and trying to heal as fast as possible."

It was a speedy recovery.

Canada names 19 to World Championship roster

Tuesday, 04.14.2015 / 4:18 PM / News

Hockey Canada on Tuesday announced the first 19 players who will compete in the 2015 IIHF World Championship. to be held May 1-17 in the Czech Republic.

Goalies Martin Jones (Los Angeles Kings) and Mike Smith (Arizona Coyotes) have been selected, along with five defensemen: Tyson Barrie (Colorado Avalanche), Brent Burns (San Jose Sharks), Aaron Ekblad (Florida Panthers), Jake Muzzin (Kings) and David Savard (Columbus Blue Jackets). Among the 12 forwards picked are Claude Giroux (Philadelphia Flyers), Taylor Hall (Edmonton Oilers), Tyler Seguin (Dallas Stars) and Jason Spezza (Stars).

Seventeen of the 19 players picked have previous international experience and nine have competed in the World Championship. Muzzin and Savard will represent Canada for the first time.

Zucker's return from injury provides boost to Wild

Tuesday, 04.14.2015 / 3:52 PM / Blues vs Wild - 2015 SCP First Round

Dan Myers - Correspondent

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Preparing for another Stanley Cup Playoff series is something Jason Zucker couldn't have imagined two months ago.

Instead, the Minnesota Wild forward will be a critical player when they play the St. Louis Blues in the Western Conference First Round. Game 1 is at Scottrade Center on Thursday (9:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TVA, SN360, FS-N, FS-WI, FS-MW).

After fracturing his clavicle in a game against the Vancouver Canucks on Feb. 9, and a surgical procedure to repair the damage a few days later, the prognosis for a return was 12 weeks. Even in the best-case scenario, Zucker might have returned in time for the second round of the playoffs.

"I didn't know if I was going to be playing at all this year," Zucker said. "At first I was thinking about summer plans, what I was going to do for training and rehab and stuff like that, but the training staff did a great job getting me back and healthy as quick as they could."

Canadiens' Pacioretty not expected to play in Game 1

Tuesday, 04.14.2015 / 3:50 PM / Canadiens vs Senators - 2015 SCP First Round

Sean Farrell - Correspondent

BROSSARD, Quebec -- Montreal Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty has not been cleared to play by team medical staff, coach Michel Therrien said Tuesday, leaving his status for the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs uncertain.

Therrien did not expect Pacioretty to be available for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference First Round series against the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday (7 p.m. ET; NHLN-US, CBC, TVA Sports), though he did not completely rule him out.

Pacioretty, who led the team with 37 goals and 67 points and had a plus-38 rating that tied for the NHL lead, missed the last two games of the regular season because of an upper-body injury. He wore a contact jersey and practiced with his teammates Tuesday, though he did not take part in line rushes or any contact drills.

"I'll be surprised," Therrien said. "I believe that if they think that Max is going to be there they would let us know [Tuesday] morning."

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Yeah, it was a pretty special moment for me. Today was my Dad's [55th] birthday. I have a lot of family in town, so it was a special moment for me to score my first one today. A win definitely would have capped it off, but you can't have everything.

— Sabres rookie Jack Eichel after scoring a goal in his National Hockey League debut
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