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Blues see latest first-round exit as 'a big letdown'

Wednesday, 04.30.2014 / 4:42 PM / Blues vs Blackhawks - 2014 SCP First Round

Louie Korac - NHL.com Correspondent

HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- The St. Louis Blues gathered at the rink one final time before heading their separate ways, their feelings leaning toward disappointment and frustration after another exit in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

It was locker cleanout day at the Ice Zone inside St. Louis Outlet Mall on Wednesday, and it came sooner than they expected.

A pick by some to win their first Stanley Cup, the drought will go into a 48th season in 2014-15. But a year after learning the hard lesson of losing a 2-0 series lead in the first round against the defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings, the Blues suffered the same fate in 2014 against the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks.

After losing four straight in the six-game Western Conference First Round series, players Wednesday echoed the sentiment expressed by general manager Doug Armstrong and coach Ken Hitchcock the day before: There was a lack of killer instinct.

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Bruins' Rask, Canadiens' Price draw on past success

Wednesday, 04.30.2014 / 4:12 PM / Bruins vs Canadiens - 2014 SCP Second Round

Matt Kalman - NHL.com Correspondent

BOSTON -- The hockey world was allowed to witness a goaltending clash between Tuukka Rask of the Boston Bruins and Carey Price of the Montreal Canadiens once this season.

Rask faced the Canadiens four times. Price faced the Bruins once, as the schedule and Montreal coach Michel Therrien's desire to play backup Peter Budaj in an environment he's comfortable in at TD Garden conspired to keep the Canadiens' No. 1 on the bench for three other Boston-Montreal games.

While Price was leading Canada to the gold medal at the 2014 Sochi Olympics and Rask was carrying Finland to a bronze, their paths didn't cross on the ice (although Price said they had some chats in the mess hall).

Finally, the Stanley Cup Playoffs have given many fans what they've been waiting for: Rask vs. Price in a best-of-7 Eastern Conference Second Round series, which starts Thursday at TD Garden (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS).

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Blackhawks' Versteeg focused on returning to lineup

Wednesday, 04.30.2014 / 3:33 PM / Stanley Cup Playoffs

Brian Hedger - NHL.com Correspondent

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks got back on the ice Wednesday after taking two days off between series in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Forward Kris Versteeg skated on the fourth line at right wing during line rushes and looks to get back in the lineup for the start of the Western Conference Second Round.

Versteeg, who was reacquired during the first quarter of the regular season in a trade with the Florida Panthers, was a surprising scratch Sunday in Game 6 of the Western Conference First Round series against the St. Louis Blues. Instead, Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville went with rookie forward Joakim Nordstrom, who made his postseason debut at right wing on the fourth line.

"You just have to get ready for the next one," Versteeg said. "Obviously you always want to play, but you have to understand what the coach feels and what's best for the team. It's something you want to fight through and come back and be a factor in helping the team."

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Unless he really collapses, I don't see him going anywhere. I've been very impressed with his composure and maturity. Once the regular season started, he was a different guy; it was like game on and almost as if he's been around for a long time.

— Florida Panthers general manager Dale Tallon on rookie defenseman Aaron Ekblad
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