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Stanley Cup Playoffs

A look at seven unlikely Stanley Cup champions

Tuesday, 06.11.2013 / 4:00 PM / Stanley Cup Playoffs

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

A team needs a lot of things to come together to win the Stanley Cup. Weeks of hard work and loads of dedication are a must -- as is the willingness to sacrifice that Boston Bruins forward Gregory Campbell showed last week when he continued to kill a penalty despite suffering a broken leg. A little bit of luck never hurts either.

But the team that looks best on paper isn't always the one that ends up drinking champagne from the Cup. The NHL has had its share of unexpected champions over the years.

Here are seven teams that might have surprised even themselves by ending their season hoisting the Cup:

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Quick picked as best in deep group of goalies

Friday, 05.31.2013 / 10:35 PM / Stanley Cup Playoffs

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

There's no doubt Jonathan Quick of the Los Angeles Kings has been the best goaltender through the first two rounds of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. But that doesn't mean there aren't a lot of other talented netminders who've played well.

Quick was a unanimous choice in a vote by a panel of nine NHL.com writers as the best goalie at the halfway point of the postseason. And why not -- he leads the League in goals-against average (1.50), save percentage (.948) and shutouts (3). If anything, Quick has been even better than he was last spring, when he led the Kings to their first Stanley Cup and earned the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP.

Though Quick's brilliance is undeniable, seven of the eight goaltenders who started for his team in the conference semifinals received at least one point in our balloting.

Each panelist was asked to name three players for the recognition in order of preference. A first-place vote was worth three points, a second-place vote was worth two, and a third-place vote received one.

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Bruins' Julien top coach halfway through playoffs

Friday, 05.31.2013 / 9:39 PM / Stanley Cup Playoffs

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

After the Boston Bruins eliminated the New York Rangers by winning Game 5 of their Eastern Conference Semifinal series, losing coach John Tortorella had nothing but praise for the man behind the opposite bench.

"I think Claude and that staff has done a heck of a job with their club," Tortorella said of Claude Julien. "I can’t believe some of the people, how they second-guess him, just being in [Boston] for a few days, and the type of job he’s done here.

"That’s a good team. They’re very well-coached, and they’re seasoned. They’ve been through it before, and I give them a lot of credit, as far as what they’ve done with their club. They’re a good hockey team."

A panel of nine NHL.com writers agrees. In a close vote, Julien was selected as the top coach through the first two rounds of this year's Stanley Cup Playoffs. Though he received two first-place votes, two fewer than Mike Babcock of the Detroit Red Wings, Julien's 15 points were one more than Babcock, who led a rebuilding team within a Game 7 overtime loss of the Western Conference Final. Joel Quenneville of the Chicago Blackhawks, who eliminated the Red Wings, was third with 10 points.

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Bruins defenseman Krug best playoff rookie

Friday, 05.31.2013 / 6:56 PM / Stanley Cup Playoffs

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

Torey Krug started the postseason trying to help the Providence Bruins win the Calder Cup. A month later, the rookie defenseman is a major reason the Boston Bruins are one of four teams that still have a chance to win the Stanley Cup.

The undrafted college free agent was a unanimous choice by NHL.com writers as the top rookie at the halfway point of this year's Stanley Cup Playoffs. He received every first-place vote from the nine-person panel, who each chose a top three.

A first-place vote was worth three points, a second-place vote was worth two, and a third-place vote received one.

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Letang leads Chara in battle for best playoff blueliner

Friday, 05.31.2013 / 4:08 PM / Stanley Cup Playoffs

Shawn P. Roarke - NHL.com Senior Managing Editor

The two best defensemen halfway through the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Kris Letang of Pittsburgh Penguins and Zdeno Chara of the Boston Bruins, will go head-to-head in the third round.

Entering the Eastern Conference Final, Letang holds a slight lead on Chara in voting by a nine-member panel of NHL.com writers, 23-20.

Kris Letang
Defense - PIT
GOALS: 3 | ASST: 13 | PTS: 16
SOG: 33 | +/-: 7
Each panelist was asked to name three players for the designation in order of preference. A first-place vote was worth three points, a second-place vote was worth two, and a third-place vote received one.

Letang was on all nine ballots and received six first-place votes in compiling his 23 points. Chara also was on all nine ballots and received the remaining three first-place votes. Five other defensemen were named, but none received more than three points.

Letang has been dominant in all phases of the game this postseason.

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Kings' Quick deserves playoff MVP at halfway point

Friday, 05.31.2013 / 3:33 PM / Stanley Cup Playoffs

Shawn P. Roarke - NHL.com Senior Managing Editor

Jonathan Quick
Goalie - LAK
RECORD: 8-5-2
GAA: 1.50 | SVP: 0.948
There was little suspense when it came to who is considered the Most Valuable Player of the Stanley Cup Playoffs after the first two rounds.

Los Angeles Kings goalie Jonathan Quick convincingly carried the day in a vote among the panel of nine NHL.com writers at the halfway point of the postseason.

Quick received eight first-place votes and earned 24 of a possible 27 points.

Boston Bruins forward David Krejci, who received the other first-place vote, finished a distant second with 9 points. His teammate, defenseman Zdeno Chara, finished third with 7 points.

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Past four Cup champs comprise Conference Finalists

Thursday, 05.30.2013 / 12:17 AM / Stanley Cup Playoffs

Shawn P. Roarke - NHL.com Senior Managing Editor

The final four of the Stanley Cup Playoffs is truly a tournament of champions.

For the second time in the history of the League, the final four teams standing in the playoffs are the past four champions. The Los Angeles Kings (2012), Boston Bruins (2011), Chicago Blackhawks (2010) and Pittsburgh Penguins (2009) are the remaining teams in 2013.

The fifth-seeded Kings will play the top-seeded Blackhawks in the Western Conference Final. Coincidentally, the Blackhawks booked their passage to the conference final with a Game 7 overtime victory Wednesday against the Detroit Red Wings, who won the Stanley Cup in 2008. Brent Seabrook scored the series-clinching goal for Chicago, who rallied from 3-1 down in the best-of-7 series.

In fact, both Western finalists needed all seven games to subdue their second-round foes.

The Western Conference Final opens Saturday at United Center in Chicago (5 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN, RDS).

Later that evening, the East's top seed, the Penguins, host the fourth-seeded Bruins in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final (8 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, RDS) at Consol Energy Center.

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Stanley Cup Playoffs Round 3 full schedule

Wednesday, 05.29.2013 / 11:05 PM / Stanley Cup Playoffs

NEW YORK – The National Hockey League today announced the schedule, including the dates, starting times and broadcast information, for the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs Conference Finals.

The 2013 Eastern Conference Final schedule is set. The series begins on Sat., June 1, in Pittsburgh when the Penguins host the Boston Bruins at 8 p.m. ET.

The Western Conference Final will match the Los Angeles Kings against the Chicago Blackhawks.

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NHL announces start times for pair of Game 7s

Monday, 05.27.2013 / 10:45 PM / Stanley Cup Playoffs

NHL.com

NEW YORK -- The National Hockey League announced Sunday the starting times and broadcast information for the two Game 7s in the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs Western Conference Semifinals.

The starting time for Game 7 of the series between the Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks has been set for 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT on Tuesday, May 28, in Los Angeles. In the U.S., the game will be televised by NBC Sports Network. In Canada, the game will be televised by TSN and RDS.

The starting time for Game 7 of the series between the Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings has been set for 8 p.m. ET/7 p.m. CT on Wednesday, May 29, in Chicago. In the U.S., the game will be televised by NBC Sports Network. In Canada, the game will be televised by CBC and RDS.

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Rangers' Staal confident he'll be OK in 2013-14 season

Monday, 05.27.2013 / 4:03 PM / Stanley Cup Playoffs

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Marc Staal said he doesn't think his injured right eye will ever fully recover, but the New York Rangers defenseman expects to come back next season and be the same player he was before a deflected shot effectively ended his 2012-13 season in early March.

"My belief is once everything settles down and I get comfortable with it, I'll never have to be asked about it again," Staal said Monday when the Rangers met the media for the final time this season. "I don't think it will be an issue."

Staal said his biggest problem once the swelling subsided was a small cut in his eye that caused it to cramp and resulted in him feeling disoriented and dizzy. He said that was the problem he experienced after playing in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Washington Capitals -- the only game Staal played after he was struck in the eye by Kimmo Timonen's deflected slap shot during a game against the Philadelphia Flyers on March 5.

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Quote of the Day

I came into a team that had 65 points, that was at the bottom of the basement, a team that everybody wrote off as never going to be good. My goal is to go from the very bottom to the very top.

— Forward Brandon Dubinsky on signing a six-year contract extension with the Columbus Blue Jackets