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Noel: Blackhawks continue to activate defensemen

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.

Claude Noel said he believes that when everything else becomes equal during the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the details of the game make such a huge difference in the outcome.

The Anaheim Ducks were detail-orientated in a 2-1 victory against the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 3 of the Western Conference Final at United Center in Chicago on Thursday. The win gives the Ducks a 2-1 lead in the best-of-7 series. Game 4 is Saturday in Chicago (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, TVA Sports).

Chabot: Ducks' wins in crease led to win in game

Evan Sporer - Staff Writer

For additional insight into the Anaheim Ducks during the Western Conference Final, has enlisted the help of Frederic Chabot to break down the action. Chabot will be checking in throughout the series.

Chabot was the goaltending coach for the Edmonton Oilers from 2009 to 2014. He played in the NHL for five seasons, spending time with the Montreal Canadiens, Philadelphia Flyers and the Los Angeles Kings.

When things get tight, as they normally do in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, games can be won and lost in the high-danger areas. The space around the goal crease, where it can be costly physically to enter or defend, can be a difference maker when it comes to the outcome of a game.

Three keys for Rangers, Lightning to winning Game 4

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

TAMPA -- The Tampa Bay Lightning feel if they keep their foot on the pedal Friday in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Final (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports), they'll be able to push themselves to within one win of the Stanley Cup Final.

The Lightning lead the New York Rangers 2-1 in the best-of-7 series.

The Rangers, meanwhile, feel if they get can back into their structured game and figure out a way to slow the Lightning, they'll go home for Game 5 with the series tied 2-2 and their home-ice advantage back intact.

Tampa Bay won the last two games by scoring six goals in each of them.

Here are three keys for each team:

Babcock says goodbye to Red Wings: 'I love it here'

Friday, 05.22.2015 / 12:13 PM / News Staff

Toronto Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock said Friday what led him to leave the Detroit Red Wings after 10 seasons as coach was the need for a new challenge.

"I love it here," Babcock said after cleaning out his office at Joe Louis Arena. "But I also think that it was time for me … I wanted a different challenge."

Babcock was hired by the Maple Leafs on Wednesday, signing an eight-year, $50 million contract, according to TSN and Sportsnet.

Babcock said Friday it wasn't only the money that lured him to Toronto.

"Is it about money? Sure it's about money," Babcock said. "But there was enough money in every place that it didn't factor into the decision. I already have enough nice suits. I'm good."

Kings' Weal leading AHL affiliate through playoffs

Friday, 05.22.2015 / 11:02 AM / AHL Update

Kinsey Janke - Special to

From the start the American Hockey League season, the Manchester Monarchs have been a force to be reckoned with.

They had 109 points, the most in the league, and the AHL affiliate of the Los Angeles Kings hasn't slowed down in the playoffs, reaching the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since 2010. The Monarchs have a 1-0 lead in the best-of-7 series against the Hartford Wolf Pack, AHL affiliate of the New York Rangers; Game 2 is Saturday.

Jordan Weal, a third-round pick (No. 70) by the Kings in the 2010 NHL Draft, has been an instrumental part of the Monarchs' success. His 69 points were third in the league in the regular season; in the playoffs he has 10 goals and a league-high 15 points.

"These first two series have been really hard battles and kind of two different dynamics," Weal said prior to the start of the conference final. "It was a big rivalry against Portland [in the first round], and then it was more of a systematic series against Wilkes-Barre [in the second round]. Whoever we play, I don't think it’s going to change our game."

Despres steps up with game-winning goal for Ducks

Friday, 05.22.2015 / 10:00 AM / "Obvious Choice" Moments

Shawn Roarke - Director, Editorial

CHICAGO -- Anaheim Ducks defenseman Simon Despres is becoming less of a mystery to his team every day.

Despres made one of his bigger reveals Thursday, finally illustrating in Game 3 of the Western Conference Final the goal-scoring touch that was part of the reason he was so coveted by Anaheim general manager Bob Murray as the 2015 NHL Trade Deadline approached.

Despres scored the first Stanley Cup Playoff goal of his career on a well-placed one-timer with 55 seconds remaining in the second period at United Center, breaking a tie and providing the winning margin in a 2-1 victory against the Chicago Blackhawks.

Special teams play defining role for Ducks in Game 3

Shawn Roarke - Director, Editorial

CHICAGO -- The Anaheim Ducks believe failures on their penalty kill cost them Game 2 of the Western Conference Final.

An improved penalty kill may have won them Game 3.

Special teams played a defining role Thursday at United Center in the Ducks' 2-1 victory against the Chicago Blackhawks, which gave Anaheim a 2-1 lead in the best-of-7 series. Game 4 is Saturday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, TVA Sports).

The Ducks were shorthanded five times in Game 3, including a first-period double minor to Jakob Silfverberg. But Chicago couldn't capitalize; the Blackhawks managed one shot during 9:18 of man-advantage time for the game.

Meanwhile, Anaheim got one power play and scored on it. Patrick Maroon deflected a shot past Chicago goaltender Corey Crawford 27 seconds after Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa negated a power play with a holding penalty in the offensive zone.

'Fresh legs' don't help Blackhawks in Game 3

Brian Hedger - Correspondent

CHICAGO -- Joel Quenneville likes options, so the Chicago Blackhawks coach used two Thursday in Game 3 of the Western Conference Final against the Anaheim Ducks.

Rather than sticking with the lineup that won Game 2 3-2 in triple overtime on Tuesday, he replaced center Antoine Vermette and rookie forward Teuvo Teravainen with Kris Versteeg and Joakim Nordstrom.

The moves changed Chicago's bottom two lines but failed to pay dividends in a 2-1 loss at United Center that put the Blackhawks behind 2-1 in the best-of-7 series.

Quenneville said the changes weren't related to injuries, but the length of Game 2 did play a role.

"We just wanted to get some fresh legs in there," Quenneville said. "We felt that [Versteeg] never played over a long stretch there in the last series and we wanted to get him back in there. Tough game the other day with travel and we wanted to bring some new guys in."

Stanley Cup Playoffs notebook: Thursday, May 21

Friday, 05.22.2015 / 12:27 AM / 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs

NHL Public Relations


Frederik Andersen stopped 27 shots, including all 21 he faced after the opening period, and Simon Despres scored the go-ahead goal at 19:05 of the second period to power the Anaheim Ducks past the Chicago Blackhawks and to a 2-1 series lead.

* The Ducks improved to 10-2 in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs, including a 4-1 mark on the road. Elias says Anaheim also won 10 of its first 12 playoff games when it advanced to its first Stanley Cup Final in 2003. The Los Angeles Kings were the last team to accomplish the feat, opening with an 11-1 run en route to their first Stanley Cup in 2012.

* The Ducks handed the Blackhawks their first home loss of the playoffs (5-1), just two nights after Chicago did the same to them. Anaheim also improved to 5-1-0 in its last six visits to United Center dating to Feb. 12, 2013, including 2-0-0 in 2014-15 (regular season and playoffs).

Shero expects Elias to be 'big part' of Devils in 2015-16

Friday, 05.22.2015 / 12:03 AM / News

New Jersey Devils general manager Ray Shero on Thursday said he expects forward Patrik Elias to be a "big part of this team" next season.

Elias said earlier in the week he did not know what his role would be and he was willing to leave the only NHL team he's ever played for, if needed.

Shero told he will talk to Elias in person soon. The two have spoken only by phone since Shero was hired to replace Lou Lamoriello on May 4.

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It's not just going to happen on its own. We have to have guys commit to the areas we need to improve on. We're going to be better than last year but there is still a long way to go. But I really like the pieces and where we're headed.

— Sabres forward Tyler Ennis on the progress of Buffalo's rebuilding process