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2015 NHL Draft
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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 - NHL.com 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

NHL.com

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 - NHL.com 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

NHL.com

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 - NHL.com 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 - NHL.com 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."

Rangers' Lundqvist feeling good entering playoffs

Tuesday, 04.14.2015 / 3:38 PM / Rangers vs Penguins - 2015 SCP First Round

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist isn't ready to say it yet, but the vascular injury to his neck and subsequent seven-week absence from early February to late March could turn into one of the best things to happen to him and the New York Rangers this season.

"We'll see; ask me in two months," Lundqvist said Tuesday. "Hopefully we can play for a long time and then I'm positive that it will help me."

Lundqvist said he feels fresh physically and mentally entering the Stanley Cup Playoffs, which open for the Rangers on Thursday at Madison Square Garden in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference First Round against the Pittsburgh Penguins (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports, ROOT, MSG).

Predators' Josi had season worthy of Norris talk

Tuesday, 04.14.2015 / 3:03 PM / Predators vs Blackhawks - 2015 SCP First Round

Robby Stanley - NHL.com Correspondent

NASHVILLE -- Defenseman Roman Josi embodies the makeup of the Nashville Predators heading into 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs. He's young, talented and has relatively limited experience in the postseason.

Josi was a big part of the Predators returning to the playoffs after missing out the previous two seasons. He was third on the Predators with 55 points and his play put him in the Norris Trophy conversation for the first time in his career, and will be a big part of the Predators' playoff push, which starts with Game 1 of their Western Conference First Round series against the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday (8:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TVA Sports, SN360, CSN-CH, FS-TN).

He played in 10 games in the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs when the Predators advanced to the Western Conference Semifinals. He was a rookie at the time, and the speed and emotional grind of the playoff run left an impact on him.

"Playoffs are just a different thing," Josi said. "I don't have a lot of playoff games. I played just one [playoff run], and it's just an up and down in feelings, like a new high and a new low. You've just got to find kind of that middle balance. It's a grind but it's definitely a lot of fun. I had a great time playing playoffs so I'm definitely excited."

Senators assistant Reeds dies after battle with cancer

Tuesday, 04.14.2015 / 2:18 PM / News

NHL.com

Ottawa Senators assistant coach Mark Reeds, 55, died Tuesday of cancer.

"It is with very heavy hearts that all of us within the Senators family remember Mark, who was truly a wonderful father, husband, player, coach and friend," Senators owner Eugene Melnyk told the Senators website. "Mark's charismatic fighting spirit was present right until the end. We are all better for having had the opportunity to work so closely with Mark, whose passion for life, hockey and his family will leave an indelible mark on our organization. The entire Ottawa Senators organization sends its deepest condolences to the Reeds family."

Bet on himself paid off for Lightning coach Cooper

Tuesday, 04.14.2015 / 1:42 PM / Lightning vs Red Wings - 2015 SCP First Round

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper bet on himself 12 years ago. He had the winning ticket.

"Was I nervous in the sense that I was giving up a law practice that I worked really hard to try [to] develop to go and become a hockey coach? Yes, that part made me nervous," Cooper said. "But did I ever feel like I couldn't do it? No, I never felt like I couldn't do it."

Cooper will be behind the bench Thursday at Amalie Arena for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference First Round series against the Detroit Red Wings (7:30 p.m. ET; CNBC, TVA Sports, SN, FS-D, FS-F). The Lightning hope to start what could be a long, successful journey in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Cooper knows about long journeys and how they can lead to unexpected success.

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Quote of the Day

I would definitely love to play with him. He's a skilled player and over the years he definitely has shown that he can score a lot of goals. I think it would work out well.

— Montreal Canadiens forward Alex Galchenyuk on Alexander Semin