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Sharks, Kings are very familiar playoff foes

Sunday, 04.13.2014 / 9:23 PM / Sharks vs Kings - 2014 SCP First Round

The Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks met last season in the Western Conference Semifinals, with the Kings advancing.

They meet again in the first round of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Last season, the teams played a classic seven-game series. The Kings may have advanced, but overcoming the mental and physical fatigue that set in during the course of the grinding, tight and low-scoring victory was too difficult for the Kings.

In the series, the teams played five games decided by one goal, including one in overtime. Games 6 and 7 finished with 2-1 scores with the Kings benefitting from home-ice advantage to win Game 7.


Devils' Brodeur exits to cheers, unsure of future

Sunday, 04.13.2014 / 8:20 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

NEWARK, N.J. -- Martin Brodeur has been the New Jersey Devils' center of attention since he arrived as a 21-year-old sporting a mustache and a flat-top. It's only fitting that he was again Sunday, this time as a 41-year-old legend in what might have been his final game with the only team he has ever played for in his NHL career.

Brodeur made 16 saves in a 3-2 win against the Boston Bruins, the 688th victory of his career, all with the Devils. Afterward, he stood at center ice by himself, his stick raised in the air, saluting the crowd as they chanted his name and gave him a loud standing ovation. He was later named the game's first star, and the fans continued to chant his name throughout an on-ice interview that was barely audible because of the noise.

"You know it was a little emotional," Brodeur said. "These things are hard. I've spent all my life here. A lot of the fans that are out there know me. They think they know me by my name and I feel they know me. They've been calling my name for 20 years. Every time they stop me and talk to me, they're great. I see their kids grow also. It means a lot because it's a relationship that [a person has] with the people that support him. It was definitely fun, but it was a little emotional."


Stanley Cup Playoffs field set, play starts Wednesday

Sunday, 04.13.2014 / 8:20 PM / Drive to the Playoffs

After an eventful Sunday, the field for the Stanley Cup Playoffs is set.

Play gets underway Wednesday night with three first-round games.

The Pittsburgh Penguins, who won the Metropolitan Division with 108 points, play Game 1 of their Eastern Conference First Round series against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday at Consol Energy Center (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC). The Blue Jackets assured themselves of the first wild-card spot when they held off the Florida Panthers 3-2 Saturday night in their regular-season finale. Pittsburgh won all five regular-season games against the Blue Jackets, all in regulation.

The Tampa Bay Lightning clinched second place in the Atlantic Division on Sunday with their 1-0 shootout victory against the Washington Capitals at Verizon Center. The win moved the Lightning one point ahead of the Montreal Canadiens, giving Tampa Bay home-ice advantage in that first-round series. Game 1 is scheduled for Wednesday at Tampa Bay Times Forum (7 p.m. ET, CNBC, CBC, RDS). Three of the four regular-season games between the Lightning and Canadiens went past regulation; Tampa Bay went 3-0-1.


Why the Blues will win the Stanley Cup

Sunday, 04.13.2014 / 8:15 PM / Blues vs Blackhawks - 2014 SCP First Round

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

The St. Louis Blues are so serious about winning the Stanley Cup this season that in a blockbuster trade Feb. 28 they gave away a No. 1 goalie for a player widely considered to be a better No. 1 goalie.

It was a smart move by general manager Doug Armstrong because Ryan Miller will be the reason the Blues win the Stanley Cup for the first time in franchise history.

Before the trade with the Buffalo Sabres, which also brought forward Steve Ott to St. Louis, the Blues had enviable depth up front and arguably the best defense corps in the NHL, with an elite top pair of Alex Pietrangelo and Jay Bouwmeester. They even had solid goaltending, but Armstrong found a way to upgrade at that position without damaging the roster by replacing Jaroslav Halak with Miller as part of the blockbuster with Buffalo.


X-Factor: Sobotka's versatility instrumental to Blues

Sunday, 04.13.2014 / 8:10 PM / Blues vs Blackhawks - 2014 SCP First Round

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

Vladimir Sobotka isn't even the most-heralded Vladimir on the St. Louis Blues. But he is the most important.

Sobotka trails behind the still-injured Vladimir Tarasenko in notoriety, but he's as vital to the Blues' chances of winning the franchise's first Stanley Cup as any other forward on the roster because of the role he plays and how coach Ken Hitchcock uses him.

"He absolutely despises losing, and that to me is No. 1 when you look at the character of Vladimir Sobotka," Blues television analyst Darren Pang told NHL.com. "There is no player more grumpy after a bad play, bad loss or a bad effort than Sobotka. He absolutely carries everybody into the fight with him."


Miller, Blues hope late-season union paves Cup run

Sunday, 04.13.2014 / 8:10 PM / Blues vs Blackhawks - 2014 SCP First Round

Louie Korac - NHL.com Correspondent

ST. LOUIS – On multiple occasions, Lindy Ruff has experienced when goaltender Ryan Miller played above and beyond great to steal a game in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Ruff, now the Dallas Stars coach, coached Miller while the two were with the Buffalo Sabres for 10 seasons. They paired for some great postseason runs together.

"I still look back when we were heavy underdogs against Ottawa [in 2005-06], and they were one of the best teams in the League," Ruff said of the Senators, who were the top seed in the Eastern Conference. "We ended up winning that series [four games to one]. Ryan played a huge part in it.

"You can be a strong enough team sometimes to overcome average goaltending. I don't think at that time we were, but I thought he gave us a lot of confidence. And then the rest of the way, we knew we were going to get key saves. Our team really played well after that."


Why the Sharks will win the Stanley Cup

Sunday, 04.13.2014 / 7:35 PM / Sharks vs Kings - 2014 SCP First Round

Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

The San Jose Sharks rocketed out of the gate this season, but that's nothing new. It's carrying that strong play through 82 games as well as two months in the Stanley Cup Playoffs which has been the issue.

But there's something different about this Sharks team. After their 10-1-1 start this season, it never really let up. That kind of staying power through the regular season should carry into the postseason. And that's why, after nine straight seasons of banging on the door, this is the year the Sharks kick it open and win the Stanley Cup.

The Sharks feature one of the deepest, most-skilled forward groups in the League. Joe Thornton, 34, remains the linchpin, centering the top line and producing at his usual top-end level.


X-Factor: Hertl's return adds explosiveness to Sharks

Sunday, 04.13.2014 / 7:30 PM / Sharks vs Kings - 2014 SCP First Round

Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

The San Jose Sharks obviously were hoping they'd found a gem in Czech forward Tomas Hertl when he was selected at No. 17 in the 2012 NHL Draft.

And they weren't disappointed when he made the opening-night roster this season at age 19. He scored six goals in his first three games, including a dazzling four-goal game against the New York Rangers on Oct. 8; he was the youngest player since Jimmy Carson in 1988 to score four in a game.

"He just thinks the game at a higher level," Sharks general manager Doug Wilson told USA Today earlier this season. "He's a pretty well-rounded player. He plays in all three zones. He's defensively aware; he's got the sense to play with some high-end players."


DeBoer will return as New Jersey Devils coach

Sunday, 04.13.2014 / 7:10 PM / News

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

NEWARK, N.J. -- Peter DeBoer will return to coach the New Jersey Devils next season, general manager Lou Lamoriello said Sunday.

Lamoriello spoke with reporters after the first period of the team's season finale against the Boston Bruins, a 3-2 victory at Prudential Center. It was an attempt to put to rest any confusion about the immediate future of the coach following multiple reports that indicated the Devils were working on a contract extension with DeBoer.

"There's a lot of rumors going on, a lot of misinformation about our coach, so I thought I'd get really out of character a little and put this to rest," Lamoriello said. "Pete DeBoer is under contract for next year, has been under contract for next year, and will be coaching next year. That's all I have to say. I don't want to get into any other discussions."

Lamoriello would not comment about reports that the Devils and DeBoer are closing in on an extension. He typically does not divulge contract information, length or term. DeBoer also would not comment on the specifics of his contract situation.


Devils' Jagr passes Howe on all-time assists list

Sunday, 04.13.2014 / 6:59 PM / News

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

NEWARK, N.J. -- New Jersey Devils right wing Jaromir Jagr passed Gordie Howe for eighth place on the NHL's all-time list for career assists on Sunday when he contributed to goals by Travis Zajac and Marek Zidlicky in the third period against the Boston Bruins at Prudential Center.

Jagr assisted Zajac at 3:52 and Zidlicky's power-play goal at 6:13.

With his two points in the third, Jagr also tied Steve Yzerman for sixth on the all-time points list at 1,755.

Jagr, 42, has 705 goals and 1,050 assists in his NHL career that spans 20 seasons. He trails Mike Gartner (708 goals) by three for sixth on that all-time list.

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A piece of scar tissue breaks off, pinches the nerve, and every time you move your leg it's almost like having a root canal in your stomach and groin.

— Detroit Red Wings center Stephen Weiss on his sports hernia surgery