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Lightning take on Canadiens, with Bishop this time

Thursday, 04.30.2015 / 12:15 AM / Canadiens vs Lightning - 2015 SCP Second Round

The Tampa Bay Lightning would like nothing more than to carry their regular-season domination of the Montreal Canadiens through the Eastern Conference Second Round.

The Lightning went 5-0-0 against the Canadiens this season, outscoring them 21-8. That included victories in three games at Bell Centre, where the Lightning have won their past five regular-season visits.

But the perfect regular-season record in 2014-15 didn't do much to ease the Lightning's disappointment from last year's Stanley Cup Playoffs, when Montreal swept Tampa Bay in the first round, averaging four goals per game. All four wins came with Tampa Bay starting goaltender Ben Bishop sidelined because of injury.

Bishop was in goal for each of the five wins against Montreal this season and outplayed Hart Trophy finalist Carey Price, who lost all five. The inability to beat Tampa Bay was one of the few blemishes in a brilliant season for Price, who was the major reason Montreal allowed fewer non-shootout goals than any NHL team.

While the Canadiens were winning 50 games by preventing opponents from scoring, the Lightning won 50 by leading the League with 259 non-shootout goals. Each team lost 32 times, but the Canadiens had two fewer regulation defeats, enabling them to finish with 110 points to the Lightning's 108 and earn the home-ice advantage in this series.

Canucks' aim: Get better while getting younger

Thursday, 04.30.2015 / 12:03 AM / NHL Insider

Kevin Woodley - Correspondent

VANCOUVER – The Vancouver Canucks' management team is committed to making the team younger during its second offseason in charge, but only if it makes the club better as well.

And even if it means a second straight summer of asking veterans to waive no-trade clauses.

Speaking for the first time being eliminated by the Calgary Flames in the Western Conference First Round on Saturday, general manager Jim Benning and director of hockey operations Trevor Linden reiterated their plan to supplement an aging core with younger players without sacrificing the goal of making the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"We don't plan on taking any steps backwards," said Linden, who was hired last April and brought in Benning a month later. "We are trying to win. We are trying to make the playoffs, and we are going to do everything we can to do that. Having said that, we have to keep a firm eye on the future and we need to develop players. But we can't put players in the lineup that aren't ready to play."

Linden and Benning answered questions about the sustainability of an aging core that is 3-12 in the playoffs since reaching Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final in 2011. There was plenty of talk about turning over a roster that has eight key players who are 31 or older and two more who will turn 30 next season, but Benning and Linden made it clear that the youth movement will be a gradual process.

Lightning advance to face Canadiens in second round

Wednesday, 04.29.2015 / 10:46 PM / Canadiens vs Senators - 2015 SCP First Round

David Satriano - Staff Writer

The Tampa Bay Lightning will face the Montreal Canadiens in the Eastern Conference Second Round after defeating the Detroit Red Wings 2-0 in Game 7 of their first-round series at Amalie Arena on Wednesday.

Game 1 is Friday at Bell Centre (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

The Canadiens, who finished two points ahead of Tampa Bay to win the Atlantic Division, lost all five games to the Lightning during the regular season (0-4-1) after sweeping them in the 2014 Eastern Conference First Round.

Senators open to Alfredsson in organization: report

Wednesday, 04.29.2015 / 9:54 PM / News

The Ottawa Senators would have an interest if former captain Daniel Alfredsson wanted to pursue a position within the organization, general manager Bryan Murray said Wednesday.

"[It] was good to see him around, good to be able to talk to him, he's a bright guy and I think down the road he'll make a decision whether he wants to be in hockey or not," Murray said, according to the Ottawa Sun. "He still hasn't made that decision, but very definitely if he was interested, we'd be interested in talking to him."

Alfredsson and his family attended the Senators' Game 6 loss to the Montreal Canadiens that eliminated them from the Eastern Conference First Round on Sunday.

Ovechkin, Price, Tavares voted Hart Trophy finalists

Wednesday, 04.29.2015 / 7:00 PM / 2015 NHL Awards

NHL Public Relations

NEW YORK – Forward Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals, goaltender Carey Price of the Montreal Canadiens and forward John Tavares of the New York Islanders are the three finalists for the 2014-15 Hart Memorial Trophy, which is awarded "to the player adjudged to be the most valuable to his team," the National Hockey League announced today.

Members of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association submitted ballots for the Hart Trophy at the conclusion of the regular season, with the top three vote-getters designated as finalists. The winner will be announced Wednesday, June 24, during the 2015 NHL Awards from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.

Subban, proud of Norris nod, focused on winning Cup

Wednesday, 04.29.2015 / 6:06 PM / Canadiens vs Lightning - 2015 SCP Second Round

Sean Farrell - Correspondent

BROSSARD, Quebec -- P.K. Subban's father is living out a dream with every bit of recognition his famous son receives, including the Montreal Canadiens defenseman's second nomination for the Norris Trophy as the NHL's top defenseman.

Subban, who won the Norris in 2012-13, was named a finalist Monday with Ottawa Senators captain Erik Karlsson and Drew Doughty of the Los Angeles Kings.

Subban was two wins short of reaching the Stanley Cup Final last year, and he and his Montreal teammates, including Vezina and Hart trophy nominee Carey Price, again have their sights set on winning the League's biggest trophy.

"It's always great when you get recognized individually, but we've got a lot of players on our team that have had great seasons individually this year," Subban said after practice Wednesday. "When you have a bunch of guys that can put together good seasons, usually the team success is doing well also. But when you look around the League, there's a lot of players who are top of the League in scoring or having great individual years but their teams aren't in the playoffs or doing that well in the standings."

Flames preparing for size mismatch against Ducks

Wednesday, 04.29.2015 / 5:32 PM / Ducks vs Flames - 2015 SCP Second Round

Aaron Vickers - Correspondent

CALGARY -- Calgary Flames defenseman Dennis Wideman doesn't need a reminder that Anaheim Ducks forward Ryan Getzlaf is 6-foot-4 and 218 pounds. Kris Russell, Wideman's defense partner, is aware Corey Perry is 6-foot-3 and 213 pounds. TJ Brodie knows Ryan Kesler is 6-foot-2 and 208 pounds.

But Flames coach Bob Hartley has a simple solution for his defense to survive the size mismatch Anaheim presents heading into Game 1 of the Western Conference Second Round series at Honda Center on Thursday (10 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports).

"Skate around them," Hartley said. "They're very dangerous. They're big and they're fast."

Blackhawks know penalty kill must be better vs. Wild

Wednesday, 04.29.2015 / 5:26 PM / Blackhawks vs Wild - 2015 SCP Second Round

Brian Hedger - Correspondent

CHICAGO -- Penalty killing was a big reason the Chicago Blackhawks eliminated the Minnesota Wild from the Stanley Cup Playoffs the previous two years.

It might be key again heading into a third straight postseason series between the Central Division rivals, which starts at United Center on Friday in Game 1 of a Western Conference Second Round series (9:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports 2).

The Blackhawks, who struggled to kill penalties at the end of the regular season, didn't improve in their Western Conference First Round series against the Nashville Predators. They rank 13th among playoff teams, allowing six power-play goals in 22 times shorthanded (72.7 percent) and know they have to improve quickly. The Wild scored four power-play goals in 12 opportunities against the St. Louis Blues in the first round and their 33.3 percent success rate leads playoff teams.

"When it doesn't work you always try to make some adjustments," Blackhawks center Marcus Kruger said Wednesday after practice. "We're not happy with how that series went in [the penalty-killing] aspect, but we have a new chance here playing Minnesota. They've got a good power play, so we have to get better in that area to be successful."

Assertiveness makes Johansson Capitals' X-factor

Wednesday, 04.29.2015 / 4:45 PM / X-Factor

Katie Brown - Correspondent

ARLINGTON, Va. -- Washington Capitals coach Barry Trotz gave a simple piece of advice to forward Marcus Johansson: Shoot the puck more.

It worked. Johansson set NHL career highs in goals (20) and points (47) this season.

"I've always kind of been a pass-first guy, but I think shooting more, that creates more room for myself," Johansson said. "It's been fun. Scoring is fun and I don't mind doing it."

Coming off last season season when he scored eight goals, two at even strength, Johansson was frustrated, but Trotz, in his first season with Washington, knew he could help.

"One of the things I thought with Marcus is he needed to shoot more," Trotz said. "I thought Marcus had more to give in his game. He's a tremendously talented, very, very bright player."

Matchups make Vanek Wild's X-factor vs. Blackhawks

Wednesday, 04.29.2015 / 3:54 PM / Blackhawks vs Wild - 2015 SCP Second Round

Dan Myers - Correspondent

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The Minnesota Wild and Chicago Blackhawks are not strangers when it comes to Stanley Cup Playoff hockey.

Wild forward Thomas Vanek, however, is new to the matchup, and could be a difference-maker.

For the third consecutive season, the Central Division rivals will play in the postseason, this time in the Western Conference Second Round for the second consecutive year.

Game 1 is Friday at United Center in Chicago (9:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports).

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Quote of the Day

[Stamkos] is a great teammate and a great leader, that's why he's got the 'C'. He brings that tremendous work ethic to the rink and he's one of the top players in the game. I know if I put the passes where they are supposed to be, there's a very good chance he's going to put it in the back of the net.

— Lightning forward Jonathan Drouin on linemate Steven Samkos
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