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Lightning - Red Wings preview - 04-15-14

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

Lightning vs. Red Wings

Lightning Leading Regular Season Scorer: Center Steven Stamkos (right), 72 points (43  goals, 29 assists).

Red Wings Leading Regular Season Scorer: Left winger Henrik Zetterberg, 66 points (17 goals, 49 assists).

Lightning Expected Starting Goaltender: Ben Bishop (right), 40-13-5, 2.32 GAA, .916 SV%

Red Wings Expected Starting Goaltender: Petr Mrazek, 16-9-2, 2.38 GAA, .918 SV%.

Lightning Regular Season Statistics

Red Wings Regular Season Statistics

Lightning Injuries: Defensemen Braydon Coburn (leg), Andrej Sustr ("upper body"), left winger Jonathan Drouin (illness), center Alex Killorn (undisclosed) are probable. Defenseman Jason Garrison ("upper body") is out. Defenseman Mattias Ohlund (knee) is on injured reserve.

Red Wings Injuries: Center Darren Helm (illness) is probable. Left winger Justin Abdelkader (hand) is questionable. Left winger Erik Cole (spinal cord contusion) and goaltender Jonas Gustavsson (concussion-like symptoms) are out. Right winger Johan Franzen ("upper body") is on injured reserve.

Lightning with Stanley Cup bling: Center Valtteri Filppula.

Red Wings with Stanley Cup bling: Right wingers Daniel Cleary, Franzen, Drew Miller, Zetterberg, centers Pavel Datsyuk, Helm, defenseman Niklas Kronwall (below) and Cole.

Something worthwhile about the Lightning: The Lightning led the NHL this past regular season with 3.16 goals per game.

Something worthwhile about the Red Wings: No Eastern Conference team had more wins this past regular season after trailing following two periods than the Red Wings (11).

Something useless about the Lightning that is vaguely connected to the Penguins: Former Penguins left winger Ruslan Fedotenko holds the Lightning's record for most power-play goals in a single postseason series. He had four against the Flyers in the 2004 Eastern Conference final.

Something useless about the Red Wings that is vaguely connected to the Penguins: Former Penguins right winger Andy Bathgate holds the Red Wings' record for most power play goals in one series. He had four in a 1966 semifinal series against the Black Hawks.

Former Penguins on the Lightning: Left winger Brenden Morrow and professional scout Jamie Pushor.

Former Penguins on the Red Wings: Assistant coach Tony Granato, director of amateur scouting.

Who needs to be the difference for the Lightning: Center Tyler Johnson, left winger Nikita Kucherov and right winger Ondrej Palat. Tampa Bay's "Triplet's Line" has been Tampa Bay's most consistent unit in five-on-five play this season. They'll be counted on to drive the offense in the playoffs.

Who needs to be the difference for the Red Wings: Mrazek. The Red Wings' goaltending was inconsistent towards the latter stages of the regular season. Mrazek or regular starter Jimmy Howard must improve for the Red Wings to have a chance.

Best Lightning YouTube Video We Could Find: Lightning right winger Alexander Selivanov's overtime goal in Game 3 of a 1996 Eastern Conference quarterfinal series against the Flyers:

Best Red Wings YouTube Video We Could Find: Franzen's overtime goal in Game 5 of 2008 Western Conference quarterfinal series against the Predators:

EN Prediction: One team scores a bunch of goals while the other is having issues at the most important position on the ice. The Red Wings are running into the Lightning at the wrong time of year. Lightning 4-2.

(Photos: Mike Carlson/Getty Image and Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

 

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Capitals - Islanders preview - 04-15-14

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

Capitals vs. Islanders

Capitals Leading Regular Season Scorer: Left winger Alex Ovechkin (right), 81 points (53 goals, 28 assists).

Islanders Leading Regular Season Scorer: Center John Tavares (below), 86 points (38 goals, 48 assists).

Capitals Expected Starting Goaltender: Braden Holtby, 41-20-10, 2.22 GAA, .923 SV%

Islanders Expected Starting Goaltender: Jaroslav Halak, 38-17-4, 2.43 GAA, .914 SV%.

Capitals Regular Season Statistics

Islanders Regular Season Statistics

Capitals Injuries: Right winger Eric Fehr ("upper body") probable. Right winger Tom Wilson (head) is questionable. Right winger Jay Beagle ("upper body") is out. Defensemen John Erskine (neck) and Dmitry Orlov (wrist) are on injured reserve.

Islanders Injuries: Center Frans Nielsen ("lower body") is probable. Defenseman Travis Hamonic (undisclosed) and left winger Matt Martin (undisclosed) is questionable. Center Mikhail Grabovski ("upper body") is on injured reserve.

Capitals with Stanley Cup bling: Defenseman Brooks Orpik.

Islanders with Stanley Cup bling: Defensemen Johnny Boychuk, Nick Leddy, center Tyler Kennedy.

Something worthwhile about the Capitals: The Capitals had a conversion rate of 25.3 percent on the power play during the rest season, best in the NHL.

Something worthwhile about the Islanders: The Islanders allowed 2.73 goals per game this past regular season, most among any playoff team.

Something useless about the Capitals that is vaguely connected to the Penguins: Former Penguins defenseman Larry Murphy holds the Capitals record for two fastest goals. He scored twice in the span of 16 seconds in a 4-3 win against the Islanders in Game 1 of a 1985 Patrick Division semifinal series.

Something useless about the Islanders that is vaguely connected to the Penguins: Former Penguins center Bryan Trottier holds the Islanders record for career postseason points with 170.

Former Penguins on the Capitals: Defensemen Matt Niskanen, Orpik and assistant coach Todd Reirden.

Former Penguins on the Islanders: Director of player development Eric Cairns, Kennedy, right winger Colin McDonald, general manager Garth Snow and defenseman Brian Strait.

Who needs to be the difference for the Capitals: Defensemen John Carlsson, Karl Alzner, Orpik, Niskanen, etc. The Capitals improved their defense in the offseason in order to make a serious run at the Stanley Cup. That defense will get a serious test from the talented Islanders.

Who needs to be the difference for the Islanders: Halak. Halak was brought to New York in order to bring stability in net. He has done that. Now, he'll have to steal goals and wins from the Capitals. He has a history against Washington having led the Canadiens past the Capitals in seven games in a 2010 Eastern Conference quarterfinal series.

Best Capitals YouTube Video We Could Find: Capitals xx Joel Ward's overtime goal in Game 7 of a 2012 Eastern Conference quarterfinal series:

Best Islanders YouTube Video We Could Find: The Easter Epic. Islanders center Pat LaFontaine's goal in the fourth overtime of Game 7 in a 1987 Patrick Division semifinal:

EN Prediction: One team scores a lot of goals while the other gives up a lot. While this could potentially be the most entertaining series of the first round, the Capitals should win fairly easily. Capitals 4-2.

(Photos: Rob Carr/Getty Images and Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

 

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Canadiens - Senators preview 04-15-15

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

Canadiens vs. Senators

Canadiens Leading Regular Season Scorer: Left winger Max Pacioretty, 67 points (37 goals, 30 assists).

Senators Leading Regular Season Scorer: Defenseman Erik Karlsson, 66 points (21 goals, 45 assists).

Canadiens Expected Starting Goaltender: Carey Price (right), 44-16-6, 1.96 GAA, .933 SV%

Senators Expected Starting Goaltender: Andrew Hammond, 20-1-2, 1.79 GAA, .941 SV%.

Canadiens Regular Season Statistics

Senators Regular Season Statistics

Canadiens Injuries: Defenseman Tom Gilbert ("upper body") is questionable. Pacioretty ("upper body") is doubtful.

Senators Injuries: Left winger Milan Michalek ("upper body") is probable. Right winger Chris Neil (broken left thumb) and left winger Matt Puempel (high ankle sprain) are out. Goaltender Robin Lehner (concussion) is on injured reserve .

Canadiens with Stanley Cup bling: Defenseman Sergei Gonchar.

Senators with Stanley Cup bling: None.

Something worthwhile about the Canadiens: The Canadiens averaged 2.61 goals per game this past regular season, fewest among any playoff team.

Something worthwhile about the Senators: The Senators went 23-4-4 in their final 31 games of the regular season.

Something useless about the Canadiens that is vaguely connected to the Penguins: The last Canadiens goaltender to stop a penalty shot in a postseason road game was Andy Moog. He stopped Penguins right winger Aleksey Morozov in a 3-2 win in Game 1 of a 1998 Eastern Conference quarterfinal series.

Something useless about the Senators that is vaguely connected to the Penguins: Former Penguins goaltender Patrick Lalime is the Senators' all-time lead in postseason goaltending wins with 21.

Former Penguins on the Canadiens: General manager Marc Bergevin, assistant coach Jean-Jacques Daigneault, Gonchar, head coach Michel Therrien.

Former Penguins on the Senators: None.

Who needs to be the difference for the Canadiens: Centers Alex Galchenyuk, Tomas Plekanec, David Desharnais, right winger Brendan Gallagher. With Pacioretty, the team's best offensive weapon up front, less than 100 percent, the Canadiens need their other forwards to lead a stagnant offense.

Who needs to be the difference for the Senators: Right winger Mark Stone, Bobby Ryan (right), center Kyle Turris, left winger Mike Hoffman, etc. As much attention as Hammond (AKA "The Hamburglar") received for his improbable run, the Senators' young forward drove this team's offense. They'll need to find a way to get pucks behind Price..

Best Canadiens YouTube Video We Could Find: Canadiens right winger Russ Courtnall's overtime goal in Game 7 of 1993 Adams Division semifinal series against the Whalers:

Best Senators YouTube Video We Could Find: Turris' overtime goal in Game 4 of a 2012 Eastern Conference quarterfinal series against the Rangers:

EN Prediction: The Senators have been the NHL's best team in the final two months of the season. With a healthy and diverse offense, they should be able to get by the Canadiens. Senators 4-2.

(Photos: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images and Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)

 

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Empty Netter Assists - Nothing to prove for Fleury - 04-15-15

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

Playoff Stuff
Penguins - Rangers

-“People want me to prove something. … I don’t want to prove something. I just want to win.” - Marc-Andre Fleury (right).

-“Every game he’s played, he gave us a chance to win." - David Perron on Fleury.

-Welcome back Christian Ehrhoff ... to full contact in practice.

-"It felt like the playoffs this past week and a half. It literally felt like a playoff series. I think like a playoff series, you don't allow yourself to think about the result too much, you just try and go out there and give yourself the best chance to win the game and focus on the details that it's going to take." - Sidney Crosby on the Penguins' struggle to get into the postseason late in the regular season.

-“I was just thrilled to get the call they wanted me to come up. The playoffs are the best time of year.” - Scott Harrington on being recalled for the postseason.

-The Penguins recalled forward Scott Wilson from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. In 55 AHL games this season, Wilson, 22, had 41 points (19 goals, 22 assists). He appeared in one NHL game this season and was injured during it.

-EN Says: The Penguins have limited options as far as young forwards go but Wilson is definitely one of them. He can play a fairly gritty game while offering a fair amount of offense. If any of the Penguins' established role players on the wing fail to produce, as has been the case in recent weeks, Wilson will be ready to take their job. 

-Mike Johnston speaks:

-Fleury speaks:

-Perron speaks:

-Rangers defenseman Kevin Klein is expected to miss Game 1 due to a broken arm.

-"I know you have to pick up your game much more for the playoffs. When this much more is on the line, you have to find the next gear." - Rangers forward Rick Nash on his reputation for being a poor playoff performer.

Capitals - Islanders

-Islanders defenseman Travis Hamonic is expected to miss tonight's Game 1 due to a suspected knee injury. He was injured on a hit by Rob Scuderi last week.

-Capitals forward Tom Wilson is still recovering from a head injury he suffered after being struck in the head by a puck last month.

Canadiens - Senators

-Senators assistant coach Mark Reeds died following a bout with cancer. He was 55.

-Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty is not expected to be in the lineup for tonight's Game 1.

Lightning - Red Wings

-With defenseman Braydon Coburn (right) on the verge of returning from a left leg injury, the Lightning assigned defenseman Luke Witkowski to Syracuse of the AHL.

-"On the ice, it's all English, except for cuss words." - Lightning forward Tyler Johnson on communicating with linemate Nikita Kucherov, a native of Russia.

-"Petr's going to be fine. Petr's going to play great for us. There's definitely no concern there. Obviously, the intensity is going to pick up and everything like that. It's an exciting time of year. Just go out there and play. He'll be fine." - Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard on being replaced by Petr Mrazek as the team's starter heading into the playoffs.

Blues - Wild

-Wild forward and former Penguin Matt Cooke missed practice Tuesday due to an undisclosed injury.

-Blues coach Ken Hitchcock is expected to name Jake Allen or Brian Elliott as his starter for Thursday's Game 1 today.

Predators - Blackhawks

-Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane (right), sidelined since Feb. 24 due to a broken clavicle, is scheduled to return to the lineup for tonight's Game 1.

-"Having a healthy Pekka this year basically allowed everything else to fall into place — the coach's philosophy, the players' belief in the system, and the necessary save if we made a mistake. It all started with Pekka, and what he did allowed a lot of players to gain the confidence to play the way they wanted to play." - Predators general manager David Poile on goaltender Pekka Rinne rebounding from a hip infection which wiped out most of his 2013-14 season.

-The Predators assigned defenseman Joe Piskula to Milwaukee of the AHL.

Ducks - Jets

-“Times like this don’t come around too often. We have a great team. But also we haven’t gotten out of the second round since we won in ’07. Those are tough things to swallow. You think it’s going to happen all the time. At the end of the day, you only get so many chances at this. You got to go out and you got to do it and you got to earn it. There’s no better time than now. That’s kind of what we’re thinking.” - Ducks forward Corey Perry on trying to lead the Ducks to their second Stanley Cup championship. Their only win came in 2007.

-"He's grown as a goalie so much. His work ethic, his passion for the game, his poise in the net. He's so calm. He doesn't let a goal bother him. He responds the right way with another save or a second effort. Goalies and defense win championships. I think Freddie's got it for us." - Ducks forward Patrick Maroon on goaltender Frederik Andersen.

-Individual tickets for Games 3 and 4 in Winnipeg sold out in less than five minutes.

Canucks - Flames

-Flames captain/defenseman Mark Giordano participated in an on-ice workout for the first time since undergoing biceps surgery March 4.

-“We’re not surprised where we are right now. We’re here to get the job done.” - Flames forward Sean Monahan (right) on his team's unlikely run to a playoff appearance.

-Canucks forward Brad Richardson is trying to return to the lineup for tonight's Game 1 after being sidelined for 37 out of the past 39 games due to an ankle injury.

Non-Playoff Stuff
Penguins

-Wilkes-Barre/Scranton goaltender Matt Murray was named the AHL rookie of the year. A third-round pick in 2012, Murray, 20, appeared in 39 games this season and has a 25-9-3 record, a 1.51 goals-against average, a .943 save percentage and 12 shutouts, an AHL rookie record.

-The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins signed forward Jaden Lindo to an amateur tryout agreement. A sixth-round pick in 2014, Lindo, 19, appeared in 49 games this season with the OHL's Owen Sound Attack and scored nine points (seven goals, two assists).

-Happy 50th birthday to the best power forward in franchise history:

-Happy 35th birthday to former Penguins defenseman Micki DuPont. Acquired at the 2003 trade deadline along with Mathias Johansson in a deal which sent Shean Donovan to the Flames, Dupont's Penguins career amounted to three game and one assist with the 2006-07 team. In the 2007 offseason, he joined the Blues as a free agent. He currently plays for Kloten of the NLA in Switzerland.

Neapolitan Ice Cream Metropolitan Division

-Did a broken leg suffered in the preseason by former Penguins forward Jordan Staal wreck the Hurricanes' regular season?

Atlantic Division

-The Bruins assigned forwards David Pastrnak, Ryan Spooner and defenseman Zach Trotman to Providence of the AHL.

-“A big part of … our talk today was me putting the onus on him to grow, to get better to get fitter and become a man. We’ll see how that goes.” - Sabres general manager Tim Murray on defenseman Nikita Zadorov.

Central Division

-The Avalanche assigned forward Borna Rendulic to Lake Erie of the AHL.

Pacific Division

-The Kings signed defenseman Alex Lintuniemi, a second-round pick in 2014, to a three-year entry-level contract.

IIHF World Championship

-Sharks coach Todd McLellan was selected to coach Team Canada in the upcoming IIHF World Championship tournament.

-Sharks defenseman Brent Burns (right) was selected to Team Canada.

-Sharks forward Ben Smith was selected to Team USA.

-Flyers captain/forward Claude Giroux was selected for Team Canada.

-Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad was selected for Team Canada.

Adams Division

-Forwards Connor McDavid and Dylan Strome each had a goal and an assist for the Erie Otters in a series-clinching 5-2 win against the London Knights in Game 4 of their OHL second-round playoff series. Erie swept the best-of-seven series, 4-0.

(Photos: Brian Kersey/Getty Images, Daniel Kubus/Getty Images, Derek Leung/Getty Images, Ezra Shaw/Getty Images and Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)

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Predators - Blackhawks preview - 04-14-15

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

Predators vs. Blackhawks

Predators Leading Regular Season Scorer: Center Filip Forsberg, 63 points (26 goals, 37 assists).

Blackhawks Leading Regular Season Scorer: Center Jonathan Toews, 66 points (28 goals, 38 assists).

Predators Expected Starting Goaltender: Pekka Rinne (right), 41-17-6, 2.18 GAA, .923 SV%

Blackhawks Expected Starting Goaltender: Corey Crawford, 32-20-5, 2.27 GAA, .924 SV%.

Predators Regular Season Statistics

Blackhawks Regular Season Statistics

Predators Injuries: Defenseman Shea Weber ("lower body") is probable. Defenseman Cody Franson ("upper body"), Roman Josi ("lower body") and center Mike Fisher ("lower body") are questionable. Left winger Eric Nystrom ("lower body") is out.

Blackhawks Injuries: Left winger Daniel Carcillo ("upper body"), right winger Patrick Kane (left clavicle), Center Brad Richards ("upper body") and defenseman Kimmo Timonen ("upper body") are questionable.

Predators with Stanley Cup bling: Center Matt Cullen.

Blackhawks with Stanley Cup bling: Left wingers Bryan Bickell, Carcillo, Brandon Saad, Patrick Sharp, Kris Versteeg, goaltenders Corey Crawford, Antti Raantta, defensemen Niklas Hjalmarsson, Duncan Keith (below), Johnny Oduya, Michal Rozsival, Brent Seabrook, centers Marcus Kruger, Brad Richards, Andrew Shaw, Toews, right winger Marian Hossa.

Something worthwhile about the Predators: The Predators finished the regular season with a six-game losing streak.

Something worthwhile about the Blackhawks: The Blackhawks allowed 189 goals this past regular season, fewest in the NHL.

Something useless about the Predators that is vaguely connected to the Penguins: Former Penguins right winger Adam Hall scored the first postseason goal in Predators history during a 3-1 loss in Game 1 of a Western Conference quarterfinal series against the Red Wings.

Something useless about the Blackhawks that is vaguely connected to the Penguins: Former Penguins general manager Tony Esposito is the Blackhawks' career leader in playoffs with six.

Former Penguins on the Predators: Assistant coach Kevin McCarthy, Left winger James Neal.

Former Penguins on the Blackhawks: Pro scout Dennis Bonvie, Carcillo (Carcillo was a former Penguins prospects but never played for the NHL team), Hossa, assistant general manager Norm MacIver, Rozsival.

Who needs to be the difference for the Predators: Rinne. He needs to find a way to limit an explosive offense for Chicago.

Who needs to be the difference for the Blackhawks: Keith, Seabrook, Hjalmarsson, Oduya, etc. The Predators' top line of Forsberg, Neal and center Mike Ribeiro drives the vast majority of Nashville's offense. The Blackhawk's defnesemen must find a way to cut down on their offensive chances.

Best Predators YouTube Video We Could Find: Predators center Jarred Smithson overtime goal against the Ducks in Game 5 of a 2011 Western Conference semifinal series:

Best Blackhawks YouTube Video We Could Find: Toews' overtime goal against the Blues in Game 5 of a 2014 Western Conference first round playoff series:

EN Prediction: The Predators slid into a nasty slump at the end of the season. The Blackhawks, with the experience of two relatively recent Stanley Cup championship, should win this easily. Blackhawks 4-1.

(Photos: Frederick Breedon/Getty Images and Marianne Helm/Getty Images)

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