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May 31, 2012

8:26 PM: Game one of the Stanley Cup final played out as expected, low scoring, tight checking - chances at both ends, both teams feeling each other out...

When the dust settled, Anze Kopitar scored a highlight reel forehand/backhand deke on Martin Brodeur to win the game 2-1 for the Kings in overtime...leading up to that, it was Colin Fraser in the 1st, and then Patrik Elias with a lucky one late in the 2nd...no scoring in the 3rd...

What I'm still asking myself almost 24 hours later, is how the hell was Kopitar allowed to skate in all alone on Brodeur like that?  Used to be New Jersey who took advantage of neutral zone turnovers (remember Jeff Freisen in the 2003 Conference Final?)...

Still plenty of hockey to be played in this series, though...L.A. can't get too high, yet...they find themselves in exactly the same position they were in back in 1993 against Montreal...

Kings better not bring any illegal sticks to Saturday Night's game...just saying...

And as you can see by the front page picture, Nick Lidstrom retired today after 20 NHL seasons - the Red Wings didn't miss the playoffs once during his tenure...and have 4 Stanley Cups to show for it...

 

May 25, 2012

11:51 PM: Wow!!  With so much talk the past couple of days about the 1994 Messier Guarantee and the like, the way Game 6 played out, one had to wonder if Ryan Callahan was going to quietly guarantee a Game 7...

Flashback to 1994...and after Scott Niedermeyer and Claude Lemieux made it 2-0 Devils after 1 period of play, Alexei Kovalev got the Rangers on the board later in the 2nd period, then in the 3rd, the hat trick form Messier and the guarantee was complete, they went to 7, and well, you know the rest...

Tonight, eerily similar...Ryan Carter and Ilya Kovalchuk got the Devils out to a 2-0 lead, and it stayed that way until almost halfway through the 2nd period, where Ruslan Fedotenko became the modern day Kovalev...then, before the period was out, captain Ryan Callahan tied it...

Unfortunately for John Tortorella's 2012 New York Rangers, that's where the similarities to 1994 ended...no scoring in the 3rd, and we would need overtime...

A couple of scrambles at both ends, and Adam Henrique, who eliminated the Florida Panthers in Game 7 of their series, picked up Kovalchuk's garbage in the crease and did it again, 1:03 into the extra frame...eliminating the Rangers, and giving the Devils the series win in 6 games...so not only is Henrique in the running for the Calder, now he has to be given strong consideration for the Conn Smythe...Kovalchuk too...the Devils will welcome the Kings for Games 1 and 2, starting Wednesday...

And I'll tell you what - just like I have been saying since the end of the first round, I have no idea what to expect...but since uLAr and I are separated by 1 point in our playoff picks, and without even having to look I know he'll be picking the Devils...I'll go out on a limb, and I'll take the Kings in 6...depending on what happens, I could either maintain my one point lead or win it outright, or uLAr could come from behind, or simply tie...we'll find out...

In the Memorial Cup, the host Shawinigan Cataractes are doing it the hard way...beating Edmonton 6-1 in the tiebreaker last night, and the defending Cup champion Saint John Ice Dogs 7-4 tonight, they will face London in Sunday's final...a little Memorial Cup interesting fact - only Taylor Hall's Windsor Spitfires have played the tiebreaker and gone on to win the tournament...every other team that's made the final after having to play in the tiebreaker has lost...if Shawinigan can do it, not only will they become just the 2nd team ever to accomplish the feat, they will end decades of heartbreak for the region...Cataractes (or any Shawinigan sports team from what I understand) have never won anything...ever...yes, they are a long way from Montreal...

 

May 23, 2012

11:22 PM: Ok...not sure if I understand this, but it's Edmonton-Shawinigan in tomorrow's Tiebreaker...London, despite finishing 2nd based on goal differential, gets a bye to Sunday's final?  And Saint John, finishing first thanks to goal differential, gets a bye to Friday's semi-final against tomorrow's winner...London must have beat Saint John...yes they did, 5-3...there you go...

Exciting tournament, weirdest format ever...they should just bring in the two teams from all three minor leagues that faced each other in the final, the host team, and a wild card (or dare I say it, Commissioner's Choice)...play 2 pools, kind of like the World Juniors...I don't know, wouldn't that be more exciting?

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10:52 PM: Haven't seen a Devils game like tonight since, well, the first round against Florida...Game 5 between New Jersey and New York, and if the Rangers stole Game 3 on the road, then the Devils definitely got out of MSG with a stolen game tonight...

Started out really good, they got out to the dreaded and dangerous 3-0 lead, Stephen Gionta just 2:43 in with the ice breaker, Patrik Elias exactly a minute and a half later, and before the MSG stragglers could make it to their seats, it was 2-0, New Jersey...Travis Zajac would make it 3-0 about five minutes later, but Brandon Prust, back from suspension, finally got on the board for the Rangers with his first of the playoffs, and it was 3-1 after the first period of play...

Rangers continued to push in the 2nd period, and the Devils seemed to let them...Ryan Callahan would make it 3-2 before the 2nd intermission...

Lot of weird bounces in this one...the weirdest one of all tied it 3-3 just 17 seconds into the 3rd...Marian Gaborik would get credit for it, but it was one of those ones that made you scratch your head as to how Martin Brodeur has been so good for so many years, and even in this post season, how could he allow one like that...remember that stinker he let in against Anaheim in the 2003 finals?  Kind of like that...bounced off Gaborik, the ice, the back of Brodeur's skate, and in...weirdest goal of this series for sure...

Seems the Devils learned from their previous experiences this spring, though...they wouldn't allow the 4th goal, and late in the game, Ryan Carter, of all people, would score the game winner, at 15:36 of the 3rd period...Zach Parise would add an empty netter to pad his stats with 1G 1A, Devils win Game 5, 5-3...after the empty net goal went in the camera went on Lou Lamouriello - now I can't read lips, but seriously, it looked like he was saying something to the effect "we gotta sign this guy...we gotta sign this guy"...yes, you do Lou...yes you do...

New Jersey is going home for Game 6 with the opportunity to join L.A. in the final...now I wonder - in 2003, Game 6 between New Jersey and Ottawa went to OT before Chris Phillips sent it back here for Game 7...wonder what we can expect on Friday night?

Only hockey action tomorrow is from the Memorial Cup as the elimination round gets underway...matchups depend on who wins the game between Saint John and Shawinigan...

And Leaf fans, rejoice...the Marlies are 1 win away from the Calder Cup final as they blanked Oklahoma 3-0 in Game 4 to take a 3-1 lead in their series...Game 5 is Friday night from the Ricoh...you know, maybe there's hope for Toronto after all...regardless of whether they get there or if Oklahoma comes back, the Norfolk Admirals are waiting and resting after their sweep of St. John's...they outscored the Ice Caps 14-2 through four games and shut them out twice...ouch!!!

Staying with the AHL for a sec, Ottawa's Luke Richardson will head to Binghamton next season as he was named their head coach today...

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6:54 PM: Shouldn't be a big shock to anyone that the L.A. Kings managed to close out their Western Conference final series against Phoenix and advance to the Stanley Cup Final last night...the bigger story may be how they almost didn't get there...

Not so much that the Kings won - that seemed inevitable...more how the Coyotes fought back and tried to make a series of it...Taylor Pyatt got the Dogs rolling, but the Kings again came through on special teams - Anze Kopitar scored his 6th of the playoffs, must be like his 3rd shorthanded goal...

Then, the unexpected unsung heroes - Marc-Antoine Pouliot hadn't scored since April 2010 when he was still an Edmonton Oiler - he put the Coyotes ahead 2-1...Radim Vrbata almost made it 3-1, but he shot it over the net...Keith Yandle scored his first to tie the game 3-3 late in the 2nd...you just kind of got a vibe it should have been Phoenix' night...but not so - even a 5 on 3 power play and an interference penalty in OT wasn't enough to help extend this series to a 6th game...and how fitting - Dustin Penner got the winner...and somehow, the Los Angeles Kings, the 12-2 Los Angeles Kings, with one more series win will hoist the Cup...

My lasting memory of last night's game - Drew Doughty going absolutely ape on the referees when they called that interference penalty in OT (it was borderline), and then again when they called a close offside play...

I have to wonder, how good of a rivalry there will be now between Phoenix and Los Angeles next season...especially since one of the lasting images of the Coyotes was seeing Michal Roszival being helped off the ice after taking a vicious hit from Dustin Brown...the two almost seemed to collide with each other...Brown shook it off, but could have been worse for wear, too...don't know if I've ever seen this, either - the goal was scored 17:41 into the 1st overtime, after which Shane Doan and Mike Smith both were incensed at the refs for not calling a penalty on Brown for the hit (and Smith, for a play where he lost his helmet and no call for interference, or at least no whistle to allow him to put his Wile E. Coyote eyes back on)...both were assessed a 10 minute and game misconduct after the game was already over and the Kings were celebrating...

And, as is usually the case...Brown did not touch the Clarence Campbell trophy...

So now, we watch and wait for a winner of the Eastern Conference Final...we know the Stanley Cup Final will commence one week from tonight - only question left to be answered is, will it be at MSG, or The Rock?...because, as you know - "Questions will become answers"..."Because, it's the Cup"...

Game 5, Devils-Rangers, in just over an hour...

 

May 21, 2012

No scoring in the 2nd period, then, the biggest mistake the Rangers may make this entire series - they woke up Zach Parise...Derek Stepan took a high sticking penalty, and was in the box a whole 4 seconds when Parise scored his 5th on the power play, with thanks to Ilya Kovalchuk and Adam Henrique...at 2:41 of the 3rd, it was 3-0...Ruslan Fedotenko would score his 1st of the playoffs at 14:55 to bust the Martin Brodeur shutout, but Parise would seal it with an empty netter at 18:31, his 6th...Devils win 4-1, and this baby is deadlocked 2-2...

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8:49 PM: Late period power play for the Rangers gave them a little momentum, and a bit more respectability on the shot clock, but it's still 2-0 Devils at the 1st intermission...shots were 12-7, New Jersey...

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8:37 PM: Game 4, Devils-Rangers...and New Jersey is getting the breaks they didn't get in Game 3...the difference being, the Rangers aren't winning the defensive puck battles...it's already 2-0, Devils...Bryce Salvador and Travis Zajac...Rangers have only 3 shots on goal...it's Salvador's 3rd at 8:10 of the 1st, assists to Alex Ponikarovsky and David Clarkson, and Zajac's 6th from Zach Parise and Dainius Zubrus...

Petr Sykora is scratched for this game, Jacob Josefson is in, and seems to have provided a bit of a spark...

Brandon Prust is serving a suspension for an elbow to the head of Anton Volchenkov in Game 3...

 

May 20, 2012

5:55 PM: Final from the Staples Center - Shane Doan 2  Los Angeles 0...Mike Smith made 36 saves for his 3rd shutout of these playoffs, many of the series saving variety - one in particular during the 2nd period, the Kings had him down on the goal line and the puck was nowhere to be found...no matter what - the Coyotes had to be better and they were...now they drag the Kings back to the Desert for Game 5...

Been an odd weekend for Staples Center based teams...the Clippers, Lakers and Kings all played playoff games within the last 24 hours, and all three lost...

Even odder - so far this weekend the home NHL team has been unable to score...

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3:49 PM: After killing off 2 penalties, the Coyotes got a power play, Justin Williams for interference on Mike Smith...Shane Doan made him pay with his 4th, at 14:19, Ray Whitney drew an assist...

1-0 Phoenix...

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3:37 PM: Game 4 Kings-Coyotes...Desert Dogs have their proverbial backs against the wall...

Phoenix gets Adrian Aucoin back from an undisclosed injury that kept him out of the first 3 games, and Martin Hanzal returns from suspension...Colin Fraser is back for L.A....

So far nothing doing about halfway through the 1st, but the Coyotes are still skating the edge to the penalty box...they cannot hope to stave off elimination that way...

ESPN.com is reporting Dustin Brown scored his 8th unassisted at 1:54 of the first to give L.A. a 1-0 lead...don't know what game they're watching, but it is 0-0...

 

May 19, 2012

3:32 PM: Martin Brodeur hits the bench with 2:30 left, but Ryan Callahan gets the empty netter...Rangers lead 3-0 and are going to go up 2-1 in the series...you talk about a goalie needing to steal games in the playoffs?  How about this one for Lundqvist?  The Rangers fans that are still in attendance are chanting "M.V.P."...

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3:25 PM: Harrold beats Lundqvist, but not the post...

Time out, Devils...as usual, Rangers took theirs earlier in the game...a common Tortorella move...

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3:22 PM: Richards goes off for the takedown on Peter Harrold (they'll call it interference)...now it's the Devils who look like they're gassed...perhaps they can build some momentum off this power play...

Regardless of how this game ends I have to think we'll see Adam Larsson draw back in for Game 4...shows you how much I've paid attention, didn't even realize he was scratched the last two games...

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3:17 PM: ...and the Rangers kill it off...only reason New York is still playing - King Henrik...shots in the period have been an even 5-5 so far in the 3rd...

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3:12 PM: They always say you can't keep tempting fate...so it was no wonder when Bryce Salvador took a hooking penalty on Marian Gaborik that the Rangers on their 4th power play of the game would capitalize on it...at 3:19 of the 3rd, Girardi's 3rd, and potential 3rd GWG, from Richards...then at 5:16, Kreider with his 5th from Ryan McDonagh and Derek Stepan...as good as Ilya Kovalchuk has been in these playoffs, he looked real bad on that play...

Devils are on a power play of their own...Marc Staal sits for holding Ryan Carter's stick...

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3:08 PM: Badly out shot, badly outplayed...but now all of a sudden the Rangers lead 2-0...and it's the usual suspects for New York - Dan Girardi and Chris Kreider, with goals 1:57 apart...aside from Brad Richards, is there anybody else that can score on this team?

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2:59 PM: Another post for the Rangers...

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2:55 PM: It happened in Hockey Night...May 1988...Jim "Have Another Donut" Schoenfeld was suspended for Game 4 of the New Jersey-Boston series for verbally assaulting Don Koharski after he didn't agree with the officiating in Game 3, a 6-1 drubbing for the Bruins - between games he managed to win an appeal to the New Jersey Supreme Court, and was able to remain behind the bench - the referees, however, decided to go on strike, forcing the NHL to use replacement officials...

Have another donut indeed...the Devils would win Game 4 by a score of 3-1, but Schoenfeld would eventually serve his suspension, and Boston would eventually win what was then the Wales Conference Final in 7 games...

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2:47 PM: Still no score after 40 minutes...shots 15-9, Devils - 2 period total 26-14..."You cannot win like that", according to Coach Grapes...Rangers are now 0 for 3 on the PP...Devils did not get a man advantage in period 2...

Don't remember who it was who said it, but somebody on one of the many radio interviews I heard said tongue in cheek that NBC will have the Preakness Stakes horse race later on this evening, unless this game ends up going to Quadruple Overtime...

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1:50 PM: Shots 11-5, Devils...both teams 0 for 1 on the power play...scoreless after the 1st period...

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1:31 PM: Game 3 between the Devils and Rangers nicely underway...the Devils seem to have the early territorial advantage - but somehow the Rangers appear refreshed after the extra day off...should be a good one...

Steve Eminger draws in for the Rangers and has already made what could have been a costly mistake...Michael Del Zotto broke up the ensuing 2 on 1...Stu Bickel is a healthy scratch...no change in the Devils lineup...keep an eye on Marian Gaborik, who was benched in the 3rd period of Game 2...

Looks like efforts to keep Rangers fans out of the Prudential Center were futile...see an equal amount of blue shirts to red shirts in the crowd...almost 50/50...kind of had to expect that with the teams only separated by the Hudson River...

Preakness Stakes today, as Kentucky Derby winner "I'll Have Another" will continue work towards the elusive Triple Crown...don't mind if I do have another...coffee...

 

May 18, 2012

4:47 PM: Better effort for sure by Phoenix in Game 3...same end result on the scoreboard...a win for the L.A. Kings...

The Desert Dogs grinded out the first goal as Daymond Langkow ripped one past Jonathan Quick...but they couldn't keep it going...Anze Kopitar would get it back, then Dwight King, with some help from Trevor Lewis would get the game winner in the 3rd...2-1 the final score...they can grind you out or blow you out...take your pick...

11-1 the Kings are in the playoffs...you have to go back to 1988 for a performance as dominating...that spring Edmonton went 16-2 to win the Cup...

One could argue if it wasn't for Daniel Sedin suiting up in Vancouver's final 2 games that the Kings might have a flawless record...

No games tonight...Game 3 Devils-Rangers tomorrow at 1 PM...depending on where I am or what I'm doing I might blog live during the game...either way, I'll be around...enjoy the long weekend...

Speaking of Edmonton - no Tom Renney next year - Steve Tambellini announced yesterday the Oilers will not be offering him a contract renewal - saw that one coming 6 months ago...rumors already are abound that Brent Sutter might be on the short list, but the name I heard today on HNIC Radio from Mark Osborne - Gerard Gallant?!?  Probably have to give some consideration to the Oklahoma City Barons head coach Todd Nelson, and Oilers assistant coach Kelly Buchberger, too...I don't know if I'm totally convinced you can blame Renney, though...seemed like he was a fair coach - but then again, his call out the team in the media tactics may have gotten a little old...

 

May 17, 2012

11:48 AM: We're two games through both Conference Final series...one of them is tied, and the other is at 2-0...

Phoenix-Los Angeles on Tuesday night was all Kings...the frustration clearly showed on the Coyotes end, as both Shane Doan and Martin Hanzal both got tossed from the game with boarding majors...Hanzal ended up with a one game suspension, Doan seems to have escaped supplemental discipline...probably because Trevor Lewis turned awkardly at the last minute...Hanzal's hit on Dustin Brown, however...kind of brutal...both Kings players were OK...

I heard at least one person say before Game 2 that if Jeff Carter could ever get going, look out...good call...Dwight King helped the Kings get that all important first goal, then Carter took over and finished the game with the natural hat trick...Dustin Penner and Anze Kopitar both had 2 assists...Kings were 2 for 8 on the power play, Coyotes 0 for 4...shots were 40-24, Kings...Scott Ferrall said it best...an embarrasing game for Phoenix...and the Kings continue to roll, setting a Stanley Cup Playoff road wins record with 7 straight wins on the road...4-0 game, 2-0 series lead for L.A....they are for real, in case you didn't already know...as for Phoenix, at one point in the game TSN's Ray Ferraro likened them to the 1993 Kings in the finals against Montreal - they just seem out of sync, out of gas, unable to get anything going...but if this is true - how do you explain how the playoffs have gone for the Kings so far - is it possible that they're just that good?  And at this juncture, do we really need to ask?  One game they've lost so far in the playoffs...that's it...not bad for a team that was 30-1 to win the Cup at the outset...

Last night in New York, Game 2 between the Rangers and New Jersey Devils...and no matter what John Tortorella says, you could really start to see the fatigue on the Rangers...and the Devils took full advantage...snake bitten in Game 1, Ilya Kovalchuk got the Devils on the board first 13:39 into the 1st period...in the 2nd period, the Rangers pushed hard with 2 goals, Marc Staal at 2:23, and Chris Kreider at 12:19...Devils didn't flinch, however...they came back and tied the game 2-2, Ryan Carter at 18:09...they'd go ahead for good at 2:31 of the 3rd - David Clarkson with his 3rd was the GWG...Devils win Game 2, 3-2, and series is tied 1-1...they get an extra day between games in this one - Game 3 is Saturday afternoon...if you just watch highlights of the games - check out Martin Brodeur's "Scorpion" save which you can be sure will make it to many highlight reels...could be the save of the series...so far...

Game 3 of Phoenix-L.A. tonight from Staples Center - no game on Friday night...Memorial Cup gets underway - Edmonton, London, Saint John and Shawinigan...may the best team win...

And a shocker at the World Championship - after going 6-0-1 in the round robin, Canada has been sent packing after their quarterfinal against Slovakia...Michal Handzus scored the GWG in a 4-3 final score...a Ryan Getzlaf major penalty led to the goal...

 

May 15, 2012

7:57 PM: I have to confess - last night I was more pumped for the season premiere of "America's Got Talent" than I was for Game 1 between the Rangers and Devils...and that's not to take anything away from either team, both are totally deserving of being in the final four...but I just got that sense that New Jersey would be flat from having almost a week off, and that the Rangers would be run ragged over having gone the distance against Washington...neither team got anything going through 40 minutes, yet I just had the feeling the Rangers weren't going to make it out of MSG with anything to show for it...oh boy was I wrong...

Just as I was watching Howard Stern console an emotional perfomer on stage, the Rangers exploded in the 3rd period...they only had a slight 18-17 edge in shots through 40 minutes, and the Devils sure got their chances, but Henrik Lundqvist once again was the story...53 seconds into the final frame, Dan Girardi, who all of a sudden has people talking Conn Smythe, converted a Chris Kreider feed into his second goal, and second game winner of these playoffs - the MSG faithful went nuts, and it was 1-0...give Michael Del Zotto a second helper...from there it was all Rangers...Kreider would get his 3rd on a power play while Steve Bernier was sitting for boarding, at exactly the 12 minute mark, give an assist to Girardi and Artem Anisimov...2-0...and Anisimov would score into an empty net at 18:33, from Brian Boyle and Ruslan Fedotenko...3-0, Rangers won Game 1 and lead the series 1-0...but I still get the feeling they expended all their energy into that 3rd period - it'll be interesting to see how the Devils react in Game 2...Ilya Kovalchuk was still pretty dominant despite the loss, shot a puck right into Lunqvist's catcher at one point...final shots were 28-21, Rangers, including a 10-4 lambasting in the 3rd...but like they have all playoffs, they must have easily blocked about 30 more shots...I don't know who's counting the actual shots on goal down there in New York, but it was like a shooting gallery for most of the first two periods...

So tonight, I'm equally as anxious to see Howard settle into his new judging stint as I am to see if Phoenix can swing momentum their way in Game 2 against L.A....so far, my theory on the mirror is holding true, but so much for my predictions if the other teams don't turn it around...

 

May 14, 2012

3:41 PM: Hope everybody had a great Mother's Day...whether your mother is still here or in that great mother shrine in the sky, whether you're a new mother or an old mother...yesterday that's what it was all about...

Shouldn't have come as any surprise to anyone that Game 1 of the Western Conference Final started the way the Los Angeles Kings' previous 2 playoff rounds did...with a win...so that makes them 9-1 on the post season...unbelievable...

In the final analysis, it was another game where Mike Smith faced 47 shots, stopped 44 of them...Jonathan Quick made 25 saves, pale by comparison, but the best of which were midway through the 3rd period with the Coyotes buzzing for the tying goal...

So the Kings got on the board first, just 3:54 into period one - Anze Kopitar from Dustin Brown and Drew Doughty...4th for Kopitar...1-0...the lasting image of this game, however, and one replay that will show Quick is in fact human after all (I think) - a Derek Morris shoot in from centre ice, fed to him by Daymond Langkow, went in...at 13:26 of the 1st, tied the game 1-1 and could have been the turning point if not for L.A.'s relentless fore check...despite a 17-4 shot advantage, after 20 minutes it was 1-1...Quick will want that one back...

2nd period, the Kings would get it back...at 8:02, Dwight King from Mike Richards and Trevor Lewis, his 2nd, 2-1...Mikkel Boedker, however, would score his 4th at 18:04, Shane Doan and Morris assisted, and after 40 minutes it was tied 2-2...the centre ice goal seemed the ignite the Dogs, but they still only managed 14 shots to L.A.'s 17, for a 2 period total 34-18, Kings...

Like they have throughout most of their previous 9 games, in the 3rd, they went ahead for good...Dustin Brown continued his chase for the Conn Smythe, scoring what would turn out to be the game winner, 2:11 into the 3rd, Richards and Lewis with their second points of the game...the Coyotes, try as they might, couldn't beat Quick...Dwight King would seal the deal with an empty netter at 19:02, with thanks in part to Lewis and Jarret Stoll...and the Kings take Game 1 by a score of 4-2...final shots were 48-27...neither team could get anything going on special teams...L.A. was 0 for 4 while Phoenix was 0 for 5...the power play has helped the Desert Dogs get here, while the Kings have relied mostly on an aggressive 5 on 5 fore check...

Maybe next game the Yotes should purposely try rebounding some pucks off the end boards...see how Quick reacts to that...what's the old saying, can't stop what you can't see?

And tonight, we shift scenes back to New York for the Eastern Conference Final...

Couple of notes today...Dale Hunter has stepped down as Washington head coach...and Columbus announced Todd Richards, who replaced Scott Arniel on an interim basis Jan 9, has been hired full time and signed a two year contract extension...had the Jackets actually had a respectable record down the stretch...an accomplishment not lost on G.M. Scott Howson...Richards helped guide the team to an 18-21-2 finish, after they stumbled out of the gate with a brutal 11-25-5 record...given them 14 more wins and who knows?

 

May 12, 2012

10:56 PM: Well at least there's one team that plays at Rexall Place on the verge of a championship this year...the Edmonton Oil Kings, last I could find out, were tied 1-1 with the Portland Winter Hawks after 40 minutes of Game 6 of the WHL FInal...the Oil Kings lead the series 3-2, so if they can pull out a win tonight, they're on their way to the Memorial Cup tournament...if not, Game 7 is tomorrow...

The rest of the brackets are set - Shawinigan is the host, Saint John won the Q, London won the O, and we await the winner in the W...

Fans in Toronto now, like Grapes, probably wonder why Mike Zigomanis wasn't with the Leafs all season...he scored in overtime of Game 5 against Abbotsford earlier this week to send the Toronto Marlies to the AHL's Western Conference Final against either Oklahoma City (Edmonton), or the San Antonio Rampage (Florida)...

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10:21 PM: Ok...I'm going to get my 3rd round picks out of the way now...

Eastern Conference Final: Devils in 6...the Rangers, despite having Henrik Lundqvist, have to run out of gas sooner or later, don't they?!  Fact - no team has ever gone to 7 in the first two rounds and made it to the finals, in any number of games...look it up...I know Boston had 3 seven game series last spring, but don't forget, they swept Philly in the 2nd round...

Western Conference Final: Coyotes in 7...You can really flip a coin on this one...one thing for sure, I cannot see this one being a "Quick" series...no goaltender has faced more shots than Mike Smith...and none of the remaining goaltenders has more shutouts...as good as the Kings have been, they haven't faced a goalie like Smith, either...Team Canada, or Team Cactus?

We've inverted...like I mentioned, in the East, 1st seed has gone up against 8th, 7th and now 6th...in the West, 8th has gone up against 1st, 2nd, and now 3rd...

So if it's true when they say expect the unexpected, expect the mirror to shift...

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10:05 PM: Game over...another 2-1 score in this series...and the Rangers win Game 7 and will meet the Devils...although, one could argue they played 8 games in this one...

So how strange is this - L.A. goes up against 1-2-3 in the West...and the Rangers go up against 8-7-6 in the East?!...it's almost like somebody put a mirror in between the two conferences...

Scoring in the 3rd - at 10:05, Michael Del Zotto with his 2nd, from Marian Gaborik and Hagelin...then at 10:43, Roman Hamrlik from Brooks Laich and Jason Chimera...

Bring on the Battle of the Hudson...Monday night...you know it'll be every bit as intense as in 1994...Game 1 from the Desert tomorrow...

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9:58 PM: I hope the one Capitals fan I can see in the crowd (he's wearing red) is staying at the Pennsylvania Hotel, across the street...might need a quick getaway...

2:17 left...still 2-1 Rangers...

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9:52 PM: Goal scoring stats coming later...gonna catch the last 5 minutes...you know, the whole Don't Blink thing...Del Zotto for NY, Hamrlik for Wash...that's all I'll say for now...

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9:47 PM: Capitals just got redemption, I think, for the missed interference call in Game 6...Rangers thought they had scored shorthanded, but they ruled the goalie was interfered with...

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9:44 PM: Washington power play...delay of game penalty to the Rangers - to...Ruslan Fedotenko...I think that's the first penalty of the game...look out!!

Too ironic that the call goes to Fedotenko...hero of the 2004 Stanley Cup Game 7 for a Tampa Bay team that had John Tortorella behind the bench...

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9:42 PM: Two goals in less than a minute...38 seconds to be exact...the Rangers had scored to make it 2-0...but the Capitals have scored to make it 2-1...

More on the goals coming up...

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9:31 PM: This has been well noted since Game 5, but deserves repeating...I love how Dale Hunter continues to let Joel Ward on the ice...he hasn't missed a shift since the unfortunate events at the end of Game 5 and overtime...you just get the feeling Hunter's persistence in rolling four lines will eventually be rewarded...with about 14 minutes left in the 3rd, the New Jersey Devils of 2009 will tell you this game is far from over...word of advice to the Rangers...get another one...

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9:08 PM: End of the 2nd...still 1-0...

Interesting fact - this is the 14th playoff game in these playoffs for both teams, but this is the 1st time Washington has trailed after 2 periods of play...

Despite the sequence where Washington kept the pressure on, shots are still fairly even...20-19, slight edge to New York...

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8:55 PM: The Capitals are pressing hard to even the score...they had a sequence similar to what Ottawa managed in the 3rd period of Game 7 in Round 1...looked like Washington was a on a power play...

Still 1-0...as the "MVP" chants rain down on Henrik Lundqvist...he's the only reason the Rangers are still in the lead...

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8:34 PM: I love how when there's a broadcast in New York, they always show the overhead view of Madison Square Garden and then cut to Times Square, as if to imply it's right across the street...and if you've never visited, you wouldn't be any the wiser...it's only, like, 10 blocks down the street...nice walk on a nice day, though...what I still can't get over is you can walk into a pizza parlor and order a slice and a beer, and sit right by the street in the window seat...they have to open up something like that in the Byward Market...yeah I know there's Dunn's and Lone Star, but they don't serve pizza slices...too bad they closed the Sbarro at Rideau Centre...a little renovation here and there...

Rangers still nursing a 1-0 lead...about 4 minutes into the 2nd...shots were deadlocked 8-8 after 20 minutes...

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7:50 PM: " In a New York Minute...everything can change..."...

Yes sir - the start of Game 7 couldn't have gone any better for the Rangers...loud crowd...early goal...can you say Mo-Mentum?

1-0 in the first period...Brad Richards with his 6th of the playoffs, just 1:32 in, scored on the first shot on goal for either team...Carl Hagelin and Michael Del Zotto assisted...can't imagine what the atmosphere must be like at the corner of 8th and 31st right now...or for that matter, 7th and West 42nd...Richards scores in a Game 7 for the first time, ever...

 

May 10, 2012

8:11 PM: Conference Finals schedule is out...Phoenix-L.A. gets underway Sunday at 8, New Jersey starts Monday and 8...CBC gets the Devils series, TSN gets the Wild West...

And it seems, for once, the heat is on Ron Maclean instead of Don Cherry...last night and today, people were all up in arms on Twitter and various other online venues over comments he made before Game 6, comparing the spirit of Hockey players (and athletes in general) to that of firefighters and police officers...rightly or wrongly, the whole thing has stirred up yet another 9-11 controversy...

You know - I have to say this - if people are going to continue to be overly sensitive, then, quite frankly - the bad guys win...yes, 9-11 was one of those "stop the world, I want to get off" moments, where on one hand you were both shocked and sickened by what happened, while at the same time you saw the human spirit and what it's all about come to the forefront...and, sure, we can't ever forget that - the event, the people we lost, the aftermath...but you know what - at the same time, we have to move on too...otherwise - they win...

For anyone to suggest for even a second that Ron Maclean meant any ill will or disrespect is clearly missing the point...

Can't wait for the next Coach's Corner...maybe if they're lucky, they'll both get themselves thrown off the air...because if you heard Maclean on HNIC Radio today, it's evident the CBC, even after all these years, still doesn't get it either...

I've said it for years...TSN is waiting in the wings and chomping at the bit for the right to become the next home of Hockey Night In Canada...they didn't hesitate to grab the old theme song, don't think they wouldn't take Ron and Don in a heartbeat...then maybe they can turn Coach's Corner into a trio - Ron, Don, and Dave (Hodge)...there - go ahead - Tweet that...

 

May 9, 2012

10:09 PM: Marian Gaborik got credit for his 4th of the playoffs at 19:09 of the 3rd, assists to Dan Girardi and Derek Stepan...shouldn't have counted as Braden Holtby was interfered with...not sure how you're expected to make a save when the player is hovered over the right goal pad...he'll be happy to get the win as the Caps held them off, and we go to Game 7...that poor mother of his is going to need a defibrillator when this is all over...

Game 7, Saturday night...

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9:33 PM: ...or at least for 40 minutes they brought their A game...the Rangers are leading the charge so far in the 3rd...

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9:19 PM: Bob Gainey is back with the Dallas Stars...as a consultant...

As well, the St. Louis sale was approved by the NHL's board of governors today...they're hoping to be able to say this about Phoenix sometime in the near future, too...

I'll believe the latter when I see it...seems to me we've seen this movie before...a visit by the Stanley Cup will help...

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9:15 PM: Shots on goal through 40 minutes...20-17, Rangers...

You can be sure the New Jersey Devils are rooting for Washington to send this to Game 7...this is probably the first time this entire playoffs that I've seen Washington play like the Washington of old...they've brought their "A(.O.)" game tonight...

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9:04 PM: First time in this series that Washington has led by 2 goals for more than 2 minutes...Jason Chimera scored his 4th of the playoffs, at 10:59 of the 2nd period, Backstrom and John Carlson with helpers...

2-0 Caps...and even though they just killed off a 4 minute double minor (Jeff Halpern for high sticking), they would be well advised to stay out of the penalty box...just ask the Ottawa Senators about that one...

Sticks on the ice, boys...

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8:02 PM: Game 6 - Washington-New York...

And the Capitals got the start they wanted...Alex Ovechkin, 1:28 into the 1st period, assists from Nick Backstrom and Mike Green...power play goal while Anton Stralman sat for tripping Jason Chimera just over a minute in...

It's Ovechkin's 30th career playoff goal, tying a franchise record held by Peter Bondra...

 

May 8, 2012

10:09 PM: And it's all over...3-1 is the final score...and the Devils move on to the Eastern Conference Final...

Philadelphia just couldn't get anything going...seems the Hockey Gods are rooting for Martin Brodeur...6th Conference Final of his career...he's won four of them...

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9:39 PM: Kind of hard to get back into a series when you're undisciplined...just ask James van Riemsdyk...4:56 of the 3rd, gets called for holding Patrik Elias...it took the Devils 4 seconds to score...and who else - Ilya Kovalchuk, at 5:00 of the 3rd...assists to Adam Henrique and Dainius Zubrus...

3-1...

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8:25 PM: Shots in the 1st period, 12-11, New Jersey...but it's the failed clearing attempt that is the difference on the scoreboard...

Devils 0 for 1 on the power play, Flyers have not had one...

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8:11 PM: Do you mean to tell me Bob Cole can't tell the difference between Eric Wellwood and Wayne Simmonds!??

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8:06 PM: Volchenkov returns...shouldn't surprise anyone that's followed his career in Ottawa...I have to wonder how many bumps and bruises this guy has...

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8:00 PM: Ouch!!!  Bryzgalov tried to clear the puck and it ricocheted in the net off David Clarkson's shin pad...if you're a goalie, wouldn't it best advised to attempt that play with no opposing players in your zone?!?  Just saying...

2-1...Devils...should be an unassisted goal...at 12:45, Clarkson's 2nd...that could be Philly's season right there...kind of makes you wonder why Michael Leighton continues to be a healthy scratch...

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7:56 PM: Flyers once again got the first goal of the game...but the Devils have replied...

1-1...and they just about made it 2-1...once again Ilya Bryzgalov looks shaky...

Max Talbot's 4th from Schenn and Danny Briere at 7:18 of the first, and Bryce Salvador's 2nd from Adam Henrique and Ilya Kovalchuk, at 9:27...it was Marek Zidlicky almost getting the go ahead goal...

You're up to date...for now...;)

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7:52 PM: OK...how the hell did I do that?!

It wasn't quite Stevens on Lindros, but a big hit in the corner as the "A-Train", Anton Volchenkov, made an abrupt stop at Brayden Schenn Station...moments later, Zac Rinaldo got him with a shoulder to the head...didn't see him coming as he tried to avoid Sean Couturier...he has since left this game...

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7:18 PM: This day in Hockey History - May 8, 2012 - the New Jersey Devils played Game 6 against the Toronto Maple Leafs in their Eastern Conference Semi-Final series - and wrapped up the series with a 3-0 win to clinch the series 4-2 - Devils held the Leafs to a mere 6 shots on goal...this game was also the last game of Wendel Clark's career...the Leafs had made it here after beating Ottawa in what would be their first (and to this day still their best) series...I remember after this game more than a few people (mostly Sens fans) making comments like "I would rather be golfing"...certainly doesn't rank up there in Toronto's best efforts...but today, I'll bet you the fans would have taken it because that would have at least meant playoff hockey...

Of course...much talk this year was how the Florida Panthers hadn't been to the playoffs since 2000, they were swept in the 1st round, by, you guessed it - New Jersey...after beating Toronto, they went up against Philadelphia in the Eastern Conference Final - a series they would win in 7 games...that was the series where Scott Stevens took out Eric Lindros and knocked him out cold...

So something will have to give tonight, one would think...

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2:07 PM: As we already know - Claude Giroux will miss Game 5 between Philadelphia and New Jersey...there are reports out there, however, that the Flyers could get a boost on defense, as Andrej Meszaros may draw back in...he hasn't played since March 1, so how effective he can be remains to be seen...call it a game time decision, I guess...all coach Laviolette would say over the last week or so is "He's looked good"...

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11:34 AM: Even though Dustin Penner is still right in the thick of the playoffs, don't rule out the possibility he could end up in an Ottawa Senators uniform next season...that's according to Don Brennan of the Ottawa Sun...of course, the reasoning is simple - Bryan Murray knows Penner from his Anaheim days, not to mention Penner almost came here in a trade with Edmonton for Dany Heatley...

Penner is unrestricted as of July 1...so the only question left to be answered would be, how many rings will he have, 1 or 2, and how much will a potential contract be worth?...and, depending on where the Los Angeles Kings go from here, how many other teams will be interested in his services - probably at least one more than were interested at the trade deadline...if a move to the Eastern Conference helped out Kyle Turris, I'd say the gamble is worth it...

Stay tuned...

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12:50 AM: And the Coyotes hang on for the 2-1 win, and the series victory in 5 games...

Mike Smith barely missed scoring an empty netter...ensuing face off, they clear the zone, and jubilation ensues...

Like I said - it's going to be a heck of a series next round...so many good stories out of this team - one has to feel for guys like Shane Doan - not just through the Coyotes trials and tribulations off the ice, but for what he had to endure back in 2006 when Canadian Parliament was up in arms over him being named captain of Team Canada (over an allegation he was prejudiced against a French Referee, which an internal NHL investigation revealed was false)...one has to feel for the the goalie Smith who was picked up on waivers not once but twice in the last year (how do those teams feel right now?!), guys like Ray Whitney, Adrian Aucoin, and even Derek Morris, who got it going tonight...most importantly, though, you really have to feel for fans in Winnipeg...deep down, despite them having a team again, you just know there are many former die hards who are enjoying this playoff run...and don't ask me why, but every time I see Shane Doan I think back to the 2009 All Star Weekend in Montreal, when he took part in the first ever Elimination shootout, with his biggest fan on the bench, his daughter...wonder if she's allowed to stay up late to see these games?

As for Nashville, the Radulov/Kostitsyn incident notwithstanding, have to still be wondering what the hell just hit them!?  After they looked poised for a deep playoff run, they once again fall short in the 2nd round, and now raise more questions than they did last spring when they bowed out to Vancouver...what is to become of Radulov and the Kostitsyn brothers, what is to become of coach Barry Trotz, and will they be able to bring back Ryan Suter?  As the saying went last spring, "questions will become answers", just not for a couple more months...

And finally, with the second round half done, uLAr and I both sit here both stunned that all of our bonus picks are no longer a factor...first time for either one of us...in years past, even if we couldn't count on our East, West and Stanley Cup picks, we could usually count on our dark horses...not so...everybody we thought would be there, is out...that's just the kind of playoff it's been...and it's nowhere near done...

Next up - Game 5, New Jersey-Philadelphia...does that series end tonight?

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12:29 AM: 164 minutes and 45 seconds of Mike Smith shutout hockey ends...at 14:01 of the 3rd, Colin Wilson with his 1st of the playoffs, assists from David Legwand and Ryan Suter...

It's 2-1...the Predators have 5 minutes left to try and save their season...

 

 

May 7, 2012

11:43 PM: Coyotes are 20 minutes away from going to where they've never been before - the 3rd round...and I already said it, but that series against Los Angeles is going to be a beauty...

Let's not get ahead of myself yet, though...

Nashville is still way ahead on the shot clock, 22-12...Mike Smith, the only player on Phoenix' roster you could possibly nominate for the Conn Smythe at this point, has stopped them all so far...again...

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11:30 PM: Martin Hanzal scores his 3rd, at 15:09 of the 2nd period, from Kyle Chipchura and Daymond Langkow...

Kind of fitting that we had that Super Full Moon over the weekend, isn't it?  Plus, that cactus of mine...growing like crazy...

2-0 Yotes...

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11:19 PM: After a scoreless first period, the Phoenix Coyotes get on the board first...Derek Morris, with his 1st, at 3:54 of the 2nd period - Antoine Vermette and Shane Doan set it up...

1-0, Desert Dogs...in Game 5...no surprise, the Nashville Predators are outshooting Phoenix by a margin of about 2-1...16-9 at last glance...

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10:22 PM: Marc Staal, from about 50 feet out...another power play goal, just 1:35 into the 1st overtime period...give an assist to John Mitchell...Rangers win the game 3-2, lead the series 3-2...2nd of the playoffs for Staal...

All Joel Ward could do was skate off with his head down...the thrill of Game 7 victory becomes the agony of Game 5 defeat...still plenty to be decided, though...Game 6 on Wednesday back in the U.S. Capital...

Nothing happening yet in Phoenix...

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10:12 PM: OK...so how does Ron and Don end up on the big screen in Times Square!?...

Goal picks - uLAr goes for Brooks Laich for Washington, Marian Gaborik for New York...I'll take Jason Chimera and Carl Hagelin...

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10:03 PM: 6.6 seconds...that's all that was left on the clock when Brad Richards tied the game 2-2...

The news gets worse for Washington...the goal was scored on a power play, after Joel Ward took a high sticking double minor at 19:38...time of Richards' 5th of the playoffs, 19:53, Ryan Callahan and Michael Del Zotto assisted...

The Rangers remain on the power play heading into OT...

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9:36 PM: On nights when the London Knights win, the Washington Capitals, too, are undefeated...

Well the Knights won tonight...and almost as if on cue - the Capitals have taken the 2-1 lead...John Carlson's 2nd of the playoffs, at 4:20 of the 3rd, on a power play while Mike Rupp sat for the hook...helpers to Dennis Wideman and Brouwer...

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8:58 PM: Shouldn't come as any surprise in a series that's deadlocked 2-2 that Game 5 is deadlocked 1-1...

The NY Rangers got on the scoreboard first, Anton Stralman with his 3rd from Marc Staal and Derek Stepan, at 10:44 of the 1st period...the Rangers peppered Braden Holtby with 17 shots, while the Capitals were only able to muster 4 shots on goal...but you just had the feeling something had to give...and it did - Brooks Laich, at 8:15 of the 2nd, assists to Alex Ovechkin and Troy Brouwer...and that's where we stand almost through 40 minutes...about 4 minutes left...

Any minute now, Gary Bettman is expected to hold a press conference to announce the Phoenix tentative sale...just in time for Game 5...

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4:00 PM: One game suspension for Claude Giroux...that could be it for Philly if the rest of the team can't pick up the slack in his absence...and judging by last night, doesn't look like it's going to happen...we'll find out tomorrow...

I look for a big game from his buddy Jaromir Jagr, who has nothing but good things to say about him...

I don't know about anybody else, but I get the sense with every questionable hit or play the NHL is admitting they screwed up with Shea Weber on Henrik Zetterberg, and subsequently, they're trying to make up for it - you'll never hear anybody in a position of importance (Bettman?) admit it, though...in fact, I believe it was Bettman himself on his own radio show who felt the very idea was preposterous...and maybe at the end of the day he's right...but you just get that feeling...you know?

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12:32 PM: Chris Stevenson from QMI Agency reported today that Gary Bettman is getting ready to announce a tentative deal is in place to keep the Phoenix Coyotes right where they are...might explain why we haven't heard from him for the last week or so...reports are the franchise will be sold to a group headed by San Jose Sharks executive Greg Jamison...ESPN reported four days ago that an announcement is imminent...

If the Dogs actually go on to win the Stanley Cup, it'll be quite the story, won't it?  I have to say, if they get through and face L.A., it'll be one hell of a series, never mind if they manage to get to the Final...

Nothing on NHL.com or any of the other media outlets, yet...my guess is we might hear something this afternoon...

Should also hear if Claude Giroux gets any supplemental discipline for the hit on Dainius Zubrus last night...his hearing is today...we already know Rosti Klesla will miss the game tonight...

 

May 6, 2012

10:12 PM: Zubrus scores his 3rd of the playoffs, 2nd of this game, into an empty net at 19:15 of the 3rd...was tripped up on his way, but still managed to direct it in...would have counted anyway...can't interfere with the player if he has a clear path the empty net...

And the game ends 4-2, a 3-1 series lead for New Jersey...Happy Birthday, Marty...gets a point on the empty netter...Mark Fayne also with an assist...

Now I think I'm heading to my inverted massage chair for about an hour...I feel like Ilya Kovalchuk must have felt between Game 1 and Game 3...lower body injury...note to self, can't bend over anymore when troubleshooting the lawn mower...;)

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9:57 PM: I know Danny Briere is out there...I see his #48...but I don't see Danny Briere...seems oddly quiet in this game...he's not getting on the puck like he normally does...maybe he's hurting a little bit...

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9:17 PM: Dainius Zubrus' 2nd of the playoffs has given the Devils the 3-2 lead...at 17:47 of the 2nd period, Adam Henrique and Sykora assisted...

The period ended with Claude Giroux getting a 2 minute penalty for an illegal check to Zubrus' head...with just 3 seconds left in the period...that could have easily been a major and hit the showers...we'll have to wait and see if Giroux gets a call from Brendan Shanahan...Rostislav Klesla did, today, for a hit on Matt Halischuk in Game 4 between Phoenix and Nashville...and he was served a 1 game suspension...Giroux has been playing on the edge these entire playoffs...did he just cross the line?  We'll find out...

Shots on goal - 32-12, New Jersey...the fact that it's not 5-2 or 6-2 by now is a testament to Bryzgalov in net...but...he still gave up the go ahead goal...

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8:57 PM: Game 4 between Philadelphia and New Jersey, and to quote HNIC's Scott Oake - "it was an interesting first period"...indeed it was...the momentum pendulum swung back and forth at least 3 times, if not 4...the Devils came out flying and seemed like they would run away with it early...Peter Laviolette called an early time out, to try and settle down the team...

Then...the referees took over...two straight penalties on New Jersey, the second of which to Marek Zidlicky for interference...the end result, a power play goal from Scott Hartnell, 11:50 into the 1st, from Claude Giroux and Kimmo Timonen...Hartnell's 3rd made it 1-0 Flyers...it was what seems to me the first retaliation penalty New Jersey has taken in this series...moments later, the Devils would give up a shorthanded goal...Giroux, his 8th, give a helper to Max Talbot, at 13:40, and all of a sudden it was 2-0...New Jersey would respond, finally scoring on the same power play they gave up the goal on...in the dying seconds of an Andreas Lilja tripping call, Petr Sykora would get his 2nd, thanks in part to Zidlicky and Travis Zajac...at 15:14, it was 2-1...Devils would tie it before the period was out...at 18:10, Zidlicky, oddly enough with his 1st career Stanley Cup playoff goal, set up by Bryce Salvador and Ilya Kovalchuk...2-2...

That's where we stand, now just past the 10 minute mark of the 2nd period...

Shots on goal to this point in the game are 26-7, New Jersey...7-0 in this period...Ilya Bryzgalov's hot/cold streak is all of a sudden hot...

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5:45 PM: Brown scores his second of the game, into an empty net at 19:34 of the 3rd, and his 1st period goal turns out to be the Game and series clincher...Matt Greene and Anze Kopitar getting points on the play...and we have handshakes at Staples Center...

Kings sweep the Blues...first time ever in franchise history Los Angeles wins a playoff series in four straight...that's remarkable when you think about it - even the Great One himself can't add the feat to his illustrious list of records...and, it's the first time a team takes out #1 and #2 in the same playoff year (somehow I thought Edmonton did it in 2006, but Detroit was #1, San Jose was #5, Anaheim #6 - that playoff, the first after the work stoppage, was unique in that all four bottom seeds in the West won their respective first round series - it almost happened in the East this year)...of course, too, it's the first time a #8 seed gets to the Conference Final after only 9 games played...so now they'll enjoy a nice, well deserved rest...if Phoenix gets by Nashville, they'll attempt to go 1, 2, 3...then we'll all have to wait for the two Eastern series to complete...we know at least one of them is going 6 games, possibly 7...

Don't know if even Vegas could have predicted this...what were the odds for Los Angeles to win the Cup again?!  They have to be a lot better now than they were a month ago...

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4:50 PM: Despite a territorial advantage for St. Louis in the 2nd period, they continue to trail 2-1 after 40 minutes...20 minutes away from the Western Conference Final for the Kings, and for the Blues, 20 minutes to try and avoid a summertime of singing the Blues...

Shots on goal were 13-2 for St. Louis, for a 2 period total of 17-12...Jonathan Quick only had to be good, as the Los Angeles defense was there...

Blues are now 0 for 17 on the power play...

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3:57 PM: There's just no stopping the Kings...

So if this was Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final and you had to get your votes in for the Conn Smythe...who do you pick?  Jonathan Quick?  Dustin Penner?  Mike Richards?  Drew Doughty?  Anze Kopitar?  Or, the captain, Dustin Brown?  Tough choice, right?

Well, depending on what happens from here, Brown is certainly on a lot of people's minds...and he added to the hype, scoring his 5th of the playoffs in just L.A.'s 9th game...Kopitar and Doughty with helpers, at 18:17 of the 1st...used Alex Pietrangelo as a decoy and got it up over Brian Elliott's shoulder...

2-1, Kings...they're now at the 1st intermission...shots were better than 2-1 - 10-4, also in favor of the Kings...

The most telling stat for the Blues in this series - they're 0 for 15 on the power play...including a missed opportunity in the 1st period...

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3:40 PM: St. Louis ties it 1-1 on Kevin Shattenkirk's 1st of the playoffs...in fact, that is his 1st career NHL Playoff goal...1st goal from the Blues defense in these playoffs...Barrett Jackman assisted at 11:34...

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3:29 PM: First of all today, Happy Birthday not only to my father, who I understand is somewhere in the Ontario wilderness on his annual fishing trip, but also to New Jersey's Martin Brodeur...

It's Game 4 between St. Louis and Los Angeles - a win for the Kings and they are halfway to the Stanley Cup, and they're already leading early, again...they have been relentless in this series...

Jordan Nolan, son of former Buffalo and NY Islanders coach Ted Nolan, has his first career Stanley Cup Playoff goal...4:36 into the 1st, Dustin Penner assisted...

As an avid Oilers fan, I've watched Penner play this post season, and he looks like a completely different player...he seems possessed, has that fire in his eyes like Steve Yzerman used to have...something or somebody got to him - many pundits credit coach Darryl Sutter, but it's just mind boggling how somehow, he's bought into a system...kind of like when he was in Anaheim...I figure if I'm scratching and shaking my head, imagine how Kevin Lowe feels?!  Maybe it's the California sun...but then, how do you explain his disappearing act between the trade from Edmonton and when Sutter arrived?  Last year when the Kings played the Sharks you couldn't even tell he was part of the team...

 

May 5, 2012

3:05 PM: For Game 4 it's been a story of Washington's best players having to actually be their best players...and finally it would appear Alex Ovechkin has it going, somewhat...seemed to respond from the crowd's "Ovie" chant as the clock counted down to 8 minutes left in the 1st, as at 12:43, he scored his 4th of the playoffs, unassisted, to get the game going...shots on goal, 14-3, Capitals, after 20 minutes, and they took the 1-0 lead into the intermission...

Rangers responded - Artem Anisimov, 1:10 into the 2nd period, with his 2nd, Dan Girardi and Brian Boyle assisted, and we were tied 1-1...it took 10 minutes and 44 seconds for Nick Backstrom to finally score his first goal since double overtime of Game 2 of the Boston series - relegated to the checking line with Jason Chimera and Jason Ward, the move paid off as it was 2-1 at 11:54 of the second...the Rangers, again, however, would respond before the 40 minute mark - Marian Gaborik with his 3rd, and 2nd goal in as many games, at 16:43, from Anisimov and Marc Staal...so Anisimov with a goal and an assist, Gaborik and Backstrom both ending goal slumps...after the 2nd period we were deadlocked 2-2...the Rangers out shot the Capitals 10-6 thru the middle frame...

Only 4 penalties called this entire game...and at 13:45 of the 3rd, Carl Hagelin would go to the bin for a slash on John Carlson...at 14:12, Dennis Wideman would set up Mike Green for his 2nd goal of the playoffs...

3-2, Capitals...that is now a final score...the Rangers couldn't get anything going with the goalie pulled, as the Caps were content to just keep icing the puck until the clock ran out...and the end of the 2nd period appears to have been a good omen...after being deadlocked 2-2 on the scoreboard, a good grinding third period, and the series is now deadlocked 2-2 and is a best 2 out of 3...

I'm not too sure either team would have had anything left in the tank if they had to go to overtime again...now they can rest until Monday, back in New York...

As for me, looks like it'll be movie night tonight...no NHL action until tomorrow afternoon at 3 PM, when we'll find out if the Kings will sweep...thought there were 3 games on the schedule tomorrow - there are only 2...the afternoon game, and the Flyers-Devils Game 4 at 7:30...there are actually 3 possible games next Saturday, all potential Game 7s...if necessary...

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2:50 PM: So last game, New York's Marian Gaborik woke up...now it would appear Washington's Mike Green has woke up...3-2, Caps...with about 5 1/2 mins left...

Box score stats coming...

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2:48 PM: Game 4 between the NY Rangers and Washington Capitals...another close one...tied 2-2 right now in the 3rd...given that the last game went to 3OT, might be a good thing this is the only game on the schedule today...we could be here awhile...

138th running of the Kentucky Derby today too...always enjoy watching what is often referred to as "the most exciting 2 minutes in all of sports"...

 

May 4, 2012

10:43 PM: Phoenix ends up winning the game 1-0...and leads the series 3-1...the closest Nashville came to tying the game was a power play sequence late in the 3rd, the puck went in but it was waved off because Mike Smith was pushed into the net...

And talk about karma...David Legwand got away with putting his hand over the puck in the crease in the Detroit series...Rostislav Klesla of the Coyotes did the same thing in this game, and also got away with it...

Phoenix can wrap it up Monday night...if they can do it, they'd better send thank you cards to Radulov and Kostitsyn for breaking curfew...

Was just checking out the HNIC special It Happened On Hockey Night...they've been taking votes over the past several weeks on what viewers think are the best HNIC moments - and #1 was that game on New Year's Eve 1975 from the Montreal Forum between the Habs and the Soviet Red Army...Russian goaltender Vladimir Tretiak was virtually unknown on this side of the world until that legendary Summit Series of 1972, but in this game, the Habs out shot the Soviets 38-13, more than 3-1, but somehow the game still ended in a 3-3 tie...

--------------------

9:55 PM: Game 4 between Nashville and Phoenix, and only one goal scored so far...Shane Doan with his 3rd of the playoffs, 14:25 into the 1st period, Mikkel Boedker assisted...that's it...no scoring in the 2nd period or in the 3rd so far...

No Alex Radulov or Andrei Kostitsyn again, coach's decision to stick with the Game 3 winning lineup...

There's about 6 minutes left in the 3rd period...shots have been almost even...23-22, Phoenix...

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12:41 AM: So unlike in Game 2, things settled down and we finally got back to hockey in the Los Angeles-St. Louis series...and, well, the end result was more or less the same...

The Kings led 1-0 after 1 period, but in the 2nd, the Blues came out flying...actually tying the game 1-1 1:13 into the middle frame, Chris Stewart from Kris Russell, his first of the playoffs...but it only took 40 seconds for everything to go downhill from there...Dwight King finally got his 1st of the playoffs, assist from Matt Greene, at 1:53, and the Kings' 1 goal lead was restored...more penalty trouble for Jamie Langenbrunner, interference, and at 10:29 Mike Richards would score his 3rd, a power play marker, and Kopitar and Doughty would have their 2nd assists of the game...that turned out to be the GWG, but at the time it put the Kings up 3-1...4:35 into the 3rd, Stewart would strike again, from the returned Alex Pietrangelo and David Perron...all of a sudden it was 3-2...but at 8:12 of the 3rd, Doughty would salt it away...his 1st of the playoffs, from Richards and Jeff Carter...4-2, that turned out to be the final...Kings win and like in round 1 against Vancouver, have a stranglehold on St. Louis, 3-0 lead in the 2nd round series...

By far they're the story of these playoffs...we knew they'd be good, but we didn't know they'd steamroll their way through the top two seeds in the West...while every other series sits at 2-1, this one could be over on Sunday night...

 

May 3, 2012

10:50 PM: Alex Ponikarovsky, the former Leaf, 17:21 into the 1st overtime, set up by, guess who - Kovalchuk...and the Devils win 4-3, lead the series 2-1...

2 questionable calls on the Devils in the overtime period, but they killed both penalties off...yet another puck over the glass call...

Meanwhile, in Los Angeles for Game 3 vs St. Louis, after 20 minutes, it's 1-0 Kings thanks to Justin Williams' 2nd of the playoffs at 13:33 of the 1st, helpers to Drew Doughty and Anze Kopitar...

Looks like the bad blood from Game 2 has carried over to Game 3...Mike Richards slashed Jamie Langenbrunner, and then fought over it...14 total penalty minutes in the 1st - there weren't that many the entire game in New Jersey...I guess Langenbrunner, the former Devil, has had enough...

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10:19 PM: OK...so uLAr takes Kovalchuk for NJ, or Lindros for Philly...well played...

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10:10 PM: Can't believe Claude Giroux is a -1 in this game...since he's been trading places with Briere for team lead in goals, I'll take him for Philadelphia, Dainius Zubrus for New Jersey...

Don't think I need to ask uLAr who he's picking...;)...although, he did mention he might switch it up after the Game 1 loss...

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10:03 PM: Nothing resolved after regulation...so, big surprise, we have overtime in Game 3 between New Jersey and Philadelphia...

About to get underway in Los Angeles...

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9:50 PM: Tied again...seconds after Kovalchuk almost made it 4-2...James van Riemsdyk, who has been somewhat quiet, assisted on Danny Briere's 8th of the playoffs...at 11:04 of the 3rd...Wayne Simmonds also assisted...

Kovalchuk's shot from the hash marks beat Bryzgalov, didn't beat that section where the post and cross bar meet...

3-3...dare I even suggest what could be forthcoming?

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9:39 PM: Don't ask me how the Flyers didn't see Zach Parise coming, but at 7:29 of the 3rd he pots his 4th of the playoffs, Patrik Elias and Marek Zidlicky assisted...the Philly defense seemed to just stand back while Elias and Parise played shinny in the corner...

3-2, Devils...

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9:12 PM: If there's one rule I'd change if I were in charge, it would have to be that dumb puck over the glass delay of game penalty...I mean, OK, if you deliberately take the puck and shoot it into the crowd and it's blatantly obvious, sure, call it...but when you're trying to clear the puck down the ice and it clears the glass, that should not be a penalty...if that's a penalty, then call it when it goes into the player benches too...right...that's how silly the penalty is...garbage...I'm sure the 2006 Buffalo Sabres would agree with me wholeheartedly...

Especially when it hits the shaft of an opponent's stick and then goes out...Ilya Kovalchuk's clearing attempt appeared to deflect off a Philly player's stick...but they called the penalty anyway...you want to talk delay of game? - took the referees more time conversing about whether or not to call a delay of game penalty...what took longer, letting the play go, or calling the penalty?!...just saying...

Anyhow, nothing became of it...later on Brayden Schenn took a goalie interference penalty and the Devils eventually had a power play...

2nd period ends tied 2-2...shots are 18-16, New Jersey...they were leading 14-7 after the first...

Sean Couturier left this game with an obvious "lower body injury" and hasn't returned...

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8:43 PM: Tied 2-2...Matt Carle's 2nd of the playoffs, from Jakub Voracek and Scott Hartnell...at 4:44 of the 2nd...even strength for once...seems every time Philadelphia scores it's on special teams...

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8:05 PM: Looks like the game off did Kovalchuk some good...already has a goal and an assist, and just like that, the Devils now lead 2-1...

Philly's Braydon Coburn took a penalty for tripping Dainius Zubrus, and at 12:33 Patrik Elias got his 3rd, on a power play, Marek Zidlicky and Kovalchuk got the assists...took Kovalchuk just 20 more seconds after that to score his 4th of the playoffs, at 12:53, from Travis Zajac and Alex Ponikarovsky...by the way - 20 seconds between goals - that's a new Devils franchise playoff record...

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7:50 PM: Game 3 between New Jersey and Philadelphia...Ilya Kovalchuk, after a little rest, is back in the lineup...Adam Larsson stays in, Peter Harrold is out...not sure if that's fair, but what do I know...Peter De Boer said he couldn't keep him out of the lineup...

The Flyers have struck first, again...Brayden Schenn with his 3rd, 6:08 into the 1st, Danny Briere and Jaromir Jagr drawing helpers...a power play goal while Adam Henrique got called for the trip on Wayne Simmonds...

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6:15 PM: The NHLPA has filed an appeal of the Raffi Torres suspension...and...Gary Bettman's NHL Hour is not on tonight...coincidence!??!

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12:58 PM: Game time decision for Ilya Kovalchuk...as for Alex Pietrangelo, apparently he will be back for St. Louis...

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12:15 AM: Welcome back, Marian Gaborik...at 14:41 of the 3rd overtime period, assists to Brad Richards and Dan Girardi...the only thing the Rangers will care about - they win the game 2-1, lead the series 2-1...

It's a good thing these two don't hook up again until Saturday afternoon...they'll welcome the extra rest...

Next up - Philadelphia-New Jersey and St. Louis-Los Angeles Game 3...Game 4 Phoenix-Nashville the lone game on Friday night...Game 4 Rangers-Capitals, is a 12:30 PM start on Saturday...the weird part about that - there are no other games Saturday night...3 games on Sunday...

 

May 2, 2012

11:42 PM: Nashville is back in their series, still trail 2-1, but they win Game 3 2-0, Pekka Rinne made 32 saves for the shutout...none better than a sequence late in the game, with Phoenix on a 5 on 3...stopped them all...

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11:37 PM: First game of the 2012 Playoffs to go to triple OT...fatigue is becoming a factor...

It's the first Stanley Cup Playoff game to go this long since 2010 - Game 5 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinal series between Ottawa and Pittsburgh on April 22, 2010 went to the 3rd overtime before Matt Carkner was the unlikely hero...

There's 2:02 left in the 3rd in Nashville, still 2-0 Preds...

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10:51 PM: End of the 1st overtime in Washington...end of the 2nd period in Nashville...still 2-0 Predators, and obviously, still tied 1-1 between the Caps and Rags...

Washington killed off a big penalty towards the end of the OT, Alex Semin got called for a trip...an even up call for an similar penalty in regulation time on the Rangers...

Dan Girardi missed 5 minutes after taking a goal stick right between the eyes...his own team mate Henrik Lundqvist's stick...talk about a miscue...

Shots after 40 minutes, 22-16, Phoenix, but they trail on the only board that counts...that game might be over before the one in Washington...shots are an even 37 each there...

Fans in Washington have taken a page from the Rangers fans...when the clock gets down to 8 minutes, they chant "Ovie"...they've done it 4 times tonight...they might get a 5th chance tonight, at the rate we're going...Ovie beat Lundqvist but couldn't beat the post about halfway through the 4th period...

The most nervous fan in the building? - Braden Holtby's mom...

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10:15 PM: Goal picks...Matt Hendricks for Washington, John Mitchell for New York...uLAr: Dennis Wideman for Washington, Brad Richards for NY...

2nd period underway in Nashville...

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10:08 PM: Overtime at the Verizon Center...29-27 the shots on goal thru regulation, Washington...

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9:30 PM: Two Game 3s tonight: New York-Washington and Phoenix-Nashville...

They were tied 1-1 thru 40 minutes at the Verizon Center - there was no score after 1 period, first goal came at 6:41 of the 2nd period - Ryan Callahan's 4th from Michael Del Zotto and Marian Gaborik, and until 11:10, the Rangers led 1-0...that's when John Carlson scored his 1st, assists to Alex Semin and Karl Alzner...Alex Ovechkin has seen more ice time in this game, but should probably get some new sticks...can't seem to get a good shot without either fanning on it or breaking the stick...

They've just dropped the puck on the 3rd...shots through 2 periods, 22-21, Rangers...pretty even going so far...

Meanwhile, in Nashville, the Predators are already up 2-0, barely 10 minutes in, thanks to goals by David Legwand and Mike Fisher...the Catfish are flying, and so is the team...Legwand from Gabriel Bourque at 8:10, and Fisher from Martin Erat and Sergei Kostitstyn at 9:16...of course brother Andrei and Alex Radulov are sitting this one out after they violated curfew...evidently they were seen out in Phoenix until about 4 AM in the morning before Game 2...at least that's the rumor - nobody on the team, including the offenders, have confirmed or denied it...

If the Predators win this game handily, they might never make it back in the lineup...as I predicted, Tootoo and Halischuk are their replacements...didn't take a rocket scientist to figure that one out...

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3:38 PM: Montreal has named their new General Manager...Marc Bergevin, the former NHL defenseman was assistant general manager to Stan Bowman in Chicago - he becomes the 17th G.M. in Habs history...he beats out Tampa Bay Lightning assistant Julien Brisebois and present NBC/former TSN hockey analyst Pierre McGuire...

 

May 1, 2012

10:22 PM: Bryce Salvador scored into an empty net, while the Flyers were on a 6 on 4 power play...at 17:09, assist given to Adam Henrique

The game ended 4-1...series is tied 1-1, heading to Newark for Games 3 and 4...

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9:51 PM: Travis Zajac gets his 5th, a wraparound goal assisted by Stephen Gionta, at 14:01...

3-1...

Looks like Bryzgalov had his period of glory...

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9:47 PM: uLAr keeps telling me David Clarkson is going to get the winner in OT, well he may have the potential GWG in regulation...his 1st of the playoffs, at 11:17 of the 3rd, set up by Zach Parise, after a long scramble which eventually saw the net come off its moorings...the Flyers protested, but it counts as a goal...

2-1, Devils...

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9:36 PM: After out shooting the Flyers 12-2 in the 2nd period, the Devils finally get on the board 3:08 into the 3rd...Adam Larsson, 1st NHL Playoff game, 1st NHL Playoff goal...assists to Dainius Zubrus and Peter Harrold...the teams were 4 on 4...Marek Zidlicky was off for an elbow, Scott Hartnell for a stick hold...

That seems to have sparked the Flyers...now we've got a game!!

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8:51 PM: One benefit of having a crazy first round in the NHL, is now more of the elite players that otherwise would still be playing are able to attend the IIHF World Championship...when was the last time members of the Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks were able to attend and represent their country?

Looking at some of the rosters, and Canada and the U.S., as always, regardless of who they send over, look the strongest on paper, but look out for Sweden and Russia...Alfie, Silfverberg and Karlsson represent the Ottawa Senators...and the Mule, Johan Franzen, is there too...Finland might have the best goaltender - Dallas' Kari Lehtonen...and this just made me laugh - Cristobal Huet is on Team France's roster...seeding for the 2014 Olympics in Russia at stake in this tournament...

Russia might wish they had Ilya Bryzgalov...his game has improved tenfold since the Pittsburgh series...just made about four quality saves on the last sequence...Devils are doing everything except score...they're out shooting the Flyers 10-0 so far in the 2nd...23-9 overall...but they trail 1-0 on the scoreboard with about 8 minutes left...

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8:42 PM: St. Louis head coach Ken Hitchcock announced today we won't see Jaroslav Halak for at least the rest of the Los Angeles series...translation: already down 2-0 in the series, in all likelihood we won't see him again this season...

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8:35 PM: Nashville will have a new look when they take to the Bridgestone Arena ice for Game 3 of their series against Phoenix, tomorrow...Alex Radulov and Andrei Kostitsyn have both been suspended by the team after "an unspecified violation of team rules"...Radulov led reporters to believe they both violated team curfew...

So, it's probably safe to say we'll see Jordin Tootoo and Matt Halischuk for the first time in the series...

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8:08 PM: Game 2 between Philadelphia and New Jersey...and all the rage before this one was the status of one Ilya Kovalchuk, out of this game with what they're calling a "lower body injury"...speculation is it's his lower back...I've been mentioning since the conclusion of Game 7 that he just didn't look right (and in all fairness, uLAr mentioned it to me first)...having had my own experience with back pain, I can understand why...if indeed that's what's wrong...sometimes all I have to do is sneeze the wrong way and I'm out of commission for 3 days...can't imagine what it must be like trying to skate with a stick and a puck...with speed...never mind whether it's regulation or overtime...

So the Devils tonight went with 11 forwards and 7 defensemen, they've moved Peter Harrold up to the wing, but back on the point for power plays, and drawing in for the first time this post season is Adam Larsson...

The game started off just the way Philly wanted it to...Matt Read, 2:53 into the 1st, from Brayden Schenn and Wayne Simmonds...

Shots were 13-9, New Jersey...both teams have had two power plays apiece...in fact, Philadelphia's 2nd power play of the game will commence with the start of the 2nd period, as Bryce Salvador got called for interference at the 20 minute mark...

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