Thursday, April 29, 2010

Sammy Makes The Sports Dish's All-NHL First Round Team

The Sports Dish Exclusive: All-NHL First Round Team
The Sports Dish April 28, 2010

Right Wing- Mikael Samuelsson, Vancouver Canucks (7 G, 4 AST, 11PTS)

When your team is facing a Goalie as good as Jonathon Quick, it’s tough to score when you do not have an offense as good as Vancouver’s and a player as good as Mikael Samuelsson. Samuelsson was complety dominating Quick and the Kings defense during the series and scored 7 goals. He also helped score four more goals by providing his teammates with good passes, as well. Look for him to make a big presence in the series against the Blackhawks.

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Mikael Samuelsson Best Secondary Player In Round 1

Top 10 Secondary Players in Round 1
Dave Poleck The Hockey Writers April 28, 2010

1. Mikael Samuelsson (7 goals, 4 assists)

Samuelsson led the Canucks in goals and points and used his deadly wrist shot to expose Jonathan Quick’s weak glove all series long. In Samuelsson’s last three Finals’ runs with Detroit, he had 11 points in 18 games, 13 in 22 and 10 in 23 last year; his highest goal total over that stretch was five.

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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Canuck Offense Gets Edge Over Chicago Heading Into Series

Early look and prediction at Hawks-Canucks

Jesse Rogers ESPN Chicago April 28, 2010

Offense: Vancouver had the most potent attack in the Western Conference, but the Blackhawks weren’t far behind. Both teams have secondary scoring, but it didn’t surface as much for the Hawks in Round 1 as it will need to in Round 2. Players like Kris Versteeg and even Troy Brouwer might find the open ice against Vancouver a relief compared to Nashville’s stifling play, especially in games 1-4 of the opening round. There might not be a better top line in the conference than the Sedin twins along with Alex Burrows. And don’t forget about Pavol Demitra and Mikael Samuelsson. Samuelsson leads the NHL in goals in the postseason with seven. Edge: Canucks.

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Hot commodity Shirokov sticking with chosen path

Ken Wiebe Winnipeg Sun April 28, 2010

Sergei Shirokov has no plans to abandon his dream.

There are sure to be lucrative offers for the skilled forward to return to Russia and play in the Kontinental Hockey League, but Shirokov is still planning on being in North America next fall.

“Next year I’ll go back to training camp in Vancouver and then we’ll see what we’re doing,” said Shirokov, a 24-year-old from Moscow. “If they send me back down, I’ll go to Winnipeg to play and work hard. I want to play in the NHL.”

There were plenty of things for Shirokov to experience and adjust to as he played his first season in North America.

“It’s a very good season, lots of new things for me,” said Shirokov, a sixth-round pick (163rd overall) of the Canucks in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft. “Lots of emotions. New country, new language. I like (Canada), it’s very nice.”

Shirokov tied for the team lead in goals (22) and was second in points (45) to Marco Rosa (55) while appearing in 76 games with the Moose.

“Not bad, it was OK for the first year,” said Shirokov, when asked to assess his own play. “I want to score more goals. I need more shots.”

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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Puck Daddy of Yahoo! Sports Chats With Anton Volchenkov

Puck Daddy chats with Ottawa's Anton Volchenkov‏ about free agency, his Norris winner and why Senators lost to Penguins

Dmitri Chesnokov Puck Daddy, Yahoo! Sports April 27, 2010

Anton Volchenkov of the Ottawa Senators is a defenseman, and the Norris Trophy is the award given to the best player at his position. If Volchenkov had to chose the winner among 2010 finalists Drew Doughty of the Los Angeles Kings, Mike Green of the Washington Capitals and Duncan Keith of the Chicago Blackhawks, who gets his vote?

"Doughty is a really good player. I think this year he played really well. He's a young guy, but he is such a talented defenseman. He's had a great year," Volchenkov told Puck Daddy in an exclusive interview this week.

"Green? He's like a fourth forward when he's out there for Washington. I don't see him playing that seriously defensively, but offensively he is of a lot of benefit."

That's expected from Volchenkov, whose reputation is that of a "defensive" defenseman. He averaged 2.69 blocked shots per game this season, finishing in the NHL's top 10 in that category once again, while scoring only 14 points in 64 games this season. But his defensive abilities have made him one of the most interesting names on the unrestricted free agent market, after having just a $2.5 million cap hit for the Senators last season.

We spoke with Volchenkov about his impending free agency, the chances he'll return to Ottawa, why the Senators lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round, the Dany Heatley(notes) trade to the San Jose Sharks in hindsight, his offensive game and his Stanley Cup pick ... along with what he's driving and listening to these days.

Q. Now that the season is over for the Ottawa Senators, what is your assessment of it?

VOLCHENKOV: Of course we didn't do well in the playoffs. That's the main point. But at the same time we did make the playoffs to begin with, which means it was an OK season. This season was really tough because of the Olympics. It was especially hard because of the game against Canada. [Russia] really did not play well in that game. We simply burned out. But otherwise it was a good season.

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Monday, April 26, 2010

Pekka Rinne Believes Confidence Is Still High In Nashville

Nashville Predators insist confidence remains high against Chicago Blackhawks: Players say confidence still OK despite stunning Game 5 loss
Bryan Muller The Tennessean April 26, 2010

When the Predators returned home from Chicago on Saturday night, they held an impromptu meeting in the airport hangar.

Coach Barry Trotz told his players to keep their heads up, don't look back, and reminded them of some teams that came back from the brink of elimination to win playoff series.

"It was good to get everyone on the same page," goaltender Pekka Rinne said. "I think everybody was feeling bad about themselves, but you can't feel sorry for yourself. We're still in a good position. We need two more wins. It's pretty simple."

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Chatting with Ilya Kovalchuk about his future with Devils, NHL

Dmitry Chesnokov Puck Daddy, Yahoo! Sports April 24, 2010

As soon as the series against the Philadelphia Flyers was over, the talk of where the New Jersey Forward Ilya Kovalchuk(notes) may end up. For Kovalchuk, the thought of signing a new contract is not the most important thing in the world right now. Ilya welcomed his third child, a son, in March. And ever since being traded from the Atlanta Thrashers, he hasn't been able to spend a lot of time with his family.

That is why the morning after losing the quarterfinal series, he was packing his bags to catch an afternoon flight to Florida. Oddly enough, he was watching the KHL finals online when SovSport's Pavel Lysenkov called him.

"Wow, Ak Bars just scored," Ilya said right after he answered his phone. "I am watching the KHL finals, rooting for Ak Bars."

Here's Pavel's chat with Kovalchuk:

Q. What can you say about New Jersey?

KOVALCHUK: We didn't get what we really wanted. And we wanted the Stanley Cup.
I am very upset right now.

Are you going to the World Championships?

We'll see. I will talk to [the coaches] about it and we will decide what we'll do. But right now I am flying to Florida where my family lives right now. At least I will see my children. They have been living away from me since the beginning of February when I was traded to New Jersey. We only spent a couple of days together since then.

Going to the World Championships this time is a huge risk because you don't have a contract. You may get injured.

No one is safe from injuries. If you keep thinking about them, you will most certainly get injured. So, I am chasing these kinds of thoughts away. It will be decided soon. But I have to talk to [the coaches].

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Sammy's Lucky Break Helps The Canucks Advance

Canucks’ late goal finishes off Kings: Latest third-period rally sends Vancouver to conference semis
Associated Press April 26, 2010

Of all the breaks that went the Vancouver Canucks’ way in the final three games of their playoff series against the Los Angeles Kings, none was bigger than a fortuitous crack in Mikael Samuelsson’s stick.

When Samuelsson’s lumber snapped on a shot that sent the puck trickling meekly toward the net, Daniel Sedin was in perfect position to pounce. His late goal sent the Canucks into the second round on a wave of confidence in their talented twins’ top line, which is making its own good luck.

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Mikael Samuelsson's Hard Work Paying Off

The harder Samuelsson works the luckier he gets
Ben Kuzma The Province April 26, 2010

The media mob was surrounding Henrik and Daniel Sedin and allowed Mikael Samuelsson to catch his breath and contemplate another stunning playoff comeback Sunday. And while he didn't score to send the Vancouver Canucks to the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, he proved that there is no such thing as luck. There is preparation meeting opportunity.

When Samuelsson's stick broke as he teed up a slapper in the slot with the score tied 2-2 late in the third period, the puck found Daniel Sedin and his sharp-angle wrister beat Jonathan Quick for the game-winner en route to a 4-2 victory over the Los Angeles Kings.

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Perttu Lindgren and The Stars Advance as Texas Sweeps The Ice Hogs

Texas Stars Win 4-2, Sweep Series Against Rockford IceHogs
Texas Stars April 23, 2010

The Texas Stars (4-0) defeated the Rockford IceHogs (0-4) 4-2 on Friday night in front of 2,403 fans at the Rockford MetroCentre. The Stars completed the sweep of the Hogs, winning all four games in the best-of-seven series. Stars goalie Brent Krahn (4-0) stopped 38 of 40 Rockford shots in the win. Texas defenseman Andrew Hutchinson scored two power-play goals, helping the Stars advance to the second round for the first time in team history. Forwards Warren Peters and Mathieu Beaudoin also scored as Texas finished the year 10-2-0-0 against Rockford. Rockford’s Kyle Beach scored twice, as the IceHogs dropped their 10th straight playoff decision. IceHogs goalie Corey Crawford (0-4) made 20 saves on 23 Stars shots in his fourth straight loss. Texas will play the winner of the Chicago and Milwaukee series. Those two teams will play Game 7 in Chicago on Monday night....

In the second period, Texas tacked on two more goals to give the Stars a 3-0 lead after two periods of play. The Stars completed a rush with their second goal of the night after a great passing play involving Jamie Benn and Perttu Lindgren, which was finished off by Mathieu Beaudoin. Lindgren dropped off the puck to the right wing and Benn feathered a pass to the left wing for Beaudoin, who buried his second goal in as many nights for a 2-0 Stars lead at 8:38. Less than two minutes later, Texas struck again to open up a 3-0 lead at 10:23. Lindgren played the puck to the point and Hutchinson blasted a one-timer from the high slot for his second goal of the night. Travis Morin picked up the second assist on the power-play goal.

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Signing Samuelsson a coup for Canucks

Dave Lozo April 25, 2010

When Mikael Samuelsson signed with the Vancouver Canucks as a free agent last summer, it wasn't exactly an attention-grabbing move on par with Marian Gaborik and the Rangers, or Marian Hossa and the Blackhawks.

But at three years and $7.5 million, Samuelsson has been a bargain. Teammates rave about what he's brought to the Canucks after spending four seasons with the Detroit Red Wings. Besides leadership and Stanley Cup experience, he also contributed a career-high 30 goals while playing mostly on the second line, a stark contrast to his time in Detroit, where Samuelsson was a third-line player who didn't get anywhere near as much power-play time as he has in Vancouver.

"He's been great that way," Henrik Sedin said of Samuelsson's offense. "We know he's kind of an offensive talent to score more than he has. He was put in a different situation here, playing on the second line, more power play, and he's stepped up."

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Sens Season in Review, Volchenkov & Phillips A Superb Pairing

Sens in Review: More positives than negatives for Ottawa this season despite Saturday's early playoff exit
Roy MacGregor The Globe and Review April 25, 2010

It sure happens fast.

Today, a car flying down the Queensway with Ottawa Senators window flags flapping in the wind looks out of sorts, instantly out of season.

Time to stop the honking, wash off the red paint, put away the Alfie jerseys … This morning at Scotiabank Place, the Senators will clear out their lockers, some never to return. The coach and general manager and perhaps even the owner will have their final assessments of the year – more positives than minuses will be found, despite falling in the first round to the defending champion Pittsburgh Penguins – and the sports talk radio station will wonder what in the hell it will do in this single-sport town during the 144 days between now and the opening of camp...

The defensive pairing of Chris Phillips and Anton Volchenkov have become one of the league's best shut-down duos and, if Volchenkov can be re-signed over the summer, will continue together.

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Friday, April 23, 2010

The Physical Force That Is Anton Volchenkov

Leclaire Backstops Senators to Season-Saving Marathon Win
Brian Ciskie NHL Fan House April 23, 2010

There were countless shots that Leclaire didn't have to stop. That's because the guys in front of him -- led by gutsy defenseman Anton Volchenkov -- blocked a ton of shots. Volchenkov was a physical force in the game, and at one point had to crawl to the Ottawa bench during the third overtime.

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Samuelsson's a Swede surprise

Samuelsson's a Swede surprise
tearing it up: No matter what Henrik Sedin says, no one could have seen this coming

Gordon McIntyre The Province April 23, 2010

Had it been Christian Ehrhoff at the point and not Daniel Sedin, Mikael Samuelsson might have gone to the net for a rebound.

But since Ehrhoff was in front of the crease, screening Jonathan Quick, and it was a Sedin with the puck at the blueline, Samuelsson knew he had to be ready for anything.

So when Daniel's slap-pass arrived, Samuelsson turned his blade at the perfect angle to redirect the puck past Quick and pull the Canucks even at 3-3 at 7:29 of the third period in Wednesday's pivotal Game 4.

"I'm looking to do a little more with them, I guess," Samuelsson said about being moved to the Sedin line for the third period.

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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Smooth Play By Perttu Lindgren Helps Stars Take 3-0 Series Lead

Stars take 3-0 series stranglehold, win 6-1
Hundred Degree Hockey April 21, 2010

If you were able to watch or listen to tonight's game, consider yourself lucky. This was likely one of the most complete games the Texas Stars have ever put together. The Stars matched their record for goals for at 6 and smothered Rockford's offense, allowing only 1 goal in the game and not until the third period. Texas has still never trailed in the series. With a 3-0 series lead, the Stars hope to close out the series on Friday and wait for the winner of the Chicago/Milwaukee series to be decided....

Hannu Toivonen came out to start the third period. Texas would surrender one goal in the third, a goal by rookie Ben Smith. The Stars would add another by Mathieu Beaudoin in the period to bring the score to 6-1. Perttu Lindgren gets a lot of credit for Beaudoin's tally, as he skated all the way down behind the Rockford net and passed it through traffic to the waiting stick of Beaudoin in the slot for the one-timer. Travis Morin got the 2nd assist for his 5th point of the series.

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Meet The Players: Mikael Samuelsson

The Vancouver Sun April 22, 2010

He moved to North America in 2000 to join the San Jose Sharks organization. After one year there, he moved on in fairly rapid succession to play for the New York Rangers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Florida Panthers and Detroit Red Wings in that order. said laughing. He added that Sandra makes great lasagna and lots of good Swedish food as well.

He has few dislikes but is easily rattled in traffic. He likes to cut through it.

He is also a man who stands for social justice. When he sees unfair treatment of people both on and off the ice, "that rattles me too."

Mikael Samuelsson is married to Sandra who is from his native Sweden. He has two kids -4½-year-old William and 2½-year-old Stina. They live in Shaughnessy.

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Ilya Kovalchuk, "We have to just focus on ourselves"

Devils host must-win Game 5 against Flyers, who are expected to be without Carter, Gagne
Ira Podell Associated Press April 21, 2010

“We have to just focus on ourselves,” Devils forward Ilya Kovalchuk said. “It doesn’t matter who we’re going to play against, who is going to play who. You just have to be better than the other guy in front of you. Everybody has to take that challenge. We can’t lose anymore.”

This is exactly the situation the Devils faced 10 years ago in the Eastern Conference finals against Philadelphia and then rookie goalie Brian Boucher, who again is the Flyers goalie this series.

Brodeur and the Devils erased that 3-1 deficit en route to winning the Stanley Cup. That was the only New Jersey team to accomplish the feat. It has been done 20 times on 229 occasions, including twice by Minnesota Wild teams coached by Lemaire in 2003.

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Mikael Samuelsson's Experience Proving To Be Major Factor In Canucks Success

Kings not at all surprised by this series
Veterans had warned younger players it would be this way and now it's 2-2

Arash Markazi ESPN Los Angeles April 22, 2010

"This is was what I hoped for," Samuelsson said. "This is what I wanted. I wanted to play a bigger role. I really liked it in Detroit, but I got stuck a little bit there and I thought I could do bigger things and I still think that."

He has proven his worth so far, on and off the ice for a Vancouver team, which may have more playoff experience on the roster than the Kings but only has one player in Samuelsson who knows what it feels like to hold the Stanley Cup.

"He's been unbelievable for us and that's what we need," Henrik said about Samuelsson. "He's been there every game for us. It's been fun to play with him. He's really calm out there. He makes the plays that we need and he's really patient and if things don't go right he stays with it and that's what we need."

While the stat sheet will show Samuelson's impact on the ice, his ability to relax the Sedins and his teammates may be just as important. This is a team that would have almost certainly fallen behind 3-1 in a similar situation last year but stuck with its game plan and battled back to get the win this year.

"You have to approach it as a game," Samuelsson said. "If you want to get deep it's like if you're watching a movie. Last night I was watching a war movie. I can get into it, but you have to understand it's only a movie and this is only a game. It means a lot obviously, but you have to take it for what it is and separate yourself from it. I'm pretty easy going like that. I just try to stay calm."

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Senators must keep Anton Volchenkov Blog: Senators must keep Anton Volchenkov
Ken Campbell The Hockey News Blog April 21, 2010

Regardless of how the Ottawa Senators’ first round series against the Pittsburgh Penguins ultimately turns out, the team has some pressing concerns that need to be addressed, all of which relate to payroll.

It’s no surprise the Senators are in a salary cap crunch, given the fact they have 10 NHL-caliber forwards, five defensemen and two goaltenders under contract for next season. There are a lot of teams in the NHL that would kill to have the Senators’ cap woes.

Assuming the cap stays about the same – initial reports are that it should go up by about $800,000 to $57.6 million next season – the Senators will have a cushion somewhere in the neighborhood of $7.5 million going into the summer.

All of which looks great, but you have to remember that’s predicated on the assumption ownership will be willing to continue to eat Jonathan Cheechoo’s $3 million salary by keeping him in the minors next season. And when you consider they have to sign or replace restricted free agents Nick Foligno, Peter Regin, Jesse Winchester and Chris Campoli – and a huge unrestricted free agent in Anton Volchenkov – that cap space will evaporate in a hurry.

The most important of the signings is Volchenkov, given that the others are restricted and have far fewer options than the Senators’ best defensive and shot-blocking defenseman. There is little doubt Volchenkov will be looking for a substantial raise on his $2.5 million cap hit (he actually made $3.2 million in real money this past season) and a long-term deal that will include a no-movement clause and make him the Senators’ top-paid defenseman.

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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Rinne Dominates in Net as Preds Beat The Blackhawks 4-1

The Nashville Predators have their first 2-1 lead ever in an opening-round series. It's only fitting the first player they ever drafted played a key role....

Pekka Rinne stopped 26 shots and has allowed only two even-strength goals. Joel Ward and Shea Weber also scored for Nashville, and Martin Erat scored on a penalty shot late. The Predators more than made up for the absence of top goal-scorer Patric Hornqvist, scratched for a second straight game with an injury.

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Ilya Kovalchuk finds game

The Bergen Record April 21, 2010

Ilya Kovalchuk’s adjustment to playoff hockey took a significant turn for the better Wednesday night, though the Devils may have precious little time to enjoy his improved play...

"I felt good all four games," Kovalchuk said. "Sometimes, my [linemates] are in a better position and I have to pass it to them. Sometimes I get good passes from the guys and I take a shot. Again, tonight [Brian Boucher] made some big saves for them at the right time. But we all know we have to do better."

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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Sammuelsson Helps Canucks Take Series Lead Over LA

Kings down Canucks, take series lead
Sports News Radio April 19, 2010

Michal Handzus scored two power-play goals and added an assist to help Los Angeles defeat the Canucks, 5-3, in Game 3 of their Western Conference quarterfinal series at Staples Center.

The clubs split two overtime games in Vancouver, with Los Angeles dropping the opener, 3-2, before overcoming a two-goal first-period deficit to take Game 2 by the same score on Anze Kopitar’s winner.

Drew Doughty registered a goal and three assists for the sixth-seeded Kings, who hosted their first playoff game since April 27, 2002.

Ryan Smyth and Brad Richardson also tallied for Los Angeles, while Jonathan Quick made 25 saves on 28 shots.

Mikael Samuelsson, Daniel Sedin and Mason Raymond each had a goal for the Northwest Division champion Canucks, who were dealt an embarrassing 8-3 loss in their last visit to Los Angeles on April 1.

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Fortunus, Lindgren & Sawada put the Stars up 2-0 against Rockford

Texas Hockey Expert April 19, 2010

Another great defensive showing plus goals by Sawada, Fortunus and Lindgren, along with 2 assists from Colton Sceviour have put the Texas Stars up 2-0 and have them half way to winning the team's first ever Playoff Series as the Series will shift to Rockford, Illinois for Games 3, 4 & 5 coming up this week.

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Predators’ Rinne proves tough to solve

Predators’ Rinne proves tough to solve
He’s in position to fulfill one of the most time-worn postseason roles: the hot goalie that steals a series

Brian Hamilton Chicago Tribune April 19, 2010

From the gridlock in front of the net, the puck scooted to Marian Hossa on the right side of the crease. Nothing but chilled air separated the Blackhawks sniper from a score and some breathing room in Game 2 against the Predators on Sunday.

Then Pekka Rinne vaulted his 6-foot-5 body into that space, the series' other playoff-untested goalie from Finland lunging horizontally and consuming the lane in an instant. Rinne's body swallowed Hossa's shot. The Hawks winger dropped his shoulders, tilted his head back and looked skyward in exasperation.

A golden chance to build on a one-goal lead, bust open a must-win game and perhaps subvert the confidence of a playoff rookie? Finnished.

"There were some pretty remarkable saves there at the end of the regular season where I'm not quite sure how he kept it out," Predators center Jerred Smithson said. "But he did."

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Saturday, April 17, 2010

Kovalchuk hits, scores -- and wins

Please excuse Ilya Kovalchuk if his emotions sometimes get in the way of his spectacular moves and blistering shot.

"I'm an emotional guy and I should stay away from some of that stuff in front of the net, but you have to play tough so sometimes things happen out there," Kovalchuk said.

Players and fans of the New Jersey Devils saw another side of their prized midseason acquisition on Friday night in a 5-3 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal Round at Prudential Center.

Kovalchuk not only produced an empty-net goal, a pair of assists and a plus-2 rating, he also took a game-high six minutes in penalties on the way to earning his first Stanley Cup Playoff victory in six career games.

"It's nice," Kovalchuk said of leaving a playoff game as a winner for the first time. "That's what the playoffs are about. I knew I was going to win at some point. When we come to the rink tonight, we had no doubt in our minds we were going to win. We battled hard; we were down a goal twice and came back to win. It was great teamwork and everyone battled so hard and Marty (Brodeur) made unbelievable save in the third period and (Dainius Zubrus) scored a great goal.

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Preds win battle of Finnish goaltenders

CHICAGO -- Patrick Sharp couldn't believe his luck when he grabbed a turnover at the Nashville blue line in the first period of Friday's playoff opener between the Predators and Chicago Blackhawks.

It was the end of a shift, but Sharp took the puck and bolted for the net. Waiting there was Nashville goaltender Pekka Rinne. It looked like Sharp had an opening -- but Rinne made the save of the night by poke-checking the puck harmlessly to the corner as Sharp went to shoot.

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Friday, April 16, 2010

Devils' Ilya Kovalchuk: I was too emotional in Game 1 vs. Flyers

It was evident in the Devils' dressing room before Game 1 of their playoff series against the Flyers.
Ilya Kovalchuk was not exactly himself.
"He hasn't been in the playoffs that much. With that first game it's just good to get back into it," Dainius Zubrus said. "He had a lot of emotions going on."
Kovalchuk, who has only played in one other playoff series, did not deny that he may have been too fired-up in Game 1 Wednesday night.
"I felt very good physically. Maybe I was a little too emotional, so I overplayed on some plays," Kovalchuk said this morning. "You just have to try your best all the time and good things will happen."

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Classic Video: Mikael Samuelsson Game Winner vs. LA Kings 4-15-2010

Playoffs: Mikael Samuelsson Scores in OT vs Kings Apr. 15/10

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Samuelsson Receives 1st Star Honors from Yahoo! Sports Puck Daddy

Thursday's Three Stars: Samuelsson, Plekanec OT heroes
Sean Leahy Puck Daddy Yahoo! Sports April 16, 2010

No. 1 star: Mikael Samuelsson, Vancouver Canucks

The final game of the night needed an extra period to decide things and at 8:52 of overtime, Mikael Samuelsson's shot beat Los Angeles' Jonathan Quick(notes) for his second goal of the night as Vancouver took Game 1 3-2. The Sedins continued leaving their imprint on the Canucks' offense with Daniel adding a goal and an assist and Henrik recording two helpers of his own.

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Shirokov and Moose Ready To Rumble Against Hamilton Bulldogs

Antler Banter: Volume 24
Hockey Blog In Canada April 15, 2010

The AHL's Calder Cup Playoffs start this evening, and the Moose will be in Hamilton, Ontario to battle the North Division Champion Hamilton Bulldogs. These two teams battled to even 4-3-1 records this season, proving that there wasn't a lot of difference between the teams in the North Division. The familiarity also breeds contempt as the Bulldogs and Moose had moments of hand-to-hand combat this past season. We'll take a look at how these two teams match-up in this series, and what will be the keys to victory for the Moose....

Sergei Shirokov was Manitoba's most dangerous scorer against Hamilton, recording three goals and four assists. Evan Oberg and Marco Rosa recorded two goals and four assists each. A total of 22 Moose players recorded one point in the eight games against Hamilton.

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Samuelsson nets winner in overtime as Vancouver slips past L.A.

Canucks work overtime to get 1-0 jump on Kings: Samuelsson nets winner in overtime as Vancouver slips past L.A.
Canwest News Service April 16, 2010

The Vancouver Canucks had to work overtime to do so, but they struck first in their NHL Western Conference quarter-final series with the Los Angeles Kings.

Mikael Samuelsson scored his second of the night at 8:52 overtime to give the Canucks a 3-2 win Thursday before a towel-waving crowd at General Motors Place.

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Ilya Kovalchuk and Devils Will Bring "A Game" Tonight

Devils rather calm despite Game 1 loss to Flyers
Associated Press April 16, 2010

Ilya Kovalchuk, who probably was the Devils’ best player in the game, took a simple approach. He wants the Devils to shoot more, especially on the power play.

The Russian also knows the Devils can’t lose the opening two games at home.

“We just have to bring our A-game, our double A game,” Kovalchuk said. “We have to bring a lot of energy and be focused right from the first second.”

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Thursday, April 15, 2010

Volchenkov and Phillips Proving Early On To Be Crosby's Kryptonite

Senators’ duo stymies Sidney in opener
Adam Kimelman April 14, 2010

It's no surprise, then, that the Ottawa Senators made slowing the Penguins' captain a large part of their strategy going into the start of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series.

The shock was that they were able to accomplish their goal. Every team goes into games against the Penguins looking to slow down Crosby -- but the stats show how tough a task that is.

Led by defensemen Anton Volchenkov and Chris Phillips, the Senators held Crosby without a shot until 6:17 was left in the game. Crosby had 3 assists, but only one came at even-strength.

"That was the plan, to shut Crosby down," Volchenkov told "Every time Crosby jumped on the ice, it was a quick change and me and Philly (Phillips) jumped on."

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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Countrymen Rinne, Niemi reach first NHL playoffs

Rick Gano The Canadian Press April 14, 2010

Nashville's Pekka Rinne and Chicago's Antti Niemi share a homeland. On Friday night, the two Finnish goaltenders will have something else in common when they make their debuts in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

The six-foot-five Rinne went 32-16-5 this season and hopes to use his big frame to block the net for the seventh-seeded Predators.

Niemi, a 26-year-old rookie, took over late in the season as the Blackhawks' top goalie, starting the final nine games. He had a six-game winning streak before Chicago lost in overtime to Detroit in the season finale Sunday, knocking the Blackhawks into the second slot in the Western Conference.

With goaltending one of the biggest questions for the talented Blackhawks this season, Niemi supplanted Cristobal Huet as the starter and finished the season 26-7-4.

Niemi and Rinne each had seven shutouts.

"Both teams got young goalies and the comparisons are pretty accurate, very similar in a lot of ways," Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said.

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Samuelsson brings the ring-thing factor to the Canucks

Elliott Pap, Vancouver Sun April 14, 2010

There aren't many Stanley Cup rings in the Vancouver Canucks' dressing room and, given the team's history of never winning one, obviously the jewelry has been captured elsewhere and been imported.

Mikael Samuelsson won his ring two years ago while a member of the Detroit Red Wings and then reached the final again last season before the Wings fell in seven to Sid Crosby's Pittsburgh Penguins.

So Samuelsson has been there, he's done that and wants to do it again with his new team. The right-winger, 33, signed a three-year deal with the Canucks last summer, in part because they were seeking his playoff experience and savvy. Samuelsson has played 69 post-season games, all of them since 2005-06.

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Kovalchuk Prepared To Perform In The Playoffs

Ilya Kovalchuk gets shot at performing under pressure as New Jersey Devils face Flyers in playoffs
Kristie Ackert New York Daily News April 14, 2010

Kovalchuk, who had five seasons with at least 41 goals (including two with career-best 52) for Atlanta, will try to win his first playoff game in his eighth NHL campaign.

"I am excited," said Kovalchuk, 26. "to play with guys who have won a (Stanley) Cup already and a lot of young guys like me who just want to win one.

"This is when you show who you really are as a player."

A lot of people are waiting to see what kind of player Kovalchuk is when he is under playoff pressure. Even though Kovalchuk struggled in his first playoff appearance, a four-game sweep at the hands of the Rangers in 2007, the Devils felt the change of scenery would do Kovalchuk well.

With the window of opportunity to win Stanley Cups on the back of 37-year-old future Hall of Famer Martin Brodeur closing, the Devils gambled that Kovalchuk's offense would put them over the top. With Kovalchuk set to become a free agent on July 1, many general managers will be watching, willing to throw millions his way if he comes through for the Devils.

In the 2007 playoffs, Kovalchuk had a goal and an assist but was so frustrated by the Rangers, he dropped his gloves and attempted to fight Sean Avery.

"I don't like to think what happened before, but I was only (23) years old, there is a big difference," said Kovalchuk, the first pick of the 2001 draft. "I am more mature, I have played more games, I have played World Championships. I have played Olympics. So I know now what it is to win the big games."

According to Kovalchuk, no game is bigger than tonight's as the Devils attempt to set the tone for the playoffs. Kovalchuk is determined to come through in the clutch.

"You want to be the winner, don't want to be the loser," Kovalchuk said. "Always being done by middle of April, it was not fun. Winning the World Championships, it's good. but all the best players were still here and that's where the real good hockey is."

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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Nashville Gamebreaker: Pekka Rinne

It goes without saying that goaltender is a focal point for every playoff team, but for the low-scoring, defense-first Nashville Predators, the position's importance becomes elevated even further.

In their 11th season, the Predators will make their fifth postseason appearance this week –- also their fifth in the last six seasons -- and they will do so with their fourth different goalie.

This time, 27-year-old Pekka Rinne will make his debut as a No. 1 playoff netminder and he will enter the postseason among the League's hottest goalies. Over his final 14 games, the 6-foot-5 Rinne went 10-3-1, posting four shutouts.

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Ilya Kovalchuk Adds New Dimension To Cup Hopeful Devils

Devils ride surge into playoffs
Tom Gulitti The Record April 13, 2010

The biggest difference, however, is the presence of Ilya Kovalchuk, the two-time 50-goal scorer who Lamoriello acquired in a Feb. 4 trade with Atlanta. The addition of Kovalchuk, who scored 41 regular-season goals, has given the Devils a potent one-two punch with Zach Parise, who scored 38.

They also now have one of the game’s most dynamic and talented players.

"He certainly brings a different dimension to a team and brings you someone capable of breaking a game open at any given time," Lamoriello said of Kovalchuk. "More importantly, how he’s fit in with the team, how he’s accepted the team, how the team has accepted him with the abilities that he brings, all of that is a factor going into the playoffs."

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Amerks Reinforced For Playoffs With Addition of Evengy Dadonov

Rochester Amerks reinforced as Florida sends team seven players
Democrat and Chronicle April 13, 2010

The Rochester Amerks benefited Monday from the Florida Panthers not making the National Hockey League playoffs as the parent team sent seven players to Rochester.

Goalie Tyler Plante, defensemen Jason Garrison and Keaton Ellerby and forwards Shawn Matthias, Victor Oreskovich, Steve MacIntyre and Evgeny Dadonov have been reassigned to the Rochester Americans.

All will be available when the Amerks start the American Hockey League playoff against the Abbotsford Heat Thursday at the Blue Cross Arena.

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Monday, April 12, 2010

Pekka Rinne and Preds Pose Stern 1st-round Test For Blackhawks

Predators to pose stern 1st-round test
Adam L Jahns Chicago Sun Times April 12, 2010

The last time the Blackhawks played the Nashville Predators, there was snow on the ground and Christmas decorations on houses, trees and bushes.

It was Dec. 27, and the Hawks won 5-4. The Hawks have played 44 games since then. But the teams are about to get reacquainted....

Finn vs. Finn

A lot has been made about goalie Antti Niemi's lack of playoff experience. But Predators goalie Pekka Rinne, a Finn like Niemi, never has played in the postseason, either.

Rinne was 32-16-5 with a .911 save percentage and seven shutouts during the regular season. Niemi was 26-7-4 with a .912 save percentage and seven shutouts.

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Mikael Samuelsson Part of A Regular Season To Remember For Canucks

A Regular Season To Remember
JJ Guerrero April 11, 2010

The Canucks won 49 games, tying the franchise record set by the 2006/2007 edition. Their 30 home wins is a franchise record.

They scored 268 goals, 2nd in the NHL only to Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals. It’s their highest goal total since their first season at GM Place.

They ranked 3rd in win percentage (.795) in games in which they scored first; they also led the league with 11 wins after trailing in the third period.

Individually, several players also had career years....

In his first season with the Canucks, Mikael Samuelsson hit the 30-goal mark for the first time in his career and scored a career-high 53 points.

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The Top 10 NHL Playoff Storylines To Watch, #5 New Jersey's added dimension of Ilya Kovalchuk

The Top 10 NHL playoff storylines to watch
Sean Leahy April 11, 2010

5. New Jersey's added dimension of Ilya Kovalchuk

Since being dealt from the Atlanta Thrashers on February 4th, Kovalchuk has posted 10 goals and 15 assists in 27 games with the Devils. He brings a dimension to the New Jersey lineup that could make fans forget about their early departure last season against Carolina. Having played just four playoff games in his eight-year career, Kovalchuk is entering new territory being part of a team that has a reasonable chance to win a Stanley Cup. Devils head coach Jacques Lemaire is still working to find the right fit for Kovalchuk in the lineup, but since he's been almost a point-per-game player as a Devil, the line tinkering hasn't affected his production.

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Sergei Shirokov Named Manitoba Moose Rookie of The Year

Manitoba Moose Hand Out Team Year-End Awards April 11, 2010

As well, Moose newcomer Sergei Shirokov was named the Lawton Partners Rookie of the Year, while veteran Lawrence Nycholat was given the Payworks Best Defencemen Award.

Representatives from the Moose corporate partners were on hand for the pre-game ceremonies to present the award winners with their trophies.

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Kaspars Daugavins Scores 21st Goal In Home Finale

Smith tallies twice, B-Sens win home finale
Donald Rieber Jr. Binghamton Senators Examiner April 12, 2010

The Binghamton Senators closed out the home portion of their schedule on a high note Friday night with a 3-1 win over the Wilkes-Barre/ Scranton Penguins....

The final goal of the game came off the stick of Kaspars Daugavins and just 1:02 after Sill was ticketed for hooking. Erik Condra found Daugavins in front of the net to and he buried the puck into the back of the net. Geoff Kinrade added an assist.

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Hedberg Stops All 33 Shots To Earn 3rd Shutout of The Year

Thrashers go out fighting with a win
Chris Vivlamore The Atlanta Journal-Constitution April 10, 2010

Johan Hedberg stopped all 33 shots to earn his third shutout of the season.

“Even though we have been extremely disappointed the last few days here, you have to play for your fans and you have to play for your pride,” Hedberg said. “We did all that tonight. I was happy to see the fans come out. It was a great atmosphere in the building, and it leaves you with a good taste for the summer. Even though we are disappointed, I think we did a lot of things better this year than last year. … You have to keep building.

"Rome wasn’t built in one day. Hopefully this is a step that will carry us.”

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New Jersey Gamebreaker: Ilya Kovalchuk

Mike G. Morreale April 11, 2010

Wondering what keeps New Jersey Devils winger Ilya Kovalchuk up at night? How about the fact he's never won a Stanley Cup Playoff game in his seven-plus seasons.

"Our team (Atlanta) lost all four games in our only playoff appearance (in 2006-07), but I remember the great atmosphere in those games," Kovalchuk said. "But I'm still looking for first win in the playoffs."

The fact Kovalchuk had been winless in the postseason was of no concern to Devils General Manager Lou Lamoriello when he pulled the trigger on a five-player trade with the Thrashers in February to acquire the perennial 40-goal scorer....

While Kovalchuk adds a similar dynamic offensive presence for the Devils, not to mention a cannon for a shot, he also has an insatiable appetite to succeed at both ends and a powerful presence on the power-play. Kovalchuk has scored at least 12 power-play goals in each of the last six seasons.

"He's been very steady in his work," Devils coach Jacques Lemaire said of Kovalchuk. "He's played hard since he's been here. He makes things happen either for him or guys' he's playing with."...

"He knows how to make other people around him better, as you can see by the assists he gets," Lamoriello said. "He can do things that a lot of people can't do."

Kovalchuk is just the type of game-breaker the Devils will need to advance deep in the Stanley Cup Playoffs....

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Volchenkov and Sens D Square Off Against Sidney Crosby

Playoff Matchups: Sidney Crosby vs. Anton Volchenkov and Chris Phillips
Adam Gretz NHL FANHOUSE April 12, 2010

Getting the right individual or line matchup can go a long way toward winning a playoff series. Adam Gretz takes a look at some of the matchups that could be worth watching this postseason. This is one of them.

For the third time in four years the Pittsburgh Penguins and Ottawa Senators are facing off in the opening round of the Eastern Conference playoffs. The Senators won the first meeting in five games during the 2006-07 season on their way to the Stanley Cup Final, while the Penguins swept the Senators in four straight games the following year on their way to the Final.

Sidney Crosby has been the Penguins' best offensive weapon this season, recording a career-best 51 goals to go with 58 assists. If past history is any indicator, he'll be seeing plenty of Ottawa's shutdown defensive pairing of Anton Volchenkov and Chris Phillips. During their first two postseason meetings, Crosby has tallied 13 points in nine games, including eight in the 2008 series. But it's matchup that hasn't really worked in his favor in the two years since.

The Matchup: Crosby vs. Volchenkov and Phillips

Over the past two seasons Crosby has played eight regular season games against the Senators, scoring just one goal to go with six assists. A large reason for his pedestrian (by Crosby's standards) numbers is the relentless play of Volchenkov and Phillips. First, let's take a look at how Crosby has performed against them the past two years, compared to how he's performed against other defensive pairings from Ottawa.

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Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Family Man, Ilya Kovalchuk

Trip to Florida is a real homecoming for Devils' Ilya Kovalchuk
Richard Chere The Star Ledger April 7, 2010

With the pressure of the Stanley Cup playoffs less than a week away, Ilya Kovalchuk got to relax with his young family at their condo in Florida.

After the Devils' 3-0 victory in Atlanta Tuesday night, Kovalchuk got permission from general manager Lou Lamoriello to fly to Florida with his mother, Luba, instead of taking the team's charter.

He spent Tuesday night at his Fisher Island home with his wife, Nicole, and their three children-- Karolina, Philipp and newborn Artem. Kovalchuk then made the one hour drive to Wednesday's afternoon practice at the BankAtlantic Center.

"The schedule was perfect," Kovalchuk said. "I flew from Atlanta with my mom after the game so she wouldn't have to stay an extra night. I was at home last night, I drove to practice today and I'm going to go back now. Very nice.

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Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Playoff stage awaits Ilya Kovalchuk

"He works hard, he wants to win, and maybe that's why I think maybe he's a better player than I thought he was. He wants to win so much. He enjoys the game, which I didn't see that as much as when he wasn't around," the veteran coach and Hall of Fame player said. "He's a real player. He's a guy that he wants to improve. He wants to do well. He wants the team to win. He's not selfish; those things that you don't know when the guy's away. And then when they come in, sometimes you do get some surprises, could be negative or positive. This one was positive, big time."

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Shirokov- Goal and Assist to lead Manitoba to 2-1 win over Bulldogs

With an opportunity to perhaps leave a lasting impression on a potential first-round playoff opponent, the Manitoba Moose also kept their hopes of a third-place finish alive.

Thanks to a 2-1 victory over the first-place Hamilton Bulldogs before a crowd of 3,079 at Copps Coliseum on Tuesday, the Moose moved within two points of the Abbotsford Heat, who hold a game in hand and play a road game Wednesday against the Lake Erie Monsters.

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Volchenkov talks terror

I am waiting for Volchenkov to finish. He is standing facing a posse of reporters in a corridor at Scotiabank Place answering questions to do with The Second World — sports, in this case, hockey — but I want to talk to him about the moment this week he suffered a rare and serious jolt into The First World, the everyday, more important one beyond all he’s known for most of his 28 years.

The reporters are finished with Anton Volchenkov, the worst friend an airborne chunk of rubber ever had, and after introducing myself, he seems relieved when I tell him I don’t care to hear his millionth media seminar on blocking shots, or to winkle out the mystery of his “upper body” injury — “I want to talk to you, Anton, about the tragic terrorist subway suicide bombings in Moscow, your hometown, and how you were affected by them.”

Thirty-nine subway riders killed, 70 injured, the separatist Chechen rebels claiming responsibility, promising more of the same, and Anton Volchenkov, who is more than just jock sweat, shakes his head in a slow, deliberate, grim-faced manner that reflects the reality...

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Hedberg Wins Georgia’s Own Credit Union Three Stars of the Year Award

Atlanta Thrashers goaltender Johan Hedberg has won the 2009-10 Georgia’s Own Credit Union Three Stars of the Year Award, and for the second consecutive year, forward Marty Reasoner has been selected by his teammates to receive the Players’ Player Award. Both awards will be presented prior to tonight’s game against the New Jersey Devils at Philips Arena (7 p.m.).

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Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Panthers forward Evgeny Dadonov talks about playing his first NHL game tonight against the Senators.

Listen to Evgeny Dadonov chat about playing in his first NHL game tonight vs. Ottawa Senators

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The Devils, Ilya Kovalchuk and Protecting 1-Goal Leads

It wouldn't be much of a surprise if Ilya Kovalchuk leaves the New Jersey Devils (whether that be after this season or several years down the line) as a better all-around player than he was the day he arrived. Would you expect anything less from Jacques Lemaire, the master of structure and defensive hockey?

Since the Devils acquired Kovalchuk in early February, they've had no hesitation when it comes to playing him in late-game situations to protect the slimmest of leads. It's something he didn't always get the opportunity to do in Atlanta this season, unless a prime opportunity presented itself (power play, offensive zone face-off, etc.)....

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Evgeny Dadonov will make his NHL debut Tonight

Evgeny Dadonov will make his NHL debut Tuesday night.

Dadonov, the 71st overall pick in the 2007 NHL Draft by the Panthers, has 17 goals with 23 assists with the Americans this season. This is Dadonov's first North American pro season; he played in Russia last year.
``He's a very skilled, talented player, but he had to adjust to the North American game,'' general manager Randy Sexton said of Dadonov. ``He's done that and has worked hard on both ends of the puck. His offense has really picked up in the second half of the season as he's adjusted. We're rewarding a guy who deserves the chance.''

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Monday, April 5, 2010

Ilya Kovalchuk looking forward to return to Atlanta in a Devils jersey

In a city that embraces the tomahawk chop, Chipper Jones and college sports moreso than hockey, Ilya Kovalchuk was still someone very special.
They may have had some trouble understanding his Russian accent, and he their southern drawl, but for more than eight seasons Kovalchuk forced Georgians to pay at least some attention to the Thrashers.
Now he wonders how they will react when he returns to Philips Arena Tuesday night wearing a Devils jersey, well aware that he turned down lucrative offers to sign a contract extension with the team that drafted him first overall in 2001....

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Friday, April 2, 2010

Pekka Rinne made 31 saves for the Predators in their 3-2 win March 1, 2010

Pekka Rinne made 31 saves for the Predators in their 3-2 win over St.Louis on Thursday night. Rinne continues to steamroll the NHL, and it's starting to get to the point where you have to think teams are hoping they avoid the Predators in the first round of the playoffs.

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Sens Fan Describes Her Love For Anton Volchenkov and Her Game Used Volchy Jersey

"Jerseys Off Our Backs" Fan Interviews
Sens TV Online April 1, 2010

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Thursday, April 1, 2010

Finest In March (KHL)

The KHL has named the players who were the best of the month in four categories.

- The best goaltender of the month is Ivan Kasutin (Neftekhimik). The keeper played 12 games in March, and in three of these he kept a clean sheet. Overall, he conceded an average of just 1.29 goals per game and saved 95.7% of the shots he faced.

- The best defenseman of the month is Alexander Guskov (Lokomotiv). Heplayed in 13 games and scored four goals, one of which was a game-winner, made three assists and earned an efficiency rating of +7.

- The best attacker of the month is Alexander Radulov (Salavat Yulaev, pictured). In the 13 games he played this month, he scored five goals, including two game-winners, supplied 16 assists and achieved a rating of +12.

- The best rookie (i.e. a player born in 1987 or later, who has played no more than 20 top-level games in previous national tournaments) of the month is Konstantin Plaksin (Traktor). In his 7 games he supplied the assists for 3 goals, merited a rating of +2 and spent an average 24 minutes 53 seconds on the ice in each game.

The Volchenkov/Sutton Non-Argument...

Nobody in the mainstream press is saying it, but you get the impression from some fans, through the blogs and the call-in shows, that Andy Sutton just might be a fine replacement for Anton Volchenkov next season, the premise being that GM Bryan Murray won’t be able to sign both under the salary cap.

For one, it’s not out of the question for Murray to keep both of them (in fact, I think it's likely). Filip Kuba can be moved this summer when his no-trade clause expires, and he may not be missed with the sudden emergence of Erik Karlsson as this team’s best offensive defenseman....

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Sens Gearing Up For Playoffs and Volchenkov's Return

Sens look for playoff payoff
Don Brennan Slam! Sports April 1, 2010

Also suiting up will be defenceman Anton Volchenkov, who suffered an upper-body injury while accidentally on the receiving end of a big body check by teammate Andy “Mount” Sutton in Saturday’s game against Florida. Volchenkov missed Tuesday’s 5-4 overtime victory in Washington that extended the Senators’ winning streak to five games.

“Feels much better than it did a couple of days ago,” said Volchenkov. “Still a bit tight, but not bad.”

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Stats Don't Lie, Kovalchuk Making Big Impact With Devils

Don’tcha Wish…
Michael Kenneth March 31, 2010

Let me put things into statistical perspective for you.

Since coming to the New Jersey Devils, Ilya Kovalchuk has recorded 20 points (8g-12a) and a +6 rating in 20 games.

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Canucks Coming Together at Right Time, Samuelsson Back Soon

Canucks Coming Together at Right Time
Susan Sussler NHL Fanhouse March 31, 2010

Burrows expects that the Canucks will be adding back in some pieces in the next week or so, with ex-Red Wing Mikael Samuelsson (shoulder) and Steve Bernier (groin) skating with the team again and Pavol Demitra back after missing a week because his wife, Maria, has had some serious medical issues. Burrows said that even Willie Mitchell, out since January with a concussion, might be potentially available in the playoffs.

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Riku Helenius Tops in Swedish Kvalserien

SSK, RBK on verge of protecting spots
Bill Meltzer March 31, 2010

In Swedish hockey, the bottom two teams during the Elitserien regular season are forced to play a double-round robin postseason tournament with the top four teams from minor league Allsvenskan. The top two finishers in the qualification series (called kvalserien in Swedish) earn spots in the Swedish Elite League the following season while the rest play in Allsvenskan.

Through the first five games of Kvalserien, the two incumbent Elitserien teams, Södertälje SK and Rögle BK, have jumped ahead of their Allsvenskan pursuers. SSK enjoys a perfect 5-0 record with all the wins coming in regulation, earning all 15 possible points so far. With 10 points, RBK has lost once with two ties. The closest Allsvenskan challengers are former Elitserien clubs AIK Stockholm (7 points) and Leksands IF (6 points).

SSK's Linus Videll leads the Kvalserien scoring race with 4 goals and 10 points. SSK goalie Riku Helenius has been the top keeper with a 2.00 goals against average, .925 save percentage and the lone shutout recorded by any goalie in the tournament to date.

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