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Canucks-Flames Preview (The Associated Press)
(Tue, 21 Apr 2015 07:29:47 PDT)
The last time the Calgary Flames held a lead three games into a postseason series, they dropped Game 4 at home and went on to lose in seven. They'll try to avoid that same mid-series misstep Tuesday night against the Vancouver Canucks in a first-round Western Conference clash that's grown plenty physical in the last two games. "It's going to be all about our start," center Joe Colborne told the Flames' official website. It's going to be another hard-fought, physical game and we're expecting a lot of the same." The Flames didn't have any trouble getting up for their first home playoff game since 2009 on Sunday with a 4-2 win to regain the series lead and improve to 5-0-2 at home since March 19.

Vancouver's Sedin twins look to get going in Game 4 (The Associated Press)
(Mon, 20 Apr 2015 18:32:56 PDT)
When the Vancouver Canucks beat the Calgary Flames last Friday, their power play clicked and their top line scored. Neither of those things happened during losses in Games 1 and 3 to the Flames and the Canucks find themselves facing a 2-1 deficit in their Western Conference quarterfinal series. ''The second game at home our power play was really good,'' Canucks forward Daniel Sedin said Monday. ''In a game like that on the road, you need your power play to step up.'' Sedin scored his only goal of the series when he converted a pass from his brother Henrik at 2:56 of the first period in Friday's win at Vancouver.

Detroit expects Abdelkader back for Game 3 against Tampa Bay (The Associated Press)
(Mon, 20 Apr 2015 17:07:05 PDT)
Even though they managed a split in the first two games at Tampa Bay, the Detroit Red Wings are trying to turn this playoff series around. The Lightning have outshot Detroit handily so far, so it's the Red Wings who look like the team that needs to adjust before Tuesday night's Game 3 in Motown. Detroit expects to have left wing Justin Abdelkader back from a hand injury - he hasn't played since April 4. ''I think my game is really suited for the playoffs and I can help the team,'' Abdelkader said.

What We Learned: Reconsidering the Edmonton Oilers’ failures (Puck Daddy)
(Mon, 20 Apr 2015 06:19:25 PDT)
(Hello, this is a feature that will run through the entire season and aims to recap the weekend’s events and boils those events down to one admittedly superficial fact or stupid opinion about each team. Feel free to complain about it.) There are a great many things for which the Edmonton Oilers can, are, and should be criticized over the last decade. A great many things. But when they won the draft lottery on Saturday night, the immediate reaction among many hockey fans and pundits alike was to trash them for picking first overall for the fourth time in six years. “It's rewarding failure,” and so on, as though this isn't what the draft order being predicated upon reverse order of finish isn't the same exact thing. “They don't deserve another first pick,” and so on, as though the Penguins getting the Nos. 5, 1, 2, 1, and 2 again in four straight draft years was in some way fine and dandy while this is not. And the best one: “Look how they screwed up the other first-round picks,” and so on, as though Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Nail Yakupov are somehow horrible players contributing to the Oilers' continued failure. People are obviously allowed to think what they want about the system and the way it rewards ineptitude, but to say that any of these players somehow haven't “worked out” for the Oilers is ludicrous. It's been said before but when you pick first overall, you're kind of a slave to what's available to you. You could, in theory, trade down, but that happens on very, very rare occasions, and indeed doesn't necessarily guarantee any sort of success even if you aren't super-enamored of the consensus No. 1 guy. It's not like the Oilers went off the board to draft Hall, Nugent-Hopkins, or Yakupov. All were the clear No. 1 choices, and all are working out to be at least among the best in their draft classes. The Oilers, if anything, are victims of circumstance in some regards. Because the first thing to keep in mind here is that if you're trapped by the responsibility of picking first overall, and you have to take what you're dealt in terms of “best player available,” that doesn't mean you're necessarily getting what you need as a franchise (not that “drafting for need” is a necessarily good thing either). Hall is a left wing, Nugent-Hopkins a center, and Yakupov a right wing. Tough bounces to draft an entire line in three straight years and not, say, a franchise-changing defenseman like Aaron Ekblad — a rare blue line talent who at 18 years old looks like he absolutely belonged at the NHL level — which is what they really need. Maybe you criticize the choice of Yakupov over Ryan Murray in that regard, but Murray only has 78 games of NHL experience under his belt and has mostly looked only a little above average when he's been healthy. It's also not the Oilers' fault that the years in which they picked first overall were not exactly ones in which major difference-makers were available. And that's not to slight Hall or Nugent-Hopkins, both of whom influence the game at high levels, but rather to say that they are not necessarily a Stamkos or Tavares (the two years before the Hall draft) or MacKinnon and Ekblad (the two years after the Yakupov draft). Looking at it individually, in fact, it becomes clear that the Oilers couldn't really have expected to do a lot better than they have when drafting first overall. There was Taylor vs. Tyler, of course, but it's not as though either has done much to separate himself as the clear winner here. You can argue that centers are more important than left wings, and you'd be right, but these are extremely comparable players at the very least. (Hall, for instance, has a higher points-per-game over his career than does Seguin, though certainly their circumstances have varied.) Were it not for myriad injuries slowing Hall — and causing him to play 55 fewer games than Seguin — the issue becomes even muddier. Certainly, Hall has been among the premier left wings in the NHL more or less since his arrival in the league, and if you can get a guy like that first overall, then you cannot have failed in any way. And if injuries have been a problem for Hall, they're a nightmare for Nugent-Hopkins, who has missed at least a few games in every season but one in his young career. But if you strip away the injury concerns and just look at this year, for instance, you see a picture of an emerging great center in this league. Based on the “ similarity scores ” calculator on War on Ice, the players to which Nugent-Hopkins' output in 2014-15 — which he started as a 21-year-old — was most comparable were guys like James Neal at age 23 (good player); John Tavares at 19, 20, 21, and 22 (good player); Jordan Eberle at 23 and 24 (good player); Alex Galchenyuk at 20 (good player); Eric Staal at 21 (good player); Nathan Horton at 23 (good player); and Jonathan Toews at 19 (good player). So the idea that Nugent-Hopkins has somehow failed is, clearly, based on his team's lack of success rather than his own. And then you come to Yakupov, who just wrapped up his age-20 season. His comparables are a little iffier (age-20 Matt Duchene is great as the top one, age-22 Mason Raymond not so much as the second). In fact, examining these two at a similar age goes a long way toward telling you what Yakupov might become.

Truculence reigns supreme in Calgary's 4-2 win over Vancouver (Puck Daddy)
(Mon, 20 Apr 2015 00:27:42 PDT)
It's pretty clear now that there is no love lost between the Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks. In Games 2 and 3, the teams have combined for 213 penalty minutes in the THIRD PERIOD alone. Although Game 2 was much more of a melee, the teams mellowed out a bit for Game 3. A bit. Calgary entered the third period on Sunday with a 2-1 lead. Minutes after puck drop to start the period, 18-year-old Sam Bennett scored his first NHL goal to put the Flames up 3-1.   Then, as it had in games past, 'ish started to hit the fan. The penalties from the third period were as follows:

Brodie, Bennett lead Flames past Canucks 4-2 in Game 3 (The Associated Press)
(Sun, 19 Apr 2015 23:42:10 PDT)
Sam Bennett gave the Calgary Flames some breathing room with a goal he'll never forget. It was his first in the NHL. The 18-year-old Bennett gave the Flames a two-goal lead early in the third period of a 4-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday night. TJ Brodie had a goal and an assist, and Brandon Bollig and Sean Monahan also had goals for the Flames, who took a 2-1 lead in their first-round playoff series.

NHL Three Stars: Overtime heroics by Tavares and Weise (Puck Daddy)
(Sun, 19 Apr 2015 23:20:00 PDT)
No. 1 Star: Dale Weise, Montreal Canadiens In Game 3, Weise played the role of evil stepmother in the Cinderella-esque run of the Senators. With 5:47 remaining in the game, the Habs forward scored the game tying goal. He followed it up with a controversial game winning OT goal at 11:13 . With the win, the Canadiens take a 3-0 stranglehold on the series. No. 2 Star: Scott Darling, Chicago Blackhawks Darling made his first ever playoff start count by fending off 35 shots by the Nashville Predators in the Blackhawks 4-2 win. Chicago goes up in the series 2-1. No. 3 Star: John Tavares, New York Islanders Doesn't get much better than a playoff overtime goal in front of the home crowd, does it? With Tavares's goal 15-seconds into overtime , the Islanders take a 2-1 series lead over the Capitals. Honorable Mention: Braden Holtby returned to the net for Washington after sitting out Game 2 due to illness. He made 40 saves in the loss. The Isles and Caps combined for 87 hits in the game ... Torrey Mitchell assisted on both Dale Weise goals. Ottawa alone was credited with 61 hits (hometown scoring, much?). Craig Anderson took to the net for the Senators in Game 3; making 47 saves against Montreal. He fared pretty well considering he hasn't played since March 29th and his last win was on March 9th. Erik Karlsson recorded 6 hits, including this terrific one on Nathan Beaulieu:   ... Jonathan Toews had a goal, an assist, and was 67% on the face-off dot. Nashville credited with 57 hits to Chicago's 37. Craig Smith assisted on both Predators goals and had 6 SOG. I believe the correct phrase for this next highlight is 'KNEEL BEFORE SAAD': ... Congrats to Calgary youngster Sam Bennett for killing two birds with one stone by scoring his first NHL goal and his first playoff goal in the same play. It stood as the game winner in the Flames 4-2 victory. The Flames have taken a 2-1 series lead. Best moment of the game came as Jonas Hiller got out of the way of a scrum. As the great  Earl Milford of the Milford School said, "Children should be neither seen nor heard ." GIF Hiller emerges from the scrum like a bantha pic.twitter.com/OdCM9kqI6Q — Stephanie Vail (@myregularface) April 20, 2015 Did You Know?  Calgary's Michael Ferland is not allowed to hit the Sedins because his mom said not to. #Flames Michael Ferland’s mom told him not to hit the Sedins. “She told me, 'Leave the Sedins alone.' She loves them,” he said. — Randy Sportak (@SUNRandySportak) April 20, 2015 Dishonorable Mention: Eric Fehr left the game early in the first after a hit by Kyle Okposo. He sustained an upper-body injury and is questionable for Game 4 ... Nathan Beaulieu, featured in the Karlsson hit above, played out the rest of the second period and did not return for the third. Michel Therrien revealed it was an upper-body injury and nothing else. Shocking ... Punching people while on they're on the bench is not going to help your rep, Mike Ribero. Even if the person is Andrew Shaw, it's not OK: GIF here's the close up/replay of Ribeiro throwing a punch at Shaw's face because Shaw was holding his arm pic.twitter.com/0ktGl6cF5t — Stephanie Vail (@myregularface) April 19, 2015 ...  Eddie Lack has dropped 2 of 3 games for the Canucks. Have to wonder if Ryan Miller might make an appearance in Game 4. Congrats to Alexandre Burrows on his 21 PIM evening. - - - - - - - Jen Neale is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email her at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow her on Twitter! Follow @MsJenNeale_PD . MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY:

NHL-Highlights of Sunday's playoff games
(Sun, 19 Apr 2015 22:48:57 PDT)
Highlights of Sunday's National Hockey League playoff games: - - - Canadiens 2, Senators 1 (OT) Montreal took a commanding 3-0 series lead over the Ottawa Senators when winger Dale Weise scored his second goal of the game at 8:47 of overtime to give the Canadiens a narrow victory on Sunday. Weise's snap-shot from the left wing circle went behind Senators goalie Craig Anderson on the short side, the only blemish in an otherwise exceptional 47-save effort. The Canadiens outshot the Senators 9-7 in overtime and 49-34 overall, responding well to tie the game late in the third period after Clarke MacArthur had scored for the Senators in the first.

Kingston Frontenacs grad Sam Bennett scores first NHL goal for Calgary Flames (VIDEO) (Buzzing The Net)
(Sun, 19 Apr 2015 21:44:32 PDT)
Sam Bennett scored many goals for the Kingston Frontenacs by locating the puck amid a chaotic tangle of random swinging in the crease. That was essentially how the 18-year-old, who has gone from playing in the Ontario Hockey League playoffs to playing in high-leverage situations for the Calgary Flames in the Stanley Cup playoffs, got his first NHL goal on Sunday night. In his fourth NHL game, Bennett got on the board by making a pass out from behind the net, then homing in on the puck and whacking it by Eddie Lack. It was the eventual game-winner in the Flames' 4-2 win that opened a 2-1 lead in the series, as the centre continued to hint that he might have made the NHL last fall if not for the left shoulder surgery that kept him out until he rejoined the Frontenacs in February for a tune-up. At 18 years and 303 days old, Bennett is the second-youngest player to score for the Flames in the playoffs. Nice way to turn heads on the same weekend that Bennett's former minor hockey centre, Connor McDavid, essentially became a division rival when the Edmonton Oilers won the draft lottery. It also came after Bennett had shrugged off an open-ice check from the Canucks' Yannick Weber.  Bennett is the first player from the NHL draft class of 2014 to score a NHL playoff goal (yes, yes, he's the only one among the seven '14 picks who debuted in the league this season who's on a playoff team, but someone has to be first). Since joining Calgary immediately after Kingston's season ended, he's looked impressive for Calgary. getting points in 3-of-4 games. The Holland, Landing, Ont., native, who will not even turn 19 until after the Stanley Cup final, also drew a penalty that created the 5-on-3 scenario where the Flames got a dagger goal from Bennett's old OHL Eastern Division contemporary, Ottawa 67's alumnus Sean Monahan. If it already seemed remote that Bennett would play another OHL game, then it might seem even more unlikely that he could have one final go-round as a junior by joining Team Canada next December. #Flames rookie Sam Bennett had three points — all assists — in four OHL playoff games. Has goal and helper in three NHL playoff games. — Wes Gilbertson (@SUNGilbertson) April 20, 2015 That smile from Bennett might live on for a very, very long time. First NHL goal for the kid. — Aaron Vickers (@AAVickers) April 20, 2015 Connor McWhatever. Calgary fans will take this Bennett kid. What a shift. — Mark Spector (@SportsnetSpec) April 20, 2015 Incidentally, Bennett's first OHL goal in September 2012 was also his team's third goal of a game. You could look it up. Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet .

Silfverberg's winner with 19.8-seconds left puts Ducks up 2-0 on Jets (Puck Daddy)
(Sat, 18 Apr 2015 23:58:50 PDT)
ANAHEIM - If the hockey world wasn't aware of Jakob Silfverberg, they are now. With 19.8-seconds remaining, the forward acquired in the Bobby Ryan-to-Ottawa trade, snapped a wrist shot past Ondrej Pavalec to ice the game, 2-1, for the Ducks. The hard-hitting game was not without its controversies. And they both included Ryan Kesler… not in a good way. Kesler aided the Jets in scoring their only goal of the game after he shoved Lee Stempniak into the net. As Stempniak was starting to leave the crease, Adam Pardy slipped a wraparound shot into the net. Everyone in orange and black (and purple, if you include the color of Bruce Boudreau’s face) wanted the goal waived off, but as the official plainly states to Kesler, “You pushed him.” From Stephanie Vail : GIF love this, you can clearly read refs lips as he points to Kesler and says "you pushed him" pic.twitter.com/clIKM6u7er — Stephanie Vail (@myregularface) April 19, 2015 If Adam Pardy's name doesn't ring a bell, at least on the score sheet, it's not surprising. This was the first goal he's scored since January 26, 2011 when he was a memeber of the Calgary Flames. He's better known as the guy who had his helmet stolen in the stands . Shortly after the goal, Kesler follows through with an elbow to the head of 6’8” defenseman Tyler Myers. Myers was not injured and Kesler was only given two-minutes for an illegal check to the head. Is supplemental discipline on the play warranted? You be the judge! GIF Kesler atones for his mistake by taking an elbowing penalty pic.twitter.com/bEx0qFUVGZ — Stephanie Vail (@myregularface) April 19, 2015 The win put the Ducks up 2-0 as the teams travel to Winnipeg for what will be an emotional and electric Game 3. - - - - - - - Jen Neale is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email her at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow her on Twitter! Follow @MsJenNeale_PD . MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY:

Capitals goalie Holtby healthy, ready for Game 3 at Isles (The Associated Press)
(Sat, 18 Apr 2015 23:56:55 PDT)
UNIONDALE, N.Y. (AP) -- Capitals goalie Braden Holtby wasn't sure what felt worse: Sitting out a playoff game because of an illness, or watching the Capitals fall behind the New York Islanders by two goals before rallying for a victory.

Bob Hartley fined $50,000; Deryk Engelland instigator rescinded from Friday line brawl (Puck Daddy)
(Sat, 18 Apr 2015 14:55:11 PDT)
Calgary coach Bob Hartley has been fined $50,000 for the antics by his Flames during Friday’s Game 2 line brawl against Vancouver. And the instigator penalty on Flames defenseman Deryk Engelland who racked up 42 penalty minutes in the third period of Friday’s 4-1 loss? Rescinded by the NHL. Why was Hartley fined? The fine was issued in accordance with By-Law 17.3 (a) for conduct prejudicial to or against the welfare of the League.   The language of that rule is amazing.  Here’s the video of what happened:   And this is not the first time Hartley was fined for the above stated rule. Remember that whole John Tortorella running into the Flames locker room thing last season ? That was caused by Hartley starting his goons against Tortorella's Canucks, which led to a $25,000 fine against the Calgary coach. The question on Engelland, per a tweet from TSN’s Darren Dreger was more whether Engelland would be suspended and Hartley fined $10,000 . As from our story Friday night (linked above), Engelland faced suspension because his instigator penalty in the final five minutes, which would trigger a suspension, or like a bajillion other scenarios -- because it's the NHL and the playoffs and rules become slightly more bendable at this point, which honestly is understandable. Why do refs 'put away their whistles' in overtime? But instead, Engelland was all good per the league on the instigator front, not suspended obviously, and Hartley is a little lighter in the wallet. So really – nobody on the Flames roster will be impacted for Game 3.  Also, this is Engelland, a depth defenseman, we're talking about. If he was suspended, would it really have been super impactful to the series? Playoff justice is the best justice! - - - - - - - Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @joshuacooper MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY

Calgary coach Bob Hartley fined $50,000 by the NHL (The Associated Press)
(Sat, 18 Apr 2015 14:35:38 PDT)
NEW YORK (AP) -- Calgary coach Bob Hartley was fined $50,000 by the NHL on Saturday for his responsibility for a brawl late in the Flames' 4-1 loss in Vancouver on Friday night.

Lack helps Canucks top Flames 4-1, even series (The Associated Press)
(Sat, 18 Apr 2015 08:33:24 PDT)
Tempers flared and fists flew - and the tone might have been set for the rest of the first-round playoff series between the Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames. Eddie Lack made 22 saves and the Canucks defeated the Flames 4-1 on Friday night to even their first-round playoff series at a game apiece. Daniel Sedin, Chris Higgins, Ronalds Kenins and Radim Vrbata - into an empty net - scored for the Canucks , who snapped a seven-game losing streak at home in the playoffs dating to the 2011 Stanley Cup final.

Canucks take Game 2, combine for over 100 PIMs in brawl with Flames (Video) (Puck Daddy)
(Fri, 17 Apr 2015 23:24:27 PDT)
For all intents and purposes, Game 2 between the Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames was a letdown compared to the last 30-second heroics of Game 1.  At least is was for 58:43 of the game. This should have been a story about Eddie Lack needing only 22 saves to earn his first ever Stanley Cup playoff win, and the Canucks first win on home-ice in the playoffs since 2011. Instead, it's now a story about a massive line brawl at the end of a 4-1 game. Get cozy, this is going take a while. From our friends at Sportsnet : Everyone loves a good line brawl, especially in the playoffs. The penalties that resulted from the brawl ended up being the story of the night. As of publication, the NHL boxscore shows the following:

NHL-Highlights of Friday's National Hockey League playoff games
(Fri, 17 Apr 2015 22:43:28 PDT)
(Adds late games) April 17 (The Sports Xchange) - Highlights of Friday's National Hockey League playoff games: - - - Canadiens 3, Senators 2 (Overtime) Alex Galchenyuk scored at 3:40 of the first overtime to give the Montreal Canadiens a win over the Ottawa Senators. The victory put Montreal up 2-0 in their Eastern Conference first round series. Goaltender Carey Price made 29 saves for Montreal while Andrew Hammond stopped 37 shots for the Senators.

Moncton Wildcats' Barbashev, Garland have 6-point nights: Friday's 3 Stars (Buzzing The Net)
(Fri, 17 Apr 2015 21:40:47 PDT)


Gary Bettman: No need to change NHL standings point system (Puck Daddy)
(Fri, 17 Apr 2015 08:19:39 PDT)


Connor McDavid lottery set for Saturday, Hitmen's Tambellini hurting: the coast-to-coast (Buzzing The Net)
(Fri, 17 Apr 2015 08:19:00 PDT)


In Friday's NHL games, 3 home teams try to avoid 2-0 hole (The Associated Press)
(Thu, 16 Apr 2015 23:04:02 PDT)
It's not impossible, of course, for an NHL team to erase a two-game series deficit.

Canucks sticking with 4 lines in playoffs (The Associated Press)
(Thu, 16 Apr 2015 17:00:59 PDT)
Vancouver Canucks coach Willie Desjardins rolled four lines for much of the regular season, and he doesn't plan on changing that philosophy in the playoffs. A day after his team dropped its playoff opener at home 2-1 against the Calgary Flames, Desjardins defended how he distributes ice time, especially when it comes to his star players. Henrik and Daniel Sedin each played under 18 minutes Wednesday night, with the latter getting just 16:14 of playing time. The twin stars each played under five minutes in a third period in which the Flames scored twice - less than the line of Bo Horvat, Jannik Hansen and Ronalds Kenins, which was on for Kris Russell's winner with 29.6 seconds left in regulation.

Dose: Just Darling (Rotoworld)
(Wed, 15 Apr 2015 23:56:00 PDT)
The playoff Dose reviews a very, very promising first night of postseason action.

Dynamic Duos hoping to carry the day in NHL playoffs (The Associated Press)
(Wed, 15 Apr 2015 23:43:57 PDT)
Is it better to build a team around a pair of lamp-lighting point machines (and a hot goaltender) or four effective interchangeable lines (oh, and a hot goaltender)? The Penguins and former MVPs Sidney Crosby (87) and Evgeni Malkin (71) face a relentless wave of New York Rangers, who happen to have the league's best record. The Chicago Blackhawks got Patrick Kane (88) back early from a shoulder injury just in time to join Jonathan Toews (19) in the lineup against solid if anonymous Nashville.

Kris Russell big late for Flames in 2-1 win over Canucks (Puck Daddy)
(Wed, 15 Apr 2015 23:13:06 PDT)
The Flames are an unstoppable force in the third period. In their first playoff contest since 2009, Calgary again proved its late-game dominance in a dramatic 2-1 Game 1 comeback at the Vancouver Canucks. Kris Russell notched the game-winner with 29.6 seconds left in the third period. A team that appeared donezo when defenseman Mark Giordano went down in early March has an upper hand at the start of this all Western Canada series.  Was this the Flames simply doing their thing, or a choke job by the Canucks, who saw David Jones tie the game at 1-1 at the 7:59 mark of the third? Neither really, since it was a pretty evenly played game all the way through. And since this is a story about the Flames, we have to make mention of the fact that both teams were essentially tied at even strength puck possession according to Natural Stat Trick.   Per the Globe and Mail: “It’s a great, great confidence we have,” said (goaltender Jonas) Hiller after the game. Calgary coach Bob Hartley, who earlier this season dubbed his squad the Cardiac Kids for their many comebacks, said: “It seems like nothing rattles us.”   And as for the Canucks, they’re yet another team left wondering, how and why they couldn’t put Calgary away. From the Vancouver Sun:   “We gave them a few chances in the third, which were our mistakes, and we can’t do that,” (Daniel) Sedin said. “I thought we played well for 50 minutes, and even at the end, too. But it’s just those few mistakes. “We would have liked to score some more. But if we’re up 1-0, we should be able to get away with a win. That’s the bottom line. I thought we played a pretty good game actually. But those last 10 minutes, we didn’t do a good enough job back-checking or getting back.”  If you’re the Canucks, do you go to Ryan Miller for Game 2, or stick with Eddie Lack who stopped 28 of 30 Flames shots on goal? Miller has started once since a knee injury Feb. 22. Lack led the way for Vancouver into the playoffs. Miller was the starter for most of the year, and Lack the backup.  Either way, this is what the Flames do. Vancouver knows it needs to be more aware for the next game. Then again, every team knows this about the Flames. Calgary’s 99 third period goals led the Western Conference. They’re a comeback machine. No matter how mediocre their advanced stats always look they just find a way.  - - - - - - - Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @joshuacooper MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY

Russell scores late to lift Flames over Canucks 2-1 (The Associated Press)
(Wed, 15 Apr 2015 23:02:16 PDT)
Even Bob Hartley is amazed by his Calgary Flames' resilience. Defenseman Kris Russell scored with just under 30 seconds remaining in the third period, lifting the Flames to a 2-1 win over the Vancouver Canucks in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series on Wednesday night. David Jones also scored for the Flames, who were down 1-0 entering the third period. Jonas Hiller stopped 29 shots in the Flames' first playoff game since 2009.

NHL Three Stars: Blackhawks, Darling stun Preds in 2OT (Puck Daddy)
(Wed, 15 Apr 2015 22:49:52 PDT)
No. 1 Star: Scott Darling, Chicago Blackhawks The journeyman goalie replaced Corey Crawford after the first period, and was a perfect 42 saves on 42 shots for the next 67 minutes and 44 seconds. Duncan Keith’s goal ended the double-overtime affair, 4-3, at 7:49 of the second extra session. Jonathan Toews had a goal and two assists. But it was Darling whose star shined in Game 1.   No. 2 Star: Brian Flynn, Montreal Canadiens Flynn had a goal and two assists as the Habs won a wild Game 1 against the Ottawa Senators, 4-3. Flynn assisted on Torrey Mitchell’s game-tying goal and Lars Eller’s go-ahead shorthanded goal; then, with the game tied again, Flynn scored a goal of his own, the eventual game-winner. No. 3 Star: Jonas Hiller, Calgary Flames Hiller and Eddie Lack were in a goaltending duel in Game 1, with Hiller pulling out the ‘W’ in a 2-1 victory. Kris Russell’s point shot fooled Lack, while Hiller made 13 saves in the third and 29 for the game. Honorable Mention: Brock Nelson scored two goals and Jaroslav Halak made 24 saves, as the New York Islanders topped the Washington Capitals, 4-1. Josh Bailey had a goal and an assist. … Patrick Kane had two assists in his return to the Blackhawks’ lineup. … Colin Wilson had two goals. Did You Know? Sam Bennett, 18, picked up an assist in only his second career NHL game for the Flames.  Dishonorable Mention: Luca Sbisa was a minus-2. … Matt Niskanen was a minus-4, while Karl Alzner was a minus-3. … P.K. Subban was ejected from the game for a slashing major against Mark Stone in the first period; Stone would return to the game. … Kyle Turris earned 16 PIMs at the end of the game during a fracas; Tom Gilbert earned 12.    

NHL-Highlights of Wednesday's National Hockey League games
(Wed, 15 Apr 2015 22:03:19 PDT)
(Adds late games) April 15 (The Sports Xchange) - Highlights of Wednesday's National Hockey League playoff games: - - - Islanders 4, Capitals 1 Center Brock Nelson, right winger Ryan Strome and left winger Josh Bailey all scored their first career playoff goals and goaltender Jaroslav Halak stopped 24 of 25 shots to lead the New York Islanders to a series-opening 4-1 road victory over the Washington Capitals. Winger Marcus Johansson scored the lone goal for the Capitals, who, like the Islanders, are returning to the playoffs after a one-year absence. - - - Canadiens 4, Senators 3 Right winger Brian Flynn scored the game-winner and added two assists in his playoffs debut to lead the Montreal Canadiens to a 4-3 home win over the Ottawa Senators in the opening game of their series.

Puck Daddy’s 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs Predictions; who wins it all? (Puck Daddy)
(Wed, 15 Apr 2015 15:28:19 PDT)
The seedings are set. The beards are growing. The 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs have arrived, which can only mean one thing: Time to throw a bunch of crap at the wall like hyperactive primates and see what sticks!  Here are your Puck Daddy and Yahoo Sports staff prognostications for the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs, including Stanley Cup champions and playoff MVP selections… Sean Leahy, Puck Daddy Editor Canadiens in 6 Lightning in 5 Rangers in 6 Capitals in 7 The opening round serves up a number of potential upset possibilities. Devan Dubnyk vs. the Blues? The Return of the Whiteout vs. the Anaheim Early Exits? J.P. Pageau and the Hamburglar vs. the Habs? It could be a wild Round 1. But I don't see much of that craziness happening and will stick with mostly chalk. The Canadiens may have been riding Carey Price all season, but that will only take them so far -- and that will be only through the first round. Ottawa's been a great second-half story, and while they'll put up a good fight, their run will come to an end. Tampa should take care of a Red Wings side entering the playoffs not sure who their No. 1 goalie is. Today it's Petr Mrazek. Who will it be tomorrow?  You can't spell Pittsburgh Penguins without "IR." A healthy Penguins side might make for some interesting betting against the Rangers, but there are too many key parts out and New York will ride the PDO wave a bit longer. Their long-time rivals won't send-off Nassau Coliseum with a deep run. The Islanders' late-season struggles, coupled with a penalty kill that won't know what to do against Alex Ovechkin and the NHL's top power play will be their demise in Round 1.  Blues in 7 Blackhawks in 7 Ducks in 6 Canucks in 6 Dubnyk has started nearly every game for the Wild since being acquired in January. He's played himself into both the Hart and Vezina Trophy conversations and saved Mike Yeo's job. He's the reason why Minnesota will put a scare into the Blues. While St. Louis is a team some have faltering early, I think this is their best roster yet to get over that hump ... once they figure out that goaltender thing. Patrick Kane could be back for Game 1. That means even if he isn't back for the start of the series, he'll return at some point vs. Nashville. That's a huge game-changer for Chicago, a veteran group about to go for their last ride. Radim Vrbata is going to be your Conn Smythe leader after Round 1. That, along with a healthy defense will be able to slow Sean Monahan, Jiri Hudler and Johnny Gaudreau. Anaheim is another team may are expecting to go out early, because that's what Bruce Boudreau teams do. Winnipeg has dealt with injuries and a goaltending situation that's flipped from Ondrej Pavelec to Michael Hutchinson and now back to Pavelec. Both have been playing some good possession hockey since the trade deadline, but like the Blues, the Ducks should have enough offense to advance. STANLEY CUP: Lightning over Blackhawks in 6 games. CONN SMYTHE: Tyler Johnson The bracket/divisional playoff format will mean some good teams go home early, opening the doors for others. Tampa and Chicago won't have to worry about avoiding any potential threats in my bracket, with the Lightning taking on the Canadiens and the Blackhawks knocking out the Blues in Round 2.  In the end, a Tampa team that ended top-5 in score-adjusted Fenwick during the regular season will have the firepower, defense and goaltending to win the franchise's first Cup since 2004. The underrated Johnson will continue to excel as Steven Stamkos garners most of the attention, and rightly so.  Josh Cooper, Puck Daddy Editor Canadiens in 6 Lightning in 5 Rangers in 7 Capitals in 7 I picked the Caps to win it all at the start of the year and I have to stick with my gut.  In the past, Washington has been undone by trying to play either too offensively or too defensively. New coach Barry Trotz finally has brought a balanced attack, scoring 2.89 goals per-game and allowing 2.43 per-contest. Washington’s twin defense signings of Brooks Orpik and Matt Niskanen were much-maligned in the summer. Those deals are long, and probably won’t look good on the back end, but they’re going to add some much-needed depth in the Caps’ postseason run. While winger Alex Ovechkin deservedly gets publicity for scoring goals, this playoff we’re going to see the wonderful all-around talent of center Nicklas Backstrom at its finest.   Blues in 5 Blackhawks in 6 Ducks in 7 Canucks in 6 If the Ducks – the Western Conference’s top team – didn’t draw the Jets in the first round and drew the Flames – the Western Conference playoff team with the lowest point total – I would have taken the Ducks in the Cup Final. But alas, in the NHL’s bizarre-o world of how it structures its postseason, the best team doesn’t always play the worst team to make the playoffs? Alas … The Ducks will be too bruised from a seven-game series over the punishing Jets. The Blues have incredible center depth in Paul Stastny, David Backes and Jori Lehtera. They have two solid goaltending options with Jake Allen and Brian Elliott and one of the most underrated defensemen in the game in Alex Pietrangelo. Also, if St. Louis is down a goal with a minute left, there are few better options for a score than Vladimir Tarasenko. I’m taking the Caps because I have to go with my preseason pick, but I could easily see the Blues winning it all. STANLEY CUP Capitals over Blues in 7 CONN SMYTHE: Nicklas Backstrom Jen Neale, Puck Daddy Editor Canadiens in 6 Lightning in 5  Penguins in 6 Capitals in 6 The first round of the playoffs seem to have laid out perfectly with the pretty even competition across the board.  My big upset pick is Pittsburgh over New York. I know what you’re saying, “But Jen, you crazy woman with your estrogen clouded judgment, the Penguins are playoff chokers, the Sharks of the East, if you will.” You’re right reader, the Penguins will eventually drop the big one, but not in the first round. Their meltdown will come after knocking off a goaltending conundrum filled New York Rangers. Trust me, I know it sound weird to give a goaltending advantage to Fleury over Lundqvist in the playoffs, but I’m riding a hunch that the King isn’t in post-season form. Wild in 6 Blackhawks in 5 Ducks in 6 Calgary in 7 As far as upsets in the West, I have Minnesota taking St. Louis. Minny is riding a wave of Dubnyk-ian glory that will lift them over St. Louis in the first round. Chicago over Nashville isn’t really an upset. Unless Pekka Rinne is absolutely perfect, the Blackhawks are simply the better team. Calgary and Vancouver are both iffy in net, but the Flames can out-score the Canucks. STANLEY CUP: Chicago over Montreal in 7 CONN SMYTHE: Carey Price My final is Chicago vs. Montreal. I have Chicago winning with Carey Price going all kinds of J.S. Giguere over the series. The Blackhawks have the scoring depth that I don’t see with the Habs. Plus, by the time the conference final and Cup final roll around, Patrick Kane is going to be back in game shape. If he’s any semblance of what he was before he broke his collarbone, watch out. Even the best goaltender in the league will have a hard time stopping him. 

BeardWatch 2015: Which NHL playoff players have growth potential? (Puck Daddy)
(Wed, 15 Apr 2015 14:13:51 PDT)
(Ed. Note: We're proud to welcome back two of our favorite bloggers,  Chuck and Pants from  What's Up, Ya Sieve? ,  to the  Puck Daddy  fold as they author our weekly  NHL Playoff Beard Watch every Thursday.) By Chuck and Pants from  What's Up, Ya Sieve? Hello Puck Pogonophiles! We’re back! Today marks the beginning of our favorite time of year.  While we can’t grow our own playoff beards, we annually appreciate the time, dedication and meticulous grooming that goes into creating the perfect facial accouterment. As is our tradition, throughout this postseason we’ll be bringing you some of the best (and definitely the worst) beards of the NHL Playoffs. Last year’s Beard of the Year winner (Justin Williams) is out, so 2015 is anyone’s game. To start, meet a few beards to watch that we think could contend for this year’s second most coveted trophy. Beardwatch 2015: Beards to Watch Eric Gryba, Ottawa Senators If you would have told us in February that the Senators would have made the playoffs, we would have seriously questioned your sanity.  But they made it and the only thing crazier is what Eric Gryba’s beard might become if the Sens go far in the playoffs. This series could get wild and wooly and this bear of a beard is going to be right in the middle, claws out, teeth bared.

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