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SCF: Kings expect more from Devils

NEWARK, N.J. -- The Kings were bemoaning the fact they were nowhere near their best in Game One but still came away with an overtime victory in the Stanley Cup final. They expect to play better, but they're also bracing for the Devils to come with much more than they showed in the opener.

“Nobody wants to be down 2-0 whether you’re on the road or at home, either way," Kings goalie Jonathan Quick said. "They’re going to come out and fight hard. We have to bring the game we know we can bring. We didn’t bring it last night. I don’t think they brought theirs either. The pace is going to be a little quicker, and it’s going to be more physical.”

New Jersey was uncharacteristically flat early in the game and afterward blamed nerves for slowing them down through the first two periods. Los Angeles spent the first 40 minutes trying to gain their legs after an eight-day layoff between series. Both teams played better in the third period, which should carry over into Saturday's game.

The Kings' success largely has come from getting strong starts. Los Angeles has been tied or in the league seven times during their nine game winning streak on the road. The Kings have a 7-1 record overall when scoring the first goal, which they did last night. But they also have played well late in games, outscoring their opponents, 16-4, in the third period and overtime.

"I thought they played as hard as anybody we’ve seen in the playoffs so far," Kings center Jeff Carter said. "They have a great forecheck, they get on you quick and they have a lot of speed up front. They provide a lot of pressure. I expect them to be better next game, too. I expect the next game to be ramped up a little more."

--- Bucky Gleason

Sabres' Rick Jeanneret will be inducted into Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame

The Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame will introduce 14 new members Wednesday, and longtime Sabres play-by-play announcer Rick Jeanneret will headline the list.

Jeanneret, the longest-tenured announcer in the NHL, has been working Sabres games since the 1971-72 season. He will speak on behalf of the hall's 22nd induction class at 3 p.m. Wednesday in the First Niagara Center atrium.

Therese Forton-Barnes, the board president, will announce the 14-member class of former athletes, administrators and coaches.

The Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame began in 1991 and will bring its total membership to 254. Four of this year's 14 will be inducted posthumously as part of the Pride of Western New York.

---John Vogl

Twitter.com/BuffNewsVogl

SCF: Tallinder on Lidstrom and more

NEWARK, N.J. -- Old friend Henrik Tallinder spoke about countryman Nicklas Lidstrom with reverence this afternoon after the Red Wings legend retired this morning after 20 seasons. Lidstrom was the standard for all Swedes, particularly defensemen.

"He’s been an icon in Sweden for so long," Tallinder said. "Two decades is a long time playing in the best league in the world. The things he has accomplished is remarkable. In my eyes, he’s the best Swedish player we had over here. No offense to [Peter] Forsberg and [Mats] Sundin, but with four Stanley Cups and seven Norris Trophies, that says it all."

Lidstrom was one of the classiest players I've ever been around in any sport. The way he carried himself and the respect he had for the game and the people around him will stand out as much as anything he accomplished on the ice. Lidstrom played 1,564 games and had 264 goals and 1,142 points in his career. He'll be inducted into the Hall of Fame with no questions asked.

“For me, growing up, he wasn’t my biggest idol because I was too young," Tallinder said. "Once he started to make it in this league, who doesn’t look up to him? He’s an icon and everyone wants to be like him, play like him, offensively, defensively, you name it. He does it all.

"Just watching him play is almost like – I think you described it once – is almost like a symphony.”

I did? Not exactly, but it's remarkable what players remember sometimes. Even I had to look it up.

Tallinder was referencing a column from May 2009 -- more than three years ago -- about the Red Wings in which I wrote, "Nobody is better than Detroit at its best. The Wings aren't a machine, but a symphony, an art form to be appreciated." It was about the Red Wings, but the same could be said about Lidstrom. They were one in the same.

Tallinder, by the way, is anxious to get into the lineup in the Stanley Cup finals. He's back to full strength after suffering from a scary blood clot behind his left knee that limited him to only 39 games. He researched the damage a blood clot could cause and had fears it could travel to his heart, which could be fatal. He has been skating for a while and is ready to play if called upon. 

"I'm good," he said. "I'm ready. I don't know. The coach [Peter DeBoer] has to make the call, but I feel physically fine. I don't have any issues. I've been practicing for two or three weeks now and feel good. If I get the chance, it's a dream come true. This is where you want to play."

Tallinder laughed when I told him Sabres owner Terry Pegula suggested his and Toni Lydman's departure in 2010 was more devastating than when Chris Drury and Daniel Briere split town in 2007. He hadn't heard Pegula thought so highly of him.

"That's a compliment, but that's B.S.," Tallinder said. "When we lost Danny and Dru, that was a kick in the butt. That's where we lost it. Nothing against Pegula, but that's where Buffalo lost a lot as a city and as a team." 

--- Bucky Gleason

SCF: Devils find different beast in Kings

NEWARK, N.J. -- The Devils found a hungry and well-coached but underskilled team in Florida in the first round, a battered but talented team with weak goaltending in Philadelphia in the second round and a deep and disciplined but low-scoring team in the Rangers in the third round in the postseason.

The Devils today were saying the Kings were a different beast because they have all the best qualities of their first three opponents and very few weaknesses. Los Angeles is fast and physical, balanced and deep, and they have the goaltending to match any they faced so far in the playoffs.

"They’re a different team than the Rangers and the other teams we’ve faced so far," rookie center Adam Henrique said after the Devils lost, 2-1, in overtime in Game One. "They bring a little bit of all those teams into one. They’re a deep team. They have puck-moving defensemen and solid goaltending, but that’s to be expected. They’re here for a reason. We need to focus on our game and how we need to play. There’s a lot of room for improvement on our side."

The Devils took comfort knowing they pushed Game One into overtime despite playing poorly in the first two periods. They admitted being nervous in the first period and sloppy in the second. The good news for them was that they still had a chance to win. They missed several opportunities in the game that would have changed the outcome, and the complex of the series, had they converted.

"We didn’t play our best," forward Travis Zajac said. "We were a little nervous in the first period, a little tentative. You could see that. We weren’t making plays. We were throwing the puck away a little too much, and we weren’t moving our feet and getting in on the forecheck like we usually do. We felt me missed an opportunity."

The Devils did not skate today as a team. Instead, they took the day off and will resume workouts tomorrow in preparation for Game Two on Saturday night in a game they desperately need. The team that loses the first game in the Stanley Cup final has lost the series 76 percent of the time. New Jersey lost the first game against Philadelphia and the Rangers before storming back to win both series.

"One of the areas that's cropped up in every round is we've been a little tentative in the first game, kind of felt our way and then jumped in with both feet in Game Two," Devils coach Peter DeBoer said. "I think that's hopefully what we'll do here again."

--- Bucky Gleason

SCF: Kings 2, Devils 1, OT

NEWARK, N.J. -- Anze Kopitar has scored 20 goals in each of his six NHL seasons, so he knew what to do tonight when he found himself with a breakaway against Devils goalie Martin Brodeur. He faked Brodeur to the ice and lifted a shot past the fallen goaltender.

The result was a 2-1 overtime victory over the Devils in Game One of the Stanley Cup finals. The eighth-seeded Kings assumed command for the fourth straight series with the win. They have won nine straight road games in the postseason and earned the split they wanted when they arrived in Newark.

"It feels great," Kopitar said afterward. "Any time you get a chance to finish off a game in overtime, especially against a world-class goalie like Marty, it feels good."

Kopitar busted loose after drifting toward center ice and accepting a blind pass from Justin Williams that landed right on his tape. Colin Fraser also scored for the Kings. Anton Volchenkov was given credit for the Devils goal after his shot bounced off Slava  Voynov and landed behind Jonathan Quick.

If you didn’t have a rooting interest, the game Wednesday could have been mistaken for a Wednesday night game in November. OK, so there were a few big hits and scoring chances, but little would have told you they were playing for the Cup other than the clutching and grabbing allowed by the officials.

"There wasn’t much going on offensively for either team," Kings coach Darryl Sutter said. "It’s tight quarters out there. I think both teams would say that."

Game Two is set for 8 p.m. Saturday in the Prudential Center.

--- Bucky Gleason

 

SCF: Bettman impressed with Buffalo

NEWARK, N.J. -- NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman went out of his way before Game One to make sure how much he appreciated the passion fans in Buffalo have for hockey. He pulled me to the side and made his point after his news conference. It came as a surprise to me.

Bettman for years has been impressed with television ratings in Buffalo during the Stanley Cup final regardless of whether the Sabres are involved. The Sabres haven't reached the finals since 1999 but routinely are among the top three cities watching, usually after the two cities that have teams playing for the Cup.

"We have great fans in Buffalo,'' Bettman said. "It’s that simple. You have to remember, I knew that going back and I really had that reinforced when we ran the club during a difficult period. It’s a passionate, knowledgeable fan base. While they love the Sabres perhaps more than anything else, they’re also big fans of the game."

Bettman wasn't simply blowing smoke. He said it was important to him that Buffalo has done well because the support has been there from ownership and the fans.

"It’s always good to know that you have teams in a place where hockey really matters and the team is really important," he said. "Two, it also means we’re particularly pleased when we have good strong ownership, which we have in Buffalo.

"Terry [Pegula] is a terrific owner. I’m glad that someone like him, who has an onerous passion about a game, has a team in a market like Buffalo. I’ve been watching the [television] numbers long enough to not be surprised. I now expect it."

--- Bucky Gleason

 

SCF: Bettman, Fehr preparing to meet

NEWARK, N.J. – NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and players’ association chief Donald Fehr sounded cautiously optimistic Wednesday before Game One of the Stanley Cup final about reaching a new collective bargaining agreement without labor strife that could lead to another work stoppage.

The tone during their separate news conferences sounded in stark contrast to rhetoric during the 2003-04 season, when Bettman became embattled in a bitter labor war with former NHLPA chief Bob Goodenow. The NHL ended up canceling the 2004-05 season and reaching an agreement the following summer. Goodenow ended up getting fired.

 "We’re in a completely different situation," Bettman said. "There’s a new executive director who has gotten himself up speed, new people, new relationships. Time will tell how this all sorts out. I’m hopefully it sorts out easily. Labor peace is preferable to the alternative."

For the past seven years, the league and its players’ association have worked under a salary cap in which the players receive 57 percent of revenue. Speculation has been rampant that the NHL will be looking for more money after the NBA and NFL effectively convinced their unions to accept a smaller take before reaching agreements.

Bettman announced Wednesday that the NHL generated about $3.3 billion this season, a record amount and roughly a 50 percent increase from 2003-04.

"If someone is suggesting it, there’s something in the water, people have the NBA and NFL on the brain or they’re just looking for news on a slow day," Bettman said. "It’s nothing more than speculation. There can’t be any substance to it because there haven’t been any substantive conversations."

Bettman for months has been ready to begin preliminary discussions with Fehr, who was hired by the NHLPA to oversee negotiations after reigning over major league baseball’s union for more than two decades.

Fehr said talks with Bettman could begin with weeks after the Stanley Cup final is completed. He held an informal news conference about 30 feet from and about 10 minutes after Bettman held his own.

"You don’t have the kind of atmosphere going in that’s necessarily presage to conflict," Fehr said. "You don’t seem to have that. I’ve been in both situations before. Whether you have it not doesn’t predict the outcome.

 "Gary has been through this a number of times. I’ve been through this a number of times. Hopefully, we’re both professional enough to treat it that way."

--- Bucky Gleason

Audio: Bucky Gleason from the Stanley Cup Finals

News Hockey Writer Bucky Gleason talks about his predictions for the Stanley Cup final between the Los Angeles Kings and the New Jersey Devils:

Click here to download this audio file.

The series kicks off tonight at 8 p.m. in Newark.

SCF: Kings are tired of resting

NEWARK, N.J. -- Los Angeles Kings captain Dustin Brown this morning said he had no problem sleeping last night, the eve of Game One of the Stanley Cup final, but he's ready to start the best-of-seven series against the New Jersey Devils. The opener is set for 8 p.m. in the Prudential Center. 

"I slept fine," Brown said. "The afternoon nap might be a little more difficult. It’s going to be more [emotional] when we get here tonight. It felt like any other morning to me. When we get here tonight, the nerves are going to pick up."

The Kings made quick work of the Canucks, Blues and Coyotes and lost just two games in the first three rounds to reach the finals for the first time since 1994. They've had plenty of time to relax in between series but have effectively been able to regenerate the energy and unity that carried them this far in the first place.

"It has allowed us to enjoy what we accomplish in the series that just ended," Brown said. "On the flip side, a few days later, you hit the reset button and get that work mentality back. You want to keep playing. From a rest standpoint, to get where we are and have the rest that we’ve had, it’s definitely a positive."

Brown, 27, who grew up in Ithaca and played frequently in Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse as a kid, is making his first appearance in the finals. It's hardly his first big game. He played for the United States in the 2010 Olympics, losing the gold medal to Canada. He's leading the Kings with seven goals and 16 points and is plus-13 in 14 postseason games.

"It’s important for some guys like myself and some younger guys to understand that we might not have this chance again and be ready to go from a playing standpoint," Brown said. "It’s nice to sit here and pat everyone’s back. At the end of the day, we haven’t done everything."

--- Bucky Gleason

Kings-Devils: Make your pick

The NHL is one day away from the start of an improbable Stanley Cup final that will take hockey fans from coast to coast.

New Jersey hosts Los Angeles in Game One on Wednesday night. Starting on the road should be fine for the Kings, who have won all eight games away from L.A. en route to a dazzling 12-2 playoff record.

"If you told anybody, let alone us in the dressing room, that we'd have a place in the finals as an eight seed, I would have only told you that you were crazy if you said it took 14 games," Kings forward Justin Williams said.

L.A. captain Dustin Brown has 16 points in the 14 games and has been agitating the Kings' trounced opponents.

The Devils, though, have earned their spot in the finals and have plenty of reasons to feel good about bringing another Cup to New Jersey.

---John Vogl

On Kovy, coaches and the run to 8th

Yes, it's baseball season so I'm spending a good chunk of my time on the Toronto-Cleveland corridor, at Coca-Cola Field and over at the Inside Pitch blog, but there's been plenty of press box TVs tuned to the Stanley Cup playoffs the last few weeks as well. So here are a few ice chips I've collected:

IlyaIlya Kovalchuk: Regulars here and on my Twitter feed know I was consistently pounding on the Devils for the Kovy deal, both for the way it circumvented cap rules and for the stupidity of handing that kind of money to a guy who didn't win a single playoff game in Atlanta in his career. I don't take it all back but I basically gotta take 95 percent of it back. Kovalchuk (right, after Game Six goal against Rangers) has been mostly brilliant this spring and the Devils are in the final. You get to the SCF and any kind of big-money deal has to be worth it now, right?

The Rangers: I never thought they had enough offense to win the whole thing and they were, frankly, lucky to get to Game Six of the conference final. Both the Senators and Capitals had good shots to get them in seven-game series in the first two rounds. Good thing they didn't win the Cup, by the way. We wouldn't want coaches to copycat that style either.

John Tortorella: I wonder which Rangers or NHL official got to him midway through the Devils series, when he finally stopped the sub-human act during his postgame pressers. That NEVER would have played had the team made the final. For those who ridiculously said "good for him," I remind you that dealing with the media is part of the head coach's responsibility to the league to promote the sport -- especially at this time of year. Lindy Ruff is one of the best in the league at it on most days. Every other coach in the playoffs was doing it. No excuse for Torts' act. 

The Kings: Keeping the string alive of teams opening the season in Europe and making the final (remember how often we pulled that stat out on the Sabres?). They look awesome right now: Goaltending, defense, offense. Still baffling how they finished eighth in the West, baffling how they were 29th in the league in goals during the regular season. So many of you  keep saying, "they were two points out of third" and that's true but they didn't get there. They were eighth in an 82-game schedule, no small sample. You can do that  with any team -- the Sabres, remember, were  four points out of seventh.

Coaches: It's now three of the last four years (Pittsburgh 2009, Philly 2010, Los Angeles 2012) where a team fired its coach during the season and made the SCF. And the Devils, remember, hired Peter DeBoer over the summer so he's in his first season. And the Sabres move on with the same coach who has won a playoff series in only two of the last 10 seasons -- including none in the last five -- and a coach who hasn't even made the postseason in six of those years. Just sayin'.

The Sabres: Don't agree with those who say it's no biggie they didn't get in because they wouldn't have done anything anyway. Their four games against the Rangers were a 4-1 win, a 4-1 loss, a 1-0 shootout loss and a 4-3 overtime loss. Seems pretty tight to me. They had whacked the Caps on the road in the final 10 days of the season -- and Washington took out Boston. Certainly, they were up against it without Christian Ehrhoff and Tyler Myers and it's all speculation how Ryan Miller would have played (stop Joey Crabb on a breakaway, please) but Darcy Regier said plenty of times this was a year for a low seed to maybe win the Cup.

Lo and behold, we've got a 6 and an 8 in the Cup final just as Regier said. Just get in. This isn't the NBA where bottom seeds almost never win. Major miss coming in ninth.

The pick: I've got Kings in six. Devils, remember, needed double overtime in Game Seven just to get out of the first round in Florida. The Kings are on a roll we've almost never seen before, especially on the road. I don't see them cooling off in bucolic Newark.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington)

Photo: Associated  Press

Gionta proud of little brother

Canadiens captain Brian Gionta watched on television from his home in Rochester while his kid brother, Stephen, scored the first goal and set up Ryan Carter for the winner to lead the Devils over the Rangers in Game Five of the conference finals.

Hockey fans for years have known about Brian Gionta, the former Boston College star who won a Stanley Cup with the Devils in 2003 and has played 647 NHL games. Stephen spent six years in the minors, had no goals in 12 NHL games before scoring in his first and only contest this season. It was enough to stay with the big club for the playoffs.

Stephen has three goals and six points in 17 postseason games for the Devils. He's been playing on the fourth line with Ryan Carter and Steve Bernier, and they've had a big impact on the series. The Devils can reach the Stanley Cup final with a win in Game Six over the Rangers -- and his childhood buddy, Blueshirts Ryan Callahan.

"He’s finally getting some recognition for himself for something he’s doing," Brian said today by telephone. "Unfortunately, at times, it’s probably been difficult on him going to BC and being in New Jersey. It was tough being in that shadow. It’s nice seeing him stepping out of that and getting some recognition for himself."

For more, read my column Friday in The Buffalo News.

--- Bucky Gleason

Kings eliminate Coyotes to claim one spot in Cup final; Rangers, Devils hope to pull one win away

Los Angeles began the playoffs as the eighth seed in the Western Conference. The Kings will finish the postseason as one of the top two teams in the NHL.

The Kings eliminated Phoenix with a 4-3 overtime victory Tuesday night, earning just the second Stanley Cup finals appearance in franchise history. They became the second No. 8 seed to reach the finals, joining the 2006 Edmonton Oilers.

"It means everything," Kings defenseman Drew Doughty said. "You grow up your whole life wanting to be in that Stanley Cup final."

The Kings won their eighth straight road game in the playoffs, becoming the first team to head to the finals unbeaten away from home. They'll start the Cup on the road at either New York or New Jersey next Wednesday.

The Rangers and Devils are tied, 2-2, in the Eastern Conference finals with Game Five tonight in Madison Square Garden.

The Coyotes were upset with the loss -- particularly captain Shane Doan, who felt a kneeing penalty should have been called on L.A. captain Dustin Brown just prior to Dustin Penner's winning goal -- but they will look back fondly on their best season, which may ultimately include finally finding an owner.

"There will be some frustration for a few days," Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said. "But ultimately I think our players should look back and feel good about a lot of the things that they accomplished this year."

---John Vogl

Regier waiting to see what trade market will bear, still interested in center for Sabres

Darcy Regier would like to improve the Sabres' depth at center. The general manager just isn't sure who will be available this summer.

Regier, speaking at a news conference this afternoon to announce the re-signing of defenseman Alexander Sulzer to a one-year deal, said a thin free agent market will lead to trade talk next month.

"The right center ice is a priority," Regier said in First Niagara Center. "The real unknown here is what the trade market will hold. Nothing has started. It doesn’t get started until after the playoffs. Teams begin to talk, and then it really builds as you go into the draft.

"It’s tough to know what will be available, but if we can find the right centerman it would help."

The Sabres' top three centers are Derek Roy, Cody Hodgson and restricted free agent Tyler Ennis, who has or will receive a qualifying offer from the Sabres.

"The qualifying offers are out, but we’ll take our time there," Regier said. "We’ve got plenty of time on that. We qualified and will qualify everyone."

To hear Regier talk about Sulzer, Roy, Hodgson and Andrej Sekera, click the audio file below.

---John Vogl

Sabres re-sign Sulzer to one-year deal

Alexander Sulzer spent nearly five seasons trying to fit in with an NHL team. After getting dealt to the Buffalo Sabres in February, the defenseman finally found his match.

The Sabres felt the connection, too.

Sulzer and the Sabres have agreed to a one-year contract extension worth $725,000. Sulzer, who was set to become an unrestricted free agent July 1, earned $700,000 last season while splitting time between Vancouver and Buffalo.

His season took off when he was shipped to the Sabres with center Cody Hodgson for right wing Zack Kassian and defenseman Marc-Andre Gragnani at the trade deadline. Sulzer had been a healthy scratch for more than six weeks for the Canucks, but an injury allowed him to join the Buffalo lineup.

He responded by playing 15 games for the Sabres, recording three goals, eight points and a plus-2 rating. Sulzer, who turns 28 next week, spent most of his time skating alongside fellow German Olympian Christian Ehrhoff.

Sulzer missed the Sabres' final two games after getting called home to Nashville for a personal emergency.

"I did meet with Alex after the season, and he expressed a hope to be back," Sabres General Manager Darcy Regier said last month. "He is someone we would like to bring back as well. That’s something that we’ll look to do."

The 6-foot-1, 204-pound Sulzer has played 89 NHL games with Nashville, Florida, Vancouver and Buffalo. He has four goals, 12 assists and 16 points.

The signing gives the Sabres eight defensemen under contract for next season: Tyler Myers, Robyn Regehr, Ehrhoff, Jordan Leopold, Andrej Sekera, Mike Weber, Brayden McNabb and Sulzer. Blue-liner T.J. Brennan will be a restricted free agent.

---John Vogl

Former Sabres first-rounder Paul Cyr dead at 48

TORONTO -- Reports that first surfaced late Friday night in British Columbia have been confirmed this morning with multiple outlets reporting the death of former Sabres winger and first-round draft pick Paul Cyr at the age of 48. Cyr, a diabetic, apparently died of a heart attack.

The feisty Cyr was selected ninth overall by the Sabres in the 1982 draft and was one of the team's three first-round picks that year during the reign of Scott Bowman. But the other two, Phil Housley and Dave Andreychuk, went on to have much more productive careers.

Cyr had 101 goals and 241 points in 470 NHL games for the Sabres, New York Rangers and Hartford Whalers. His best seasons in Buffalo were a 22-goal campaign in 1984-85 and a 20-goal output in 1985-86, when he put up a career-best 51 points.

Here's a good recap of his Buffalo career, which makes reference to one of the stranger offseason incidents in Sabres history: Cyr was shot in the abdomen in the Dominican Republic in the summer of 1987 but survived even though his hockey career was never really the same after that. Reports at the time were that he was an innocent bystander but the incident was the subject of rumor and innuendo for many years after. Wonder how it would have played out in today's social media world.

Cyr played only 20 games for Buffalo the next season before being traded to the Rangers in a deal that included a draft pick the Sabres eventually turned into Alexander Mogilny. CHEK Television in British Columbia has a full report on Cyr's death below.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington) 

 

Sekera, Slovakia eliminate Canada at worlds; Finland hosts U.S. this morning

Slovakia needed to do well at the world championships to secure a spot in the next Olympics. Canada, ranked as the fifth-best hockey playing nation in the latest IIHF ratings, wanted to show that hockey's birthplace is still No. 1.

Only Slovakia succeeded.

The Slovaks eliminated Canada this morning in the quarterfinals at the world championships, the third straight quarterfinal defeat for The True North. Sabres defenseman Andrej Sekera's power-play point shot was tipped by Michal Handzus with 2:28 left in regulation to give the Slovaks a 4-3 victory.

The other three teams for Friday's semifinals will be decided today. Russia is playing Norway now on NBC Sports Network. The channel will also have live coverage of the United States visiting Finland at 11:30 a.m. Sweden and Czech Republic finish the slate of games.

---John Vogl

Reports: NHL informs players it will terminate CBA

Coming out of the lockout in 2005, the NHL had nearly all the leverage over the NHL Players' Association. The league worked that dominance to its advantage, virtually dictating the terms of a new collective bargaining agreement. Players took a 24 percent salary cut, among other things.

Now the league wants out of the deal it created, according to two reports.

The Hockey News and Sports Business Journal are reporting the league has informed the players that it intends to terminate the CBA when it expires Sept. 15. Each side had to inform the other 120 days before the expiration if it wanted to modify or terminate the agreement.

The players would have liked to keep a CBA that has seen the salary cap (and salaries) rise dramatically every season. The league, despite dictating the terms, felt the agreement was no longer in its favor.

The sides will need to negotiate a new deal before next season or another lockout is likely.

---John Vogl

Kings continue march toward crown; Rangers hoping to be better in Game Two

The Kings continue to look like the NHL's most dominant team. The way they're going, they may not get a chance to extend their record road winning streak until the next round -- which, by the way, is the final round.

Los Angeles dropped Phoenix again Tuesday night, earning a 4-0 victory to take a 2-0 series lead over the Coyotes in the Western Conference finals. Games Three and Four will be in L.A. on Thursday and Sunday.

It wouldn't be a surprise if the Kings sweep. They look that good.

""We really want it right now," forward Dustin Penner told NHL.com. "We want the first goal. We want the next goal. It's that intensity and that passion that drives us. It's that good type of fear that stops you from letting games get away from you and continues to push you forward. We use that fear of losing to motivate us as opposed to shrinking to it."

The Kings are 7-0 on the road and have won their last nine away from home dating to last season.

Besides falling behind on the scoreboard, the Coyotes lost two players. Shane Doan and Martin Handzal were kicked out for boarding, and the league will review the incidents.

"There's no question there's going to be frustration, especially when you get down in a game like that, guys try to finish their checks on the edge," said Coyotes and former Sabres forward Taylor Pyatt, who had three shots and three hits. "We've got to try and find some positives and get things turned around in Game Three."

In the Eastern Conference, the Rangers hope to build off their 3-0 victory over New Jersey in Game One. The teams meet in New York tonight.

"We've got to be better," Rangers captain Ryan Callahan said. "We know that. We've got areas in the game that we need to improve on and we need to work on. We'll be ready."

---John Vogl

Kings get jump on Coyotes, Rangers-Devils ready to disrupt neighborhood

The Kings of the road have struck again.

Los Angeles won its sixth straight road game Sunday night, 4-2 in Phoenix, and in the process opened a 1-0 lead over the Coyotes in the Western Conference final. L.A. rolled up a 48-27 shot edge to pull within one road win of the NHL record for a single postseason.

"Their whole team was better than our team," Coyotes coach Dave Tippett told reporters. "We weren't close in that game. We got beat in every facet of the game. Hopefully, we take some lessons from it and get better for the next game."

Game Two is Tuesday in Phoenix. Bucky Gleason says Los Angeles looks better across the board. Take the Kings in six games.

Meanwhile, the puck drops on the Eastern Conference final tonight. The New York Rangers host their neighbors from New Jersey.

"This is a great time in everybody's lives," Devils goalie Martin Brodeur said. "We need to really take it all in. You never know when you're going to get back in the situation that you're going to play for a chance to go to the Stanley Cup finals. And playing against our biggest rival kind of puts a cherry on top."

Bucky says New York's Henrik Lundqvist prevails in this goalie war and takes the Rangers in seven games.

---John Vogl

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John Vogl

John Vogl

John Vogl has been covering the Sabres since 2002-03, an era that has included playoff runs, last-place finishes and three ownership changes. The award-winning writer is the Buffalo chapter chairman for the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association.

@BuffNewsVogl | jvogl@buffnews.com

About Sabres Edge


Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington, a Canisius College graduate who began his career as a News reporter in 1987, has been covering the Buffalo Sabres since 2007. He is a member of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association and can vouch that exposed flesh freezes instantly when walking in downtown Winnipeg in January.

@BNHarrington | mharrington@buffnews.com


Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz, a native of Lockport, has a bachelor’s degree in journalism/mass communication from St. Bonaventure University and a master’s degree in humanities from the University at Buffalo. An endurance athlete, she has completed several triathlons, half marathons and marathons.

@amymoritz | amoritz@buffnews.com

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