Tomas Kopecky, Anton Volchenkov

Series at a glance: Florida-New Jersey playoff preview

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Schedule

All times are Eastern.

* – if necessary

Friday April 13 in Florida @ 7 p.m. (NHL Network, TSN)
Sunday April 15 in Florida @ 7:30 p.m. (NBC Sports Network, TSN)
Tuesday April 17 in New Jersey @ 7 p.m. (NHL Network, TSN)
Thursday April 19 in New Jersey @ 7 p.m. (NHL Network, TSN)
*Saturday April 21 in Florida @ 6:30 p.m. (NHL Network, TSN)
*Tuesday April 24 in New Jersey @ TBD (TBD)
*Thursday April 26 in Florida @ TBD (TBD)

Three storylines to follow

1. Goalie questions. Neither team can feel 100 percent comfortable in net. For better or worse, Martin Brodeur is essentially grandfathered into the New Jersey goal while the Panthers might be better off going with Brodeur’s former backup in Scott Clemmensen rather than Jose Theodore. Either way, the goaltending doesn’t look to be a beauty contest.

2. Jersey’s stars. The Devils have the star power category locked up but, aside from Patrik Elias, haven’t thrived in the big time. Ilya Kovalchuk’s single career playoff win — game, not series — is pretty well-publicized and Zach Parise’s future remains in question, so there are a lot of moving parts for a team that admittedly looks much better on paper.

3. House money? The Panthers head into the playoffs in a rare spot. They’re the third seed, yet almost certainly the underdogs. They’ve already done more than people expected by a) making the playoffs and b) winning the Southeast. Playing with house money and home ice advantage? Not too shabby.

Records

Florida: 38-26-18, 94 points (1st in Southeast; 3rd in Eastern Confrence) | New Jersey: 48-28-6, 102 points (4th in Atlantic; 6th in Eastern Conference)

Leading scorers

Florida: Tomas Fleischmann (27G-31A-61PTS) | New Jersey: Ilya Kovalchuk (37G-46A-83PTS)

Starting goalies

Florida: Jose Theodore (22-16-11, 2.46 GAA) or Scott Clemmensen (14-6-6, 2.57 GAA) | New Jersey: Martin Brodeur (31-21-4, 2.41 GAA)

Head-to-head

Season series tied at 2-2
Nov. 21: At Florida 4, New Jersey 3
Dec. 13: New Jersey 3, at Florida 2, SO
Jan. 6: At New Jersey 5, Florida 2
Feb. 11: Florida 3, at New Jersey 1

Last 10 games

Florida: 2-3-5 | New Jersey: 7-2-1

Playoff history

New Jersey leads 1-0 (4-0 in 2000 Eastern Conference quarterfinals)

2011 playoffs

Florida: Did not qualify | New Jersey: Did not qualify

Stanley Cups

Florida: None | New Jersey: 3 (1995, 2000, 2003)

Injuries

Florida: Jack Skille (shoulder) and Matt Bradley (concussion).

New Jersey: David Clarkson (lower-body), Jacob Josefson (wrist) and Henrik Tallinder (leg).

Senators, Ceci agree to two-year, $5.6M contract

OTTAWA, ON - FEBRUARY 6: Cody Ceci #5 of the Ottawa Senators skates against the Toronto Maple Leafs during an NHL game at Canadian Tire Centre on February 6, 2016 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.  (Photo by Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images)
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Ottawa Senators general manager Pierre Dorion predicted 11 days ago that a new contract with defenseman Cody Ceci would get done “within the next few weeks.”

His timeline proved to be quite accurate.

On Tuesday, the Senators announced they had re-signed the 22-year-old Ceci, a restricted free agent, to a two-year deal, worth a total value of $5.6 million.

The breakdown of the deal from the Senators states Ceci will receive $2.25 million in the first year of his new contract and $3.35 million in the second.

As per General Fanager, Ceci is slated to be a restricted free agent at the end of this deal, which means the Senators would have to match the salary Ceci made in the final season of the contract in their next qualifying offer to him two years from now.

It’s also a raise from the $1.369 million average annual value he was making with his entry-level contract. It was previously reported that the Senators offered Ceci both long and short-term deals.

The Senators put out a teaser of the news on Twitter, minutes before the announcement.

Ceci is from Ottawa, where he also played his junior hockey, and a first-round pick of the Senators in 2012.

In his second full season with the Senators, he posted a new single-season career high in goals with 10 and points with 26.

Report: Boughner and Dineen ‘major candidates’ for Avs gig, Arniel out

WINDSOR, ON - JANUARY 20:  Assistant Coach Bob Boughner of Team Orr points to a play on the ice during the Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects game against Team Cherry on January 20, 2010 at the WFCU Centre in Windsor, Ontario. Team Cherry defeated Team Orr 4-2. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
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Just weeks after Patrick Roy’s shock departure, Colorado’s search for a new head coach appears to be taking shape.

There’s plenty to get into, so let’s go bullet points:

Per the Denver Post, a pair of assistant coaches — San Jose’s Bob Boughner and Chicago’s Kevin Dineen — have emerged as “major candidates” for the job.

• Also per the Post, Jared Bednar — the head coach of Columbus’ Calder Cup-winning AHL affiliate in Lake Erie — is in the mix for the Colorado gig as well.

• Another guy with Columbus ties, former head coach Scott Arniel, is reportedly out of contention, per the Dispatch. Arniel’s currently serving as Alain Vigneault’s right-hand man in New York.

• Other names in the mix include Vancouver property Travis Green (currently with AHL Utica) and longtime Barry Trotz assistant Lane Lambert (currently with Washington).

• Brad Larsen, currently one of John Tortorella’s assistants in Columbus and a former Avs player, won’t be getting an interview. Larsen’s name had apparently been floated earlier.

• And finally, if you’re wondering why so many guys with Columbus ties are in the mix, the Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline explained that former BJ’s assistant GM Chris McFarland now has the same job in Colorado under Joe Sakic.

So there you go.

Poll: What’s a realistic point total for the Sabres?

Buffalo Sabres' Evander Kane (9) celebrates with teammate Ryan O'Reilly (90) after O'Reilly scored the winning goal during the overtime session of an NHL hockey game against the Los Angeles Kings, Saturday Dec. 12, 2015 in Buffalo, N.Y. Buffalo won 2-1. (AP Photo/Gary Wiepert)
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This post is part of Buffalo Sabres day at PHT…

Last year, Detroit snagged the eighth and final playoff spot in the East with 93 points.

Two years ago, Pittsburgh did the same with 98.

In light of those totals, it’s not surprising to hear what Sabres head coach Dan Byslma pegged as the mark for the upcoming campaign.

“We should expect to be 95 points or higher than that,” Bylsma told NHL.com earlier this summer. “We think we’re better on defense. We think we’re stronger. We’re deeper. If you’re looking at expectations from within, we should be above 95 points at the end of the season.”

It’s a lofty goal, to say the least. Buffalo only had 81 last season.

But there is something to be said for Bylsma’s prediction, because his previous one worked out pretty well. In that same chat with NHL.com, the Sabres head coach said he and GM Tim Murray pegged last year’s club as an 80-to-85 point team, which proved accurate.

And if the last few seasons have shown anything, it’s that Buffalo is on the rise.

The Sabres had a meager 52 points three seasons ago, and made the slight bump up to 54 in ’14-15. Last year signified a huge leap forward — 27 points — which is probably why Bylsma is banking on a 14-15 point improvement (or more) this season.

Of course, this next push will prove more difficult.

For the Sabres to snap their five-year playoff drought, certain areas will need to improve. The club’s 25th-ranked offense needs to find the back of the net with more regularity, and the addition of prized free agent Kyle Okposo should help in that department.

In goal, Robin Lehner will need to stay healthy and appear in significantly more games (just 21 last season). And it remains to be seen what the ramifications from Evander Kane‘s controversial offseason will be.

So… what do you expect from Buffalo next season? Vote away.

Wild officially change goal song to Prince’s ‘Let’s Go Crazy’

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In what might be the most Minnesota post you’ll ever see on Buffalo day, the Wild have announced they’ve officially changed their goal song to Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy.”

The announcement, made on Monday afternoon, came after the club surveyed season ticket holders to see how they felt about making the move a permanent one.

During the playoffs — Game 6 of their opening-round series against Dallas, to be specific — the Wild made the temporary goal song switch to commemorate their beloved hometown artist, who passed away on April 21.

“Our in-arena experience is designed for the fans, so it’s great to be able to show them we take their feedback to heart,” said Wild vice president of brand, content and communications John Maher. “At the same time, it’s our privilege to celebrate an iconic hometown artist that clearly has had an incredible impact on our community and the world.”