News: Cedric Paquette will return to Tampa Bay's lineup for Friday's Game 7 against the Rangers, Erik Erlendsson of the Tampa Tribune reports. Analysis: Cedric Paquette missed Game 6 of the series with a hand injury, but is now healthy enough to return to the Bolts' lineup for Game 7 against the Rangers. He'll replace Vladislav Namestnikov, and will center J.T. Brown and Ryan Callahan on Tampa Bay's third line.
News: Ben Bishop will be in the crease for Friday's Game 7 against the Rangers. Analysis: Ben Bishop will look to bounce back from a poor performance in Tuesday's Game 6 in which he allowed five goals on 26 shots before being pulled in the third period. Bishop has been inconsistent throughout the Eastern Conference Final, but was able to post a shutout performance en route to a victory in Game 5. He'll hope to return to that sort of form in Game 7 of the series.
News: Henrik Lundqvist will be in net for Friday's Game 7 against the Lightning. Analysis: With the exception of Games 2 and 3, in which he surrendered a total of 12 goals, Henrik Lundqvist has been solid against Tampa Bay throughout the Eastern Conference Final. If his teammates are able to carry the offensive momentum they gained after tallying five goals in Game 6 into Game 7, another solid outing from Lundqvist could be enough to propel the Rangers to the Stanley Cup Final.
News: Justin Falk signed a one-year, two-way deal with the Blue Jackets on Friday, NHL.com reports. Analysis: The 26-year-old appeared in 18 games for the Blue Jackets and Wild in 2014-15, tallying one goal, one assist and 14 penalty minutes. Justin Falk, who was acquired from Minnesota in early March, will likely split time between the NHL and AHL again next season. "Justin is a good, young defenseman who was a solid addition to our hockey club late last season and we are pleased that he will continue to be a part of our group on the blue line next season," Columbus GM Jarmo Kekalainen said.
News: Cody Goloubef signed a two-year, one-way contract extension with the Blue Jackets on Thursday, Aaron Portzline of The Columbus Dispatch reports. Analysis: Cody Goloubef's role with the Blue Jackets in 2014 expanded largely beyond his two previous seasons. The blueliner dressed for 36 of the team's games, posting 23 shots on goal, nine points (all assists) and a plus-12 rating. Following the strong season, he'll likely enter 2015-16 on firmer footing, and could solidify a roster spot with the club in training camp.
News: Mats Zuccarello (upper body) briefly joined the Rangers during the non-contact portion of Thursday's practice, Andrew Gross of The Record reports. Analysis: As soon as coach Alain Vigneault blew the whistle for the start of full-contact work, Mats Zuccarello left the ice, suggesting that he's not a candidate to play during Friday's Game 7 against the Lightning. Zuccarello could receive clearance to take contact in the coming days, and should have a decent shot at reentering the lineup in the Stanley Cup Finals if the Rangers are able to advance.
News: Nicklas Backstrom underwent arthroscopic hip surgery Wednesday afternoon, Alex Prewitt of the Washington Post reports. Analysis: The Capitals are optimistic that Nicklas Backstrom will make a full recovery and be back to 100 percent health by the start of the 2015-16 regular season. Backstrom didn't indicate during his exit interview following the second round of the playoffs that he had been nursing any sort of injury, but perhaps he elected to get out ahead of the hip issue before it became a recurring problem. Backstrom's recently completed season was a near mirror image of 2013-14, as he finished with the same goal total (18) and one fewer assist (60) while playing all 82 games for the second straight year.
News: Cam Fowler picked up an assist in his 23:37 of ice time in Wednesday's Game 6 loss to the Blackhawks. Analysis: Cam Fowler has delivered a four-point series for the Ducks thus far, generating a goal and three helpers. Expect him to rank among the team leaders in minutes for Saturday's series-deciding Game 7 in Anaheim.
News: Patrick Maroon potted a power-play goal in Wednesday's Game 6 loss to the Blackhawks. Analysis: Patrick Maroon has been outstanding all postseason for the Ducks, but he's really ratcheted up his production in the Western Conference Finals. Through six games, he's recorded three goals on 20 shot attempts, while also posting sizable hit totals on the defensive end.
News: Nate Thompson picked up an assist in Wednesday's Game 6 loss to the Blackhawks. Analysis: Nate Thompson isn't typically one of Anaheim's more productive scorers, but he's been able to come away with a goal and four assists thus far in the series. Though it's been a nice run for the 30-year-old, his modest track record as a point producer suggests the Ducks shouldn't bank on him driving their offense in Saturday's Game 7.