NHL notes: Finally! East final schedule comes out

Tomas Kaberle (right) of the Bruins battles Lightning's Dominic Moore during a regular-season game...

Tomas Kaberle (right) of the Bruins battles Lightning's Dominic Moore during a regular-season game last March in Boston. (AFP/Getty Images)

QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:16 PM ET

It's about time!

That, essentially, was the Tampa Bay Lightning's response Tuesday to the schedule finally being released for Round 3 of the playoffs.

The Lightning will have had a 10-day breather when they take on the Bruins in Boston Saturday in the opener of the Eastern Conference final.

The Western final will open Sunday in Vancouver.

"The guys are ready to play today," Lightning coach Guy Boucher said Tuesday.

Tampa Bay forward Steven Stamkos said it was good to have a firm date set for the resumption of the playoffs.

"It's good to get the body rested but the guys are getting anxious now," said Stamkos, whose Lightning swept the Washington Capitals in Round 2, leading to the extended layoff.

"We've got to prepare, got to get our legs back on the ice, get our hands going, and get our brain going."

The teams will have two days off after the opener. Game 2 will be in Boston next Tuesday, with Games 3 and 4 in Tampa the following Thursday and Saturday.

In the West, Vancouver will be home to San Jose or Detroit on Sunday and Wednesday, then the Canucks go on the road for Games 3 and 4 the following Friday and Sunday.

For those concerned about the playoffs dragging, take heart: The conference finals will be over well before June -- May 28 at the latest.

Injury update

Forward Simon Gagne, who was knocked unconscious in Game 1 of the Lightning's series with Washington, is back on skates this week and hopes to play in Game 1 at Boston.

Lightning defenceman Pavel Kubina is further away from returning, He apparently is suffering post-concussion symptoms since being elbowed in the head in the same game.

For the Bruins -- who have been off since eliminating Philadelphia Friday night -- defenceman Adam McQuaid skated Tuesday for the second consecutive day. He sprained his neck when he crashed into the boards after missing a check in Game 2 of the series with the Flyers.

Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron, who is recovering from a concussion, is doing better, coach Claude Julien said.

"He's dealing with the concussion symptoms and ... the protocol of it. He's feeling better.

"And if anything, yeah, we're getting some positive feedback from him."

Off to hospital

Five Philadelphia Flyers, including captain Mike Richards, will undergo off-season surgery, while three others are being evaluated to determine if surgery is an option.

Richards had been bothered by a torn wrist ligament since early in the season.

"The medical opinion was that he could continue to play through it without damaging it any further, and take care of it at the end of the season," Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren said Tuesday.

"(The injury) has inhibited Richards' play, certain aspects of his play. I think it has affected his performance in the faceoff circle. I think it has affected his shot to some degree."

Also set for surgery are Kris Versteeg (stomach muscle), Blair Betts (finger), Andrej Meszaros (wrist) and Michael Leighton (hip).

Forwards Jeff Carter and Scott Hartnell also have hip problems that may need surgery, while Chris Pronger has a lower back issue that is causing diminished leg strength.

Close doesn't quite count

The Nashville Predators could take some solace from the fact they kept the scores close in losing in six games to the Canucks.

Each of Vancouver's four wins was basically by one goal. (The Canucks had an empty net goal in Game 4.)

The Preds also made it to the second round for the first time in franchise history.

"All the great teams said they had to learn how to lose before they could win and, you know, we lost a bunch in the first round," forward David Legwand said. "The farther you get the tougher it is to swallow."

QUICK HITS: The Bruins seemingly are out to disprove the theory that a team needs a strong power play to succeed in the playoffs. Boston's success rate with the man advantage is 5.4%. The Anaheim Ducks and Phoenix Coyotes had power-play success rates of 36.4% and 33.3% respectively yet were bounced in the first round ... The season was extended Tuesday for three Predators. Defenceman Jonathon Blum and forwards Blake Geoffrion and Matt Halischuk were assigned to Milwaukee of the AHL to try to help the Admirals advance in the playoffs.


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