NHL Bits: Unexpected Final Four Shapes Up; Rangers to K.C.

That was quick.

Last night the Devils dispatched the Flyers, creating three-quarters of a final four that few would've predicted. Already the talk turns to whether Jaromir Jagr will be back for another go. And the Ryan Kesler labrum surgery -- playing hurt since February -- is another reminder that at this time of year if a good player doesn't look right, there's a good chance he's hurt, and not "disinterested" or "choking" or whatever.

Islanders:

Beyond:

Finally, Dean Lombardi sure likes to chat, possibly a market necessity for his franchise; but certainly his thoughts as the team advances farther than it's been since 1993 -- my, the things that happened since then -- are how you hope to draw the whole thing up:

"I remember five years ago when we were a bad team, we were picking second in the draft and on Fan Appreciation Day this place was filled," Lombardi recalled after the Kings second round sweep of the St. Louis Blues on Sunday afternoon. "Now, those people are being rewarded. Like anything in life, it’s what you do during the tough times that really says what you’re all about..."

That's the idea, anyway. Every franchise that goes through hard times hopes for that moment.

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