Flyers

NHL Notes: Penguins regroup while Predators look for road magic in Game 5

NHL Notes: Penguins regroup while Predators look for road magic in Game 5

PITTSBURGH -- Somewhere between the catfish lobbing , A-list national anthem singers, Carrie Underwood's forgetfulness , Charles Barkley's surprise cameo and P.K. Subban's breath, there's been another notable development during the Stanley Cup Final:

A series has broken out. Perhaps the seeds of an upset, too.

A week ago, the Nashville Predators headed home down 2-0 to the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins. Pekka Rinne's game seemed to be in tatters and the Penguins fan base was musing whether it preferred a clean sweep or just a split of the two games in Nashville so the defending champions could raise the Cup on home ice.

So, about that.

The vibe inside PPG Paints Arena for Game 5 on Thursday night figures to be more anxious than anticipatory after the Predators evened the series at 2-2 with a pair of vintage performances on home ice that sent "Smashville" into a frenzy and delivered a very clear message that the first-timers are a clear threat to become first-time winners.

Through four games, Nashville has more goals, more shots on goal and a bit more swagger than Pittsburgh. What began as a two-month slog to the Cup is now a three-game dash, one that appears to be a coin flip. The Penguins have the experience. The Predators have the momentum. Both are fighting fatigue with adrenaline.

"I know people talk about how we're tired, but believe me, they're tired too," Pittsburgh forward Evgeni Malkin said. "It's not only us tired. It's only three games left. We're not talking about being tired."

Maybe, but Nashville appeared a step quicker in its home building, pouring in nine goals and handing Penguins goalie Matt Murray the first back-to-back playoff losses of his young career. Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan isn't concerned about Murray. He's not really worried about the 190 feet in front of Murray, either. The Penguins have come within two games of the first team to capture consecutive Cups in nearly two decades due in large part to their resiliency.

Kings: Toffoli agrees to 3-year, $13.8 million extension
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Forward Tyler Toffoli has agreed to a three-year, $13.8 million contract extension with the Los Angeles Kings.

The Kings announced the deal with the restricted free agent Wednesday.

Toffoli had 16 goals and 18 assists in 63 games with the Kings last season. He has been among Los Angeles' most consistent offensive players since cracking the NHL lineup during the 2012-13 season.

He scored 14 points in 26 playoff games during the Kings' run to the Stanley Cup title in 2014. He had a career-high 58 points during the 2015-16 season, including 31 goals.

New Kings general manager Rob Blake has reached lengthy contract extensions with Toffoli and Tanner Pearson during the offseason, keeping together his young core despite several huge contracts on Los Angeles' payroll.

Blackhawks: Defenseman Rutta agrees to 1-year deal
CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks have agreed to a one-year deal with Czech defenseman Jan Rutta.

The 26-year-old Rutta set career highs with 24 assists and 32 points in 46 games with the Czech Extraliga's Pirati Chomutov. He also played in this year's world championship, finishing with a goal in eight games.

General manager Stan Bowman says Rutta "makes our defense more dynamic and he has shown he can contribute offensively as well."

The Blackhawks announced the deal Wednesday.

Eric Lindros reveals awesome insight on his career during Twitter Q&A

Eric Lindros reveals awesome insight on his career during Twitter Q&A

There are so many Eric Lindros memories.

During his playing days, No. 88 was a rare breed of size and skill. Lindros' blend of strengths would still be rare in today's game.

His dynamic was intimidating and imposing because of those strengths, so to hear Lindros open up about his toughest opponents is really cool.

"Big E" did just that in a question-and-answer session Sunday on his Twitter account.

It's awesome to see Lindros talk hockey with his fans. He has always respected the knowledgeable fan base in Philly.

"Flyers players are lucky to play in a city where the fans truly know the game of hockey, appreciate the little things and are of course rowdy, but also show heart," Lindros said on his jersey retirement night in January 2018.

Here were Lindros' interactions Sunday night and we look forward to the next time.

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Predictions for who wins Flyers' 2019-20 Yanick Dupre Class Guy Award

Predictions for who wins Flyers' 2019-20 Yanick Dupre Class Guy Award

Going End to End today are NBC Sports Philadelphia's Brooke Destra, Katie Emmer, Taryn Hatcher and Jordan Hall.

The topic: Predicting who wins the Flyers' 2019-20 Yanick Dupre Class Guy Award, presented to the Flyer who best illustrates character, dignity and respect both on and off the ice.

Destra

The best part about the Flyers and their organization is that they are filled with top-notch people. Just about every player on the team could win this award. 

This year though, I’d have to go with Jakub Voracek. He is one of the most respected players on the ice but what stands out the most is the person he is off the ice. The person he is when the cameras aren’t on him. The person he is when it comes to being an ambassador for the phrase, "It’s more than just a game."

There are many examples from this season, but one of my favorites that simply showcases why Voracek should win the Yanick Dupre Class Guy Award dates back to Feb. 27-28, when the Flyers signed Blake Steigauf to a one-day contract.

All throughout this video, you catch glimpses of Voracek with Steigauf, but the one moment that stuck with me was the shot of him waiting for the 15-year-old to come off the ice and into the tunnel before heading back to the locker room. 

All class. 

Emmer

The Flyers' dressing room is full of players with good character and high respect for the game, so this one was hard for me. 

This season, I’m picking Matt Niskanen.   

Niskanen is a highly respected, veteran player in the league and general manager Chuck Fletcher knew that when he decided to bring him in during the offseason.  

Coming into this year, the 33-year-old had 14 NHL seasons under his belt, 10 playoff runs and a Stanley Cup in 2018 — he had the experience the blue line needed.  

Where I think Niskanen really exceeded expectations so far this season is the leadership he brings. He’s highly respected by his teammates and has some of the best well-rounded character you could ask for in your dressing room.

We’re all able to see the example he sets on the ice with the defensive group as well as the team as a whole. He has certainly helped with the Flyers’ success this season. On top of that, he sets an example off the ice by showing respect toward those around him, from the Flyers’ personnel to members of media.

He has been a great addition to the team and I believe he’s the most deserving of the Yanick Dupre Award.  

Hatcher

I’m giving it to Niskanen. This was tough for all the right reasons though. I think you could make a case for quite a few players on the team to take this one home.

There are a lot of great guys in that dressing room that are both the type of player and the type of person you’d want on your hockey team. But when you say “character, dignity and respect,” my mind jumps right to Niskanen. He holds himself and his teammates accountable in the most respectful way following tough contests. He has experienced success and exudes the maturity that comes with that, without ever talking about it or being boastful about it.

He’s the “Steady Eddie” of the team, keeping things in balance on the ice and off it. Never complains, not even with 15 stitches in his nose. And beyond his character contributions, he’s been exactly what Fletcher hoped he’d be in terms of a player — a dependable defenseman that has perfectly complemented Ivan Provorov on the Flyers' top D pairing.

Hall

During his first season in Philadelphia, Kevin Hayes has fully embraced the community on top of augmenting the dynamic in the Flyers' dressing room.

Through a mixture of lightheartedness and leadership, Hayes has brought the Flyers closer together. The 27-year-old center has been a quality teammate and a go-to interview all season.

He has shown nothing but respect and character in his dealings with fans, media members and Flyers employees.

There isn't a bad choice here, but Hayes' value has gone beyond the ice.

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