recent articles.en-usRssPekka Rinne silences critics on Predators' Stanley Cup Final quest Stanley Cup Playoffs have their mythic qualities. Champions, adorned in armor and wielding weapons, battling each other during a long quest for the right to drink from a holy grail. That sort of thing. As Pekka Rinne sees it, the Nashville Predators just completed their third of four trials in this mythic journey, each with their own distinct challenges. “ Against Chicago it was about speed. Against St. Louis it was about defense. Here it was about physical hockey,” he said, moments after the Predators eliminated the Anaheim Ducks in six games, winning their first Western Conference championship in franchise history. The labors changed each round. But there was one constant for Nashville: Pekka Rinne. [Follow Puck Daddy on social media: Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | Tumblr] He has a .941 save percentage and a 1.70 goals-against average for the postseason. He’s made 446 saves on 474 shots. The playoffs have been filled with games like Game 6 for Rinne, in which he turned back 38 Anaheim shots and carried his team to victory. If the Predators are blessed to win the Stanley Cup, they could hand him the Conn Smythe during the first period of the clincher and no one would think twice about it – that’s how valuable he’s been. None of this happens were it not for Rinne, and we say this for one specific reason: The Chicago Blackhawks series. The working premise for the Predators and their postseason run is that they were a middling regular season team that found themselves in the postseason. The same held for Rinne, whose .918 save percentage in 61 starts was better than the previous season but who was inconsistent month-to-month. But boy, did he find a groove in March and April, with a .932 save percentage in his final 13 games. But the Predators draw the last wild card spot in the West, which means they draw the Blackhawks in Round 1. So what does Rinne do? He stops 59 shots in two games in Chicago, posting back-to-back shutout wins over the Blackhawks. Away they went. And now they’re playing for the Stanley Cup. “It’s almost like a thing you don’t want to think about too much,” said Rinne. “You have been holding it back, and in the back of your head you’ve been thinking about the finals and then when the buzzer goes off, it’s an amazing feeling.” Humble Beginning   Much love will be given to David Poile, the team’s general manager, for constructing this roster, and Rinne is one of his front office’s greatest achievements. He was selected No. 258 overall in the 2004 NHL Draft, in the eighth round. There were 27 goalies taken ahead of him – Rinne was drafted behind Japan’s Yutaka Fukufuji, taken by the Los Angeles Kings at No. 238. Scout Janne Kekalainen, brother of Columbus Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen, is credited for finding that diamond in the rough after he was passed over in three previous drafts. Hell, he wasn’t even starting for his local team – he was Niklas Backstrom’s backup. Rinne was a product of both the Finnish and Nashville goalie factories. In the latter, coach Mitch Korn helped hone his skills. He had the height and the athleticism, as well as an aggressive style. In 2007, the Predators traded away starter Tomas Vokoun to Florida because they were confident Chris Mason and Rinne could take over. By 2008, Rinne did, starting 52 games and finishing fourth in the Calder voting. Rinne played 508 regular-season games and 64 playoff games before getting his shot at the Stanley Cup. At 34 years old, he spans eras for this franchise, first making up one third of the team’s Trinity with defensemen Shea Weber and Ryan Suter, under coach Barry Trotz. In 2011, Rinne was handed a controversial 7-year, $49 million contract extension by the Predators. Controversial in duration and in cap hit. As large contracts do, it’s come to define him, although the motivations for that deal — the looming new CBA, the way Poile wanted that contract to entice Suter and Weber to remain in Nashville — are somewhat lost in time. But that contract meant that Rinne would be around to backstop this version of the Predators, with Suter a distant memory and Weber swapped for P.K. Subban, and a slew of younger players making an impact on the roster. “The last two, three years, we’ve been on the right track. We’ve done a really good job drafting players and acquiring players. It shows now,” said Rinne. Rinne has been a Vezina finalist three times, the last time in 2014-15 when he had a .923 save percentage. But here’s the thing about Pekka Rinne, perhaps the most remarkable thing: About a year ago, no one thought this guy could be a playoff hero. No, most people thought this guy was done. The Doubts In January 2016, from Mark Harris at Today’s Slaphsot: “It has become clearer throughout this season that he cannot and should not be relied upon in the same sense he has in years past.” That was from a column called, “When Is It Time to Panic About Pekka Rinne?” From Puck Stuff and Jeffrey MacDonald on July 19, 2016: “There is an elephant in the room: the performance of Pekka Rinne. In the last three years , Rinne ranks 41st out of 42 goalies in adjusted Fenwick save percentage.” Message boards were lit up with “what’s wrong with Pekka Rinne?” chatter. There had been talk that there was a hitch in his game that was being exploited. There were the questions about whether he was too fatigued, past his prime. There were questions whether it was his turn in the Nashville Predators’ circle of goalie life, as Mike Dunham begot Tomas Vokoun who begot Chris Mason who begot Pekka Rinne who will one day yield to Juuse Saros. And he will, but just not yet. No, it turns out Rinne has something left. The panic has subsided. The questions about him had been back-burnered. The critics have gone as silent as his opponents’ offensives in the 2017 playoffs. “If you’re healthy, if your mind is fresh, if you’re motivated, if your body is still doing the things the mind wants it to do, that’s what matters. To be honest with you, I still feel young,” said Rinne before the season to The Tennessean. And so the mythic journey continues. The grizzled leader that others had deemed unworthy of the task, bucking those expectations and winning the day, seemingly getting sprier the closer he gets to the holy grail. Pekka Rinne, four wins from the Stanley Cup. Pekka Rinne, the reason the Predators can taste it. “Amazing feeling, obviously. It’s a dream come true,” said Rinne. “But it’s a funny thing, though. When this is happening around us, you still feel hungry, and now we have a chance to play for the Cup. It’s a pretty amazing feeling. And you’ve been working for that for a long, long time,” he said. — Greg Wyshynski is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at or find him on Twitter. His book, TAKE YOUR EYE OFF THE PUCK, is available on Amazon and wherever books are sold. MORE FROM YAHOO SPORTSTue, 23 May 2017 08:49:13 -0400 fans celebrate Predators' win blasting Tim McGraw Nashville Predators are going to the Stanley Cup...        Tue, 23 May 2017 08:10:51 -0400 head to Stanley Cup finals Sissons' hat trick and game winner make history for Nashville        Tue, 23 May 2017 07:52:58 -0400 special for the Nashville Predators appearance is a first for many: the franchise through its architect, GM David Poile.        Tue, 23 May 2017 02:39:02 -0400 wants more history than just 1st Stanley Cup Final Nashville Predators, the final team into the NHL playoffs, are headed to the first Stanley Cup Final in franchise history. They insist they are not satisfied with simply making franchise history, not with hockey's ultimate prize four wins away.        Tue, 23 May 2017 02:13:02 -0400 reach 1st Stanley Cup Final, oust Ducks in 6 games Sissons scored his third goal with 6:00 left, ensuring the Nashville Predators' magical postseason now includes the franchise's first trip to the Stanley Cup Final after eliminating the Anaheim Ducks with a 6-3 win.        Tue, 23 May 2017 02:03:59 -0400 book first trip to Stanley Cup Final lowest seed in the playoffs has knocked off the Blackhawks, Blues and Ducks.        Tue, 23 May 2017 01:59:02 -0400 head to Stanley Cup finals Sissons' hat trick and game winner make history for Nashville        Tue, 23 May 2017 01:44:08 -0400 complain about playoff schedule after elimination Nashville Predators eliminated the Anaheim Ducks in Game 6 of the Western Conference Final on Monday night, and Ryan Kesler was one of the worst players on the ice. He was a minus-4, after being a minus-1 in Game 5. He managed just one assist for the series, despite not having to face Predators center Ryan Johansen for the last two games. [Follow Puck Daddy on social media: Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | Tumblr] Why was he so ineffective? Speculation on NBCSN after the game was that he was exhausted, due to the Ducks’ compressed schedule in the playoffs and having to chase around Connor McDavid in the previous round. His coach, Randy Carlyle, indicated that the schedule wasn’t in Anaheim’s favor, and that the NHL should reconsider it. “I don’t think we played poorly in the series. I think that the toughest part I have about the whole thing is that this was our seventh game in 13 days,” said Carlyle. “Now, there’s various reasons for that, but I think there’s got to be some consideration in the scheduling in the future between series. We finished on a Wednesday and had to open again on Friday, whereas other teams had to open on Saturday. An extra day would have given us a chance to recover. And we know how tough these games are. And that was a tough hand that was dealt to us.” Please recall that the Ducks played a seven-game series against the Edmonton Oilers while the Predators had a six-game series against the St. Louis Blues. The Predators ended their series on May 7, because they closed out their opponent when given the chance. The Ducks ended their series on May 10, because when given the chance to close out their opponent, they lost 7-1 on May 7. So Nashville got extra rest because, like, they earned it. And the Ducks didn’t get extra rest because, like, they didn’t earn it. Also please recall that on May 17, Carlyle completely punted on the schedule question, when asked “is it fair to play the playoffs with this kind of schedule” by a reporter. “Well, I better not comment what’s fair and what’s not fair. I leave that up for other people. I think the issue is we get accustomed to it and we just have to make sure we manage the time, what we do in the days between and how we can re-energize our group. That’s the most important thing,” he said. So just adapt to it and leave the criticism to other people because it’s better if a coach doesn’t comment on it. Got it. The Predators will be well-rested when they open the Stanley Cup Final on Monday. — Greg Wyshynski is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at or find him on Twitter. His book, TAKE YOUR EYE OFF THE PUCK, is available on Amazon and wherever books are sold. MORE FROM YAHOO SPORTSTue, 23 May 2017 01:06:44 -0400 the Nashville Predators touch conference trophy, tempt fate? Nashville Predators eliminated the Anaheim Ducks, 6-3, in Game 6 of the Western Conference Final on Monday night. They earned their first Western Conference title. They earned their first trip to the Stanley Cup Final. They earned their first Clarence Campbell Bowl, which means they also earned the right to answer that eternal question for any champion in the NHL: To touch, or not to touch? There’s a superstition in the NHL that you don’t touch the conference championship trophy, lest one tempt fate and jinx them for the Stanley Cup Final. It’s all a bit silly, and On The Forecheck had a great breakdown as to why. [Follow Puck Daddy on social media: Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | Tumblr] So what did the Predators do? The opted for ‘not to touch.’ Look, don't touch. #StanleyCup — NHL May 23, 2017 According to Bobby Misey of On The Forecheck, maybe this was actually smart: Despite the numbers saying that they should touch the Clarence S. Campbell trophy, there are compelling reasons why not. The two last teams to touch their conference trophy and lose were the 2010 Philadelphia Flyers, coached by Peter Laviolette, and the 2007 Ottawa Senators, on which Mike Fisher played. Red flags? Red flags. Furthermore, when Laviolette’s Carolina Hurricanes did not touch the Prince of Wales trophy in 2006, they won the Stanley Cup. Therefore, if we’re talking about intangibles, perhaps it would be wise for Nashville to stray far away from the Clarence S. Campbell trophy. Now, some of this might depend on what the East winner does. In the last 20 years, “when one team touches the cup and the other does not, the touching team is 5-3,” according to Misey. Anyway, congrats to the Predators for winning the West and then opting not to skate around the rink to allow fans to use the trophy as a giant spittoon. Hey, just because you’re winners now doesn’t mean the stereotypical jokes stop. — Greg Wyshynski is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at or find him on Twitter. His book, TAKE YOUR EYE OFF THE PUCK, is available on Amazon and wherever books are sold. MORE FROM YAHOO SPORTSMon, 22 May 2017 23:30:19 -0400 continue magical season, punch ticket to Stanley Cup Final came in with the fewest points of any team in these playoffsMon, 22 May 2017 23:17:15 -0400 Predators will play for Stanley Cup, oust Ducks in Game 6 Nashville Predators will play for the Stanley Cup for the first time in franchise history, surviving a wild Game 6 against the Anaheim Ducks with a 6-3 victory on Monday night. Colton Sissons tallied a hat trick, and Pekka Rinne managed to stop a Ducks’ barrage of 41 shots to eliminate Anaheim. Nashville makes the final round as the second wild card team in the West, having eliminated the Chicago Blackhawks, St. Louis Blues and Anaheim Ducks along the way. As with the rest of the series, Game 6 was an eventful one even before puck drop. The Predators were without two centers in captain Mike Fisher and star Ryan Johansen, who attended the game on crutches after emergency surgery after Game 4: Ryan Johansen entering the rink to cheer on his Nashville teammates in game 6. — Christine Simpson May 22, 2017 The Ducks were without forwards Rickard Rakell and Patrick Eaves, but most importantly they were without goalie John Gibson, as backup Jonathan Bernier got the start. The Predators struck early, as Austin Watson scored again at 1:21: That was Frederick Gaudreau, playing in his second career playoff game, beating Ryan Kesler on the draw. Watson’s shot hit defenseman Josh Manson’s stick and went past Bernier. Colton Sissons made it 2-0 with a snipe that beat Bernier from the slot at 8:47 of the first, one that the Ducks keeper definitely wants back: After this goal came the game’s most nasty moment, as Nick Ritchie was ejected for boarding Viktor Arvidsson. The Ducks cut the deficit to 2-1 on a smart pass from Ryan Getzlaf to Ondrej Kase, who scored into a wide open net at 4:45 of the second period. The Predators and Ducks traded goals in the third period, with Sissons making it 3-1 at 3:00 of the third period and Chris Wagner cutting it back to 3-2 just two minutes later. But at 8:52, Cam Fowler tied the game at 3-3: Corey Perry made contact with Pekka Rinne, but the Nashville goalie had time t reset. The dam finally broke, as the Ducks were playing desperate hockey, pouring shots on Rinne while the Predators failed to match that energy level. Anaheim had a golden chance to take the lead, after a delay of game penalty for a puck over the glass. But the Predators killed it, and then seconds later, Sissons completed his hat trick. What a beautiful play. Smart puck movement, and an emphatic finish from Sissons to the lead. Fans didn’t realize that Sissons had completed a hat trick, as his second goal was credited to Pontus Aberg. But later, during a TV commercial break, hats flooded the ice when fans were informed it was a hat trick. Filip Forsberg scored an empty netter, his eighth of the playoffs, a Nashville postseason record. Watson scored his second into an empty net as well. It was bedlam inside Bridgestone Arena. It was bedlam outside Bridgestone Arena, where thousands gathered to party and watch the game. After 19 long years of playoff disappointments, close calls, near relocations, flying catfish and a slowly building surge of fan obsession, the Nashville Predators will play for the Stanley Cup. How glorious. — Greg Wyshynski is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at or find him on Twitter. His book, TAKE YOUR EYE OFF THE PUCK, is available on Amazon and wherever books are sold. MORE FROM YAHOO SPORTSMon, 22 May 2017 22:57:19 -0400 Strome has record 7-point night as Erie hammers Saint John - NHL on CBC Sports Strome had a tournament record four goals and three assists and Taylor Raddysh added two goals and four helpers as the Erie Otters routed the Saint John Sea Dogs 12-5 on Monday at the Memorial Cup.Mon, 22 May 2017 22:19:02 -0400 the worst game of the Senators’ postseason, the team hopes practice will make perfect a historically bad powerplay during their postseason run, Ottawa is hoping for a spark from the man advantage as they face elimination in Game 6Mon, 22 May 2017 21:28:39 -0400 the worst game of the Senators’ postseason, the team hopes practice will make perfect a historically bad powerplay during their postseason run, Ottawa is hoping for a spark from the man advantage as they face elimination in Game 6Mon, 22 May 2017 21:28:39 -0400 forward Nick Ritchie ejected in Game 6 vs. Predators Ducks left wing Nick Ritchie was ejected from Game 6 of the Western Conference Final against the Predators at 11:38 of the opening period after delivering a hard check to Nashville forward Viktor Arvidsson        Mon, 22 May 2017 21:25:33 -0400 Ritchie ejected for Game 6 hit, leaves bloody ‘R’ on Arvidsson (Video) Western Conference Final between the Anaheim Ducks and Nashville Predators has been physical, painful and straight up nasty. Game 6 between the teams was no different, as Viktor Arvidsson’s face will no doubt tell you. At 11:38 of the first period, and with the Predators already up 2-0 in the game and 3-2 in the series, Ducks forward Nick Ritchie wickedly hit Arvidsson from behind against the boards near center ice. Here’s the hit: As the video shows … he basically just decided to give him a forearm shiver to the helmet. He saw the play the whole way. He stands up straight before making the hit to a player in a prone position. It’s basically terrible, a.k.a. in keeping with the rest of the series. Nick Ritchie lays an atrocious hit on Viktor Arvidsson. Arvidsson down the tunnel. — Mark Harris May 23, 2017 Ritchie was given a major for boarding and a game misconduct. The Predators failed to score on that major penalty. Look, we don’t want to say Nick Ritchie’s hit was pure unadulterated evil, but boarding a guy and leaving the bloody initial from your last name basically makes you Voldemort. You’re a wizard, Viktor! — Greg Wyshynski is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at or find him on Twitter. His book, TAKE YOUR EYE OFF THE PUCK, is available on Amazon and wherever books are sold. MORE FROM YAHOO SPORTSMon, 22 May 2017 20:57:33 -0400 Yearwood sings national anthem before Predators' Game 6 Yearwood sang the national anthem before Game 6 of the Western Conference final between the Predators and the Ducks.        Mon, 22 May 2017 20:39:24 -0400 down Ducks to reach 1st Stanley Cup final - NHL on CBC Sports Predators defeated the Anaheim Ducks 6-3 Monday to win the Western Conference final 4-2.Mon, 22 May 2017 20:13:07 -0400 out, Bernier makes 1st playoff start in net for Ducks goalie Jonathan Bernier is making his first career playoff start in Game 6 of the Western Conference finals against the Nashville Predators        Mon, 22 May 2017 20:02:30 -0400' Bernier to make first career playoff start with Gibson out for Game 6 John Gibson will not dress as the Anaheim Ducks aim to stave off elimination in Game 6 versus the Nashville Predators. If the Anaheim Ducks are to survive Game 6 versus the Nashville Predators, it will be without No. 1 netminder John Gibson. Jonathan Bernier will make his first career start in the Stanley Cup Playoffs – and Jhonas Enroth will dress in support – as the Ducks aim to force a Game 7 back in Anaheim with a win over the Predators on Monday night. Gibson was unable to return for the start of the second period in Anaheim’s 3-1 loss in Game 5 when he suffered a lower-body injury in the first. He was able to complete the opening period, and, according to Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle, had declared himself fit to start Monday’s game. He was a participant at Anaheim’s opening skate, also offering indication that he would try to start. Gibson is 9-5 with a .918 save percentage in the Stanley Cup Playoffs this spring. He held a .939 mark through four-plus games versus Nashville. More Stanley Cup Playoffs coverage on Yahoo Sports:Mon, 22 May 2017 19:57:57 -0400 try to 'refresh' with season on line Senators face a must-win game Tuesday night against the Penguins.        Mon, 22 May 2017 18:49:55 -0400 Can Play confused by NHL’s gay slur double standard on Getzlaf knows what Ryan Getzlaf said during Game 4 of the Western Conference Final, to earn himself a $10,000 fine from the National Hockey League. Read his lips. Or, if you need a cheeky euphemism as your guide, think of a vacuum chasing a rooster. But what we’re all a little fuzzy about with the NHL these days is the migraine-inducing double standards that seem to exist when it comes to supplemental discipline. Like how hits that would seem like sure-thing suspensions in the regular season are ignored with teams facing elimination. Or like how one homophobic word or phrase can result in a one-game suspension in the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs, but doesn’t result in one in the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs. [Follow Puck Daddy on social media: Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | Tumblr] Andrew Shaw, then of the Chicago Blackhawks, was suspended for Game 5 of their first-round series against St. Louis for what the NHL called “making use of a homophobic slur” during the game. You can see what he said here, and his apology here. “While Mr. Shaw was apologetic and remorseful for both the offensive comments and the inappropriate gesture directed at the on-ice officials, he must be held accountable for his actions,” said NHL Senior Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations Colin Campbell. “The emotion of the moment cannot and will not be a mitigating factor for the conduct that is expected of an NHL player.” Getzlaf was fined for “directing an inappropriate remark toward another on-ice participant” in Game 4 against Nashville in the Western Conference Final. “Getzlaf’s comment in Thursday’s game, particularly as directed to another individual on the ice, was inappropriately demeaning and disrespectful, and crossed the line into behavior that we deem unacceptable. The type of language chosen and utilized in this instance will not be tolerated in the National Hockey League,” said Campbell, whose hilariously ironic role as the arbiter of appropriate language makes sense when you remember that the NHL also made Chris Pronger a director for Player Safety. You’ll notice that the NHL makes clear that what Shaw said was “a homophobic slur” while Getzlaf’s was an “inappropriate remark.” Why the double standard, not only in linguistics but in punishment? “Because one is more polite than the other,” joked Brian Kitts, president and co-founder of You Can Play. “I’d be interested in knowing how the League and the NHLPA drew that distinction.” You Can Play is an organization that works to ensure the safety and inclusion of all in sports, with a focus on including LGBTQ athletes, coaches and fans. It partnered with the NHL for “Hockey Is For Everyone Month” this season, but apparently they ran out of rainbow tape to place over Ryan Getzlaf’s mouth. The general thought from those who believe Getzlaf shouldn’t have been suspended: That what he said isn’t a homophobic slur, because it’s something that doesn’t apply exclusively to homosexuals. “When it first happened, you look through comments on blogs and stuff and we saw there was absolute insistence that this wasn’t a homophobic slur. Because it applies to women, and lots of other reasons. Where we came down on it was that any language that was going to offend a part of the LGBT community is unacceptable,” Kitts said. “These things are a case by case thing, and I don’t know what the difference was, that drew the difference in discipline. I think what everyone agrees on is that, at some point, there was an assumption that it was potentially homophobic. That’s where the problem kicks in.” That was the point Chris Hine of the Chicago Tribune made in writing about the Getzlaf incident. “Full disclosure, even as a gay man I initially thought Shaw’s word was worse. But after reflecting on it and polling some gay friends I wouldn’t say one is worse, I would say they’re different,” he wrote. “Getzlaf’s doesn’t carry the historical power of Shaw’s but the effects are the same – both tell gay men you are lesser humans because of your sexual orientation.” Then there’s the fact that Getzlaf wasn’t suspended while Major League Baseball suspended Kevin Pillar of the Blue Jays for two games earlier that week for using a homophobic slur in a game. “It was similar to the Andrew Shaw case last year,” said Kitts. “He used the word ‘faggot’ and the apology was immediate and felt very sincere.” Kitts agreed that the suspension of Shaw vs. the fine for Getzlaf is, in the eyes of the NHL’s LGBTQ advocacy partner, a double standard. “Yeah, but it goes deeper than that,” he said. “We’ve had people contact us over the years and ask us why we don’t say anything about ‘you suck!’ The root of that probably goes into the same sort of ‘cock-sucking’ thing [as Getzlaf’s words]. Is that homophobic?” “At some point you become the language police over a very broad part of language,” he continued. “You have to pick your battles. Is a ‘Rangers Suck’ chant OK? Probably not. But is someone calling someone else a ‘faggot’ worse? In my mind, absolutely.’” We asked Kitts if he was frustrated that the only time these words lead to NHL discipline is when they’re caught on camera. “I think that we look at this as a long game. We’re certain that this language has been used, and continues to be used. But our mission is to change the culture in locker rooms and sports venues in general, and that doesn’t happen overnight,” he said. “So when someone gets caught doing this, it’s a chance to reinforce the message. To rethink things.” So the NHL fining Getzlaf, though unsatisfactory, was at least a chance to reinforce the message. “We have never been that ‘torches and pitchforks’ organization. We think the league and the PA should pay attention to things like this, but it’s not up to us to weigh in on the business decisions that they provide. That an athlete says something, and then faces some sort of disciplinary action or rehabilitation is what’s important to us,” he said. “We look at this as a long game. It’s not as much about what he said than what he does after that. Does he meet with the LGBT community or LGBT players in the offseason to learn why that word is offensive?” In other words: Will Ryan Getzlaf learn the lessons of Andrew Shaw? Say what you will about Shaw as a player, and about what he said last year. But he volunteered to be the Montreal Canadiens’ “Hockey Is For Everyone” ambassador when You Can Play asked Max Pacioretty to be theirs. “I would point to Andrew Shaw, if you’re looking for proof that redemption is possible and change is possible,” said Kitts. “Advocacy includes finding new allies.” And new allies can change the behavior that columnist Mark Spector believes is what keeps NHL players in the closet. “It is why, in an NHL where even the least aggressive numbers predict there some 20 gay men scattered among the 30 teams , not one of those men has identified an environment that would accept him as he is,” he wrote on Sportsnet. “Chances are there is at least one gay player in this Western Conference Final, quite possibly under Getzlaf’s captaincy. And I bet he’d sit at that podium with Getzlaf, if the environment was such that he could stop living the lie, and could help his captain realize the unintended power that word has in our game.” Kitts agreed that when it comes to creating that environment, words matter. “The reality is that when we put this together, we saw the need to change the casual homophobia in the locker room and the seating area. As opposed to ethnicity, where you can tell there’s an African-American guy standing next to you, you don’t know if you’re standing next to gay athlete, necessarily. So we wanted to start with the language. The next step isn’t just tolerance, it’s accepting your friends and your teammates the way the are. It’s not just hockey, it’s all sports,” he said. “It’s disappointing when this stuff happens, but it’s not surprising that it does.” — Greg Wyshynski is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at or find him on Twitter. His book, TAKE YOUR EYE OFF THE PUCK, is available on Amazon and wherever books are sold. MORE FROM YAHOO SPORTSMon, 22 May 2017 16:31:56 -0400 won't 'sit back and hope' facing elimination vs. Predators, CA – MAY 20: Head Coach Randy Carlyle of the Anaheim Ducks looks up at the clock as assistant coach Ron MacLean draws up a play for Ducks players during a break in play in the third period of Game Five of the Western Conference Final during the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Honda Center on May 20, 2017 in Anaheim, California. Bridgestone Arena will host the biggest game in Nashville Predators’ history Monday night. With a chance to lift or ignore the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl at the end of the night, the Predators know that a win would put them in the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in franchise history. Another big-time country star will sing the Star-Spangled Banner and the crowd will be raucous in anticipation of what a victory would mean. [Follow Puck Daddy on social media: Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | Tumblr] All that build up; all that anticipation; all that energy in the building could actually play into the hands of the Anaheim Ducks, who will attempt to stave off elimination and force a Game 7 Wednesday night. “The pressure, the pressure is on them to win,” said Ducks forward Andrew Cogliano. “They are one game away, which is pretty special for a team to move on. For us, obviously our season’s on the line. So we’re the desperate team. But at the end of the day, I think, they’re at home. They’re going to lay it all out there in terms of trying to win this game in front of their fans and move on to the Stanley Cup Final.” The Ducks getting on the board first could do wonders in stifling the energy in the building, but it may not lead to their ultimate goal, as the team scoring first in this series is 1-4. Both sides will be missing key pieces in Game 6. Nashville will be without Mike Fisher and Ryan Johansen again, while Anaheim will miss Patrick Eaves and Rickard Rakell. Ducks goaltender John Gibson, who left Game 5 after the first period with a lower-body injury, took part in the morning skate and could be back in net. [Fantasy Football is open! Sign up now and start winning season early] The last time Anaheim faced elimination they played possibly their best game of the postseason in Game 7 against the Edmonton Oilers, a 2-1 victory. They’ve bounced back after losses in Games 1 and 3 against the Predators with much better performances. They’re going to have to answer the bell once again to keep their Stanley Cup hopes alive. “You can’t play like your life’s on the line. I think you’ve got to play with the mentality of attacking,” said Ducks defenseman Kevin Bieksa. “I don’t think you can sit back and just hope that you make it to another game… I think we’ve proven that that’s when we play our best hockey. We did it last time we were here. We had a great first period where we outshot them heavily and set up the tone for the rest of the game.” – – – – – – – Sean Leahy is the associate editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Sean_Leahy MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY:  Mon, 22 May 2017 16:22:48 -0400 'reload' after humiliating loss, vow to 'get up and go' in Game 6 - NHL on CBC Sports on the door of the Ottawa Senators dressing room at Canadian Tire Centre is a big picture of the Stanley Cup. But without a victory in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference final, hopes of winning it for the first time in franchise history will evaporate.Mon, 22 May 2017 16:11:38 -0400 White, member of Summit Series team, dead at 77 - NHL on CBC Sports White, a former Chicago Blackhawks All-Star defenceman and a member of Canada's 1972 Summit Series team, has died. He was 77.Mon, 22 May 2017 15:38:52 -0400 NHL All-Star Bill White dies at 77 White, a former Chicago Blackhawks all-star defenseman and a member of Canada's 1972 Summit Series team, has died at 77        Mon, 22 May 2017 15:20:30 -0400 Wingels avoids punishment for hit on Scott Wilson Tommy Wingels of the Ottawa Senators will not face any punishment for his late game forearm shiver to the face of Pittsburgh Penguins forward Scott Wilson, according to NBC’s Pro Hockey Talk. [Follow Puck Daddy on social media: Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | Tumblr] With 15 seconds left and the Penguins up 7-0, Wingels delivered the blow as Wilson was in the process of turning and flipping the puck out of the Penguins’ zone. As we’ve seen this postseason, something you may think is deserving of a fine or suspension doesn’t end with that result. The game was already out of hand here and Wingels, as the NHL Department of Player Safety constantly notes in their rulings, should have delivered his hit through Wilson’s body, not clipped him in the head like he did. Wilson, who had a goal in 11:50 of ice time on Sunday, left the ice and wasn’t around to finish the final moments of the game. On Monday, Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan said that the forward, who did not take part in the optional skate, was “fine” and should be in the lineup for Game 6. – – – – – – – Sean Leahy is the associate editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Sean_Leahy MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY:Mon, 22 May 2017 13:55:55 -0400 Daily Fantasy Hockey: Monday-Tuesday picks, ON – MAY 17: Phil Kessel #81 of the Pittsburgh Penguins skates against the Ottawa Senators in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Final during the 2017 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Canadian Tire Centre on May 17, 2017 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. The Ottawa Senators defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-1. By Chris Morgan Injury questions are really starting to impact the NHL playoffs. I guess weeks of physical hockey action will do that. Nevertheless, here are some players to target, and to avoid, for Monday/Tuesday. [Join a Yahoo Daily Fantasy Hockey contest now] GOALIE Pekka Rinne, NAS vs. ANA : You may feel like Rinne hasn’t been as impressive in the Conference Finals as in the earlier rounds, and while that’s technically true he’s still been quite good. He’s posted a 2.09 GAA and a .924 save percentage against the Ducks, and overall he has a 1.62 GAA and a .942 save percentage in the postseason. Nashville only gave up 2.46 goals and 28.9 shots on net per game at home this year, and Anaheim may be without Rickard Rakell, and John Gibson, as well. GOALIE TO AVOID Craig Anderson, OTT vs. PIT : With Gibson a question mark, it feels unfair to go with him in this section. Rinne was chosen as the goalie to target, and Matt Murray wouldn’t have been a bad choice either. That just leaves Anderson after he allowed four goals on 14 shots and got pulled after 18:32 in Game 5. He’s allowed seven goals total in his last two contests. CENTER Evgeni Malkin, PIT at OTT : After a couple of scoreless games, Malkin got back to business with three assists Sunday. All three of those helpers came on the power play as well. Malkin is the leading scorer in the postseason, and he has 10 points with the extra man in the playoffs. This comes after a fantastic season where he tallied 33 goals and 72 points in 62 games. CENTER TO AVOID Ryan Getzlaf, ANA at NAS : Getzlaf has been more notable for the awful things he’s been saying on the ice rather than his performance recently. He’s got zero points in his last three games, and in fact he’s been held scoreless in six of his last seven contests. Having Rakell on his wing would help, but even if Rakell plays, it’ll be tough to solve Rinne. The Predators have only allowed 1.43 goals per game at home in the playoffs. WING Filip Forsberg, NAS vs. ANA : Forsberg has notched a point in every game in this series with the Ducks, including four goals. Overall, he has a six-game point streak, and he has 23 shots in net in this series. The loss of Ryan Johansen didn’t seem to hurt Forsberg in Game 5, either. The Ducks have allowed 2.88 goals and 33.2 shots on net per game in the playoffs, and Anaheim can’t even be sure who will be in net for them. Phil Kessel, PIT at OTT : Kessel started 40.6 percent of his shifts in the offensive zone, and he played 4:18 per game with the extra man. He’s played 3:41 per contest on the power play in the playoffs, and he’s notched 10 power-play points in the playoffs. He also has a four-game point streak going on, and in his last three games he’s notched a point with the extra man. After the All-Star break, the Senators had the 27th-ranked penalty kill. WINGS TO AVOID Mark Stone, OTT vs. PIT : Stone only has one point in this series, an assist, and it came in Game 1. Now that Murray has taken over in net, Stone’s chances of scoring are probably even lower. Murray had a 2.41 GAA and a .923 save percentage this year, and he just blanked the Senators in Game 5. On top of that, Stone has zero power-play points in his last 31 contests. [Follow Puck Daddy on social media: Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | Tumblr] Chris Kunitz, PIT at OTT : Line shuffling has seen Kunitz playing alongside Crosby, but it hasn’t helped his production at all. He only has one point in this series, and only two points in the postseason overall. In four of his last seven games, he hasn’t even put a shot on goal. It just goes to show you that skating alongside Crosby does not necessarily guarantee success, and the 37-year-old Kunitz seems to be past his prime. DEFENSE Sami Vatanen, ANA at NAS : Vatanen has three points in this series, and he’s put two shots on goal in each of his last four games. He’s also averaged 2:47 per game with the extra man in this series, and he tallied 14 power-play points in 71 games this year. Vatanen also blocked 128 shots this season, and he’s added 28 more in 10 playoff games. The Predators ranked eighth in shot attempts per 60 minutes, so Vatanen should be able to get in front of a few pucks. Olli Maatta, PIT at OTT : Suddenly, Maatta finds himself on the scoresheet. He’s scored a goal in back-to-back games, and he’s notched a point in three of his last four contests. While Maatta didn’t score a ton this year, he did blocked 102 shots in 55 games, and if he is suddenly adding value on the offensive side of things, his fantasy potential climbs tremendously. DEFENSEMEN TO AVOID Erik Karlsson, OTT vs. PIT : Karlsson is great, there’s no doubt about it. However, he’s been dealing with a foot injury for a while, and because of that he was held out of the third period of Game 5 to rest. Granted, it was a blowout, but it still raises concerns about Karlsson’s health. He costs $7 more than any other defenseman, and if his foot limits him, it will make it hard for him to earn his lofty price point. It feels weird to not trust Karlsson, but nobody is indestructible. Hampus Lindholm, ANA at NAS : Lindholm has only averaged 4.9 fantasy points per game, and he only has two points in his last 13 contests. His power-play time has also been quite limited, as he’s only played 24 second per game with the extra man in the postseason. As previously noted, Rinne has a 1.62 GAA, and the Predators have been particularly strong defensively at home. MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY:Mon, 22 May 2017 13:45:24 -0400 overcoming adversity; Rakell out for Game 6; goodnight, Sens? (Puck Headlines) are your Puck Headlines: A glorious collection of news and views collected from the greatest blogosphere in sports and the few, the proud, the mainstream hockey media. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at Sweden’s Henrik Lundqvist is hugged by his teammate William Nylander after winning the Ice Hockey World Championships gold medal match between Canada and Sweden in the LANXESS arena in Cologne, Germany, Sunday, May 21, 2017. • William Nylander celebrates IIHF World Championship gold with Henrik Lundqvist as New York Rangers fans held their breath until the King got up unscathed. • The Nashville Predators are battling through adversity and are a win away from playing for the Stanley Cup. [Tennessean] • The bandwagon is growing in Nashville and Smashville is showing off its star power. [] • Rickard Rakell is out once again and John Gibson will be questionable for the Anaheim Ducks ahead of Game 6. [OC Register] • Now is the time for Anaheim’s veterans to step up and salvage their season. [LA Daily News] • Backs are now up against the wall, but the Ottawa Senators still believe they can win the next two against the Pittsburgh Penguins. [Ottawa Sun] • The Penguins are saying goodnight to Cinderella. [Sportsnet] • Did a deleted Tweet reveal that Quad City will be the ECHL home for the Vegas Golden Knights? [Sin Bin Vegas] • Angela Ruggiero, Joe Sakic, Teemu Selanne, Saku Koivu, and Uwe Krupp were among the indcutees into the IIHF Hall of Fame over the weekend. [IIHF] • The Chicago Blackhawks may make it a Hartford Whalers reunion as they have interest in bringing Charlotte Checkers head coach Ulf Samuelsson to their bench next to Joel Quenneville. [Chicago Tribune] • What effect Ottawa’s success could have on Boston Bruins fans. [Boston Sports Desk] • How Rangers fans can get over another playoff disappointment. [NY Rangers Blog] • With Ilya Kovalchuk interested in an NHL return, will the New York Islanders make a run at him again? [FanRag Sports] • My, how the Toronto Maple Leafs have changed in two years under Mike Babcock. [Leafs Nation] • The move for the Edmonton Oilers to make to improve their blue line. [Oilers Nation] • Tyler Toffoli needs a new deal and there’s no reason for the Los Angeles Kings to back up the Brink’s truck for him. [Jewels from the Crown] • Taking a look at the top fantasy hockey prospects on defense. [Dobber Hockey] • Finally, like own goals? Here are some brutal ones:Mon, 22 May 2017 12:15:40 -0400 Sidney Crosby be the MVP? Pittsburgh Penguins and Nashville Predators are both one win away from the Stanley Cup Final, but the MVP performers that have kept the Ottawa Senators and Anaheim Ducks pointed towards a championship aren’t done yet. So which MVP performers deserve to be the MVPs of the postseason? Here’s how we see the field through the first two rounds. Please keep in mind that for the Conn Smythe Watch, we weigh candidates more if their teams appear headed for advancement. Also keep in mind that we’re ranking these players with the Professional Hockey Writers Association’s potential voting favorites in mind. Here are the top 10, as we see them now: 10 – Marc-Andre Fleury, Pittsburgh Penguins Hey, you never know. Maybe Fleury rides to the rescue again if some misfortune befalls Matt Murray. As it stands, he has a .924 save percentage and the honor of being The Reason The Penguins Are In This Position, even if he’s the backup now. 9 – Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Ottawa Senators Look, the magic is about gone, but eight postseason goals are eight postseason goals, and if he does anything to lead the Senators back from the brink he’ll still be in the MVP mix as the playoffs’ biggest surprise. 8 – Phil Kessel, Pittsburgh Penguins He’s catching fire at the right time, with five points in his last four games, including the lone goal in the Penguins’ critical Game 2 win in the conference final. 7 – Jakob Silfverberg, Anaheim Ducks Nine goals gives him a tie for most in the postseason, and he continues to be one of the best two-way forwards in the playoffs. 6 – Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins How can a player leading the playoffs in points sit sixth overall for the Conn Smythe? Honestly, because through two rounds and five games, there are two players there are more vital to the Penguins’ playoff journey than Malkin. While one is on the bench now, the other is … later on the list. 5 – Filip Forsberg, Nashville Predators His six-game point streak spans the entire Western Conference final and the elimination game against the St. Louis Blues. If he continues his offensive output without Ryan Johansen as his center, his stock will continue to climb. 4 – Ryan Getzlaf, Anaheim Ducks Getzlaf’s had a bit of a struggle, with no points in his last three games and just three points in his last seven. His heavy lifting from earlier in the postseason can’t be ignored. 3 – Erik Karlsson, Ottawa Senators He has 15 points in 17 games, and is averaging 27:29 time on ice. Guy Boucher’s fun-sucking system should be credited with dragging the Senators this far, but it’s Karlsson who’s done it all for them on the ice. 2 – Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins Yes, Crosby over Malkin. He has 19 points in 16 games, but it’s about the big moments when it comes to the Conn Smythe. He had an assist on a key goal in Game 7 against the Capitals. He had a goal and an assist in a critical Game 4 win in Ottawa, and then repeated the feat in their 7-0 rout in Game 5. Malkin has the points lead, but with Fleury on the bench we’re giving the MVP advantage to Sid. 1 – Pekka Rinne, Nashville Predators Rinne has a .942 save percentage, a 1.62 goals-against average and two shutouts thus far. That includes a 32-save effort in Game 5 on the road after losing Johansen. He’s been extraordinary, and the MVP by far in these playoffs. — Greg Wyshynski is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at or find him on Twitter. His book, TAKE YOUR EYE OFF THE PUCK, is available on Amazon and wherever books are sold. MORE FROM YAHOO SPORTSMon, 22 May 2017 11:40:30 -0400 Predators' magical playoff run is great for hockey Predators are one win away from their first Stanley Cup Finals appearance. USA TODAY Sports' Kevin Allen breaks down why Nashville's improbable run is great news for the NHL.        Mon, 22 May 2017 11:23:00 -0400 breaks Canadian hearts yet again - Tim Wharnsby on hockey - NHL on CBC Sports Canadian hockey players, it has never been easy to deal with a shootout loss. And for the second time in four-and-a-half months at a major international tournament, there was Canada, once again, on the losing end of a gold-medal final shootout.Sun, 21 May 2017 23:50:56 -0400 on the brink of elimination after blowout by Penguins Ottawa Senators fell 7-0 to Pittsburgh in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finalSun, 21 May 2017 18:16:30 -0400, Koivu, Sakic among eight inductees into IIHF Hall of Fame Krupp, Austrian legend Dieter Kalt, U.S. women’s star Angela Ruggiero, Tony Hand and Patrick Francheterre rounded out the inducteesSun, 21 May 2017 11:05:05 -0400 to play for gold after 4-2 semifinal win over Russia squad dominates third period, scoring four timesSat, 20 May 2017 23:15:15 -0400 Aberg’s goal puts Predators past Ducks 3-1 in Game 5 takes 3-2 series lead despite the injury absence of top scorer Ryan Johansen and captain Mike FisherSat, 20 May 2017 22:24:45 -0400 captain Getzlaf fined for apparent homophobic slur captured by television cameras appearing to shout inappropriate remark in frustration with an official in Game 4Sat, 20 May 2017 18:45:02 -0400 Murray in goal, Penguins even series with Senators 5 will be Sunday afternoon back in PittsburghFri, 19 May 2017 22:57:29 -0400 Love: P.K. Subban finds his groove in Nashville Predators have turned Nashville into an unlikely hockey hotbed and no one has played a bigger role this season than P.K. Subban. The Canadiens, his former team, choked in the first round, but the larger-than-life star plays on in Music CityFri, 19 May 2017 18:50:02 -0400 lose Ryan Johansen for remainder of playoffs centre underwent emergency surgery on his left thighFri, 19 May 2017 18:39:38 -0400 turn to Matt Murray for Game 4 of Eastern Conference final replaced Marc-Andre Fleury in the first period of a one-sided Game 3 loss on Wednesday after the 32-year-old Fleury allowed four goals on nine shotsFri, 19 May 2017 13:23:10 -0400 draw even in Western finals after beating Predators in overtime Gibson made 32 saves for Anaheim, which was the last team to beat the Predators in Nashville in the playoffs last spring in Game 4 of their first-round seriesThu, 18 May 2017 23:48:09 -0400‘Boring’ Sens look to keep frustrating vaunted Penguins“People will still continue to think we’re the boring old team,” said Ottawa forward Bobby Ryan. “We do. We clog the neutral zone. We make it hard for you to come through. It works for us, so we’re sticking to it.”Thu, 18 May 2017 19:26:52 -0400 knocked out of hockey worlds with 2-0 quarterfinal loss to Finland Rantanen and Joonas Kemppainen scored for Finland to end the Americans’ six-game winning runThu, 18 May 2017 13:20:43 -0400 dominate Penguins to take 2-1 series lead out to a quick 4-0 lead in the first period, Ottawa beat down a depleted Pittsburgh team to take a lead in the Eastern Conference finalWed, 17 May 2017 23:07:26 -0400 Habs owner John David Molson had a passion for hockey him, the Montreal Canadiens won five Stanley Cups, and he helped drive the NHL’s first expansion to 12 teamsWed, 17 May 2017 20:03:34 -0400, Ducks hoping to prove you can go home again coach is equal parts old-school principles and go-with-the-flow in keeping team on an even keel for Cup runWed, 17 May 2017 19:21:45 -0400 rally, beat Ducks to take 2-1 series lead beat Anaheim 2-1 Tuesday night in their first-ever home game in the Western Conference finalsTue, 16 May 2017 23:58:23 -0400 need to keep an open mind about switching up their system the Ottawa players spoke on Tuesday, it seemed almost as if they were a bit wistful about lost opportunities and a system that may, in fact, have failed them this timeTue, 16 May 2017 21:47:15 -0400 GM Chiarelli bullish after Oilers' breakout season Chiarelli’s plan for the Oilers is to not deliver another electro-shock to the roster like last year’s Taylor Hall tradeTue, 16 May 2017 15:54:13 -0400 scores winner as Penguins beat Senators to even series series now moves to Ottawa for Game 3 on WednesdayMon, 15 May 2017 22:45:52 -0400 beats Norway 5-0 at world hockey championship Parayko scored two power play goals to help the Canadians clinch first place in their preliminary-round groupMon, 15 May 2017 14:19:03 -0400 Ducks beat Predators to even Western Conference final Ritchie scored the tiebreaking goal late in the second period, and the Anaheim Ducks roared back from an early two-goal deficit to even the Western Conference finalsSun, 14 May 2017 22:41:55 -0400’s Day puts playoffs in perspective for some Ottawa Senators Ryan and Craig Anderson have both had a remarkable playoff, due in part to the exceptional mothers in their livesSun, 14 May 2017 20:35:15 -0400 dish out capital-city punishment in Game 1 OT win against Penguins Ryan goal wins it for Ottawa; victory the sixth overtime win for Ottawa in 2017 playoffsSat, 13 May 2017 22:23:55 -0400 the Conn Smythe and Norris Trophy, Erik Karlsson wants a Stanley Cup Karlsson has been an unstoppable force in the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs.Fri, 12 May 2017 16:06:37 -0400 urges Montreal, Toronto NHL fans to get behind Senators fans have treated Trudeau’s comments as an affront to their collective dignityFri, 12 May 2017 13:37:13 -0400 Stars sign goalie Ben Bishop to six-year, $29.5M deal manager Jim Nill announced the terms Friday, less than a week after acquiring rights to the 30-year-old from the Kings for a fourth-round pickFri, 12 May 2017 13:07:36 -0400 Night in Canada: Ducks vs. Predators, Game 6 Nashville Predators host the Anaheim Ducks in Game 6 of their Western Conference final on Hockey Night in Canada. Watch coverage beginning Monday at 8:00 p.m. ET with our free live stream on the CBC Sports app or tune in to CBC-TV.Fri, 12 May 2017 10:34:00 -0400 new women’s Olympic roster, Hockey Canada marks end of an era faces of the national team like Hayley Wickenheiser and Jayna Hefford, now reitred, give way to younger generationThu, 11 May 2017 20:37:26 -0400 lucky to escape with win against France at world hockey championship defending world hockey champs overcome a hostile crowd and a series of penalties to pick up the 3-2 winThu, 11 May 2017 20:11:21 -0400 Ovechkin finished playoffs with lower-body injury Washington Capitals’ star was playing through an injury that required pain-numbing injectionsThu, 11 May 2017 14:04:08 -0400 Cup Playoffs: Full TV schedule and results - NHL on CBC Sports Ottawa Senators and the Pittsburgh Penguins battle in the Eastern Conference final to win the right to face the Nashville Predators in the Stanley Cup Final as NHL playoff coverage continues on CBC's Hockey Night in Canada.Mon, 10 Apr 2017 01:21:05 -0400