The PHT Nightcap: Thursday, September 2nd

Even in the depressingly hockey-free summer, we expect to be a productive bunch here at Pro Hockey Talk. Sometimes it might be difficult to follow our pace. We understand that. For that reason, whenever we can, we’ll put all of the day’s stories in one convenient post called the PHT Nightcap. Enjoy, hockey fans.

Mario Lemieux will receive the Order of Canada – If there’s one hockey player I will always struggle to be objective about, that person is Super Mario. I’ll go ahead and refrain from gushing here, though.

Oilers’ big three rookies give Edmonton hope for the future – Martin Gerber, Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers, Nikolai Khabibulin and Devan Dubnyk do not, though.

Looking at Roberto Luongo’s contract after NHL ultimatum – Oh, but the league denied the ultimatum. Hmmm …

Sharks sign goalie Antti Niemi – Not a well-kept secret, but will it be a wise decision?

NHL gives Chris Pronger’s contract the “thumbs up” – Apparently contracts that fail to exploit a loophole and explode in a GM’s face like one of Wile E. Coyotes’ traps are A-OK with the league.

The league makes waves with social media – So why won’t Gary Bettman be friends with me on Facebook, then? (Oh, because I mock him on occasion? Oh, OK.)

Jordan Staal will miss training camp – That’s some bad news, but the Penguins will probably be satisfied if he plays as many of the 82 games that matter as possible.

Marc Savard’s agent threatens to sue if the league voids his contract– Gotta love the old law suit threat.

2010 Lester Patrick Award winners announced

Canadiens re-sign Carey Price – Pun fans, start your “Price is Right” engines.

Nyjer Morgan was fighting hockey players before he fought minor leaguers – The “hockey players are tougher” crowd will enjoy this.

NHLPA doesn’t even vote to approve or reject Donald Fehr as their leader – Oh, players association. You silly unproductive geese.

How Niittymaki and Greiss feel about Niemi signing – Cliff’s Notes version: Niittymaki is OK and Greiss is a sad panda.

Colorado re-signs Chris Stewart – Pretty solid signing for both sides.

Ken Hitchcock gets the hero treatment for being kind of a hero.

Predators give Boots Del Baggio the boot – This is great news for Nashville fans and the franchise as a whole.

New Blue Jackets coach thinks he can turn things around for Steve Mason, Nikita Filatov – Columbus is definitely banking on the whole “internal improvement” thing.

Sean Avery wants to turn things around next year – He didn’t make nearly enough offensive jokes last season. Slacker.

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    Video: Trisha Yearwood sings national anthem for Preds-Ducks

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    Keith Urban sang the national anthem for Game 3. Kelly Clarkson did the honors for the Nashville Predators before Game 4. Next up: Trisha Yearwood for Game 6.

    The Predators hope to close out the Anaheim Ducks on Monday, and they got off to a nice start with Austin Watson scoring a quick 1-0 goal. Not long after, the Predators added another to build to a 2-0 lead.

    Garth Brooks spoiled Yearwood’s appearance a bit before the contest.

    Brooks also revealed Yearwood’s early fan creds:

    Nick Ritchie ejected after boarding, bloodying Viktor Arvidsson (Video)

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    Anaheim Ducks forward Nick Ritchie scored a goal in Game 4, but he won’t be able to provide such a scoring boost for his team in Game 6.

    That’s because he was ejected during the first period after hitting rising Nashville Predators star Viktor Arvidsson from behind, bloodying the slick Swede.

    Ritchie was whistled for a game misconduct and major. Remarkably, the Ducks killed the entire five-minute power-play opportunity, with Ryan Kesler‘s shorthanded chance being one of the better opportunities for either team.

    It’s still a big blunder, but if the Ducks can get back in it, remember that big kill.

    Video of the hit is coming soon. For now, check out the GIF:

    Oddly, Arvidsson left the ice with a wound that more or less spelled out “R,” presumably for Ritchie, maybe celebrating the return of “Twin Peaks.”

    (Such an obvious move might not be surreal enough for David Lynch, though. Alex Prewitt’s Zorro reference might be more, um, on the mark.)

    Video: Predators storm off to 2-0 lead, beguile Bernier early on

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    It was already loud at Bridgestone Arena, but the Nashville Predators are making it a madhouse with a strong start against the Anaheim Ducks in Game 6.

    First, it was Austin Watson, who sent a puck off a Ducks skate to score a 1-0 goal on Nashville’s first shot on Jonathan Bernier, who is starting instead of John Gibson. That came about 90 seconds into the game, really revving up the crowd.

    Colton Sissons scored his first goal of the Western Conference Final – on his first shot on goal of the series – to make it 2-0. At that point, Bernier had allowed two goals on three shots on goal. Bernier’s made a few stops since then, but it’s a shaky start for a Ducks team facing elimination.

    There’s some solace in that Anaheim’s often at its best in dire situations, though you have to wonder how many times they can bounce back from this?

    No Mike Fisher or Craig Smith for Predators in Game 6

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    The Anaheim Ducks won’t have John Gibson back, but the Nashville Predators are dealing with some injury-related letdowns, too.

    Craig Smith skated before Game 6, but he opted not to play on Monday. Mike Fisher is also unable to go for the Predators as they aim to eliminate Anaheim.

    The Ducks also won’t have Rickard Rakell back in the mix, so this physical Western Conference Final continues to feel like a battle of attrition.

    Click here for the official roster report.

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