Flyers enforcer Jody Shelley was apparently born to be a Flyer

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jodyshelley1.jpgIf you thought that the easiest way to make friends with the fans in Philadelphia as a member of the Flyers was to punch players on the opposing team in the face you’d be completely right. For newest Flyers enforcer Jody Shelley, he’s going above and beyond the call of duty to endear himself to fans of his newest team.

According to Tim Panaccio of CSN Philly, Shelley went so far as to root for the Flyers in the playoffs last season. You know, back when Shelley was a member of the New York Rangers. The same Rangers that got bounced out of the playoffs in the last game of the season against the Flyers  in a shootout.

“There wasn’t anything said [afterward],” Shelley recalled of the trip home. “We got on the train and went back. It’s amazing. The last game of the year, you’re playing and playing and then you’re done.

“Then you know you got five months off and it’s like, ‘are you kidding me?’ Especially in that situation, with the shootout.

“We had the best goalie as far as shootouts. We just wanted to get to the shootout. We thought when we got into the shootout, we were good. A few of us said that to each other.”

That’s all in the past now, and Shelley gets to see how the other side lives in Philadelphia, a city where the fans embrace their fighters more than they do in other NHL cities. You’d better believe that for as much of an appreciator of the NHL as Shelley is he’s excited about joining the Flyers and adding to their pugilistic legacy.

Thoughtful and observing, he was the first player, and he’s a newcomer, to not only notice all the pictures of past Flyers now hanging in the dressing room at Skate Zone, but to remark on them.

“Look at the history of this team,” Shelley said. “It’s got the reputation pride with the emblem, that you read about, and you talk about and you walk around … look at the walls and it’s pretty clear what they’re about.

“It’s about work ethic. It’s pride. There’s a lot of pictures of guys with no teeth and smiling. That’s what it’s about. That’s hockey.

“These pictures might not mean much to a lot of people, but you can tell that everyone in the room notices them and knows what they mean. They’re here for a reason.”

While Shelley isn’t a guy that’s going to fill the net, that’s not his role either. He’s a heads-up player despite being more famous for using his fists than his stick. As long as he’s keeping his head about him in that manner, he’ll be as worthwhile to Flyers fans as a 50-goal scorer and just as popular for it.

Shelley has been a popular guy wherever he’s been. From his days in the AHL in Syracuse to the NHL with Columbus, San Jose, and a short stop with the Rangers he’s been a favorite of the media and the fans alike. Putting him in this sort of role in Philadelphia is only going to turn him into the next folk hero of eastern Pennsylvania.

Clutter-bucks: Isles sign energy guy to five-year, $17.5 million extension

NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 03:  Cal Clutterbuck #15 of the New York Islanders scores his second goal of the game at 9:53 of the third period against the Dallas Stars at the Barclays Center on January 3, 2016 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.  The Islanders defeated the Stars 6-5. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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The New York Islanders made a splash on Friday, signing veteran forward Cal Clutterbuck to a five-year, $17.5 million extension — one that carries a $3.5 million average annual cap hit through 2023.

Clutterbuck, 29, has two goals and nine points through 25 games this year, while averaging 15:26 TOI per night (his highest average since joining the Isles four years ago). As per usual, he leads the club in hits — one of the staples of his game — and serves as one of the club’s alternate captains.

This new contract represents a nice raise for the former Minnesota Wild man. His last contract, set to expire in July, was of the four-year, $11 million variety, and carried a $2.75 million cap hit.

This contract also resembles the one GM Garth Snow gave another of the club’s role forwards. This summer, Casey Cizikas signed a five-year, $16.75 million extension — one with a $3.35 million hit — despite the fact he’d never scored more than 30 points in a season, or averaged more than 14 minutes of ice time.

This style of spending — along with splashes made for free agent disappointments Jason Chimera and Andrew Ladd — is sure to raise some questions. The Isles opted not to spend that money on retaining two of their key players from a season ago, Frans Nielsen and Kyle Okposo, and the club has struggled to find its form through the first quarter of this year.

Bettman: Salary cap could stay the same for next season

TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 27:  NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman unveils the League's Centennial celebration plans for 2017 during a press conference at the World Cup of Hockey 2016 at Air Canada Centre on September 27, 2016 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
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Don’t expect a big jump in next season’s salary cap.

“We’re not going to give out any numbers now,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said yesterday, per Yahoo Sports. “The cap could range from where it is now to a couple or so million up, but we’re all going to have to focus on what makes the most sense moving forward.”

The salary cap only went up slightly for the current season, from $71.4 million to $73 million. The only slight increase was due to the lower Canadian dollar, which negatively impacted last season’s league revenues by “$100 or 200 million,” Bettman said earlier this year.

The loonie has been holding relatively steady for around half a year. It’s currently worth $0.76 USD and has been helped by the recent oil rally.

A flat salary cap would be bad news for big spenders like the Chicago Blackhawks, who still need to get Artemi Panarin signed to an extension. The Los Angeles Kings could also be forced to make some tough decisions, as they’ve got Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson in need of new deals. Ditto for the Pittsburgh Penguins, who have key RFAs in Brian Dumoulin, Justin Schultz, and Conor Sheary.

Related: Trades galore? McPhee expecting ‘a massive player redistribution before the expansion draft’

A few ‘bad decisions’ have been costing Lundqvist

New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist (30) reacts after giving up a goal to Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby (87) during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2016, in New York. The Penguins won 6-1. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
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Henrik Lundqvist has set such a high bar that his 12-8-1 record with a .912 save percentage is cause for great concern these days in New York.

That his backup, Antti Raanta, is 6-1-0 with a .932 save percentage only contributes to that concern, because if Raanta can manage those numbers, what’s Lundqvist’s excuse?

“I feel like I’m tracking the puck well, moving well,” Lundqvist told the Daily News. “It just comes down to some bad decisions at times that cost me.”

Indeed, December has not started well for The King. He’s allowed 10 goals in three starts for a save percentage of .894. In Tuesday’s 4-2 loss to the Islanders, his decision to poke check a loose puck led to the winning goal by Andrew Ladd.

But while this month has been a struggle, it should be noted that Lundqvist was mostly excellent in November. He finished with a .925 save percentage, including that 40-save victory on Black Friday in Philadelphia.

Which is to say, he has more than earned the benefit of the doubt. Since 2008-09, Lundqvist has not finished a season with a save percentage below .920, and that is a remarkable achievement.

Raanta was solid again last night in Winnipeg, where the Rangers beat the Jets, 2-1. A starting goalie for tonight’s game in Chicago has not yet been announced, but Lundqvist is a good bet.

Top 10 career save percentages among goalies with at least 300 NHL starts

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Jets send talented rookie Connor to AHL

WINNIPEG, MANITOBA - OCTOBER 23:  Goalie Cam Talbot #33 of the Edmonton Oilers pushes Kyle Connor #81 of the Winnipeg Jets  during the 2016 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic hockey game on October 23, 2016 at Investors Group Field in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. (Photo by Jason Halstead /Getty Images)
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Kyle Connor is on his way to the minors.

On Friday, Winnipeg announced that Connor — the former Michigan Wolverines star taken 17th overall in 2015 — has been assigned to the club’s AHL affiliate, the Manitoba Moose.

Connor, 19, had just one goal and four points through 19 games this year, struggling to adjust to life at the professional level.

He’d been a healthy scratch for each of the Jets’ last six games and, prior to that, missed five games with an upper-body injury after getting nailed into the boards by L.A. forward Kyle Clifford.

The Jets are getting healthy up front, which further explains why Connor is on his way to the Moose. Bryan Little and Mathieu Perreault both recently returned from injury.