Vancouver’s Green Men draw Brad Marchand’s ire, sponsored trip to Boston for Games 3 and 4

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While the origin of their idea wasn’t very original (it came from “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”), Vancouver’s Green Men provide plenty of off-the-wall antics. Hockey isn’t always a serious game in the first place, but the body suit-wearing oddballs have a way of adding absurd humor to almost any trip to the penalty box.

Naturally, the 2011 Stanley Cup finals will likely provide the largest platform for the two wacky fans yet, something that’s evident after just one game. (For one thing, they continued their tradition of referencing their opponents’ local celebrities, holding up a cardboard cutout of Beantown’s Ben Affleck in a Canucks jersey in Game 1.)

To the surprise of almost no one, the Green Men’s various antics drew the attention (and ire?) of Boston Bruins pest Brad Marchand, according to Joe Haggerty. Marchand reportedly gave the two fans a squirt from his water bottle during a trip to the box and didn’t deny that they caught his gaze (although he claimed that they didn’t affect him or his teammates).

“I tried to squirt some water in my mouth and might have missed a bit – and it got on [the Green Men],” said Marchand.

That quick exchange was enough for the 23-year-old Bruins winger to drop a few bombs on The Green Men during his meeting with the media on Friday afternoon following a full day of practice.

“They probably paid about ten grand for those seats, so they can do whatever they want,” said Marchand. “They’re not a factor. They’re just trying to seek a little piece of fame. For the most part you just ignore them. You can’t hear what they’re saying. They look like fools anyway.

“I think it’s all dumb. What are they even doing? I’m not really paying any attention to them. I’m not gonna be wearing that suit in public. People have done that forever. I don’t know why they’re anything special. They like to yell through the box. I think they’re a little embarrassed about the way they look, so they’ve got to wear those masks.”

Marchand was reportedly glad to hear the news that the Green Men will make a rather courageous trip to Boston when the series shifts to Massachusetts for Games 3 and 4. The Green Men have traveled to other playoff locales before – most notably to the guffaws of Keith Urban and Nicole Kidman in Nashville – but this time around, they’ll receive sponsorship for their journey.

The pair, also known as Sully (Ryan Sullivan) and Force (Adam Forsythe), announced Friday at the UBC Robson Square skating rink — in what may have been the first press conference ever held by sports fans — that Travelzoo will foot the roughly $3,700 bill for the games in addition to airfare and hotels.

“Travelzoo was the first company that was really cool about it,” said Force of their first official sponsorship deal. “They wanted to make sure we got to Boston.”

The Green Men want fans who think they are selling out to realize up until this point the two have paid for everything on their own, with a few $200 or $300 appearance fees thrown in.

“There’s very little money out of this, all of it’s gone toward tickets so far,” Force said. “We paid $700 for the tickets for round one, so we did a bar mitzvah.”

The Green Men said that they might retire their act if the Canucks win the franchise’s first-ever Stanley Cup, although Force owned up to the possibility that they might “Peter Forsberg and completely flop back on that answer.”

It’s easy to wonder how many tricks the two diehards have left up their sleeves, so “retirement” might be wise after this year. Then again, it just won’t be as thrilling to watch away teams enter the penalty box without their distracting, hysterical presences if they do retire their skin-tight outfits, hand-stands and other routines.

A familiar tune: Predators stifle Blues to take back series lead

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The Nashville Predators have snapped their one-game funk in these Stanley Cup playoffs, taking back the series lead over the St. Louis Blues.

For long stretches of Sunday’s contest, the Predators kept the puck away from and stifled the Blues, including a stretch of almost nine minutes at the beginning of the second period in which St. Louis failed to register a shot attempt.

The Predators’ 3-1 victory in Game 3 was eventually secured on an unbelievably dominant shift late in the third period.

Joel Edmundson‘s (costly) turnover led to a dizzying attack from Predators, who had sustained puck possession inside the St. Louis zone for about 1:10.

By the end, Edmundson and Colton Parayko had exhausted themselves as the Predators tossed the puck around with increasing ease before Roman Josi halted the madness with a slap shot to the top corner, giving Nashville a two-goal lead.

That continues an impressive trend for the Predators.

They have scored nine goals in this series, with at least one defenseman contributing directly with either a goal or an assist on eight of those goals. Nashville’s group of blueliners — including Ryan Ellis, who has been on quite a productive roll throughout these playoffs — have combined for 11 points through three games in this series.

This series resumes Tuesday in Nashville, with the Predators leading 2-1.

VIDEO: Ryan Ellis continues his incredible postseason run for Predators

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Playing in Nashville over the years it has been easy for Ryan Ellis to get overlooked, always playing in the shadow of bigger name stars on the team’s blue line.

Shea Weber (before he was traded). Roman Josi. P.K. Subban.

But Ellis has been a major part of the Predators’ blue line and he had a career-year in 2016-17, setting new personal bests in goals (16) and points (38) while matching his previous career high in assists (22).

He has continued that strong play in the postseason and is currently the team’s leading scorer after he netted his third goal of the playoffs (and eighth total point) on Sunday afternoon to give the Predators a 1-0 lead over the St. Louis Blues.

You can see it in the video above.

After being held without a point in the Predators’ first playoff game, Ellis has now picked up at least one point in every playoff game since them and is now riding a six-game point streak.

The first half of Sunday’s game has been a defensive clinic by the Predators, by the way, limiting St. Louis to just 10 shots on goal through the first 34 minutes, and none through the first 14 minutes of the second period.

The Predators extended their lead to 2-0 in the second period when Cody McLeod deflected in his first goal of the playoffs to give the Predators some unexpected scoring depth. He had just five goals in 59 games during the regular season between the Predators and Colorado Avalanche.

The biggest loser in the NHL Draft Lottery? Probably the Vegas Golden Knights

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It’s somewhat fitting that the Colorado Avalanche, coming off of a season where they were one of the worst NHL teams in recent memory, found another way to lose on Saturday night when they dropped all the way down to the No. 4 overall pick in the NHL Draft Lottery. For a team that needs a ton of help across the board, that is a huge loss.

But they still probably weren’t the biggest losers in the lottery.

That honor has to go to the team that hasn’t even played a game in the NHL yet, the expansion Vegas Golden Knights.

Entering the lottery with the same odds for the first pick as the third-worst team in the league (10.3 percent) Vegas ended up dropping down to the No. 6 overall pick thanks to the New Jersey Devils, Philadelphia Flyers (probably the biggest winners in the lottery, even without getting the No. 1 overall pick), and Dallas Stars all making huge moves into the top-three.

This could not have possibly played out worse for George McPhee and his new front office in Vegas.

These people are trying to start a team from scratch. From literally nothing. The only player they have right now is Reid Duke and while the expansion draft rules are supposedly going to give them more talent to pick from than previous expansion teams, they are still facing a long building process. Even if they do have a decent amount of talent to pick from, they are not going to find a franchise building block among those selections.

Their best chance of landing that player is always going to be in the draft. Their starting point is going to be the No. 6 overall pick.

That is a painfully tough draw for a number of reasons.

First, if you look at the NHL’s recent expansion teams going back to 1990 this is the lowest first pick any of the past 10 expansion teams have had when they entered the league.

  • San Jose Sharks — No. 2 overall in 1991
  • Tampa Bay Lightning — No. 1 overall in 1992
  • Ottawa Senators — No. 2 overall in 1992
  • Anaheim Ducks — No. 4 overall in 1993
  • Florida Panthers — No. 5 overall in 1993
  • Nashville Predators — No. 2 overall in 1998
  • Atlanta Thrashers — No. 1 overall in 1999
  • Minnesota Wild — No. 3 overall in 2000
  • Columbus Blue Jackets — No. 4 overall in 2000
  • Vegas Golden Knights — No. 6 overall in 2017

Only one of those teams picked outside of the top-four (Florida in 1993, and that was in a year with two expansion teams when the other one picked fourth).

When you look at the recent history of No. 6 overall picks it’s not hard to see why this would be a tough starting point for a franchise. Historically, there is a big difference between even the No. 1 and No. 2 picks in terms of value, and that gap only gets larger with each pick that follows.

Just for a point of reference, here is every No. 6 overall pick since 2000: Scott Hartnell, Mikko Koivu, Scottie Upshall, Milan Michalek, Al Montoya, Gilbert Brule, Derick Brassard, Sam Gagner, Nikita Filatov, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Brett Connolly, Mika Zibanejad, Hampus Lindholm, Sean Monahan, Jake Virtanen, Pavel Zacha, Matthew Tkachuk.

Overall, it’s a good list. The point isn’t that you can’t get a great player at No. 6 overall because there are a lot of really good players on there. But there are also some misses, and other than maybe Ekman-Larsson there really isn’t anyone that you look at say, “this is a player you can build a franchise around.”

Just because Vegas is an expansion doesn’t mean they should have been guaranteed the top pick (or even the No. 2 pick). It is a lottery system and it all just depends on how lucky your team is when it comes time to draw the ping pong balls.

But for a team that is starting from scratch, ending up with the No. 6 overall pick in a draft class that is not regarded as particularly a deep one (at least compared to some recent years) is a really tough draw when it comes to starting your team.

If they end up finishing the worst record in the league, as most expansion teams tend to do, they could easily end up picking fourth in 2018.

Just ask the Avalanche what that is like.

WATCH LIVE: Game 3 for Predators-Blues, Ducks-Oilers

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The St. Louis Blues handed the Nashville Predators their first loss of the postseason on Friday night, and will be looking to get the upper hand in their second-round series.

Later, the Edmonton Oilers look to take a commanding 3-0 series lead on the Anaheim Ducks when their series shifts to Edmonton.

Both games will be televised on the NBC Networks as well as online via our Live Stream.

Here is all of the information you need for Sunday’s games.

Nashville Predators vs. St. Louis Blues

Time: 3:00 p.m. ET

Network: NBC (Stream Online Here)

Announcers: Kenny Albert, Pierre McGuire

Anaheim Ducks vs. Edmonton Oilers

Time: 7:00 p.m. ET

Network: NBCSN (Stream Online Here)

Announcers: Chris Cuthbert, Joe Micheletti