Chris Pronger

Will Chris Pronger or Daniel Briere end up being captain of the Flyers?

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When the Flyers traded away Mike Richards to the Los Angeles Kings, it not only shook up the Flyers locker room, it changed the leadership dynamic in Philadelphia. With Richards out, the Flyers are in need of a new team captain and a guy able to handle the stresses of playing in hockey-mad Philly, dealing with media and fans that are demanding, and capable of dueling with some of the snarkier reporters.

Mike Richards had his troubles in handling at least one part of that equation and now the duties of being the face of the Flyers will fall to someone else. But who? Looking at the roster that’s a mix of young and old, a pair of names stand out immediately: Daniel Briere and Chris Pronger.

Briere was a co-captain during his time in Buffalo with the Sabres while Pronger has been a captain with the Anaheim Ducks. With those two having the history of being a captain and strong, established careers you wonder if it will be either of those two chosen to wear the “C” in Philly.

CSNPhilly.com’s Tim Panaccio asked Briere his thoughts about what he feels about the vacant captaincy and Pronger’s presence in the room. Given what Briere says, Pronger might already have the lead on being the next captain of the Flyers.

“It would be an honor,” said Briere of a potential captaincy. “Is it something that matters? No. That I have a letter or not, I won’t change the way I play or act in the dressing room. If I have something to say, I don’t need a letter to stand up and say to guys, ‘this is the way I see it.

“When you look around the room and the old captains and the name on that board, it would be a tremendous honor, but it’s not something I need. I think Chris Pronger felt the same way. Everyone saw Chris as one of our leaders last year.”

Was Pronger the de facto captain?

“Yeah, definitely,” Briere replied. “Richie wore the letter and was the captain but he wasn’t by himself.”

While Briere is a leader himself and is more than capable of handling questions about the team and dealing with the media, you get the feeling that Pronger embodies the vision people have as a captain. Pronger is a hulking menace on the ice that leads the team by example through physical play and sticks up for his teammates all over the ice. Pronger’s ability to intimidate opponents often ends a potentially ugly situation before it develops. We can only imagine the sort of direction Pronger provides in the locker room when it comes to getting the team’s head screwed on straight.

As for Briere, you don’t always see him as being the leader-type, but yet he’s the guy leading the way offensively and doing a lot of the same things Pronger puts a stop to by agitating opponents and not letting his smaller stature be a factor in how he plays the game. Briere’s a feisty guy that keeps at it regardless of the size of the opponent.

These are two worthy candidates and two guys that can handle the added workload. While it’s a big deal for fans to know who “their guy” is when it comes to captaincy, Briere notes that it’s a bigger deal for fans and media to have someone to point to as the guys in the locker room will rally together and help out.

If you’re looking for a guy that best represents what the Flyers have been about historically then Pronger is the guy. If you’re in need of a guy to show the ropes to the new group of younger players in Philly, then Briere might be better suited. All of that said, you can’t help but think that Pronger is going to be the man. It seems too natural of a thing to end up happening and with Pronger having many years left to go in Philly on his contract, it makes even more sense to have him be the face of the franchise.

Can there be parallels drawn between the 2016 Ducks and 2014 Sharks?

Anaheim Ducks center Ryan Kesler (17) takes the puck up ice on a breakaway with San Jose Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic, center, and Ducks center Nate Thompson, right, trailing on the play during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Anaheim, Calif., Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2016. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)
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The Anaheim Ducks might not have suffered a reverse sweep at the hands of one of their biggest rivals, but they seem to have reached a breaking point when it comes to playoff disappointments.

After firing head coach Bruce Boudreau, GM Bob Murray was highly critical of the team’s core, even noting that at this point he’s not a fan of long-term contracts. That was perhaps a swipe at how he feels Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf‘s eight-year $69 million and $66 million contracts have worked out thus far. Meanwhile Ryan Kesler‘s six-year deal worth roughly $41 million is about to begin.

After San Jose suffered its first round loss to the Los Angeles Kings in 2014, Sharks GM Doug Wilson said they were now becoming a “tomorrow team” and they began a cultural shift that included Joe Thornton losing the captaincy.

There are differences of course between the two situations. One notable one is that the Sharks’ guard was already starting to change hands in 2013-14. Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau were entering their mid-30s, but Joe Pavelski and Logan Couture were on the rise. Anaheim’s core of Getzlaf and Perry is significantly younger, but while Anaheim also has some promising forwards like Jakob Silfverberg, that generation of players doesn’t seem ready to carry the torch for the Ducks.

“We don’t have a lot of young guys in the lineup. … Today’s a much different feeling leaving the rink,” Ducks forward Andrew Cogliano said, per the Los Angeles Times. “In those [previous] years there’s been a sense of hope. Today, there’s zero feeling like that.”

Perhaps the Anaheim Ducks will find hope by watching the rest of the 2016 playoffs. If the San Jose Sharks continue to succeed, they will be an example of a team that once underachieved, hit a critical low, but then managed to fix that in a relatively short time without a massive turnover in terms of on-ice personnel. While we’re at it, you could make a similar argument for the Washington Capitals.

Maybe Murray will look to those franchises for inspiration as he moves forward.

Capitals, Penguins nearly perfect at stopping third period comebacks

Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby (87) and Washington Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen (2) chase down the puck during the first period of Game 2 in an NHL hockey Stanley Cup Eastern Conference semifinals Saturday, April 30, 2016 in Washington. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
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Pittsburgh only won by a single goal in Game 2 on Saturday and that deciding marker came with 4:28 minutes remaining in the third, but that contest had the potential to be far more one-sided.

The Capitals were outshot 28-10 through 40 minutes and were consequently leaning on goaltender Braden Holtby to keep things close.

“First two periods, I thought they were way better than us,” Washington coach Barry Trotz told CSN Mid-Atlantic. Or has Justin Williams put it, the Capitals “were getting embarrassed out there” during the first 40 minutes.

Washington did rebound in the third period, though it wasn’t enough to prevent the Penguins from evening this series at 1-1. That puts the pressure on Washington to take at least one game in Pittsburgh before the second round’s over.

Starting the game off strong is always going to be important, but that’s particularly true when talking about the Penguins and Capitals. Pittsburgh was 39-0-0 in the regular season when leading after 40 minutes while Washington was 37-0-1. So far in the playoffs, both teams are 4-0-0 when they have the lead after two periods.

Hemsky finds his groove on third line

DALLAS, TX - APRIL 11: Ales Hemsky #83 of the Dallas Stars handles the puck against the Nashville Predators at the American Airlines Center on April 11, 2015 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Glenn James/NHLI via Getty Images)
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When the Dallas Stars inked Ales Hemsky to a three-year, $12 million deal, the hope was that he would be a valuable secondary scorer and help round out their top-six. Things haven’t gone as predicted, but Hemsky has emerged as a significant player for Dallas lately.

Hemsky is now playing on the third line with Radek Faksa and Antoine Roussel and he’s gone on to record 15 points in his last 16 regular season games as well as another four points in seven playoff contests.

“We had hard conversations about how I felt the game needed to be played, where I felt his game needed to go,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff told the Dallas Morning News. “Did it always go his way? No. But from his defensive responsibilities to really buying into shooting the puck a little bit more, I think he’s been a real good asset for us this year.”

The Morning News goes into much more detail about Hemsky and his resurgence, but taking a step back from that, having a third line that’s both impactful without the puck and capable of chipping in offensively is important, especially as we get deeper into the playoffs. There’s no question that the Stars have big time players on their roster, but that’s obviously not all you need in the playoffs.

A lot of the time when talking about the Stars’ areas of concern, their defense and goaltending come up and understandably so given that Dallas allowed more goals in the regular season than any other team that made the playoffs. But the value of a strong bottom-six shouldn’t be understated and perhaps Hemsky’s recent resurgence will play a role in the Stars having that going for them throughout the playoffs.

Dallas has taken a 1-0 lead over St. Louis in the second round and has an opportunity to build on that in Game 2 this afternoon (3:00 p.m. ET).

NHL schedules hearing with Orpik over Maatta hit

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Brooks Orpik‘s late hit in Game 2 on Saturday might keep him out of Monday’s contest.

At the very least, the NHL Department of Player Safety intends to discuss the matter with Orpik today, per the department’s Twitter feed.

The incident occurred early in the first period when the Capitals forward smashed into Olli Maatta. The Penguins blueliner collapsed and needed some assistance getting off the ice. He didn’t return to the game.

You can see that hit below:

“I thought it was a late hit,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan told CSN Mid-Atlantic. “I thought it was a target to his head. I think it’s the type of hit everyone in hockey is trying to remove from the game.”

The Penguins didn’t have an update on Maatta’s condition immediately following the contest.