NHL on NBCSN: Sharks aim for home ice, battle Coyotes

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NBCSN’s ongoing coverage of the 2013 campaign will continue tonight when the Phoenix Coyotes host the San Jose Sharks at Jobing.com Arena at 10:00 p.m. ET. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game online.

San Jose guaranteed its playoff spot by beating the Dallas Stars yesterday, but the squad can’t take a break yet.

“There’s a sense of relief, but it can’t be a sense of relaxation,” Sharks coach Todd McLellan told CSN Bay Area. “When we came in, we immediately looked at what happened tonight around the league, and there’s still a chance for home ice. That would be a nice thing to have.”

The Sharks are now tied with the Los Angeles Kings in points in the battle for the fourth seed in the Western Conference. Both teams have two games left, but the Kings have an insurmountable lead in ROW (wins excluding shootout victories), so the tie will go to Los Angeles.

It’s worth adding that the Sharks and Kings will end their respective regular season schedules by facing each other on Saturday (10:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN).

San Jose has been a dominating 17-2-5 at home, but 8-12-2 on the road, so the importance of securing the fourth seed shouldn’t be dismissed.

That being said, the Sharks will have their work cut out for them tonight in what will be their third game in just four days.

“It’s going to be tough with back-to-backs and three [games] in four [nights],” Sharks forward Logan Couture admitted, “but we’re just going to see what we’re made of.”

The Phoenix Coyotes are coming off of a 4-0 loss to Detroit on Monday. Although they made it all the way to the 2012 Western Conference finals, they don’t have much left to play for now except for personal pride.

Probable goaltenders: SJS – Antti Niemi (24-11-6, 2.14 GAA, .925 SV%) | PHX – Mike Smith (14-12-4, 2.59 GAA, .910 SV%)

Top scorers: SJS – Joe Thornton (7-33-40, 46 GP) | PHX – Mikkel Boedker (7-18-25, 45 GP)

Notable Injuries:
San Jose – Defensemen: Jason Demers (lower body)
Phoenix – None

Blues have ‘wiggle room’ after locking up Parayko

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The St. Louis Blues didn’t break the bank to keep Colton Parayko for five more years, and that’s important since they don’t believe the NHL’s salary cap will rise significantly in the next little while.

Parayko’s cap hit came in at a manageable $5.5 million, as the two sides narrowly avoided an arbitration hearing that was scheduled for today.

“You like to have as much wiggle room as possible,” GM Doug Armstrong said, per the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “Now we view the cap will stay flat for the foreseeable future. We’re content with the space we have. We’ll move forward and get ready for training camp.”

The Blues now have a number of key players locked up long term, including Parayko, Alex Pietrangelo, Vladimir Tarasenko, Alex Steen, Jaden Schwartz, Patrik Berglund, and Jake Allen.

For Armstrong, the next big decision could involve Paul Stastny, the 31-year-old center who can become an unrestricted free agent next summer.

But a decision on Stastny doesn’t need to be made now, or even before the season starts. It’s the trade deadline that could be the real pressure point, akin to the Kevin Shattenkirk situation this past year.

Per CapFriendly, the Blues have just over $3 million in cap space, with one roster spot left to fill.

‘Highly unlikely’ Suns will pursue shared arena with Coyotes

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The Arizona Coyotes appear to be on their own in pursuit of a new arena in the Phoenix area.

That’s because Robert Sarver, the owner of the NBA’s Phoenix Suns, says it’s “highly unlikely” he’ll pursue a shared arena with the Coyotes.

Instead, Sarver is focused on upgrading the Suns’ current home (and Coyotes’ old home) in downtown Phoenix, Talking Stick Resort Arena.

From the Arizona Republic:

Sarver said building a new arena would have “maybe made more sense” four or five years ago when the cost estimate was $450 million to $500 million. The costs now, Sarver said, are “significantly higher.” Thus his focus on upgrading Talking Stick, which soon will be the second-oldest arena in the NBA.

“I think it’s the most economically viable alternative for the city and us,” he said. “I like downtown Phoenix. That’s my first preference. I think the NBA is more of an urban game. That’s our demographic.”

Talking Stick Resort Arena, formerly called America West Arena when the Coyotes played there, was designed for basketball and isn’t ideal for hockey. In that way, it’s a lot like Barclays Center in Brooklyn, which hasn’t been a great fit for the Islanders.

The Coyotes recently hired a new president and CEO, Steve Patterson, whose top priority is finding the team a new home in the Phoenix area.

Crosby to celebrate 30th birthday with Stanley Cup in Nova Scotia

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HALIFAX, Nova Scotia (AP) Sidney Crosby will mark his 30th birthday by once again parading the Stanley Cup in his province.

In tweets sent out by the Sidney Crosby Hockey School, Crosby said he would hoist the trophy in the streets of Halifax and Dartmouth as part of an annual civic parade.

“Get ready, the Stanley cup is coming to town!” Crosby confirmed in the tweet sent late Tuesday night. “I will be taking Lord Stanley to the streets Monday August 7th in the Halifax-Dartmouth Natal Day parade.”

The parade, part of annual events that celebrate Halifax’s birthday, also happens to fall on the Pittsburgh Penguins captain’s 30th birthday.

Natal Day chairman Greg Hayward said he expects another 25,000 people will be lining the parade route on top of the roughly 40,000 usual attendees.

“It’s extremely exciting to think that we’re going to have Sid and the Cup in our Natal Day parade,” Hayward said Wednesday.

Crosby has shown off the Stanley Cup twice before in his hometown of Cole Harbour, just outside Dartmouth, in 2009 and 2016.

Last July, Crosby carried the Cup in the back of a pickup that made its way to an arena in Cole Harbour as thousands of cheering fans looked on in sweltering heat.

Arbitration hearing looming for Arvidsson, who broke out in big way last year

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Viktor Arvidsson wants a one-year deal worth $4.5 million, while the Nashville Predators are countering with a two-year deal worth $5.5 million ($2.75 million AAV).

That’s the situation with an arbitration hearing scheduled for Saturday, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman.

The two sides could still reach a deal before each case is heard.

Arvidsson, 24, broke out in a big way last year, scoring 31 goals during the regular season, then helping the Preds to their first Stanley Cup Final in franchise history.

But Nashville needs to be careful with its cap situation, because Ryan Johansen also needs a new contract, and he won’t be cheap to re-sign.

Arvidsson just wrapped up his entry-level contract.