Kings-Ducks series ‘going to be a war,’ says Stoll

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The Los Angeles and Anaheim have never met in the playoffs before, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a fierce rivalry between the two — just ask Jarret Stoll.

“The regular season is one thing, but we all know the playoffs are a whole new ballgame when it comes to physicality and how hard you’re going,” the Kings center said, per the L.A. Daily News. “It’s going to be a war and a battle and the travel will be great for both teams and both fan bases.”

Known as the Freeway Face-Off, the Kings-Ducks rivalry reached a fever pitch this season when the two teams played the first-ever outdoor game at Dodger Stadium, which Anaheim won 3-0. The win punctuated what was a successful year for the Ducks in terms of head-to-head matchups; they went 4-0-1 against the Kings and surrendered just five goals over the final four contests.

The playoffs, though, are a different beast.

Both cores have extensive postseason experience — the Ducks won the Stanley Cup in ’07, L.A. in ’12 — and no shortage of star power at their disposal(s). In fact, two of the biggest stars are on a collision course for what many expect to be the marquee matchup of the series: Ryan Getzlaf, named one of the finalists for the Hart Trophy as league MVP, going up against fellow big-bodied center Anze Kopitar, who earned his first-ever Selke nomination as the league’s top defensive forward.

“‘Kopi’ is a great hockey player,” Getzlaf said. “He does things the right way. He is just that guy who does everything so well at both ends of the ice. We’re going to have to pay attention to him and all the little details.”

Another thing worth watching will be the importance of home ice. Since there won’t be any travel issue for either team — L.A. and Anaheim are roughly an hour’s drive apart — it’ll be interesting to see how the respective fanbases drive energy levels. The Ducks were outstanding at the Honda Center during both the regular season and playoffs, but the Kings are equally tough at Staples. Of course, Anaheim does hold home-ice advantage thanks to winning the Pacific Division, meaning they’ll get Game 7 at home should the series go that far.

“It’s exciting for this whole area of L.A,” Stoll said. “Playing a team in the playoffs really helps to build a rivalry. Our rivals have mainly been San Jose and Vancouver (because of recent playoff series) and now it’s going to be Anaheim as well.”

Preds expect answer from Fisher next week

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We should find out next week if Mike Fisher is going to retire or keep playing for the Predators.

Fisher, Nashville’s 37-year-old captain, is an unrestricted free agent. He confirmed last month that he was considering retirement. But first, he needed some time to think.

Yesterday, Preds GM David Poile said he expected an answer soon.

“I’m hoping to talk to him later this week to see where he’s at,” Poile said, per The Tennessean. “I’d say by next week, we should have an update.”

Fisher had 18 goals and 24 assists in 72 games last season, but then had just four assists in 20 playoff games as the Preds reached their first Stanley Cup Final in franchise history.

If Fisher re-signs, he’ll likely be in the bottom six next season, with Ryan Johansen and newly signed Nick Bonino expected to center the top two lines. Fisher could even be the fourth-line center or a winger, allowing the likes of Calle Jarnkrok, Colton Sissons, and Frederick Gaudreau to take on bigger roles.

But for Fisher, hockey isn’t everything, and after more than 1,000 games in the NHL, he may simply opt to hang up the skates.

“Everyone wants to win in this game, no one probably more than me,” Fisher said. “But there’s other things. At the end of the day, this is a game. It’s an important part of my life, but it’s not everything.”

Related: Predators take Stanley Cup loss with grace and optimism

Habs sign Mark Streit — is he Markov’s replacement?

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The Montreal Canadiens have signed 39-year-old defenseman Mark Streit to a one-year contract worth a reported $700,000.

This will actually be Streit’s second stint with the Habs. He started his NHL career in Montreal, all the way back in 2005.

Streit split last season between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. In the playoffs, he only appeared in three games for the Penguins, all of them in the Eastern Conference Final against Ottawa when Justin Schultz was hurt.

What the Streit signing means for Andrei Markov remains to be seen. Streit, like Markov, can run a power play, so it’s tempting to conclude that Streit is Markov’s replacement.

That being said, almost all of Streit’s contract could be buried in the AHL if necessary, so that conclusion may be premature. This could even be a move by GM Marc Bergevin to gain leverage and convince Markov to sign.

Markov, 38, remains an unrestricted free agent. The Canadiens want him back, but only at a certain price.

Devils give Mirco Mueller two-year extension

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The New Jersey Devils have signed defenseman Mirco Mueller to a two-year contract extension with a cap hit of $850,000.

Mueller, a first-round draft pick of the Sharks in 2013, has only played 54 NHL games, scoring two goals with four assists. In June, after spending most of 2016-17 in the AHL, San Jose traded the 22-year-old to the Devils.

In New Jersey, Mueller should get a good chance to crack a rebuilding roster.

“Mirco is adding another piece to what we’re trying to build here,” Devils coach John Hynes said, per NJ.com. “He’s a young player, he can play with pace. He’s a very good skater. He’s got size, which is something we need on the back end. He makes a good first pass. He allows you to get out of your own zone because he can break out, he can end plays defensively, get possession, make the pass to be able to transition yourself out of defensive situations.”

The Devils have also re-signed goalie Scott Wedgewood and forward Joseph Blandisi.

Rangers lock up Zibanejad for next five years

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The New York Rangers have locked up a key piece of their future, signing center Mika Zibanejad to a five-year deal with a cap hit of $5.35 million.

Zibanejad had an arbitration hearing scheduled for today, but that won’t be required anymore.

The 24-year-old had 14 goals and 23 assists in 56 games last season. It was his first year in New York after getting traded from Ottawa for Derick Brassard.

With Derek Stepan in Arizona now, Zibanejad is arguably the Rangers’ No. 1 center. Kevin Hayes is in that conversation as well, and perhaps Lias Andersson will be soon.

But getting Zibanejad signed long term was a top priority for GM Jeff Gorton this offseason. Hayes can become a restricted free agent next summer, but that’s a bridge to cross at a later date.

Related: Andersson to get ‘every opportunity’ to make Rangers next season