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NHL on NBCSN: Blues and Flyers continue to fight for their playoff lives

NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2016-17 campaign tonight when the Philadelphia Flyers  host the St. Louis Blues at 7:00 p.m. ET. If you want to watch the game online, you can do so here.

The St. Louis Blues have been falling apart for over a month now. GM Doug Armstrong’s answer to the mounting losses was to fire Ken Hitchcock and replace him with associate coach Mike Yeo.

Yeo was able to win his first game as head coach on Thursday, when the Blues defeated the Maple Leafs 5-1, but they went back to their old ways on Saturday, as they were dropped 4-1 by the Penguins. As if the loss to Pittsburgh wasn’t enough, the Blues also lost forward Robby Fabbri to a torn ACL in that. He’s done for the year.

“I know it’s been a long emotional week for everybody,” Yeo said after the loss, per the St. Louis Dispatch “We had a good game (on Thursday) and this was not a good game. What I’ve said all along is, we need to continue to build our game. It has to be our focus. We’ll take out of this what did well enough and push forward.”

Things won’t get any easier for St. Louis. Tonight is their first game of a five-game road trip, which will see them travel to Philly, Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal and Detroit. The first four games will be played over the next six days.

Despite their struggles, the Blues are still in a decent spot. They’re currently two points behind Calgary for the final Wild Card spot in the Western Conference, but they have three games in hand. A solid road trip could put them right back in playoff position.

The Flyers are in a similar boat. They need to go on a run if they want to secure a position in the postseason. Philadelphia has racked up 59 points in 53 games, which puts them in the final Wild Card spot in the East…for now.

They’re two points ahead of Toronto, three points ahead of Florida and four points ahead of Carolina, but those teams have three, one and two games in hand respectively.

This will be Philadelphia’s third game of a five-game homestand that has see them take down Montreal on Thursday and lose in OT to Los Angeles on Saturday night.

One of the positives for the Flyers has been the play of goalie Michal Neuvirth, who was especially outstanding in the 1-0 loss to the Kings. In his last three outings, Neuvirth owns a 0.99 goals-against-average and a .958 save percentage. Those numbers are obviously on a small scale, but no one can argue that those are impressive stats.

The Flyers typically split the workload between Neuvirth and Steve Mason when both are healthy, but playing multiple games in a row is something every goalie appreciates.

“It’s definitely huge,” Neuvirth said, per CSN Philly. “Like I said so many times, the more I play the better I play, I felt really good out there.

“I am seeing the puck well, I was battling through traffic, penalty kill was really good once again.  It would have been nice if we could win that game but, it didn’t happen.”

If they want to hold down that playoff spot, they’ll need one of their two goalies to continue stepping up and keeping them in games.

Video: Crosby to Dan Patrick – Subban fight ‘wasn’t as bad as it looked’

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Listerine, the 2017 Stanley Cup Final, and a growing rivalry. Sidney Crosby and P.K. Subban battled it out at the highest level not so long ago, but some of that action looked worse than it actually was.

At least, that’s the message Crosby sent on “The Dan Patrick Show,” as you can enjoy in the clip above.

As a bonus, Crosby also discussed his favorite Stanley Cup traditions – hey, there can be traditions when something happens three times – and how Mario Lemieux inspires some especially creative ideas:

Rebuild on hold? Red Wings reportedly eye Girardi, Hainsey, Daley

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For the first time in ages, the Detroit Red Wings missed the playoffs. To some, the sliver lining was that this might send a message to management to truly commit to a rebuild.

Perhaps GM Ken Holland & Co. aren’t quite ready for that.

Look, one or even a couple of potential free agent signings won’t disqualify the Red Wings from going younger. Still, the rumored defensemen they’re targeting aren’t exactly spring chickens.

Three names floating out there are Trevor Daley, Dan Girardi, and Ron Hainsey.

Daley was mentioned by The Athletic’s Craig Custance, MLive.com’s Ansar Khan, and the Detroit Free-Press’ Helene St. James. Khan and Custance both mention Hainsey and Girardi, too.

Even in one-case mentions, the “veteran” theme continues, with Brian Campbell‘s name coming up while forward Thomas Vanek seems like at least a remote possibility to return to Detroit.

Let’s look at the ages of the defensemen mentioned, noting that Daley is older than some might have expected.

Daley – 33
Girardi – 33
Hainsey – 36
Campbell – 38

In the case of Daley and Girardi, you could also argue that each blueliner also has a lot of “mileage” for their age. Girardi, in particular, plays the sort of grinding, shot-blocking style that might have accelerated his troubles with the Rangers.

As great as experience might be, even for a “final push,” this sends a troubling signal. In Mike Green (31), Jonathan Ericsson (33), and Niklas Kronwall (36), the Red Wings already have an aging group of defensemen. Kronwall and Ericsson are dealing with injuries that may hinder them for the remainder of their careers, too.

When you also note that Holland exposed 25-year-old goalie Petr Mrazek instead of 33-year-old Jimmy Howard, the picture isn’t especially pretty.

Maybe the Red Wings can have their cake (push for a playoff rebound) and eat it too (start to transition to youth), yet it’s not necessarily the aggressive move toward a rebuild that many likely hoped to see.

At least there’s time for Holland to prove these early worries wrong.

Note: In other Red Wings news, the team signed Ben Street to a one-year extension.

Blue Jackets sign Schroeder after trading for him

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Not long after acquiring him in a minor trade from the Minnesota Wild, the Columbus Blue Jackets signed Jordan Schroeder to a two-year contract.

The team confirms that it is a two-way deal for 2017-18 and then becomes one-way in 2018-19.

Schroeder is guaranteed $350K for the first year of that contract and then $650K in 2018-19, according to the Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline.

The 22nd pick of the 2009 NHL Draft receives a fitting contract: he’s been a “tweener,” bouncing around the NHL and AHL. He hasn’t been able to make much of an impact, Schroeder at least provides some organizational depth.

That could come in handy, as Portzline indicates that Sam Gagner – not so surprisingly – is expected to garner a lot more attention this time around in free agency. Perhaps Schroeder could serve as insurance for Gagner?

NCAA star Spencer Foo chooses the Flames

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NCAA standout forward Spencer Foo decided to sign with the Calgary Flames, as The Sports Corporation and team confirmed. The signing might not be official until free agency kicks off on Saturday, July 1, but he apparently made his decision.

After managing 25 points in each of his first two seasons with Union College, Foo exploded in 2016-17, racking up 26 goals and 62 points. You can see some of his highlights in the video above.

He didn’t go drafted, so this could be a case of another scorer blossoming late.

Foo is an Edmonton native, so playing close to home in Calgary likely factored into his decision. He was connected to the Edmonton Oilers in earlier rumors while MLive.com’s Ansar Khan indicates that his final choice came down to the Flames or the Detroit Red Wings.

Calgary is already classifying him as a RW. Perhaps he’ll be that long-desired fit for Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan? There’s another positive aspect for the Flames, as this might help to soften the blow of giving up a bundle of assets in the Travis Hamonic deal.

The Sports Corporation tweeted out a photo of Foo, 23, in a Flames jersey: