Pre-game reading: Manning hopes feud with McDavid is over now

— Up top, Flyers defenseman Brandon Manning took on a pretty tough customer last night in Edmonton, dropping the gloves with Oilers forward Patrick Maroon.

— Manning hopes that by fighting Maroon, it’s officially the end of his feud with Connor McDavid: “Even their guys, Patrick said ‘good job’ afterward. We would do the same thing if one our superstars got hurt. I understand it.” Maroon did, indeed, give Manning credit for answering the bell, telling reporters: “He did a really good job and it’s something we’re going to drop now. We’re going to move forward here, and we’re not going to hear about it anymore.”  (CSN Philly)

— There were quite a few interested observers at last night’s Sabres-Avalanche game in Buffalo. According to the Denver Post, a “total of 24 scouts representing 17 NHL teams were assigned seats in the press box.” The Avalanche will definitely be sellers at the deadline, and the Sabres could be too depending how they fare in their next five games leading up to March 1. (Denver Post)

— According to Sportnet’s Doug MacLean, Antoine Vermette‘s 10-game suspension for physical abuse of an official will be reduced to five games. No reason for the reduction is provided by MacLean, but Vermette is expected to appeal the ban to NHL commissioner Gary Bettman. (Sportsnet)

— The NHL’s Rangers and the NBA’s Knicks are both owned by the same guy, but boy are they different franchises, as the New York Times notes: “The most common explanation for how these teams share the same address but reside on different planets is that their embattled owner, James L. Dolan, attracted by the pizazz and celebrity culture of the N.B.A., has meddled in the affairs of the Knicks, with lousy results. By generally leaving Rangers executives alone, Dolan has allowed them to do their jobs well.” (New York Times)

— Last night in St. Louis, Jake Allen‘s mask fell off and the referee didn’t notice. So the Blues’ goalie actually stood in there and made a save, staring down Vancouver’s Jayson Megna without any facial protection. Afterwards, Allen’s coach, Mike Yeo, had this to say: “It’s pretty scary when the guy is coming down and he’s ready to shoot. In that area, where he was getting the puck, more often than not, they’re shooting high, so that was a little bit scary for sure. He stood in there. He’s crazy.” (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

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    Video: Calls go Penguins’ way early in Game 1; own goal plagues Predators

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    However you feel about the context of each call, it’s tough to deny that some big decisions ended up going favorably early for the Pittsburgh Penguins against the Nashville Predators in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final.

    To start, a would-be 1-0 goal by P.K. Subban was waved off thanks to Filip Forsberg being deemed offside. More on that here.

    In a rare span, the Predators were whistled for two penalties during the same sequence in the first period, giving the Penguins a 5-on-3 advantage for a full two minutes. Pittsburgh started off the advantage a little rocky, but then Evgeni Malkin made it 1-0. (Video of that tally in the headline above.)

    The controversy comes as Sidney Crosby seemed to get away with interference/elbow shortly before that goal was scored. That sequence will feed a conspiracy theory or two.

    The Predators have managed to avoid tough stretches for much of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but things seemed to really escalate from there. The Penguins managed three goals in a staggering 4:11 of game time, with Nick Bonino putting a puck off Mattias Ekholm for a painful own goal, making it 3-0 as the first period concluded.

    The Penguins seemed to take control of the game after that disallowed goal, adding to the argument that some combination of the decision and the slowdown helped turn the tide.

    How will the Predators respond to this adversity in Game 1? Find out on NBC and via the stream below.

    CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

    Subban goal waved off hours after Bettman defends offside challenges

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    The Nashville Predators were controlling the play early in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final, showing little concern for the big stage of Game 1. It looked like that early edge would come with the reward of a P.K. Subban 1-0 goal.

    (Subban had to feel that much more satisfied as he was being booed early and often by Penguins fans in Pittsburgh.)

    But, alas, the dreaded goal review negated such a goal, as it was determined that Filip Forsberg was offside. You can watch the process in the video above, while this is a GIF of the moment in question.

    As a reminder, Gary Bettman said all the right things about reviews working “exactly as they are intended to” mere hours ago, even as snarky folks make snarky jokes about a rapid contest being interrupted by replays that … might not entertain everyone.

    Whether the NHL likes it or not, this will be a talking point for many.

    Updated Stanley Cup Final lineups: Carl Hagelin, Colin Wilson out in Game 1

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    PHT provided early looks at what the Nashville Predators’ and Pittsburgh Penguins’ lineups might look like, and those viewpoints ended up being mostly correct.

    That’s especially true when it comes to the Penguins. As expected, Carl Hagelin will not suit up for the Penguins in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final. Patric Hornqvist indeed returns while Jake Guentzel avoids a healthy scratch.

    Here’s the lines that Pittsburgh listed on Twitter:

    The Predators provide a surprise, however, as Colin Wilson is not in the mix. Instead, the Predators will have Craig Smith and Mike Fisher in the lineup.

    Game 1 is just minutes from beginning. Check it out on NBC or stream it via the link below.

    CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

    Daly addresses Voynov potentially returning to Kings

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    An interesting development on Monday, prior to Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final — following Gary Bettman’s state of the league address, deputy commissioner Bill Daly was asked about the possibility of former Kings d-man Slava Voynov returning to the NHL.

    Voynov hasn’t played in L.A. since the ’14-15 campaign, when he was suspended indefinitely while facing domestic violence charges.

    “If that was ever something that was proposed, we’re on record as saying that would require a proceeding before the commissioner,” Daly said, when asked about Voynov’s possible return.

    When asked if Voynov had “served his time,” Daly offered the following:

    “Ultimately that’s not my decision, that’ll be Gary’s decision.

    “I don’t want to speculate either on what that might be. I’ve heard from time to time that he might have an interest in coming back to the National Hockey League, but that hasn’t advanced in any material way to this point.

    “So let’s wait and see if it happens.”

    The Voynov topic arose when a reporter asked Daly about the league’s stance, on the understanding that “at one point, the Kings were considering trying to bring [Voynov] back.”

    That came on the heels of a report from John Hoven of Mayor’s Manor, who said Kings management and scouts had seen Voynov play “multiple times” this season.

    In July of 2015, Voynov pleaded no contest to a reduced misdemeanor charge and was sentenced to 90 days in jail. Months later, he returned to his native Russia and signed a three-year pact with SKA Saint Petersburg.

    The move freed L.A. from Voynov’s $4.16 million average annual cap hit. Per The OC Register, Voynov’s decision to “self-depart” the U.S. may have kept the door open for a return to North America at some point in the future.

    In October, Team Russia tried to include Voynov on its active roster for the World Cup of Hockey, claiming it was in negotiations with the league on the matter. The NHL eventually ruled him ineligible — “our position was the NHL suspension disqualified him,” Daly explained — and he was eventually replaced by Bolts blueliner Nikita Nesterov.