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With bad blood boiling, Ducks and Flames preach discipline before series

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) The Calgary Flames and the Anaheim Ducks were the NHL’s two most-penalized teams this season. A week ago, the Flames’ captain seriously injured the Ducks’ best defenseman, leading to a third period featuring 106 combined penalty minutes.

So when these clubs meet in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs Thursday night, their leaders realize nobody will be lacking for motivational fire.

They’re more concerned about making sure their physical play is channeled in a productive direction.

Watch Ducks vs. Flames on NBC Sports

“We know the emotions are always going to be ramped up in a playoff series,” Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle said Wednesday. “But if we can stay within the rules and play the right way, we’re going to give ourselves a much better chance, as opposed to the penalty parade that we’ve made with Calgary a few times during the season.”

Related: Ducks-Flames series heats up as Treliving rips Murray’s ‘asinine remarks

Those emotions still might be a bit raw when the Flames hit the ice at Honda Center, where their franchise hasn’t won in nearly 11 years.

The Ducks must begin the postseason without All-Star defenseman Cam Fowler because Calgary captain Mark Giordano delivered a knee-on-knee hit during the Flames’ visit to Anaheim last week .

“It was not intentional on my part,” Giordano said Wednesday before his first playoff appearance in 10 years. “Hopefully, Cam is OK, but I’m looking forward to this series and moving on. … We don’t want anything to slow us or our game down, so we’ve got to stay away from it. We’ve got to be emotional, but there’s a fine line in the playoffs.”

Ducks general manager Bob Murray was steamed when the NHL declined to discipline Giordano further, complaining that Giordano “has done this before.” Calgary GM Brad Treliving fired back shortly afterward, calling Murray’s comments “asinine.”

“Turn the page,” Carlyle said. “It’s over. Can’t change what happened. It’s done. Move on. There’s more important things on our plate than to worry about something that we have no control over at this point.”

Here are other things to watch when the Pacific Division rivals hit the ice for Game 1:

THE STREAK

As everybody in both dressing rooms knows by now, Calgary has lost 25 consecutive regular-season games at Honda Center in Anaheim since Jan. 19, 2004. It’s the longest losing streak in one building against one opponent in NHL history.

Yet the streak is slightly less dire from a postseason perspective: The Flames won a playoff game in Anaheim on April 25, 2006, beating Carlyle’s first Anaheim team – although the Ducks still won the next two home games and the series.

When the clubs met in the playoffs two years ago, the Ducks won three more home games. The numbers are stark for the Flames in Orange County, but Carlyle sees a clear downside to that dominance.

“To me, it’s a new slate,” Carlyle said. “This winning streak, it’s a good one for us. It’s a bad one for them. We understand that. But the bottom line is, streaks are going to get broken at some point. That’s the dangerous part for us.”

RANDY’S RETURN

Carlyle is back in the postseason with the Ducks on the 10th anniversary of leading them to their only Stanley Cup championship. He got the job back last spring after Bruce Boudreau’s Ducks flopped in the first round against Nashville, losing the first two games at home and then blowing a 3-2 series lead.

Anaheim lost Game 7 on home ice for the fourth consecutive season under Boudreau. Carlyle claims no magic formula for coaxing postseason poise out of largely the same core Ducks, but he’s hoping for a renewed sense of excitement after years of playoff disappointment.

“Enjoy the experience,” Carlyle told his players. “It’s going to be fun. These are exciting times. Don’t get caught up in the emotions. Just go out and play your game.”

FAMILIAR FOES

Anaheim routed Calgary in five second-round games in 2015 to earn a spot in the conference finals, but these Flames are bigger, tougher and more prepared for the experience under new coach Glen Gulutzan.

“We know what we’re in for, and we’re excited for the challenge,” said Johnny Gaudreau, the Flames’ leading scorer.

The Flames know all about Ryan Kesler, the Ducks’ agitating All-Star center of the shutdown defensive line likely to be deployed against Gaudreau.

The Ducks also know plenty about Matthew Tkachuk, the rampaging teenager whose physical game seems ideal for the postseason. Carlyle even played alongside Tkachuk’s father, Keith, for two seasons in Winnipeg in the early 1990s.

“I played with his dad, coached his dad, so I’ll ask (Keith Tkachuk) to discipline him,” Carlyle said with a laugh. “Well, if he’s as thick-headed as his dad, I don’t think it will work.”

Patrick thinks he can make immediate NHL jump with Flyers

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The New Jersey Devils opted for Nico Hischier over Nolan Patrick, but time will be the ultimate judge in that debate. The Philadelphia Flyers also might see their guy make a more immediate jump to the NHL.

Patrick made it clear: he wants to go straight from the 2017 NHL Draft to training camp to opening night in 2017-18.

“Yeah, I think after a good summer of training, that’s my goal,” Patrick said.

The second pick of the draft noted not just his size, but also his two-way acumen when explaining why he believes he’s ready for the immediate turnaround. Patrick also brings up an interesting point: he’s already experienced three years of junior. He didn’t come out and say it, but the implication would be that his development might stagnate against lesser competition.

MORE: Check out all 31 first-round picks here

CSN Philly’s Tim Panaccio got that same sense from Patrick in a one-on-one interview, and noted that the consensus is that he’ll make a difference from Game 1.

Scouts are unanimous in predicting Patrick will play this season in the NHL. He turns 19 during training camp.

One might read the decision to trade Brayden Schenn to the St. Louis Blues as the Flyers’ way of agreeing that Patrick is probably ready, yet GM Ron Hextall wouldn’t just come out and say it. While praising Patrick, Hextall noted that he’ll need to “get to work” and earn a spot.

The odds seem to be in Patrick’s favor, but perhaps it’s better to see him battle for it.

Either way, don’t expect a long wait.

After major changes, Bowman thinks Blackhawks are in ‘good spot’

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CHICAGO — Stan Bowman received a lot of kudos for getting the old Blackhawks defense together for another kick at the can.

But the way it played out, bringing back two aging veterans in Brian Campbell and Johnny Oduya was a mistake by the general manager. The magic just couldn’t be recreated, and Chicago was swept in the first round by the Nashville Predators.

Then came the offseason changes. Not just on the blue line, either. Brandon Saad is back, while Artemi Panarin is gone. Marian Hossa is gone, too — a huge loss for the ‘Hawks, even if he can be put on LTIR.

So the forward group is going to look quite different next season.

The blue line could look very different, though. Oduya and Campbell are both unrestricted free agents and may not be back. Trevor van Riemsdyk was lost in the expansion draft. And last but not least, Niklas Hjalmarsson is a Coyote now, traded to Arizona for d-man Connor Murphy.

In other words, of the six defensemen who lost to the Predators, only Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook are still under contract in Chicago.

“A lot of stuff going on,” Bowman said Friday at United Center. “Sometimes, change is good. You have to make some tough decisions. But at the same time, we’re really excited about our team next year.”

Much will be expected of Murphy, a 24-year-old who’s been toiling in Arizona anonymity since being drafted 20th overall in 2011.

“Connor’s a little bit of a different player (than Hjalmarsson),” said Bowman. “Obviously, he’s a bit bigger, he plays probably a more physical game. But he’s a good skater and he’s six years younger. It’s really hard to find young defensemen like that. He’s got a great contract, too. He’s a guy we’re going to have for a long time.”

Michal Kempny and Gustav Forsling will also be expected to take on bigger roles in 2017-18.

“It’s up to them to take hold of it, but I think the opportunity is going to be there for them,” said Bowman. “It’s time to give these guys a chance to grow and take on bigger responsibilities.”

Speaking of young defensemen, the Blackhawks added another to their stable Friday, drafting Henri Jokiharju with the 29th overall pick.

“Henri’s a player we’ve been high on all year,” said Bowman. “A right-shot defenseman. Those are a commodity in today’s game. It’s hard to find them. He plays a modern style of hockey. Great skill-set, good skater, can handle the puck, make plays. I guess what you would term the modern-day defenseman.”

As for Bowman, he believes his big moves have been made. He promised changes, and changes he delivered.

“I think we’re in a good spot,” he said.

Related: Blackhawks sign Czech defenseman Jan Rutta

Penguins spend big to get bigger, land Reaves from Blues

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Pittsburgh Penguins GM Jim Rutherford said he wanted to add some snarl to protect stars such as Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. You won’t find many – if any – forces more intimidating than Ryan Reaves.

That’s who the Penguins reportedly acquired in a trade from the St. Louis Blues, who suddenly became very busy toward the end of the 2017 NHL Draft’s first round on Friday.

MORE: Blues acquire Brayden Schenn for Jori Lehtera, picks

Moments ago, Gary Bettman announced the details of the move.

Penguins receive: Reaves, 51st pick of 2017

Blues receive: Oskar Sundqvist, 31st pick of 2017

Penguins’ perspective

Rutherford believed that the NHL was allowing teams to take liberties with star players, particularly Crosby and Malkin. Even after winning consecutive Stanley Cups, it was clearly something important to him.

Rutherford reiterated that thought after the move.

One can debate how much an enforcer such as Reaves really “deters” such behavior, especially since he won’t be on the ice with star players in most close situations. There’s little denying that he’s a fearsome fighter, with six in 2016-17 and as many as 10 in a single season.

Reaves carries a $1.125 million cap hit that expires after 2017-18.

A busy night for Doug Armstrong

Moments ago, the Blues drafted Kim Klostin with the 31st pick, grabbing a player some expected to go much earlier in the first round.

They also acquired Oskar Sundqvist, the 81st pick of the 2012 NHL Draft. The 23-year-old was unable to score a point in 10 games with the Penguins last season, but he was productive in the AHL, scoring 20 goals and 46 points.

Blues GM Doug Armstrong absorbed some serious criticism for protecting Reaves instead of David Perron, but now both players are gone. One would assume that’s likely by design, although it’s also possible that the Penguins simply provided an offer he couldn’t refuse.

Armstrong made another big splash by sending Jori Lehtera and draft picks to the Philadelphia Flyers for Brayden Schenn. Getting the 31st pick was helpful for the Blues after they sent the 27th choice to Philly.

Flyers send Schenn to Blues, take on Lehtera’s contract

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Flyers GM Ron Hextall made a big splash at the end of the draft’s first round on Friday night, sending forward Brayden Schenn to St. Louis in exchange for Jori Lehtera, the 27th overall pick and a conditional first-round pick in 2018.

Schenn, 25, is coming off two pretty productive years with the Flyers, in which he scored 26 and 25 goals. He just wrapped the first of a four-year, $20.5 million deal — one that carries a $5.125M cap hit.

It’s a big get for the Blues, who now boast Schenn, Vladimir Tarasenko, Jaden Schwartz, Robby Fabbri, Paul Stastny and Alex Steen at forward.

That hit is largely why Lehtera is on his way to Philly. Coming off a “bad” season in which he struggled with injury and healthy scratches, there was speculation he’d be made available at the expansion draft — which he was — and when he wasn’t selected by Vegas, the likelihood of a trade was high.

Lehtera makes $4.7 million annually, through 2019.

With the 27th overall selection, the Flyers took Sault Ste. Marie center Morgan Frost. Frost finished fourth on the Greyhounds in scoring this year and had a strong playoff, with five goals and 11 points in 11 games. It was the second center Philly scored in the first round, having previously selected Nolan Patrick with the No. 2 overall selection.

And here are the conditions around that ’18 pick: