Pittsburgh to name street ‘Matt Murray Avenue’ ahead of Game 5

Matt Murray's rise to stardom in Pittsburgh continues to grow.

According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, city council agreed to rename Murray Avenue - a street in the residential neighborhood of Squirrel Hill in Pittsburgh's east end - to Matt Murray Avenue for Thursday, Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final.

The idea reportedly came from a local radio host, who called city council presenting the idea, and was backed by nearly 20,000 listeners.

The Penguins have a chance to clinch the Stanley Cup on home ice for the first time in franchise history, and if Pittsburgh can close it out, fans will be partying on the street regardless of the name.

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Wild name Scott Stevens assistant coach

The Minnesota Wild are adding an imposing figure behind the bench.

Scott Stevens was hired as an assistant coach, the Wild announced Tuesday.

Stevens will run the defense and penalty kill, according to the Star Tribune's Michael Russo, and join Bruce Boudreau, who was hired last month after being dismissed by the Anaheim Ducks.

"I think he'll have instant respect," Boudreau said of Stevens on Tuesday. The head coach hopes to name his second assistant - who'll help run the power play - by early next week.

Stevens was most recently an analyst for the NHL Network.

The Hall of Fame defenseman was named co-coach of the New Jersey Devils in 2014 after serving as an assistant for two campaigns.

Stevens, a 13-time All-Star, captained the Devils to Stanley Cup championships in 1995, 2000, and 2003 and won the Conn Smythe Trophy in 2000.

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Karlsson aiming to take game to next level

Look out, NHL. Erik Karlsson hasn't reached his peak yet, the superstar Ottawa Senators defenseman declared Tuesday.

The 26-year-old recorded a career-high 82 points in 2015-16, and has had three consecutive seasons topping 60.

Karlsson's won two Norris trophies, and is the favorite to take home his third at the NHL Awards later in June. But still, he believes he needs to find the next level.

Yikes.

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Holtby, Capitals to take part in Pride Parade

Braden Holtby will represent the Washington Capitals in the city's annual pride parade on Saturday.

The goaltender will walk with Capitals mascot Slapshot and the team's Red Rockers, as well as members of the NBA's Washington Wizards and the WNBA's Mystics, the Capitals announced Tuesday.

“I am honored to represent the Capitals and participate in this important event that shines light on the contributions the LGBT community makes every day,” Holtby said. “I believe in equality for all people and I look forward to showing my support along with our organization and fans.”

The Capitals are partnering with the You Can Play Project, an organization that promotes the equality of all athletes regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

The parade, which typically draws 150,000 spectators, will run from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. ET on Saturday.

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Lightning hire former Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards as assistant

Former Columbus Blue Jackets head coach Todd Richards has been hired as an assistant for the Tampa Bay Lightning, the club announced Tuesday.

Richards coached Columbus for five seasons, leading the franchise to its first-ever playoff wins in 2014 and finishing as the team's all-time leader in wins.

He was fired this season after Columbus started the campaign with seven consecutive losses, but is happy to get a shot with Tampa Bay.

"They play fast, they play an aggressive style. And I love that," Richards said, according to Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times.

The hiring comes a day after former assistant Steve Thomas was released, as the Lightning decided not to renew his contract.

Richards was also the head coach of the Minnesota Wild from 2009-11, and owns a career record of 204-176-37.

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Jagr dances while holding hockey stick

Jaromir Jagr's hips don't lie.

The Florida Panthers forward showed off his dance moves in a video posted to his Facebook page Monday.

Yes, that's the 44-year-old legend shaking his groove thing and displaying his torso for a couple of dollar bills.

A loose translation of the Facebook caption implies Jagr felt a bit slighted by Czech journalists who failed to give him credit for his skills on the dance floor.

Never change, Jaromir.

- With h/t to Pro Hockey Talk

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3 keys to the Penguins’ Game 4 win

The Pittsburgh Penguins are 60 minutes from hoisting the Stanley Cup.

A number of factors led to the Penguins' 3-1 victory Monday over the San Jose Sharks that gave Pittsburgh a 3-1 series lead.

Here are three keys to the win that put the Sharks on the brink:

Malkin's luck turns around

It was only a matter of time.

Evgeni Malkin found the scoresheet for the first time in the series, notching the game-winner and assisting on Ian Cole's goal that opened the scoring.

Malkin was bound to break through, considering he entered Monday leading all Penguins forwards in even-strength Corsi For per 60 minutes in the Cup Final and had a score-adjusted Fenwick above 60 against the Sharks heading into Game 4.

He continued to drive puck possession Monday, as only four Penguins had better Corsi For percentages in all situations than Malkin in the victory.

The dynamic center has 17 points in 21 playoff games this spring.

The first cut is the deepest

Cole's first-period goal marked the fourth straight time the Penguins scored first, and that trend has helped Pittsburgh take three of the four games.

Strong starts have been a key element in the recipe for the Penguins' success. They've nearly doubled the Sharks in first-period shots on goal, outshooting them 46-24 (or by an average of 11.5 to six) over the first four contests.

Joonas Donskoi's overtime winner in Game 3 was technically the only time the Sharks led in the Cup Final, and the Penguins' dominance early in games has plenty to do with that.

Kessel's long Conn

Forget the ill-conceived narratives. Phil Kessel is a bona fide playoff performer.

The Penguins forward collected two more assists in Game 4 and now has 21 points in 22 postseason games in 2016.

Kessel's strong play has him in the Conn Smythe Trophy conversation as the potential postseason MVP. He leads all playoff skaters with 91 shots on goal and ranks fourth in points behind a trio of Sharks.

He's been a significant contributor for the Penguins, who have a chance to win the Cup at home Thursday.

(Analytics courtesy: HockeyStats.ca)

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3 candidates to take home the Conn Smythe

By no means have the Pittsburgh Penguins locked anything up, but for Game 5 on Thursday night, the Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe Trophy will be in the building.

Pittsburgh is one win away from finishing off the San Jose Sharks for their fourth Cup in franchise history, and since there's two days between games, allow us to speculate.

Here are three candidates who could be named MVP of the playoffs.

Phil Kessel

Last offseason, Kessel was blamed for another tumultuous season for a disastrous franchise in the Toronto Maple Leafs, counting down the minutes until he'd inevitably be traded.

This offseason, there's a strong chance he spends his summer as a champion and Conn Smythe winner. What a difference a year makes.

Simply put, Kessel has been outstanding in the playoffs. He leads the Penguins with 21 points in 22 games. He's formed the league's best third line alongside Nick Bonino and Carl Hagelin and has flat out loved every second of his first run to the Stanley Cup Final.

If he wins, Kessel would become the fifth American to take home the award, joining Brian Leetch, Tim Thomas, Patrick Kane, and Jonathan Quick. Not bad for some one who is uncoachable.

Sidney Crosby

It's pretty much the only thing he hasn't won.

Crosby's total of 17 points isn't particularly overwhelming, but he's silenced critics and has noticeably been the best skater in the Stanley Cup Final.

The 28-year-old has been a force in all facets in the game, and was instrumental in getting the Penguins to this point, scoring three game-winning goals in the conference final versus the Tampa Bay Lightning.

He only has two assists in the final, but his impact off the scoresheet has been greater than anyone's.

Matt Murray

Murray continues to shine.

The 22-year-old was thrust into the spotlight because of an injury to starter Marc-Andre Fleury and has flourished in his first opportunity as a No. 1.

He boasts a 14-5 postseason record, while sporting a 2.09 goals against average and .925 save percentage. He hasn't lost consecutive games in the playoffs.

Only expected to be a placeholder, Murray has made quite a name for himself, and could become only the second rookie goaltender to ever win the Conn Smythe, joining Cam Ward in 2006.

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