Stanley Cup playoffs three stars: Predators reach first West finals; Oilers force Game 7

Pekka Rinne wore a permanent ear-to-ear grin when asked to contextualize the Predators’ unlikely playoff run 18 years in the making.

Rinne’s Nashville roots run deep. He was drafted in 2004, a gem unearthed in the eighth round when such a thing was still in practice. In that sense, the hulking goaltender is Predators personified and was understandably beaming when, in his 566th NHL game, he finally led the franchise to its first berth in the Western Conference finals.

It means everything right now, Rinne told reporters following a 3-1 victory to oust the Blues in six games. Obviously, we haven’t gone further than this before. It’s a great feeling, but there’s also a lot of work left. After this round, there’s only four teams, and we all know that we have what it takes and everything is in our hands. … This is why you play this game. I’m happy.

It’s safe to assume Crosby and Subban didn’t get together for a pregame Primanti Brothers sandwich to celebrate National Best Friend Day.

The two got into a wrestling match toward the end of the first period. It all started when Crosby gave Subban a whack in the back with his stick while Subban navigated toward the Pittsburgh net. The two fell and Crosby pinned Subban down, repeatedly bashing his head into the ice. Subban wasn’t a saint either, though, as he placed Crosby into a headlock as the two rose to their feet. The ordeal resulted in two-minute holding minors for both men, who headed for the locker room with 1:32 remaining in the period.

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Mariners’ Jean Segura heading back to DL

The Rangers have two picks, too, this one and then a couple later, at 29, as compensation for losing Ian Desmond (that one-year FA deal worked out very well for them, eh?). The Rangers have had 14 first-round (and supplemental) picks since 2010, and they’ve used 10 of those picks on high school players, which makes Lutz, a prep outfielder from Arlington, an easy pick to drop in this spot.

Lange is probably better than this spot, way down in the first round. But every year, someone slides down further than expected and a team in this spot gets lucky. The Cubs would be thrilled to wind up with a polished college right-hander.

The Mariners suffered a blow Friday when Jean Segura landed back on the 10-day disabled list with an ankle injury.

Segura, who is hitting .341 with four home runs and 20 RBIs this season, was injured Thursday night when sliding into second base.

This is Segura’s second DL stint of the season after missing 12 games in April due to a hamstring injury.

Manager Scott Servais hinted at troubling news Friday, stating that it could be a week before the All-Star shortstop is re-evaluated, via ESPN.com. The initial fear was that Segura broke his right ankle, but the Mariners said his latest injury is a high ankle sprain.

SP Jason Vargas
Age: 34. Status: Free agent after 2017
Need to know: Sell! Sell! Sell! As soon as possible, preferably. Vargas was reliable in the first season of his four-year free-agent deal, posting a 3.71 ERA in 30 starts in 2014, but he made only a total of 12 starts in 2015-16 because of injuries (Tommy John surgery). Nobody knew what to expect from him in 2017, his Age 34 season, but the lefty has been brilliant out of the gate. Through nine starts, he has a 2.30 ERA (2.96 FIP) and has allowed only 44 hits in 54 2/3 innings, while striking out 49. The Royals won’t get a huge return for Vargas, but after two basically lost seasons, getting anything back has to be viewed as a win.

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Falcons’ pass rush has improved This was not a great unit during the regular season

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Bouwmeester is creeping up on his Calgary numbers.

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Having four kids ages 4 to 13 takes care of that. While Teheran hasn’t officially been named the starter, he could possibly take the mound for Friday’s series opener vs.

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