Pint-sized Pettersson likes to play physical

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Pint-sized Pettersson likes to play physical

One way to describe Stockholm-born defensive prospect Jesper Pettersson?

Chunky.
 
Though he’s barely 5-foot-8, he’s 187 pounds, as wide as an aircraft carrier and has the muscle to back it up.
 
“Height-wise, he is small, but stature-wise, he is wide and really strong on his feet and competitive,” said Chris Pryor, the Flyers' director of scouting.
 
You might find it strange the Flyers quickly signed their seventh-round pick (198th overall) from June’s draft this week, well ahead of others, but there’s a reason.
 
At 19, Pettersson is eligible to play for the Phantoms this season. The Flyers wanted to get that resolved now so he'll be ready in time for training camp this fall.
 
“Yeah, he was able to come over and play this year,” Pryor said. “That was intriguing for us. We’ve seen him a lot over there. The kid got a chance to play over here, and it was part of the conversation.”
 
Pettersson, who completed his final day of Flyers development camp on Tuesday, admitted to being surprised that things unfolded so quickly for him.
 
“I didn’t think I would come to this camp and they would sign me,” he said. “I was a little surprised, but I’m happy it happened.”
 
Actually, Pettersson had his sights set on the Phantoms all along after playing 48 games with Linköping’s top club in the Swedish Hockey League last year.
 
“I knew I was gonna play here when I got drafted,” he said. “It’s something I talked about for a long time.”
 
His three-year, entry-level deal -- like all others -- is two-way and has bonuses for games played. At the very least, he would earn $575,000 in NHL salary. If he hits the "games played” bonus, that goes up to $645,000.
 
He may be small, but Pettersson threw his weight around during the scrimmage drills on the camp’s final day.
 
Size is always going to be an issue for him if makes the NHL. Then again, there have been other small but physical defensemen in the league.
 
Kimmo Timonen comes to mind. Barely 5-10, wide and “thick,” as they say.
 
Pettersson’s idol as a kid growing into his hockey skates was a fellow Swede.
 
“Yeah, Niklas Lidstrom I looked at,” he said. “He was really easy with his play, easy things.”
 
How Pettersson handles 230-pound forwards coming at him with speed will go a long way toward determining whether he has an NHL career.
 
“It’s been my whole life,” Pettersson said of his height. “Many people say I’m a small player and I’m too small to play. I always go into the corner with a big guy. It doesn’t matter if it’s a big or small guy.
 
“It doesn’t matter how small or big I am. I’m comfortable with my style."
 
He’ll need a few years at the AHL level to adjust.
 
“He has to get acclimated,” Pryor said. “The ice, the angles are different, not as much time or space. It’s a different game when they come over.”
 
Smaller players can play far more freely and without injury on the larger ice surface of Europe. Not so much here where they are more vulnerable to the hits and have less room to maneuver.
 
“You can probably go back and forth," Pryor said. “Some guys say it is an easier game over here because you have less time and space.
 
“Jesper is very competitive with good feet and very aware defensively without the puck. He plays a solid defensive game. He should pick up the game quickly over here.”
 
Pettersson is looking toward his first year in the AHL to show people he can take the punishment.
 
“I like the physical play,” he said. “On the small rinks, you get more physical, more hits. That’s what I like.”

NHL Notes: Predators' P.K. Subban rides whirlwind to Stanley Cup Final

NHL Notes: Predators' P.K. Subban rides whirlwind to Stanley Cup Final

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- It has been an extraordinary 11 months for P.K. Subban.

The defenseman moved from the Eastern Conference to the Western Conference. Left his native Canada to live in the American South. Blended in with new teammates, created a new home and learned a new system of money, too.

Oh, and along the way the former star for the Montreal Canadiens played a key role in Nashville's stirring run to the Stanley Cup Final.

The best way to sum up Subban's approach? C'est la vie.

"I just tried to have the right attitude when change comes my way," Subban said. "I think when you have an open mind, an open mind is like a gold mine. You just have an open mind, you can only go up from there regardless of what comes your way and just always try to approach things in a positive way."

The Canadiens and Predators shocked the NHL last June 29 when Nashville swapped captain Shea Weber for Subban in a rare one-for-one trade of All-Star defensemen. Adding Subban's offensive skills immediately made the Predators a popular pick to be right where they are now as the Western Conference champions.

The stylish Subban has as much flair on the ice with his goal celebrations as off with his hats and stylish suits. The Predators and their fans have embraced all of it.

"When it happened, I came in here with the right attitude and just wanted to be a part of this team and do whatever I can do to help a team win," Subban said (see full story).

Penguins: Team rides maturity, resilience back to Cup Final
PITTSBURGH -- Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Chris Kunitz stood shoulder to shoulder at center ice as midnight approached, crowd on its feet, Prince of Wales Trophy in hand. Another shot at the Stanley Cup in the offing.

On the surface, it could have been a scene ripped from 2008 when the longtime Pittsburgh Penguin teammates earned their first crack at a championship together, the one that was supposed to be the launching pad for a dynasty.

A closer look at the weary, grateful smiles told a different story.

This team has learned over the last decade that nothing can be taken for granted. Not their individual greatness or postseason success, even for one of the NHL's marquee franchises. Not the cohesion it takes to survive the crucible of the most draining championship chase in professional team sports or the mental toughness (along with a dash of luck) needed to stay on top once you get there.

So Crosby paused in the giddy aftermath of Pittsburgh's 3-2 victory over Ottawa in Game 7 of the helter-skelter Eastern Conference finals to do something the two-time Hart Trophy winner almost never does. He took stock of the moment, aware of how fleeting they can be.

"Every series you look at, the margin for error is so slim," Crosby said. "We've just continued to find ways and different guys have stepped up. We trust in that and we believe in that and whoever has come in the lineup has done a great job. That builds confidence. We've done it different ways, which is probably our biggest strength" (see full story).

NHL Playoffs: Penguins beat Senators in 2OT of Game 7 to reach Stanley Cup Final

NHL Playoffs: Penguins beat Senators in 2OT of Game 7 to reach Stanley Cup Final

BOX SCORE

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins are heading back to the Stanley Cup Final.

Chris Kunitz beat Craig Anderson 5:09 into the second overtime to give the defending champions a 3-2 victory over the Ottawa Senators in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final Thursday night.

Kunitz scored twice, his first two of the playoffs. Justin Schultz added the other in his return from an upper-body injury, and Matt Murray stopped 28 shots on his 23rd birthday.

The Penguins are trying to become the first team since the Detroit Red Wings in 1998 to win back-to-back titles. They will host Western Conference champion Nashville in Game 1 on Monday night.

Mark Stone and Ryan Dzingel scored for Ottawa. The Senators rallied twice to tie it, with Dzingel making it 2-2 with 5:19 left in regulation.

Craig Anderson made 39 saves, but couldn't get a handle on Kunitz's shot from just outside the left circle. The Senators are 0-6 in Game 7s in franchise history.

The Senators forced a return trip to Pittsburgh -- where they lost 7-0 loss in Game 5 on Sunday -- by leaning heavily on Anderson in a 2-1 Game 6 victory, putting both teams at odds with history.

Ottawa came in 0-for-25 years in winner-take-all games, while the Penguins were 0-7 in Game 7s at home in series in which they also dropped Game 6.

Ottawa coach Guy Boucher told his resilient team to not get caught up in the big picture but instead focus on the small ones, a recipe that carried the Senators throughout a bumpy transition under their first-year head coach to the brink of the franchise's second Cup appearance.

The Penguins, trying to become the first defending champion to return to the finals since Detroit in 2009, came in confident they would advance if they could replicate their dominant Game 6, when they were undone only by Anderson's brilliance.

Pittsburgh has been nearly unflappable in the face of adversity under Mike Sullivan, going 12-2 in playoff games following a loss over the last two springs. He encouraged his team to "just play," code for fighting through Ottawa's neutral zone-clogging style and the bumping, grabbing and pulling that comes along with it.

A chance to play for their sport's ultimate prize on the line, the sheets of open ice the Penguins found so easily in Games 4-6 closed up. For most of the first 30 minutes, loose pucks hopped over sticks to spoil some scoring opportunities while Anderson and Murray gobbled up the rest.

Kunitz, relegated to the fourth line since returning from injury in the second round, picked up his first postseason goal in a calendar year when he completed a two-on-one with Conor Sheary -- a healthy scratch in Games 5 and 6 -- by slipping the puck by Anderson 9:55 into the second period.

The momentum lasted all of 20 seconds. Ottawa responded immediately with Stone -- who stretched his left skate to stay onside -- fired a wrist shot that handcuffed Murray.

Pittsburgh kept coming. Schultz, returning after missing four games with an upper-body injury, zipped a shot from the point through Kunitz's screen and into the net with 8:16 left in the third.

Once again, the Penguins could not hold the lead. Dzingel set up at the right post and banged home a rebound off Erik Karlsson's shot that hit the left post and caromed off Murray's back right to Dzingel's stick.

Notes
The home team is 21-20 in overtime Game 7s in NHL playoff history. ... Pittsburgh F Patric Hornqvist skated during warmups, but was held out of the lineup for a sixth straight game with an upper-body injury. ... Karlsson had 16 assists in the playoffs to set a team record. ... The Penguins are 10-7 in Game 7s. ... It was the fifth one-goal game of the series.