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    August 10, 2018 11:02 PM PDT
    Wesley Hitt/Getty ImagesThe Seattle Seahawks released defensive end Cliff Avril with a failed physical designation Friday.Avril bid farewell to Seattle on Instagram:"Thank you 12s for making the last 5 years in Seattle so amazing! Your cheers on Sundays are unmatched Cheap Shaquem Griffin Jersey , and you guys are by far the best fans in the NFL! Most importantly, I appreciate and value the lifelong friendships I've made. You all have supported my family, my foundation (the Cliff Avril Family Foundation), and I throughout my entire tenure, and I could not have asked for more! THANK YOU to the entire Seahawk organization as well as my teammates. You all made me a Pro Bowler and a Super Bowl Champ! I am forever grateful. THANK YOU!"Avril, 32, landed on injured reserve in October after he suffered a season-ending neck injury in Week 4 against the Indianapolis Colts.In January, Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said he thought Avril would "have a hard time playing football again" because of the severe nature of his injury, according to the Seattle Times' Bob Condotta.However, Avril appeared on KIRO-AM later that month and maintained that Cheap Calvin Ridley Jersey , if he's able to work his way back to 100 percent, he could pursue another opportunity."As I continue to just keep chopping away, I don't want to just close the door on [playing again]," he said, according to the News Tribune's Gregg Bell. "So I definitely think I can get back on the field. If it's possible, I will. But if not, I'm OK with that. As long as I am able to be a dad and being able to run around with my kids. That's No. 1 for me right now."Avril, who was selected in the third round of the 2008 NFL draft, has stitched together a solid decade of work that's been split between the Seahawks and Detroit Lions.After racking up 39.5 sacks over his first five NFL seasons in Detroit, Avril moved to the Pacific Northwest and logged 34.5 sacks鈥攊ncluding 11.5 during a Pro Bowl campaign in 2016.The Super Bowl 48 champion is also one of 13 players who registered at least 74 sacks from 2008 to 2017.

    The road back to the Stanley Cup Final took two very different turns for the Penguins and Predators at the start of the second round.

    Back-to-back defending champion Pittsburgh roared back from a two-goal Jessie Bates III Youth Jersey , third-period deficit to beat the Washington Capitals, while the Winnipeg Jets chased Nashville goaltender Pekka Rinne in a convincing 4-1 victory in Game 1. As each team prepares for Game 2, two key pieces could be ready to help.

    Penguins center Evgeni Malkin practiced Saturday and is on the verge of returning to the lineup after missing the past two games with an apparent leg injury. Coach Mike Sullivan called Malkin a game-time decision, though signs are pointing to the Russian star playing Sunday at Washington (3 p.m. EDT, NBC).

    ”If I’m playing, I’m ready to play,” Malkin said. ”If you play, you need to show you can, you show you’re 100 percent. It’s not like the regular season. You can’t play slow the first period and be better in third. If I play, if I’m ready Bradley Chubb Jersey , I’m ready first shift.”

    Predators winger Auston Watson skated just seven first-period shifts Friday night before leaving with an undisclosed injury. His teammates outshot the Jets 48-19 and still lost, though a healthy Watson for Game 2 back in Music City (7 p.m., NBCSN) could make a difference as the defending Western Conference champions try to even the series between the NHL’s top two teams.

    ”Getting this squared up before we go to Winnipeg is definitely important,” said Watson, who felt great and called it a good practice. ”We’ll do our best to take care of business.”

    The Penguins and Predators each took care of business in six games in the first round. Malkin had three goals and two assists in five games before being injured against Philadelphia, and the line of Colton Sissons, former Pittsburgh center Nick Bonino and Watson combined for 19 points in beating Colorado.

    It’s impossible to overstate Malkin’s value to the Penguins. Top-line winger Jake Guentzel called Malkin’s potential return a ”game-changer,” restoring one of their most dangerous options on the power play and at even strength after a season in which the 31-year-old forward put up 98 points.

    Malkin skated on the fourth line between rookie Zack Aston-Reese and Tom Kuhnhackl at practice and on the first power-play unit. If he plays, it wouldn’t be in a limited role.

    ”Putting Geno on the fourth line? Probably not,” Sullivan said. ”We’ll try to put him in a position where he can play to his strengths Mike Hughes Vikings Jersey , be successful as an individual and help our team win.”

    Just as the Penguins drew on two long playoff runs to come back against the Capitals, the Predators need only look up at their Western Conference champions banner in the rafters as they try to rebound.

    ”We just have to keep having that bounce-back mentality we’ve had since I’ve been here for two and a half years,” center Ryan Johansen said. ”We’re looking forward to tomorrow night’s game because we know we’re going to get a great response from everybody in here.”

    A FOR DISCIPLINE

    Referees combined to call three penalties each in Game 1 of Penguins-Capitals and Jets-Predators. Nashville was the most-penalized team in the league during the regular season but hasn’t taken one its past two games.

    ”We’re trying to get better in a lot of different areas,” coach Peter Laviolette said. ”And you hope that through the course of fixing some things, continuing to do things right that you like, fixing some things, staying out of the penalty box, whatever it may be that at the end of the night you’ll be able to move forward from that. There are some things that I guess are going in the right direction.”

    The strength of the Washington and Pittsburgh power plays has those teams watching themselves and trying to avoid time in the sin bin.

    ”I think both teams go into the series trying to be disciplined for that reason,” Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said. ”You don’t want to give the power plays an opportunity to have an impact in the game.

    HELLEBUYCK SHINES

    Connor Hellebuyck, a Vezina Trophy finalist as the NHL’s top goaltender James Washington Jersey , starred for the Jets in making 47 saves in Game 1. In a breakout year for the 24-year-old, it was the kind of game that showed Winnipeg it has someone ready to take on the best in the West.

    ”There’s great difficulty in a lot of the saves and finding the puck in those scrums, but he’s built for that,” coach Paul Maurice said. ”He’s a big man that moves well and tracks well in traffic – especially close traffic. So he’s capable of that kind of game in that kind of environment.”

    AP Sports Writer Teresa M. Walker in Nashville, Tennessee, contributed.

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