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Jets sign Byfuglien to $38 million, five-year extension (The Associated Press)
(Mon, 08 Feb 2016 14:44:40 PST)
NHL teams looking to add a rental defenseman before the trade deadline will have to look elsewhere as the Winnipeg Jets signed Dustin Byfuglien to a $38 million, five-year extension. The 30-year-old Byfuglien will be part of the Jets' long-range plan at a salary-cap hit of $7.6 million and is relieved he doesn't have to worry about finding a new landing spot this summer as an unrestricted free agent. ''It never really crossed my mind going anywhere,'' Byfuglien said.

Canucks-Avalanche Preview (The Associated Press)
(Mon, 08 Feb 2016 09:35:38 PST)
Out of playoff position and struggling to score, the Vancouver Canucks are frustrated. The Colorado Avalanche haven't been pleased with their play of late, either. Looking to avoid a fifth straight defeat, the Canucks try to hand the Avs a fourth consecutive home loss Tuesday night.

Kyle Okposo takes over (Rotoworld)
(Mon, 08 Feb 2016 09:02:00 PST)
Kyle Okposo and the Islanders had a big week with the man-advantage. Read that and more in The Power Play Report

See adorable Playmobil NHL figures for 12 new teams (Photos) (Puck Daddy)
(Mon, 08 Feb 2016 08:37:16 PST)
Last year, Playmobil made 16 NHL figures, and they were all very cute.  Now they’ve finally expanded the line to include a 12 more teams, including five in Canada, which sometimes gets the shaft when it comes to toy lines. (Luckily, Playmobil has a deal in the U.S. and Canada, the first time in the company’s history that it has licensed line in both countries.) Click here to take a look at the figures: The new teams, with one player and one goalie for each: Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers, Los Angeles Kings, Minnesota Wild, New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders, Ottawa Senators, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Vancouver Canucks, Washington Capitals and Winnipeg Jets. From the good folks at Playmobil: As part of the expanded line, playsets inspired by 12 more NHL teams, including both player and goalie figures will hit stores this spring. Additional sets featuring NHL rivalry packs, Stanley Cup Presentation, Score Clock with Referees and an NHL holiday Advent Calendar will be available this fall. The initial line of NHL-inspired playsets included figures from the Original Six franchise teams, a fully-functional NHL Hockey Arena, a Zamboni ice resurfacing machine, NHL referees and the coveted Stanley Cup Trophy. “Due to popular demand from consumers and retailers alike, we are thrilled to expand our offerings of NHL toys,” said Mark Cohen, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for PLAYMOBIL USA. “Young fans were clamoring to play with their favorite NHL teams and now with the introduction of additional franchises and iconic NHL moments, they can continue to express their fandom and create their own authentic NHL-inspired experiences with PLAYMOBIL.” Yes, finally young fans will be able to recreate video reviews and clock adjustments!  -- Greg Wyshynski  is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at  puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com  or  find him on Twitter.  His book,  TAKE YOUR EYE OFF THE PUCK , is  available on Amazon  and wherever books are sold.

What We Learned: How Sidney Crosby got his groove back (Puck Daddy)
(Mon, 08 Feb 2016 07:08:02 PST)
There's a pretty simple way to break down the resurgence of Sidney Crosby that, on the surface, is very damning for former Pittsburgh Penguins coach Mike Johnston. - Sidney Crosby's career average points per game before Johnston arrived: 1.4. - Sidney Crosby's average points per game under Johnston: 0.98. - Sidney Crosby's average points per game since Johnston left: 1.36 One of these things is very obviously not like the other, and you can see why every Penguins fan had been complaining about the offensive output for world's best player under Johnston. Less than a point a game is pretty clearly not what we would or perhaps should expect out of Sidney Crosby. It also doesn't help that Crosby was only averaging about three shots per game under Johnston, as opposed to the almost 3.4 in his entire career prior, and 3.6 since. But obviously there's more to player performance over stretches of 100-plus games than the production of shots, goals, and points. Now, I got under the hood on a lot of Crosby's numbers in the immediate wake of the Johnston firing and found that, all things considered, your old pal No. 87 performed more or less as well under Johnston as he did under Dan Bylsma. But this is a topic worth revisiting because of one simple fact: He's ripped the doors off the league under Mike Sullivan. The fact that he's now top-10 in the league in scoring, a spot which was almost inconceivable just two months ago, is out of control. He's up to 30 points in 22 games under Sullivan, including 18 in his last 10. It's kind of amazing how closely Crosby's numbers pre- and post-Johnston adhere to one another. A gap of 0.04 points per game is easily explainable as noise. But here's the thing: He only played 105 games under Johnston (though Johnston coached 110 in Pittsburgh overall) and you can very easily make the case that this admittedly rather long stretch was similarly just noise. People would really, really like there to be a reason that explained the apparent decline of the greatest player of the last decade. The coaching issue is an easy one to pull, too. Crosby scored at a rate almost observed in the league before Johnston arrived. Crosby scored like a normal superstar under Johnston. And in the first 20-something games in the wake of Johnston's immediate departure, he's back to scoring at more or less the same superhuman rate. In most sets of 110 games over his career, Crosby has been scoring somewhere between 130 and 140 points, so to come in at just 108 under Johnston is worrisome. But there was a fairly sharp decline in production even before Johnston came aboard. And under Johnston I think you can say a lot of his problems stemmed from one of the lowest shooting percentages of his career for a stretch of 110 games.

NHL Three Stars: Habs finally win; Karlsson kills penalties; Marchand's OT penalty shot (Puck Daddy)
(Sat, 06 Feb 2016 23:42:01 PST)
Hi Lou pic.twitter.com/7w5qcsWJSm — Jack A. Wilson (@JACKaWILSON) February 6, 2016 No. 1 Star: Artem Anisimov, Chicago Blackhawks In a big Central Division matchup against the Dallas Stars, the Blackhawks came away with a convincing 5-1 win; increasing their lead over the Stars to five points. Anisimov assisted on 3 tallies and scored his 18 goal of the season while the Blackhawks were shorthanded. No. 2 Star: Tomas Plekanec, Montreal Canadiens The Canadiens desperately needed a win and they finally got one at the expense of the Edmonton Oilers. Plekanec scored a goal and had 3 assists in the Habs 5-1 trouncing of the Oil. It is their first regulation win in exactly a month . No. 3 Star: Erik Karlsson, Ottawa Senators The offensive-minded defenseman provided 4 assists in the Senators 6-1 beatdown of the Toronto Maple Leafs. What had everyone freaking out was the fact Karlsson logged 3:19 on the penalty kill.  Honorable Mention: Paul Carey earned his first NHL goal when he tied the game for the Washington Capitals with less than six minutes to go. The Caps took the New Jersey Devils to the shootout. Braden Holtby stopped 2 of 3 Devils shooters and picks up win No. 32 on the season. Ovechkin SMASH: ... Keith Yandle scored with 12.9 seconds left on the clock to tie the Philadelphia Flyers at 2-2. Mats Zuccarello and Derek Stepan both scored in the shootout and Henrik Lunqvist stopped Sam Gagner and Claude Giroux. HALLELUJAH!  ???? pic.twitter.com/vOyItshv4j — Alex Fitzpatrick (@AlexJamesFitz) February 6, 2016 ... Connor McDavid is a magical unicorn . Ben Scrivens earned his first win as a member of the Canadiens, making 23 saves on the Oilers. The lone Edmonton goal was a shorty by Benoit Pouliot ... Detroit scored 5 unanswered goals before John Tavares netted at power play goal just over four minutes into the third period. The Red Wings won 5-1 Dylan Larkin tied Artemi Panarin for the rookie goal scoring lead with his 18 of the season.   Dylan Larkin scores 18th goal of the season. 5-0, Red Wings. pic.twitter.com/5cVE08KPjr — 1-2-3 Lets Have Fun! (@KyleWIIM) February 6, 2016 ... Brad Marchand is hated by pretty much everyone in the NHL outside of Boston. Add the Buffalo Sabres to the list, again. In overtime, Marchand draws a penalty and is somehow given a penalty shot. He buries it to win the game. From Stanley Cup of Chowder : ... Congrats to Ryan Dzingel on his first NHL point. Mark Stone, Zack Smith, and Curtis Lazar each registered 2 points for the Senators. Stone escaped the game with his nose still attached to his face after Joffrey Lupul's skate makes contact with it: Man Mark Stone was lucky tonight- this could have been horrible. #Sens #Leafs pic.twitter.com/uKstjB9Z1g — David Amber (@DavidAmber) February 7, 2016 ... Sidney Crosby and Kris Letang connected on all 3 goals by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 3-2 comeback overtime victory against the Florida Panthers. Sid picked up career points 900, 901, and 902 in the win . Florida had no problems scoring on special teams: one power play goal by Jussi Jokinen and one shorthanded goal by Aleksander Barkov ... Brian Elliott allowed only 1 goal on 39 shots by the Minnesota Wild; 24 of Minnesota's shots were in the second period. All but one of the St. Louis Blues goals came on the power play in the 4-2 win ... Filip Forsberg had a goal and 2 assists in the Nashville Predators 6-2 stomping of the San Jose Sharks. Both of San Jose's goals were on the power play. One of Viktor Arvidsson's two goals was a perfect snipe over the shoulder of Martin Jones as the forward is falling to the ice:  Viktor Arvidsson with an outrageous goal #Preds : pic.twitter.com/vlzwW1zqy8 — Mark Harris (@MCHisTweeting) February 7, 2016 ... Corey Crawford staying on Holtby's heels in the win total. The netminder earned his 31 win on the year with 36 saves against Dallas ... The Calgary Flames scored 4 goals against the Vancouver Canucks; 2 were in an empty net. Jonas Hiller improved to 6-5-1 on the season making 34 saves. T.J. Brodie, Mikael Backlund, Michael Frolik, and Sam Bennett each had 2 points and were a plus-3. Brodie logged the most ice time for the Flames at 27:29. The next closest as Mark Giordano with 22:49 ... Drew Stafford scored 2 goals and assisted on Mathieu Perreault's tally for the Jets in the 4-2 win over Colorado. Did You Know? Marchand's penalty shot marked the first overtime penalty shot goal by a Bruin in history. — Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) February 7, 2016 Dishonorable Mention: Ryan McDonagh and Wayne Simmonds left the game at the same time . McDonagh with an injury and Simmonds on a match penalty for injuring McDonagh. The Flyers had 20 shots in the second period (good!) and 1 shot on goal in the third period and overtime combined (bad!) ... Jaroslav Halak was pulled after giving up 4 goals on 13 shots midway through the game. Puck drop for the third period between the Islanders and Red Wings was delayed by 36 minutes due to a deep gash dug into the ice by the Zamboni ... James Reimer was given the hook only 7:38 into the game against Ottawa. He allowed 3 goals on 8 shots, and his replacement, Jonathan Bernier let in 3 goals on 17 shots. Despite protests, Tyler Bozak went back to the locker room and did not return with a concussion after his head made contact with Mika Zibanejad's elbow: It gets better. Then Shawn Mattias gets knocked loopy by his own teammate. He leaves to the dressing room but returns to finish the game. ... Thomas Vanek and Jason Zucker were healthy scratched by Mike Yeo to send a message to his team. It didn't work. Minnesota had 7 power play opportunities and only scored on one .. Antti Niemi played only one period for the Stars, letting in 3 goals on 11 shots. Kari Lehtonen replaced him and faced 15 shots, allowing 2 goals. The Stars once potent power play was 0-for-6 against Chicago ... Patrick Roy lost his mind after losing a coach's challenge and it is glorious. The Colorado Avalanche and WInnipeg Jets combined for 68 penalty minutes in the game. - - - - - - - Jen Neale is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email her at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow her on Twitter! Follow @MsJenNeale_PD . MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY:

Hiller makes 34 saves, Flames beat Canucks 4-1 (The Associated Press)
(Sat, 06 Feb 2016 23:22:17 PST)
The Calgary Flames are hoping this performance was a sign of things to come. Jonas Hiller made 34 saves, helping the Flames to a 4-1 victory over the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday night. Michael Frolik, Mikael Backlund and Sam Bennett each had a goal and an assist, and Sean Monahan also scored for Calgary, which rebounded from a 2-1 loss to Columbus on Friday night.

NHL-Highlights of Saturday's NHL games
(Sat, 06 Feb 2016 22:46:12 PST)
Feb 6 (The Sports Xchange) - Highlights of Saturday's National Hockey League games. - - Canadiens 5, Oilers 1 Tomas Plekanec scored a goal and added three assists to lift the Montreal Canadiens to a 5-1 victory over the Edmonton Oilers at the Bell Centre. Brendan Gallagher, Lars Eller, P.K. Subban and Tom Gilbert also scored for Montreal (25-24-4), who snapped a four-game losing streak. ...

Flames-Canucks Preview (The Associated Press)
(Fri, 05 Feb 2016 22:55:44 PST)
Vancouver and Calgary both made surprising runs to the playoffs last season and were expected to contend for a spot again in a Pacific Division that seemed wide open. Goals have been tough to come by lately for both teams, though, resulting in them sitting near the bottom of the Western Conference standings. The Canucks will have a new look on defense with Dan Hamhuis back in the lineup as they try to avoid a fourth straight defeat when they host the Flames on Saturday night.

Willie Desjardins and the quest to make another postseason (Puck Daddy Interview) (Puck Daddy)
(Fri, 05 Feb 2016 15:50:05 PST)
Vancouver Canucks coach Willie Desjardins laughs when he’s asked if he can recall if any of his teams at any level missed the playoffs with him as a head coach. “I missed one year in Japan. That’s the only year I ever missed,” said Desjardins recounting his time with the Seibu Bears in the mid-90s.  Between the Medicine Hat Tigers of the Western Hockey League and Texas Stars of the American Hockey League, Desjardins has never missed the postseason in major junior or the American Hockey League as a head coach for a full season. Since 2002-03 between the WHL and AHL, Desjardins has won three championships.  “I think I get good players and I think we have a good culture,” Desjardins said. “I think you try to establish a culture where certain things are acceptable and certain things aren’t. I believe if you play the game right you always have a chance to make the playoffs. If you have the right culture with your team you always have a chance. I think that’s why to me it’s good to have the right people, the right leadership and value the right things.” In his second year as an NHL head coach with the Vancouver Canucks, Desjardins has found his quest to keep his personal streak alive difficult. He’s had to balance a team with a mix of veterans and young rookies. He’s needed to figure out how to develop his younger players, giving them ice-time so they can improve, while also putting his team in the best scenarios to win. With 52 points, the Canucks find themselves three points behind the final playoff spot in the Pacific Division and four points back of the Wild Card. The Canucks rank 26th in goals scored per-game at 2.33 and 22nd in goals allowed per-game at 2.71. According to War on Ice, the Canucks rank 29th in CF% at 46.7 percent. Every year, there’s one team that seems to struggle in either overtime or shootouts, and lends to that group drifting away from the playoffs. This year it’s the Canucks, a team with a combined 12 OT and shootout losses. The Canucks are just 3-9 in overtime, and at one point found themselves playing for shootouts where they’re 4-3. This was all part of Desjardins survivalist tactic to grind out as many points as possible from his group. “Our last three games have been disappointing because we’ve had chances to get more points.” Desjardins said about a stretch where his group lost three one-goal games, including a shootout. “When you look at that side we’re a little bit disappointed because we know how tough it is and how those points come in handy.”  The biggest struggle for Desjardins has come with how to handle his younger players. Jake Virtanen and Jared McCann – both 2014 first-round draft picks – are an important part of the Canucks’ future. Though the Sedin twins have continued their near point per-game ways (Daniel with 44 in 51 games and Henrik with 37 in 45), both Virtanen and McCann are this team’s future.  Desjardins wants to play them, but knows he needs to hit a sweet spot. He can’t play either too much and he can’t play them too little either. Virtanen has five points in 26 games and has averaged 10:11 of ice-time. He was loaned to Team Canada for the World Juniors. McCann has 12 points in 45 games played, averaging 12:32 of ice-time. Desjardins also stuck with young center Bo Horvat, who’s averaged 17:02 of ice-time in spite of a minus-24 rating. “We need to develop and we need our young guys to develop and get better, but at the same time you owe it to put your best group on the ice to win. In a given play in the game you deserve to put your best guys out there,” Desjardins said. “And with young guys they never prove they’re the best guy or not and somewhere along the line they have to have the chance to prove it.”  But when you have players like the Sedins, it’s hard to try to infuse younger players into major forward roles. They’re still All-Star level players and continue to prove they’re part of the league’s elite. Daniel just notched four points at the NHL All-Star Game in Nashville. “They’re so creative, so patient, so smart on where they go. They have such great reads with each other. It’s amazing. And I think when you coach them every once in a while, you get a chance to appreciate their level,” Desjardins said. “They’re not the greatest skaters in the league. They don’t have the best shots in the league. They don’t beat you all the time one on one, yet they produce at an unbelievable level. How do they do it? In my mind they do it with their heads and their hearts and they have good skills.” Desjardins said he’s not focused on whether the Canucks are rebuilding or in a ‘win-now’ mode. When he gets to the rink, the goal is clear. And it’s this attitude that is the key ingredient as to why he always makes the playoffs. “For me it’s win every day. That’s the way it is,” Desjardins said. “It doesn’t matter if we have 10 rookies in the lineup, I still believe that’s the day you have to win. I think that’s what you develop. Your players have to have that attitude coming to the rink and you try to never lose sight of that.” MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY - - - - - - - Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @joshuacooper  

Panarin's bonuses; Sedin's All-Star leadership; Peverley Protects (Puck Headlines) (Puck Daddy)
(Fri, 05 Feb 2016 10:05:09 PST)
Here are your Puck Headlines: A glorious collection of news and views collected from the greatest blogosphere in sports and the few, the proud, the mainstream hockey media. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at  puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com .   Bob Miller sends his well wishes to all the #LAKings fans! pic.twitter.com/lB5tE8wj4B — LA Kings (@LAKings) February 5, 2016 • Los Angeles Kings Hall of Fame broadcaster Bob Miller had heart surgery and appreciates your well wishes.  • The Montreal Canadiens should shut down goaltender Carey Price for the remainder of their disappointing 2015-16 season. Price, last year’s league MVP, has played 12 games this season as he’s fought a lower body injury. [ Habs Eyes on the Prize ] • Former NHL referee Paul Stewart has added his name to the NHL concussion lawsuit. Stewart also played 21 NHL games with the Quebec Nordiques. [ The Hockey News ] • If Chicago Blackhawks rookie Artemi Panarin keeps scoring at a high pace, he may trigger some contract bonuses, which would cost Chicago some salary cap space. [ Second City Hockey ] • Vancouver Canucks forward Daniel Sedin showed his leadership in the NHL All-Star Game’s 3-on-3 tournament for the Pacific Division. [ Vancouver Courier ] • Daniel Sedin gave away his All-Star winnings to the Vancouver Canucks training staff. That equates to $125,000 Canadian dollars. [ Van City Buzz ] • Check out Pevs Protects, in association with former Dallas Stars forward Rich Peverley: “Our mission is to raise funds to purchase Automated External Defibrillators (AED) to be placed within communities so that others will be given a chance for a second life. In addition, we would like to help educate and train community members of all ages to feel comfortable and confident in using AED’s.” [ Pevs Protects ] • Ottawa Senators defenseman Jared Cowen opens up about the possibility of a trade. Cowen has been a healthy scratch recently. [ TSN ] • Former NHLer Martin Rucinsky was named the general manager of the Czech Republic World Cup team. Milan Hnlicka was also named assistant to the general manager and Jaroslav Spacek was named assistant coach. Former NHLers Vinny Prospal (assistant coach) and Jiri Fischer (head of scouting) were named to the team's staff.  [ NHL ] • After PTOs with the Toronto Marlies and Ontario Reign, former NHL goaltender Ray Emery has signed with Adler Manheim in Germany, [ Sportsnet ] • Detroit Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall expects to start skating again Monday or Tuesday. He had arthroscopic knee surgery on Jan. 18. [ MLive ] • Todd Bertuzzi has found his retirement calling, coaching his 14-year-old son’s local midget minor team in Michigan. [ Click On Detroit ] • The New York Riveters of the NWHL need to improve in a few areas for their playoff push. [ Today’s Slapshot ] • Check out the top-100 fantasy keeper league defensemen. [ Dobber Hockey ] • The1992, 94 and 95 Kamloops Blazers Memorial Cup championship teams were recently honored. That group featured 600 goal scorer Jarome Iginla. [ Buzzing the Net ] • On being a Wisconsin Badgers fan for a day: “Until that day, I'd only heard stories of Midwest women's college hockey -- the packed barns, the sold-out enthusiastic crowds. But on that day, I was finally experiencing them for myself.” [ Victory Press ] • How have the Philadelphia Flyers have performed this year in all three zones under first-year coach Dave Hakstol. [ Broad Street Hockey ] • Connor McDavid’s aggressiveness, along with his skill, is what makes him such a special player. [ Oilers Nation ] • How should the Carolina Hurricanes approach the NHL trade deadline? The Hurricanes are contending for a playoff spot, but they haven't quite broken through yet. [ Section 328 ] • Has the Northeastern men’s hockey team turned a corner this season? [ College Hockey News ] • Check out this save total. "Junior Taylor DeForrest of Apple Valley made 112 saves, but the Eagles still lost 3-2 to East Ridge in six overtimes on Wednesday night in a Class 2A, Section 3 girls’ hockey quarterfinal at Bielenberg Ice Arena in Woodbury.” [ Star Tribune ] • The 10 NHL teams that should be tankings for No. 1 rated prospect Auston Matthews. [ The Comeback ] • Finally, NHL players wish coach/broadcaster Don Cherry a happy birthday. Cherry turns 82 today.   MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY  

Back in full swing (Rotoworld)
(Fri, 05 Feb 2016 09:07:00 PST)
With the All-Star break behind us, we're into the final months of the season. It's a busy schedule for plenty of teams in The Week Ahead.

The Seven: McDavid marks his return to the Oilers with his nascent signature move (Yahoo Sports)
(Fri, 05 Feb 2016 06:50:19 PST)
Our weekly look at the NHL's seven Canadian franchise begins with Connor McDavid not missing a beat as he rejoined the Edmonton lineup.

Dose: More FLA milestones (Rotoworld)
(Fri, 05 Feb 2016 03:58:00 PST)
Friday's Hockey Dose is packed with recaps, including the next big milestones for Jaromir Jagr and Roberto Luongo.

Wennberg lifts Blue Jackets over Canucks 2-1 in shootout (The Associated Press)
(Fri, 05 Feb 2016 00:21:36 PST)
Columbus coach John Tortorella wasn't looking for any special fanfare in his first visit to Vancouver since the Canucks fired him after a single season. ''I think I got enough recognition when I got booted out of here,'' Tortorella said after his Blue Jackets beat the Canucks 2-1 in a shootout Thursday night. Alex Wennberg scored the only goal in the shootout as last-place Columbus handed the Canucks their third straight loss.

NHL Three Stars: Toews clutch again; Jagr and Panthers roar over Red Wings (Puck Daddy)
(Thu, 04 Feb 2016 23:02:20 PST)
No. 1 Star: Jonathan Toews, Chicago Blackhawks In his first game back since the All-Star break, Toews scored two goals, including the game-winner in overtime, to give his Blackhawks a 5-4 win over the Arizona Coyotes. The goal was Toews’ fifth OT winner of the season, which tied him with Steve Stamkos for most overtime goals in a season. That record was set in 2011-12.    No. 2 Star: Jaromir Jagr, Florida Panthers The 43-year-old Jagr scored one goal and added two assists in a 6-3 win over the Detroit Red Wings. Jagr became the sixth player in NHL history to notch at least 1,100 assists in his career. Jagr is three goals shy of tying Brett Hull (741) for third-most in an NHL career. He's also 11 points away from tying Gordie Howe (1,850) for third-most in a career. No. 3 Star: Jordan Eberle, Edmonton Oilers The young forward scored two goals and added an assist in a 7-2 win over the Ottawa Senators. Playing on a line with Connor McDavid, Eberle has five points in his last two games. They’re the first two games McDavid has played since suffering a fractured clavicle in early November. Edmonton has won both contests. Honorable Mention: Arizona Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson scored one goal and added two assists in the loss to the Blackhawks … Chicago forward Marian Hossa scored one goal and added an assist … Blackhawks forward Artemi Panarin notched three assists … Dallas Stars defenseman John Klingberg scored the overtime winner to give his team a 4-3 victory over the Colorado Avalanche … Jason Spezza also scored a goal for Dallas … Stars defenseman Patrik Nemuth notched two assists in 15:23 of action … Philadelphia Flyers forwards Claude Giroux and Wayne Simmonds each scored two goals and added an assist in a 6-3 win over the Nashville Predators … Flyers forward Jakub Voracek notched two assists … San Jose Sharks forward Joe Thornton scored a goal in a 3-1 win over the St. Louis Blues. Linemate Joe Pavelski notched two assists … Defenseman Jay Bouwmeester scored for the Blues … Florida forward Vincent Trochek scored one goal and added two assists in the win. Teammate Brandon Pirri scored his 10th goal of the season and added an assist … Goaltender Roberto Luongo picked up his 23rd win of the season. He surpassed Tony Esposito for seventh-most career wins in NHL history. Luongo now has 424 career victories … Dylan Larkin scored two goals for Detroit … Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid notched two assists in the win over the Senators. He has five points in his first two games back from a fractured clavicle … Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl scored one goal and added an assist … Edmonton defenseman Mark Fayne scored his second goal of the year … Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson notched two assists … Toronto Maple Leafs forward Tyler Bozak scored one goal and added an assist in a 3-2 shootout win over the New Jersey Devils … P.A. Parenteau fired the shootout winner … New Jersey defenseman David Schlemko scored one goal and added one assist in the loss … Devils goaltender Keith Kincaid stopped 37 of 39 shots on goal … Washington Capitals forward Alexander Ovechkin fired the game-winning goal with 2:40 left in the third period of his team’s 3-2 win over the New York Islanders. Teammate Andre Burakovsky scored a goal to pick up his 11th point in his last eight games … Caps goaltender Braden Holtby stopped 24 of 26 Islanders shots on goal … Islanders forward Mikhail Grabovski scored his ninth goal of the season and teammate Josh Bailey scored his eighth … New York Rangers forward Derick Brassard scored the game-winner at the 5:46 mark of the third period in his team’s 4-2 win over the Minnesota Wild. He finished with the goal and an assist … New York forward J.T. Miller scored one goal and added an assist in the win. Forward Chris Kreider also scored for the Rangers … Wild defenseman Ryan Suter notched an assist in 29:15 of action … Boston Bruins forward Ryan Spooner scored a goal and the shootout winner in a 3-2 victory over the Buffalo Sabres … Brad Marchand also scored for the Bruins … Evander Kane and Sam Reinhart each picked up goals for the Sabres … Anaheim Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf scored one goal, added an assist and was a plus-3 in a 4-2 beating of the Los Angeles Kings. Linemate David Perron scored one goal and added two assists … Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm scored a goal in 19:13 of action … Kings forward Tyler Toffoli fired his 23rd goal of the season in a losing effort … Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Joonas Korpisalo stopped 37 of 38 Vancouver Canucks shots on goal in a 2-1 shootout win … Scott Hartnell scored Columbus’ goal and Alexander Wennberg fired the shootout winner … Linden Vey scored for the Canucks. Did You Know?  Alexander Ovechkin leads the NHL with 86 game-winning goals since entering the NHL in 2005-06 – 18 more than the next closest player, Daniel Sedin with 68.   Dishonorable Mention: Coyotes forwards Anthony Duclair and Martin Hanzal were each a minus-3 … Nashville forwards Filip Forsberg and Mike Ribeiro were each a minus-3. Preds defenseman Barret Jackman was also a minus-3 … Nashville goaltender Pekka Rinne allowed six goals on 19 shots on goal … Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard dropped to 7-8-4 on the year. He has a 2.89 goal-against average and .904 save percentage and hasn’t won since Dec. 3 … Ottawa goaltenders Andrew Hammond and Craig Anderson stopped 21 of 28 shots on goal in their loss to the Oilers … The Wild blew a 2-0 lead … Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick was yanked after allowing three goals on nine Ducks shots on goal … Ottawa’s Mika Zibanejad was a minus-3.   MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY  

NHL-Highlights of Thursday's NHL games
(Thu, 04 Feb 2016 22:55:43 PST)
Feb 5 (The Sports Xchange) - Highlights of Thursday's National Hockey League games: Blackhawks 5, Coyotes 4 (overtime) Jonathan Toews scored his fifth overtime game-winner of the season with 28.5 seconds remaining as the Chicago Blackhawks defeated the Arizona Coyotes 5-4 at Gila River Arena on Thursday. Toews had two goals for the Blackhawks in a game in which eight different players scored. Corey Crawford made 24 saves for Chicago and Louis Domingue had 35 for Arizona. ...

Richards in a beer league; Malkin out two games; Tortorella's mistake (Puck Headlines) (Puck Daddy)
(Thu, 04 Feb 2016 10:57:27 PST)
Here are your Puck Headlines: A glorious collection of news and views collected from the greatest blogosphere in sports and the few, the proud, the mainstream hockey media. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at  puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com .   Steve Mason's new mask! pic.twitter.com/ieFHN2yZ3R — Sarah Baicker (@sbaickerTCN) February 4, 2016 • Behold Steve Mason’s new mask with Claude Giroux on the side. [ Sarah Baicker ] • The 20-game suspension of Dennis Wideman shows that hockey sees many parts of the game in black and white. [ The Guardian ] • After the Los Angeles Kings terminated the contract of Mike Richards, the center found himself playing in a local beer league in Kenora, Ontario before he was signed by the Washington Capitals. [ Washington Post ] • Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman will play for the Detroit Red Wings in their Stadium Series alumni game against the Colorado Avalanche. [ NHL ] • Pittsburgh Penguins forward Evgeni Malkin will miss the team's next two games with a lower body injury. [ AP ] • Columbus Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella said running into the Calgary Flames locker room after a brawl two seasons ago was the biggest mistake of his career. Tortorella was the coach of the Vancouver Canucks at the time. [ Toronto Sun ] • AEG will manage Gila River Arena, current home of the Arizona Coyotes. The team’s future in Glendale is still unclear. [ AZ Central ] • Colorado Avalanche goaltender Semyon Varlamov returned to the team after being awarded $126,000 in damages after a lawsuit from his ex-girlfriend. [ Denver Post ] • Jack Riley, who was the head coach for the 1960 Team USA Olympic gold medal winning team died at the age of 95. [ USA Hockey ] • Winnipeg Jets coach Paul Maurice took the blame for his team’s penalty killing woes. The Jets rank 27th of 30 in the league on the PK. [ Winnipeg Sun ] • What hockey analytics mean as far as player evaluation for current and future performance. [ Welcome to your Karlsson Years ] • Nikita Tryamkin, a 6-foot-7 defenseman in the KHL, could be coming to North America to play for the Vancouver Canucks by the end of this month. He was selected in the third round of the 2014 draft by Vancouver. [ Canucks Army ] • A recent spate of suspensions show a disturbing trend of violence in Big Ten hockey. [ USCHO ] • Jamie Lee Rattray has seen improvement in her game this year with the CWHL’s Brampton Thunder. [ Along the Boards ] • NHL players see the dropping Canadian dollar as a negative for them and the league. [ AP via Yahoo ] • A Montreal-area hockey player who was 16 when he became quadriplegic after a bodycheck from behind propelled him into the boards has been awarded $8 million. [ CP via Yahoo ] • On passing and playmaking. [ Hockey-Graphs ] • Donald Brashear landed $500,000 for his low-cost hockey stick company on the CBC’s “Dragon’s Den” the Canadian version of “Shark Tank.” [ Color of Hockey ] • Forward Matt Cullen is proving to be a solid value for the Pittsburgh Penguins. [ Pens Labyrinth ] • Former NHLer Shawn Antoski is reaching out to people suffering from mental and emotional distress. [ Inside Belleville ] • A fantasy cage match between young defensemen Rasmus Ristolainen of the Buffalo Sabres and Torey Krug of the Boston Bruins. [ Dobber Hockey ] • The Boston Bruins aren’t one of the ‘beasts of the East’ like they were a couple of years ago. What does this mean for team president Cam Neely? [ Boston Sports Desk ] • Three left defensemen the Buffalo Sabres should consider trading for. [ Sabre Noise ] • Breaking down the new Toronto Maple Leafs logo. [ Hockey by Design ] • " To celebrate Senior Night, Paramus/Lyndhurst/Hackensack head coach Denis Jelcic opted to dress and play every one of his program's seniors for Friday's game against Newton/Lenape Valley. That included Jason Migatz, a special needs player on the junior varsity squad ." [ NJ.com ] • Why Brad Marchand is leading the Boston Bruins by example this season. [ Boston.com ] • Finally,  New Jersey Devils goaltender Cory Schneider can draw quite well.     MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY    

Will Canadiens embrace the tank, shut down Carey Price? (Puck Daddy)
(Thu, 04 Feb 2016 08:09:02 PST)
The Montreal Canadiens were the hottest team on the planet in October: Nine straight regulation wins to start the season, which was an NHL record. Visions of the first Stanley Cup in Canada since the Habs’ last one 23 years ago danced in our heads.  But P.K. Subban attempted to shake us awake. "We're not going to be the ones leading this type of parade,” he said, before an October game at the Vancouver Canucks. “I've said it before and I'll say it again: All we've accomplished is to have a good start to the season, and that's it." The Canadiens lost that game to Vancouver, snapping their streak. Since then, they lost Carey Price, perhaps for the season. They lost Brendan Gallagher for several weeks, short-circuiting their offense. They lost the Atlantic Division lead. They lost a playoff spot. They’ve lost nine of their last 10 games, scoring more than two goals only once while going 1-8-1. They’ve lost the fans, who are leaving seats empty at Bell Centre. And they’ve lost any semblance of confidence or sense of purpose for this increasingly futile campaign. They’re five points in back of the Pittsburgh Penguins for the final wild card spot in the East, although Pittsburgh has three games in-hand. They’re six points behind the Detroit Red Wings for the No. 3 seed in the Atlantic, and the Wings have two games in-hand. Sports Club Stats, that daily tracker of playoff probability, gives the Canadiens a 12-percent chance of making the postseason. That’s bad. But don’t worry, Price will return this month and the season will reverse course and … … oh, he’s still favoring his injured leg? That’s really bad. Or maybe it’s what the Canadiens need to see. Increasingly, the calls are for Montreal to shut Price down for the season, forget about rallying for a postseason berth, grab a lottery pick and retool their offense for next season. Maybe it was that loss to the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday night – a team that embraced the tank and ended up with Jack Eichel – but now the attention in Montreal is squarely on the Canadiens perhaps doing the same to earn Auston Matthews or another draft blue-chipper. From Stu Cowan of the Gazette: If the Canadiens finish the season 23rd overall, they would have a 6.0 per cent chance of getting the No. 1 pick in the draft lottery. The further they fall, the better the odds. With 30 games left in the season, the Canadiens are only nine points ahead of the Columbus Blue Jackets — the worst team in the NHL that beat them twice last week. The team that finishes last will have a 20-per-cent chance of getting Matthews. The Canadiens could end up winning by losing — and how sad is that for this storied franchise? That’s the trick, isn’t it? Pride. Can anyone imagine the Canadiens actually lowering expectations, accepting fate and looking down the standings instead of up? Well,  Craig Custance of ESPN is wondering if this is what’s happening anyway, and there’s merit to that. General Manager Marc Bergevin hasn’t made a significant trade to shake his team out of its plummet – with due respect to John Scott. Maybe there’s a reason James Reimer isn’t a Hab. His vote of confidence for coach Michel Therrien seemed tied to the new contract he gave him in the offseason – it’s hard for a GM to justify extending and then firing a guy within months – but it might be a case of deciding not to rectify an unsuccessful season until after the season is done. In other words: Improving the team in the short term does nothing in the long run. I think the Canadiens are fooling themselves if they think their fans won’t be down for writing off this season. They see what the Sabres did, and what came from it. They hope that the changes they’re asking for – Therrien gone, vast improvements to the forward group, a healthy Carey Price – will arrive in the offseason. The promise of October is a faint memory. Look to June.  -- Greg Wyshynski  is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at  puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com  or  find him on Twitter.  His book,  TAKE YOUR EYE OFF THE PUCK , is  available on Amazon  and wherever books are sold.  

Blue Jackets-Canucks Preview (The Associated Press)
(Wed, 03 Feb 2016 17:45:05 PST)
Vancouver's extended All-Star break is coming to an end, and it's easing back into things by completing a three-game homestand against two beatable opponents. The first of those, however, is complicated with the Columbus Blue Jackets and former coach John Tortorella visiting Thursday night. Tortorella first had to return to the Blue Jackets' bench to make his first trip back to Vancouver a possibility.

After Canucks drama, Luongo and Schneider happy for their success (Puck Daddy)
(Tue, 02 Feb 2016 13:41:13 PST)
NASHVILLE – Daniel Sedin remembers it all.  He remembers when Roberto Luongo arrived in a 2006 blockbuster trade, returning the Vancouver Canucks to the playoffs and back-stopping them to the playoff semifinals. “He took our goaltending to another level, for sure. That first year he came in, he was the reason we were good. The only reason,” he said. He remembers when Cory Schneider became an NHL regular in 2010-11, showing the potential to be a starter in this League. “He learned a lot from Roberto. He was good for us, too,” he said, And he remembers when the Roberto Luongo vs. Cory Schneider goaltending controversy was one of the NHL’s most enduring soap operas, eventually leading to both goalies being traded away: Schneider to the New Jersey Devils in 2013 for the ninth overall pick that became Bo Horvat, and Luongo (and his contract) traded back to the Florida Panthers in 2014. Last weekend in Nashville, Sedin saw both goalies representing their teams at the NHL All-Star Game, and he couldn’t help but wonder ‘what if?’ “We have a good thing going in Vancouver now with Ryan and Jake,” he said of goalies Ryan Miller and Jakub Markstrom, “but when you see those guys … it was tough to see them go.” It wasn’t surprising to see Schneider, 29, take over the crease in New Jersey after Martin Brodeur’s departure and join the NHL’s elite netminders. He has a 2.03 GAA and a .929 save percentage in keeping the Devils in the postseason picture. But was Luongo expected to post similar numbers – 2.08 GAA and a .930 save percentage – with the Florida Panthers at 36 years old? Sedin hesitated when asked the question, before saying, “I think so. But with age you never know.” Wait … isn’t Luongo around the same ago as the Sedins? “I think he’s one year older than me,” said Sedin. “He’s old , that’s for sure.” ***   Schneider and Luongo had breakfast together in Nashville on Friday morning. In the NHL All-Star Game Skills Competition on Saturday night, they even partnered up to help Brent Bruns with a Breakaway Challenge attempt by play-fighting near the crease, leaving the goal empty so Burns’ son could score: “That’s the fun part about hockey. You build relationships and you never know when you’re going to see them again. And then you come to an event like this, and see some old faces,” said Schneider.  And recall some old times, like when two elite goalies battled for the crease in Vancouver. “We laugh about it sometimes. It seems so long ago, but it was only two or three years ago,” said Schneider. Their goalie controversy lasted only two years, but it might as well have been 10. When Luongo struggled at times in the Canucks’ Stanley Cup Final classic against the Boston Bruins, there were calls for Schneider. The following season, Schneider’s success earned him a new contract and caused GM Mike Gillis to give pause to his original plan: Developing Schneider for a few seasons and then trading him. Instead, it was Luongo they looked to ship out. And then the lockout happened, and Luongo’s contract became a hell of a lot harder to move. That led to a dramatic 2013 press conference in which he declared his long-term contract “sucks.” A few months later, it was Schneider traded instead. The controversy was nothing of their making. All Luongo and Schneider did was play really, really well; and in Luongo’s case, sign a contract he had earned. Now, two years after Luongo was moved and three years after Schneider was, both goalies are thriving while the Canucks are in a transitional phase. “Things happen for a reason. He’s doing great, and succeeding in Florida,” said Schneider, adding that he anticipated Luongo's success. “You knew he was going to be a unique goalie for a long time. The way he plays, his mindset. He wasn’t going to fall off the map,” said the Devils goalie. “Maybe he’s stealing some of Jagr’s magic liquid there. Keeping him young.” It’s easy to feel like a rookie when 43-year-old legend Jaromir Jagr’s in your locker room. “It's like I’m still wearing diapers when I’m next to him,” said Luongo. *** If Luongo’s play is a surprise, it’s eclipsed by the surprising play of his Florida Panthers, who currently lead the Atlantic Division. And Luongo admits that they may have caught some teams off-guard this season. “It’s tough, when a team hasn’t had that level of success in recent years, to take them seriously,” he said. “We’re not satisfied with what we’ve done so far. Because we really haven’t done anything.” Satisfaction was something many felt Luongo had after the Canucks finally traded him to the Panthers, which was his desired destination. Old goalie goes “home,” fades into oblivion with a team that’s been to the playoffs once since 2001. That assumption made Luongo livid. "That’s one of the things that really upset me when this whole thing went down. People thought I was just coming back to retire. That’s not me. I’m as competitive as they get. I want to win badly, “ he said. “Anybody that knows me knows that’s not my nature. I want to win. I want to have another crack at it.” Especially when the last crack ended in a Game 7 loss on home ice in Vancouver. “He got that taste five years ago. That’s something that’s always driven him,” said Schneider. They’re both driven. They’re both successful. And if the fates allow it, there’s a chance they could even meet in the Eastern Conference playoffs. While there’s a mentor vs. student aspect to this rivalry, it would be undoubtedly friend vs. friend. “I learned a lot [in Vancouver]. Not only about playing goal, but about myself, and the mental aspect of the game. Cory was a huge part of that, and I’m glad he’s having the success he’s having,” said Luongo. The Panthers goalie smiled. “Which I called, by the way.” -- Greg Wyshynski  is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at  puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com  or  find him on Twitter.  His book,  TAKE YOUR EYE OFF THE PUCK , is  available on Amazon  and wherever books are sold.

Canucks place disappointing Brandon Prust on waivers (Puck Daddy)
(Tue, 02 Feb 2016 09:59:03 PST)
It’s official: the Brandon Prust-Zack Kassian trade was a stinker for both sides. First, Kassian was dealt by the Montreal Canadiens in December to the Edmonton Oilers. On Tuesday, as the NHL returns following the All-Star Break, the Vancouver Canucks placed the 31-year old Prust on waivers. In 35 games, he has one goal, seven points and 59 penalty minutes. According to General Fanager , if Prust clears and is assigned to Utica of the AHL that will mean the Canucks will have a $1.55 million buried cap hit. It also means he’ll join Chris Higgins, who was waived last month .  General manager Jim Benning likely couldn't find a trade partner for Prust, but the lineup will be boosted when Henrik Sedin and Dan Hamhuis return soon.  “This decision was based on the need to provide more opportunity for our younger players,” Benning said in a statement . “We appreciate Brandon's contributions.”  Currently in the final year of his deal, Prust has had a very difficult 2015-16 season in Vancouver. He missed 11 games earlier in the season with an ankle injury and believes he returned to the Canucks’ lineup too early. He’ll likely be a healthy scratch for his third straight game Tuesday night. - - - - - - - Sean Leahy is the associate editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Sean_Leahy MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY:

Holtby Leads the Way (Rotoworld)
(Tue, 02 Feb 2016 09:06:00 PST)
Joey Alfieri looks at the goalies to take and avoid over the next seven days.

Blackhawks reign again, but West challengers are chasing (The Associated Press)
(Mon, 01 Feb 2016 14:51:02 PST)
The Western Conference leaders and defending Stanley Cup champions still face a host of challenges to their reign when the West playoff race resumes Tuesday. Chicago headed into the break with a conference-high 70 points even after a slew of offseason departures from the Hawks' third championship team in six years. With a recent 12-game winning streak and seven victories in 10 games heading into the All-Star weekend, they surged atop the Central Division past the slumping Dallas Stars, who lost seven of their last 10 after a fantastic start to the season.

Power Play Busts (Rotoworld)
(Mon, 01 Feb 2016 06:56:00 PST)
Michael Finewax looks at players who have yet to pick up a point this season on the power play.

What We Learned: Who is the NHL’s king of 3-on-3 OT? (Puck Daddy)
(Mon, 01 Feb 2016 06:53:03 PST)
(Hello, this is a feature that will run through the entire season and aims to recap the weekend’s events and boils those events down to one admittedly superficial fact or stupid opinion about each team. Feel free to complain about it.) The Calgary Flames have only been to overtime once since Dec. 17, and they ended up losing that game in a shootout. Prior to that, though, there was no team in the NHL that should have been more feared in the extra period of 3-on-3, because their success rate was mind-boggling. They've won eight of their 12 overtimes, lost once, and gone 1-2 in the three that lasted into the shootout. Any time you outscore your opponents 8-1 in any situation, even if it's only in a combined total of 32:48, you're in a good place. And moreover, when that scoring differential wins you eight more points in the standings, it's a major advantage. Now, you can obviously say that this is little more than a confluence of good circumstances. The Flames lead the league in overtime shooting percentage at 32 percent, and also have the fourth-highest save percentage at .952. That's PDO to the max, and especially where it concerns goaltending; Kari Ramo and Jonas Hiller just aren't that good. But as to the shooting percentage, well, there's plenty of reason to believe that can be kept up for quite a while to come, and it's all thanks to one man: Johnny Gaudreau. Again, Calgary has eight overtime wins, and he has a point on seven of them, with three goals and four assists. That's the largest OT point total for any single player in the league, ahead of Brent Seabrook (0-5-5), and five guys who have four points: Patrick Kane, Anze Kopitar, Andrej Sekera, Jordan Staal and Jake Voracek. Of that group, only he and Kopitar have yet to be on the ice for an OT goal against. That alone is a major difference-maker, but what really separates Gaudreau from literally every other player in the NHL is that this is a game state which seems to be designed to specifically benefit him. In all, 233 skaters have played more than five minutes of 3-on-3 time this season, and this is where Gaudreau ranks among all of them in terms of individual events — i.e. all shots taken by that player, rather than while that player is on the ice — per 20 minutes (instead of the normal 60, because the current league leader in 3-on-3 ice time only has 31:14, so most guys probably won't sniff 60):

James Neal embraces Nashville's country attitude during All-Star weekend (Puck Daddy)
(Sun, 31 Jan 2016 18:53:14 PST)
NASHVILLE – At the NHL All-Star Game, James Neal sat at a press conference podium in Bridgestone Arena after the Central Division lost 9-6 to the Pacific Division as somewhat of an outsider. Next to him were three homegrown Nashville Predators players, taking part in the first local NHL All-Star Game in Nashville history. The Predators traded for Neal in the summer of 2014, so he hasn’t seen the rise of the organization from nearly being sold and moved to holding the league’s signature mid-season event. But he embraced everything about the weekend. From the breakaway challenge when he brought out country star Dierks Bentley , to the game itself where he scored two goals. In some ways Neal had the best weekend amongst the Predators, and he was thankful for the opportunity in his third All-Star game.  “It was very special. The whole weekend, being here, the events surrounding this weekend, and all of the hard work everyone put in to it, to be part of it and see how it turned out was awesome,” Neal said. “Like you said, everything on the rink was awesome. It’s been a great weekend for hockey in Nashville, and I think everyone can see that.” Neal scored just 26 seconds into the Central Division’s loss on a wrist shot past Los Angeles Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick. Central Division coach Lindy Ruff started Neal, Shea Weber, Roman Josi and goaltender Pekka Rinne to give the Nashville fans in the announced crowd of 17,139 something to cheer about, and Neal got them roaring quickly. Neal added an assist. Josi scored a goal and Weber notched two assists. Rinne stopped five of eight Pacific Division shots on goal. Neal was planning a vacation in picturesque Banff, Alberta but had to cancel the trip when Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews pulled out due to illness. Neal said he found out after Nashville's Jan. 26 game against the Vancouver Canucks. The decision meant the game lost Toews’ star power, but it was good for Neal, and helped him further cement himself in Nashville with the Predators’ fans.  The team is known for developing players their supporters latch onto at a young age and watch grow. The 28-year-old Neal, who once scored 40 goals, was a different type of player for the team. He was considered a goal scorer with a physical, bordering dirty , edge. Last season Neal scored 23 goals in 67 games played. He leads the Predators with 18 goals and 12 assists this season. “Right from day one in being traded to Nashville, I’ve been getting texts from all these guys and them welcoming me into the Predators family has been awesome right from day one,” Neal said. “They are all great guys, I couldn’t be happier to be named to the All Star Game, especially here in Nashville. I found out after the Vancouver game and I was really excited to have my family come down and be a part of it. It’s been an unbelievable weekend and it was a ton of fun.” MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY - - - - - - - Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @joshuacooper    

NHL All-Star Rosters (The Associated Press)
(Sat, 30 Jan 2016 13:20:30 PST)
Forwards - Patrice Bergeron, Boston; c-Jaromir Jagr, Florida; Leo Komarov, Toronto; Dylan Larkin, Detroit; Ryan O'Reilly, Buffalo; Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay.

Masochistic goalies ready for cruelty of NHL All-Star Game (Puck Daddy)
(Sat, 30 Jan 2016 09:37:10 PST)
NASHVILLE – In the rest of the NHL season, they’re the most valuable players on the ice. The difference between victory and defeat. Able to will mediocre teams into contention by their sheer talent and dominance. But at the NHL All-Star Game, goaltenders are props. They're co-stars. Hell, maybe even extras. They’re pylons in a relay race. They’re human cutouts placed in front of a goal, window dressing for offensive stars to give the people what they paid to see. “I think, as a fan, I’d rather watch the guys try to score than the goalies,” said Washington Capitals goalie Braden Holtby, playing in his first All-Star Game. “We just try to survive.” Survival is a common word used by All-Star Game goalies, and for good reason. Since 2008, there has been an average of 21.67 goals per All-Star Game. During the 1970s -- when many crusty veteran writers cherished watching All-Star Games of relevance --  the average total goals were 8.00. In last season’s game in Columbus, Corey Crawford of the Chicago Blackhawks led all goaltenders with a .778 save percentage. Marc-Andre Fleury of the Pittsburgh Penguins had a .562 save percentage, giving up seven goals on 16 shots. “It was tough,” said Fleury. That’s not even mentioning the NHL Skills Competition, in which goaltenders are the sports equivalent of political spouses: Be quiet, wave to the crowd and do everything you can to make the main attraction look good. “I enjoy the skills competition a lot. But I like watching it at home rather than playing in it,” joked Roberto Luongo of the Florida Panthers. So what’s in it for the goalies? Can the NHL do something to make it better for them? Like, perhaps, adding some goalie skills competitions? “That sounds embarrassing,” said Holtby. The goalies do take part in one event: The NHL Skills Challenge Relay, that multi-part “race” that involves puck-handling, passing and shooting pucks into little nets. The goalies have to shoot the puck from one end, over a small barrier and into the opposite net. (And they don’t even win a car or anything like some fans do in between-periods contests.) But should they do more? If they can fire a puck down-ice, what about putting goalies in the shot accuracy competition? “I wouldn’t mind standing out there and hitting those plates. I don’t know if I’ll hit many of them. You guys see how I handle the puck,” said Cory Schneider of the New Jersey Devils. “Maybe fastest skater?” They tried that, actually “They did?” asked Schneider. Yes, they did. A few times, in fact. Like in 2012, when Jonathan Quick joked that the only reason he was in the event was because of his last name:  Goalie races are really fun. Except for the goalies. “Stopping a puck? I’m in. Skating? Not so much,” said Luongo. Schneider and Luongo said they actually competed against each other in a Vancouver Canucks skills competition, in which they grabbed players’ sticks and battled in a hardest-shot contest.  “I don’t think I’d do the hardest shot,” said Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Ben Bishop, “but I could maybe do a couple of breakaways.” Goalies in the shootout challenge, shooting on skaters? That would be interesting. When it comes to the All-Star Game itself, Bishop said this year’s 3-on-3 mini-tournament format might actually put the spotlight on the netminders for once. “The players are going to have a couple of goals here or there, but I think you’re going to see some big saves in a 3-on-3 format. It’ll let the goalies showcase a little bit more than in the 5-on-5, where it seemed like there were a lot more backdoor plays and stuff. Not as many big saves,” he said. “Hopefully one of [the pucks] will hit us now and again.” It’s a salient point: The goalies will have much more lateral movement and many more acrobatic save opportunities in facing a constant stream of odd-man rushes. Which for a guy like Bishop means a chance to hit the highlight reel, and for other goalies means a creeping sense of dread over facing a constant stream of odd-man rushes. “I haven’t thought too much about the game. It’s the last thing I’m thinking about, to be honest with you,” said Schneider. “Maybe you’ll see some two-pad stacks. Maybe some poke checks. But maybe the guys won’t appreciate the poke checks. I’ll leave those out.” Whatever it takes to survive the cruelty of the All-Star Game for goalies. “Thank god it’s only 10, possibly 20 minutes,” said Holtby. “I haven’t told my teammates yet, but I don’t have a very good record in All-Star Games.” -- Greg Wyshynski  is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at  puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com  or  find him on Twitter.  His book,  TAKE YOUR EYE OFF THE PUCK , is  available on Amazon  and wherever books are sold.

The Seven: The 2016 NHL All-Star Game with an all-Canadian twist (Yahoo Sports)
(Fri, 29 Jan 2016 17:51:44 PST)
The Seven: A weekly look at the NHL's seven Canadian-based teams -- the Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers, Montreal Canadiens, Ottawa Senators, Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks & Winnipeg Jets.

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