No Ovechkin? No problem. In the absence of one of the NHL's most prolific goal scorers--and showmen--in Alex Ovechkin, Chicago's Patrick Kane stepped up to the stage as the perfect fill-in.
During the AllState Insurance NHL Breakaway Challenge, Kane was super.
Take a look for yourself:
Kane told NHL.com's Dave Lozo his Superman act was inspired by the NBA's Dwight Howard, who performed a similar act during 2008's NBA Slam Dunk Contest.
He wasn't finished after the sliding shot, however. Kane had to flex his super muscles before the night was over, right?
Kane gave an encore performance, "shattering" a puck as he used his super-strength. Unfortunately for Clark Kent Patrick Kane, accuracy wasn't one of his super-attributes, as all four of the previously glued pieces of the puck went everywhere--besides the net.
UPDATED 2:47 P.M.: The Pittsburgh Penguins released a statement late last night, that although Crosby did indeed suffer a neck injury along with his concussions, it's believed to be fully healed. The Penguins are remaining hopeful that Crosby will be able to make a return in time for the postseason, should they make the playoffs.
Crosby, limited to only eight games this year, after missing nearly 10 months of action due to his concussion last January, would obviously be an immediate impact for the Penguins come playoffs.
In those eight games this year, Crosby was his normal spectacular self, netting two goals and adding 10 assists. He recorded four of those points on his first game back, after his lengthy layoff.
Multiple sources are reporting that Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby may have suffered two fractured vertebrae. Crosby, who has been out of action for the majority of the season, and missed more than 10 months with concussion-related symptoms, has no timetable on a return should the reports be positive. The Penguins are hoping he'll be available by the postseason, should they make the playoffs. Follow THS for updates as the story progresses.
Traditionally, the All-Star Game isn't the friendliest of events for our strange masked men between the pipes. For a goaltender, being voted into the All-Star Game is a lot like being named the ace of the New York Mets' pitching staff: Yeah it's an honor, but you know you're just going to get scored on in ridiculous fashion. The only difference is, at least in the All-Star Game you'll have some offensive support.
However, the six men named to the 2012 All-Star Game, which takes place in Ottawa's Scotiabank Place this Sunday at 3 p.m., got their nods to be included on the roster for a reason: They're pretty good at stopping that black rubber thing from going in the cage.
Since the All-Star break resembles the half-way mark of the season for most NHL clubs, we decided it's a good time to take a closer look at the six goaltenders named to All-Star Game, to try n decipher which one we would want back-stopping our team through the postseason.
Bovada.lv, formerly Bodog.com, has some interesting lines for tonight's NHL All-Star Fantasy Draft.
(Insert company line about how gambling is bad, illegal, will make you grow hair on your palms and that we don't condone it here. No seriously, we've all seen Rounders. We don't have to remind you how dangerous a game gambling can be, right Ed Norton? See kids, it's bad, m'kay.)
There you can bet on who's going to be picked first, who will be the last man standing, and some rather interesting wagers, such as "Will Zdeno Chara Pick a Vancouver Canuck for his team?"
For argument's sake, (and definitely not for our own profit's purposes, we swear) we've explored some of the most intriguing lines regarding tonight's draft. The THS sportsbook closes at 7:59 p.m. sharp, so place your own fake (emphasis on fake) bets in the comments below:
First player to be picked, Jason Spezza (8/1): Hmmm. This one is tantalizing, isn't it? Now, keep in mind, the first pick will be determined by a coin flip between Chara and Daniel Alfredsson. If Alfredsson wins, he'll almost certainly go with one of his Ottawa mates, much like Eric Staal did last year when he made Cam Ward the first pick.
So that leaves Spezza, who's been Alfredsson's linemate since 2003, as an awfully interesting pick. Bovada.lv has fellow Senator Erik Karlsson as the odds-on favorite to be taken first at 5/6, but will Alfie really pass on Spezza with all those forwards sitting there?
The caveat here though, is perhaps the influence of Alfredsson's alternate captain, Rangers goaltender and fellow Swede Henrik Lundqvist. Will he allow Alfredsson to pass on their only other countryman in the draft pool? After all, it's no secret goaltenders favor taking defensemen.
First player to be picked, Tim Thomas (3/1): Ah, yes. Everyone's favorite new political netminder is coming in pretty hot at 3/1. This, of course, assuming Chara wins the coin toss, is a no-brainer, isn't it? Or does Chara flip the script and make a statement of his own by passing over the much-maligned Bruins goalie? We're rooting for this scenario, just so everyone at The Boston Globe goes into cardiac arrest.
Chara's alternate captain, Toronto's Joffrey Lupul, might be clamoring for linemate Phil Kessel, who was famously taken last a year ago. Lupul's presence at All-Star Weekend at all is arguably as dependent on Phil Kessel's outstanding first half as Claude Giroux's was for Scott Hartnell's admission into this year's festivities. So perhaps they go that route?
Last player to be picked, Scott Hartnell (6/1): In all seriousness, Hartnell should be considered part of the deal when either team selects Claude Giroux. It's like picking the quarterback of the football team in high school gym class for a game of two-hand touch, but getting stuck with his little whiny cousin Scotty too. All you can do is line him up as a wide receiver and hope to God the ball doesn't go his way.
Hartnell is having a great season, and how much of that is on Giroux's coat tails is up for debate another time (though it's clear how much this writer thinks about him). He was recently added as a replacement for the injured Jonathan Toews after a nauseating amount of lobbying by Philadelphia media, fans and teammates.
Before the remainder of the All-Star rosters were announced earlier this month, Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said it would be criminal if Hartnell was left off. Well, the Philadelphia winger backed his way in to this weekend's events, but will his inclusion ultimately be marked as a joke if he's the last name called tonight? Other contenders: Buffalo's Jason Pominville (13/2), Jamie Benn (13/2), Patrick Kane (15/1).
Of course, there are perks to being the last player picked. Aside from a weekend's worth of jokes from his peers, the NHL Foundation and the NHLPA Goals & Dreams fund each will donate $10,000 on behalf of the All-Star selected with the final pick of the Draft to the grassroots hockey program of his choice, according to NHL.com.
If Hartnell is indeed chosen last, he could make his owner a very happy man by choosing the Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation. That makes us wonder, do you think Snider is actually rooting for him to be the last pick?
Will Zdeno Chara pick a Vancouver Canuck? (YES -200, NO +150): The bad blood between the Bruins and Canucks from last June was not forgotten when the teams renewed acquaintances earlier this month. Boston enforcer Shawn Thornton, perhaps the biggest headline-maker after the final whistle, was adamant in his assertion that his captain should not make nice-nice by selecting any Canucks for his team at the All-Star draft.
He also, if given the chance, would make sure Phil Kessel was picked last again. So uh, why isn't Thornton a captain again? It would make for some great theatre, if nothing else.
The Canucks are sending four representatives to Ottawa, including the Sedin twins, Alex Edler and rookie Cody Hodgson. Chara will certainly be given multiple chances, perhaps right after the first Sedin is selected, to take one of them. But will he defy his fans and teammates in the name of fun or bring the rivalry to an exhibition game?
Will Henrik and Daniel Sedin play on the same team? (YES EVEN, NO -140): Well, they didn't last year. TSN's James Duthie was damn-near giddy when he was interviewing them after Eric Staal and Nicklas Lidstrom split them up in the inaugural All-Star Draft a year ago.
If they are indeed split up again, that means that Chara was coerced into taking a Canucks player. Lots of fun sub-plots surrounding this prop bet.
Be sure to post all your fake (again, FAKE) wagers in the comments below and tune in for the second annual NHL All-Star Fantasy Draft tonight at 8 p.m. EST on NBC Sports Network, or what we assume will be every cable channel available in Canada.
Over the last couple of days, no athlete has taken more internet heat than Tim Thomas, goaltender for the Boston Bruins, after he opted to skip the Stanley Cup champions' visit to the White House to meet President Obama. Thomas skipped the event, citing his discontent with the operation of the American government.
He offered this explanation on his official Facebook fan page:
"I believe the Federal government has grown out of control, threatening the Rights, Liberties, and Property of the People. This is being done at the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial level. This is in direct opposition to the Constitution and the Founding Fathers vision for the Federal government. Because I believe this, today I exercised my right as a Free Citizen, and did not visit the White House. This was not about politics or party, as in my opinion both parties are responsible for the situation we are in as a country. This was about a choice I had to make as an INDIVIDUAL. This is the only public statement I will be making on this topic."
So why on Earth is he being ripped apart in ever internet forum that one can find?
UPDATE: 12:25 p.m.: The NHL is confirming a report from a Swedish website (good luck translating) that Adam Larsson has been ruled out of All-Star Weekend due to a wrist injury. He will be replaced by Canadiens defenseman Raphael Diaz.
Also, still no word on who Hagelin is replacing, but Adam Henrique has also pulled out of the weekend's events to nurse a sore groin according to Tom Gulitti of The Bergen Record. It's almost a given that Henrique's absence opened the door for Hagelin.
These two omissions leave the Devils without a representative in person at this year's All-Star Game.
According to TSN's Bob McKenzie on Twitter, James Neal is expected to replace Alex Ovechkin for this weekend's NHL All-Star Game festivities in Ottawa. Like we discussed yesterday, Neal is a very deserving candidate, carrying the Penguins through a bevy of early season injuries. It is his first All-Star selection.
However, Neal's addition to the All-Star roster wasn't the only news regarding this weekend's events at Scotiabank Place. A pair of former NCAA stars will be taking part in the festivites as well.
Just as the few representatives from the Rangers and Wild were shipping up to Ottawa for this weekend's NHL All-Star Game festivities, each team got word that they'll be sending one more player each to be a part of the rookie squad.
Rangers rookie forward Carl Hagelin will be joining Marian Gaborik, Henrik Lundqvist and Dan Girardi, according to Josh Rimer, Sirius XM producer of NHL's Home Ice:
Congratulations to New York Ranger Forward Carl Hagelin who's been named as a replacement for the Rookies in the All-Star Game in Ottawa!
While the announcement is expected to be made formal later today, there is no word on who he'll be replacing yet.
Since being recalled from the AHL on November 25, Hagelin has taken Broadway by storm, quickly becoming head coach John Tortorella's favorite spark plug for a number of different line combinations. He's got eight goals, including two shorthanded, and eight assists in 29 games for New York this season.
“I put him on lines and he ignites those lines with his speed,” Tortorella told Chris Botta of The New York Times. “It’s dog on bone.”
Expect the speedy Swedish winger to compete in the Fastest Skater event at Friday's NHL Skills Competition. And don't be surprised if he wins, too.
This comes one day after 26-year old Wild rookie Nick Johnson replaced 2011 first-overall selection Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, who has been sidelined since January second with a left shoulder injury suffered in a win over the Chicago Blackhawks.
Nugent-Hopkins has lived up to every bit of his hype so far in his rookie campaign, tallying 35 points (13 G, 22 A) in 38 games, clicking wonderfully with 2010 first-overall pick Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle on a line that's got Edmonton fans dreaming about future success.
While this year's All-Star Game roster may turn some off without the likes of Nash, Ovechkin and Crosby, the influx of young talent, especially those that have found success at the NCAA level.
Hagelin was a living legend at the University of Michigan last year. As team captain and beloved fan favorite, Hagelin scored the game-tying and game-winning goals in a Senior Night victory over Western Michigan last February:
He helped carry the Wolverines to the National Championship game, where they ultimately fell to Minnesota-Duluth in overtime.
Nick Johnson, who had previously been a journeyman in the Pittsburgh Penguins system, has found a home in Minnesota. He's scored six goals and added 10 assists in 45 games this year. Prior to joining the Penguins AHL affilate in Scranton-Wilkes Barre in 2007, Johnson was a four-year letter winner at Dartmouth, averaging just under a point per game in his time with the Big Green.
Certainly College Hockey Inc. Executive Director Paul Kelly will approve of the NHL's newest additions to All-Star Weekend, as he continues to market NCAA hockey as a wiser alternative to Canadian junior hockey.
Hagelin and Johnson's trips to Ottawa help prove Kelly's point that the heightened level of play in the NCAA has translated to more success in the professional ranks, a sticking point for many young players trying to decide how to properly advance their hockey careers.
After missing the past 12 games with a concussion, Islanders goaltender Al Montoya almost made an incredible save in overtime against the Maple Leafs Tuesday night. Unfortunately for Montoya and the Islanders, he came up just short.
Check out how Tuesday night's tilt between Toronto and the Islanders ended, when Clarke MacArthur netted his second tally of the night, giving the Leafs the 4-3 victory, midway through overtime:
If Burke has anything to do with it, and if the Leafs continue on the path with which they've been improving as well, they'll figure to be a staple of the playoffs that year as well.
Reports had swirled around for some time, dating back to last summer, but never had we heard it from Burke himself, until now. Toronto will celebrate the 100th anniversary of their first game on December 19, 1917.
In 2009, the Montreal Canadiens celebrated their centennial and were awarded both the NHL All-Star Game and the Entry Draft. Now, with the admission of Toronto into next year's Winter Classic, the first Canadian team to play in the Winter Classic, the NHL may be considering moving the event up north in a few years.
Toronto joined the National Hockey League as one of the Original Six members in 1917 as the Toronto Arenas, before being renamed the St. Patricks in 1919.
After being shooed out of New York in favor of Lester Patrick, Conn Smythe (yes, that Conn Smythe) purchased the team in 1927. He then renamed the team again after a fighting unit in World War I, the Maple Leaf regiment.
The Leafs have won the Stanley Cup 13 times, the second most of any NHL team, behind only the Canadiens (23), but have failed to capture the coveted trophy since 1967.
UPDATED 6:37 P.M.: Ovechkin suspended three games for hit on Michalek.
Here's Brendan Shanahan's explanation of the suspension:
It's not too out of the ordinary for at least one player to check into the Shanaban Hotel following a slate of NHL games over the course of a weekend. However, having one player involved on both the receiving, and delivering end of a possible punishment by the NHL's Department of Player Safety is far more rare.
That will be the case for Pittsburgh's Zbynek Michalek, as both he and Washington's Alexander Ovechkin will have hearings with Brendan Shanahan on Monday, following their roles in questionable hits this weekend.
Both hits came during Pittsburgh's 4-3 victory in overtime on Sunday afternoon.
The first hit in question, came when Ovechkin launched himself at Michalek's head early in the second period. Ovechkin wasn't given a penalty on the play, but it's hard to imagine that he'll escape Shanahan's office without either some time in the press box, or, with his wallet slightly less heavier than when he walked in.
Michalek, on the other hand, was on the delivering end of a dangerous hit just five minutes later. While chasing the puck with Washington's Matt Hendricks behind his own net, Michalek slammed Hendricks into the boards, using his elbow/forearm to drive his head into the glass.
The Penguins defensemen was dished out only a two-minute minor on the play, but he too should be given some sort of extra discipline from Shanahan.
Unlike Ovechkin, who has been suspended on two other occasions, Michalek hasn't been disciplined by the league in his eight-year NHL career.
Shanahan was already in the giving mood heading into Sunday, as Boston's Andrew Ference was hit with a three-game ban for his hit on Rangers' Ryan McDonagh during Saturday afternoon's contest.
You be the judge: What do Ovechkin and Michalek deserve?
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