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Features

Sabres' Girgensons looks forward to All-Star weekend

Friday, 01.23.2015 / 3:00 AM / 2015 NHL All-Star Weekend

Shawn Roarke - Director, Editorial

Buffalo Sabres forward Zemgus Girgensons is a pretty low-key guy.

He just likes to chill out when he is away from the rink. At the rink, he hates to talk about himself and will usually try to deflect the conversation toward teammates or another topic.

So it isn't difficult to see that the 21-year-old Latvian is not entirely comfortable with the spotlight provided by his countryman during the voting for the 2015 Dodge NHL All-Star Game. Hockey-mad Latvians outdueled Chicago Blackhawks fans in stuffing the ballot box, resulting in Girgensons receiving the most votes out of any player.

In the voting, the fans chose the first six All-Stars. The second-year center received 1,574,896 votes, more than 300,000 ahead of the runner-up, Chicago forward Patrick Kane.

Girgensons is immensely popular back home, not only for his exploits with the Sabres but for his contributions to the Latvian national team in the World Championships and the 2014 Sochi Olympics. How popular? A Latvian rap group made a song and video about him and his hockey-playing success.

This season, Girgensons has been a beacon of hope for the struggling Sabres. He leads them in goals (13), even-strength goals (11) and shorthanded goals (two). He's also tops among Buffalo's forwards in average time on ice (19:03).

NHL.com caught up to Girgensons during Buffalo's recent stop to play the New Jersey Devils and discussed the viral video campaign, Girgensons' love of his country and international hockey, and what he likes to do when he is away from the rink.

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Stamkos, Ovechkin headline ASG mock draft

Thursday, 01.22.2015 / 7:36 PM / 2015 NHL All-Star Weekend

Dan Rosen and Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writers

The stars of the 2015 NHL All-Star Weekend in Columbus will conduct a fantasy draft Friday to create teams for a real game to be played Sunday. We here at NHL.com decided to get into the spirit by conducting our own All-Star fantasy draft.

Dan Rosen played the role of Jonathan Toews; Corey Masisak played the role of Nick Foligno. We followed the same rules that All-Star captains Toews and Foligno must follow Friday during the 2015 NHL All-Star Fantasy Draft presented by DraftKings (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports).

Rosen won a coin flip to pick first for Team Toews. All goaltenders had to be selected by the 10th round. All defensemen had to be gone by the end of the 15th round. Each team had to have 12 forwards, six defensemen and three goaltenders.

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Injured Crosby, Malkin out of All-Star Game

Thursday, 01.22.2015 / 7:25 PM / 2015 NHL All-Star Weekend

NHL.com

Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby will miss the 2015 Honda NHL All-Star Game, general manager Jim Rutherford said Thursday.

Crosby has been playing with an unspecified lower-body injury and will need about a week to heal, a statement on the Penguins website said.

On Friday, the Penguins announced that Crosby took an injection to treat the injury, which was sustained against the Montreal Canadiens on Jan. 10.

Penguins teammate Evgeni Malkin, also dealing with a lower-body injury, was ruled out of the All-Star Game earlier Thursday. Rutherford said Malkin reaggravated a lingering injury during a 3-2 overtime loss to the Philadelphia Flyers. Malkin missed parts of the second and third periods but was available for overtime. He did not play Wednesday in a 3-2 shootout loss to the Chicago Blackhawks.

"With [Malkin], he won't be ready to play right after the break," Rutherford told the Tribune-Review on Thursday. "It's probably an injury that will take a little time to heal."

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Format set for 2015 NHL All-Star Fantasy Draft

Thursday, 01.22.2015 / 3:32 PM / 2015 NHL All-Star Weekend

NHL.com

NEW YORK – The National Hockey League announced today the format for the 2015 NHL All-Star Fantasy Draft™ presented by DraftKings, which will be held on Friday, Jan. 23, at the Greater Columbus Convention Center in Columbus, Ohio (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports).

Forty-eight of the best hockey players in the world – 42 NHL All-Stars and six Rookies – will be available for selection in the 2015 NHL All-Star Fantasy Draft™ presented by DraftKings. Picking the squads will be Team Foligno Captain Nick Foligno (CBJ), along with Assistant Captains Drew Doughty (LAK) and Patrick Kane (CHI), and Team Toews Captain Jonathan Toews (CHI), along with Assistant Captains Ryan Getzlaf (ANA) and Rick Nash (NYR).

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Fantasy top 30 goalies: Hutchinson evolves into gem

Thursday, 01.22.2015 / 12:25 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Evan Sporer - NHL.com Staff Writer

Every Thursday during the season, NHL.com's Evan Sporer will provide you with in-depth analysis of goaltenders. From updated weekly top 30 rankings to trending players and more, Sporer will be your go-to guy for advice on fantasy goalies all season long.

Three games played.

Entering this season, that encompassed Michael Hutchinson's NHL resume. The 24-year-old, former third-round pick of the Boston Bruins was entering his fifth year as a professional hockey player. The bulk of that time was spent in the Bruins organization, until Hutchinson signed as a free agent with the Winnipeg Jets following the 2012-13 season.

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Unmasked: Goalies embrace All-Star Game challenges

Thursday, 01.22.2015 / 10:32 AM / Unmasked

Kevin Woodley - NHL.com Correspondent

For goaltenders, the 2015 Honda NHL All-Star Game on Sunday (5 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports) is a chance to revisit their youth, a flashback to flashy glove saves made playing hockey on the street or in the basement.

For Jaroslav Halak of the New York Islanders, a first-time All-Star, part of his childhood was spent imitating a handful of past All-Stars in his native Slovakia.

"Like any kid you start playing street hockey, you have different idols growing up," Halak told NHL.com. "Growing up I used to be Curtis Joseph, Patrick Roy, Mike Richter, a lot of different goalies."

Roy played in 11 All-Star Games and finished with a 7.44 goals-against average. Richter played in three and had an 8.00 GAA. In two All-Star Games, Joseph had a 10.50 GAA.

Halak understands the numbers don't matter in a game defined by its lack of defensive structure. But for all the highlight-reel scoring, it also presents a chance to make some of those incredible saves he grew up trying to replicate.

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Ducks' Getzlaf going to All-Star Game alone this time

Thursday, 01.22.2015 / 3:00 AM / 2015 NHL All-Star Weekend

Curtis Zupke - NHL.com Correspondent

ANAHEIM -- When Anaheim Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf played in the 2009 All-Star Game, he got to start with teammates Jean-Sebastien Giguere and Scott Niedermayer at the Bell Centre in Montreal.

It was a sentimental moment for Giguere, a Montreal-area native, and the last All-Star Game for Niedermayer, who retired the next season.

With Giguere and Niedermayer retired, the Ducks have been Getzlaf's team since he succeeded Niedermayer as captain in 2010.

After an initial struggle with the leadership role, Getzlaf has owned it the past two seasons and will play in the 2015 Honda NHL All-Star Game on Sunday at Nationwide Arena in Columbus (5 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports), his third All-Star Game. He will also be an assistant captain for the 2015 NHL All-Star Fantasy Draft presented by DraftKings on Friday (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports).

Getzlaf, tied for third in the NHL in assists (35) and seventh in points (50), is making another case for the Hart Trophy after his runner-up finish last season. He picked up the slack with 19 points in 14 games when linemate Corey Perry was out with a knee injury and mumps.

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Blackhawks edge Penguins in All-Star appetizer

Thursday, 01.22.2015 / 12:38 AM / 2015 NHL All-Star Weekend

Shawn Roarke - Director, Editorial

PITTSBURGH – All of the ingredients were there for the perfect All-Star Game appetizer on Wednesday.

The Chicago Blackhawks, sporting five All-Stars and in a bit of a desperation mode to keep pace with the surprising Nashville Predators in the Central Division, arrived at Consol Energy Center to face the Pittsburgh Penguins. The hosts, who had three players named to the Honda 2015 NHL All-Star Game, were coming off an emotional, physically demanding 3-2 road loss to the rival Philadelphia Flyers and were feeling a bit of desperation themselves as they try to stay within striking distance of the surprising New York Islanders in the Atlantic Division.

It was also the final game for each team before the break, so there was no reason to leave anything in the tank. And, oh yeah, it was a nationally televised game, the crown jewel in a Wednesday Night Rivalry doubleheader on NBCSN.

"I don't know if [the schedule] was done on purpose by the League, but it is one of those things where there could have been more potential All-Stars out there too," said Chicago forward Patrick Kane, one of the All-Stars.

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McDavid: I'm not in a class by myself

Wednesday, 01.21.2015 / 7:00 PM / Prospects

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

ST. CATHARINES, Ontario -- Erie Otters center Connor McDavid admitted there was a bit of a letdown for him after helping Canada celebrate its first gold medal in six years at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship at Air Canada Centre in Toronto earlier this month.

"It's pretty common to have a little bit of a letdown after world juniors; your game is so ramped up and everything is riding on every single play," McDavid said. "Then you come back to the Ontario Hockey League, where it's still great hockey but not the world juniors, so it's common to have a letdown."

McDavid, who was an alternate captain for Canada, had three goals, 11 points and a plus-8 rating in seven games for his country and was named to NHL.com's World Junior Championship All-Tournament Team.

"I think I had a little bit of [a letdown] that first week back to Erie but I'm feeling really good now," he said.

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Where to be in Columbus for All-Star weekend

Wednesday, 01.21.2015 / 2:04 PM / 2015 NHL All-Star Weekend

ColumbusBlueJackets.com

Why is Columbus a great host for NHL All-Star Weekend?

That's a question that cannot be answered in one, two or three sentences, but there is one thing that stands out: proximity. Leave your car in the parking garage, bring your family, and get ready to spend the day downtown Columbus and celebrate the greatest sport in the world.

Such was the vision of late Blue Jackets founder John H. McConnell when he bought the franchise and made the Blue Jackets his gift to the city. He partnered with Nationwide Insurance, who had the goal of revitalizing the downtown, and Nationwide Arena was built – giving way to the Arena District and catalyzing growth in a new area of the city. Fifteen years later, the city of Columbus has yet another feather under its cap with a well-connected and easily accessible corner of downtown to host hockey's biggest party.

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Quote of the Day

If you want to prove people wrong, you've just got to go out and do it. Yeah, we blew 3-2 series leads the last two years, but no one is going remember that if we go out there on Saturday night and beat these guys and go play in the Stanley Cup Final. We need to get back to work and we'll start to do that tomorrow.

— Ducks forward Kyle Palmieri following a loss to the Blackhawks in Game 6 on Wednesday