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Around the League notebook for Thursday, Jan. 15

Friday, 01.16.2015 / 9:00 AM / News

NHL Public Relations

PALAT PROPELS LIGHTNING TO TOP SPOT IN EAST

Down 2-1 after 40 minutes, Ondrej Palat scored the tying goal early in the third period and the game-winner with 8:01 remaining in regulation to lift the Lightning to their sixth consecutive home win, 3-2 against the Edmonton Oilers.

* The Lightning (28-14-4, 60 points) again passed the idle New York Islanders (29-13-1, 59 points) into first place in the Eastern Conference. New York has three games in hand, but Tampa Bay holds the ROW tiebreaker (TBL: 27, NYI: 23).

* Palat had his first multigoal game since April 8, 2014 vs. TOR and his third game-winner of the season (seventh of his career). He has 3-14—17 in his past 11 games, including six multipoint performances.

* Steven Stamkos stretched his goal streak to four games (5-0—5). His 26 goals this season are tied for the NHL lead with Tyler Seguin and Rick Nash.

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Flyers' Voracek excited for All-Star homecoming

Friday, 01.16.2015 / 3:00 AM / 2015 NHL All-Star Weekend

Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

Jakub Voracek started his career with the Columbus Blue Jackets, and now the Philadelphia Flyers forward will be going back to Columbus for the biggest moment of his professional career.

Voracek was picked for the 2015 Honda NHL All-Star Game, which will be played Jan. 25 at Nationwide Arena (5 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

He'll also take part in the 2015 NHL All-Star Fantasy Draft presented by DraftKings on Jan. 23 (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports), and the 2015 Honda NHL All-Star Skills Competition on Jan. 24 (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

"When I was a kid, every kid dreams [of the All-Star Game]," Voracek said. "I'm very excited about that. It's been a lot of people through my career, especially this season, that helped me to get there. My teammates, the organization. Couldn't do it without them."

Here's more from Voracek on returning to Columbus and some other things you might not know about the 25-year-old first-time All-Star:

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Trotz returns to Nashville, where he instilled culture

Friday, 01.16.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Adam Vingan - NHL.com Correspondent

ARLINGTON, Va. -- Hockey players, coaches and front-office staffs often speak of instilling cultures. David Poile and Barry Trotz literally built one from scratch.

The Nashville Predators were in their infancy in the late 1990s, and as the franchise's first general manager and coach, Poile and Trotz set out to entrench an identity in a nontraditional market.

"When you have someone that's working alongside you for so many years, you certainly have to be on the same page in terms of your overall strategies and game plans," Poile said. "Our thought process in a nutshell was to make Nashville a hockey city."

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Super 16: East gaining ground in balance of power

Friday, 01.16.2015 / 3:00 AM / Super 16: NHL Power Rankings

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

For several seasons, the NHL's balance of power has tilted to the left.

The Western Conference has won more games against their brethren in the Eastern Conference for years. The West has been home to six of the past eight Stanley Cup champions, and the two that lost had a Game 7 on home ice in the Final.

That has not changed at this point in the 2014-15 season, but the two conferences might be a little closer to equal than they were a season ago, at least at the top. The East is 112-94-22 against the West through games on Wednesday.

Basically, the Eastern teams are collecting points at an 89-point pace in games against the West. That's a slight uptick from last season, when the East teams were essentially an 86-point team against the West and Western teams were a 102-point team against the East.

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Ribeiro leads Predators' revival with own resurgence

Friday, 01.16.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Robby Stanley - NHL.com Correspondent

NASHVILLE -- When forward Mike Ribeiro signed a one-year contract with the Nashville Predators last summer, many thought the best days of his career were behind him.

His four-year contract with the Arizona Coyotes was bought out after one season because of behavioral issues, according to Coyotes general manager Don Maloney, and his point production had slipped in each of the past two seasons.

Through the first half of this season, Ribeiro has silenced his critics, finding success on and off the ice. He focused on getting his personal life back in order in the offseason, and that was a big reason he decided to sign with the Predators in the first place. The media scrutiny isn't high here, and it's a good place to raise a family.

"It's been great," Ribeiro said. "It's pretty quiet, but it's more about work than anything else. It's a good fit for me, and the boys in the room have been great with me. I'm just happy to be here."

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Predators' Rinne favorite to win Vezina Trophy

Friday, 01.16.2015 / 3:00 AM / Trophy Tracker

Brian Compton - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

Nashville Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne was NHL.com's choice to win the Vezina Trophy at the quarter pole. He had 14 wins in 18 decisions, a 1.97 goals-against average and .927 save percentage.

Rinne continues to be the top goalie in the League midway through the 2014-15 season, though he is expected to miss the next 3-5 weeks with a sprained knee sustained Tuesday in a win against the Vancouver Canucks.

The 32-year-old leads the NHL with 29 victories, five more than Anaheim Ducks goalie Frederik Andersen. Rinne is second in GAA (1.96) behind Brian Elliott of the St. Louis Blues, who has played 17 fewer games. Rinne is tied for second in save percentage (.931) with Michael Hutchinson (Winnipeg Jets) trailing Calvin Pickard (Colorado Avalanche). Pickard and Hutchinson have a combined 29 starts between them; Rinne has started 37 games.

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Rookie forward Pastrnak will stay with Bruins

Thursday, 01.15.2015 / 11:28 PM / News

Connor Mellas - NHL.com Correspondent

BOSTON -- Rookie forward David Pastrnak will remain with the Boston Bruins, general manager Peter Chiarelli said Thursday during a 3-0 win against the New York Rangers at TD Garden.

"He's going to be up here and we're happy to make that decision and we're going to continue to look at it as a development piece, which means that, as we've done before with some of the younger players, it doesn't mean you're in the lineup all the time," Chiarelli said in the first intermission.

"There may be points in time when his play dips a little bit and we may sit him down for a game or two here or there, but I think the important thing to take away from this is that he's going to be up with the big team, practice with the team, and hopefully play on a regular basis."

Deciding to keep the 18-year-old past nine NHL games uses the first year of his entry-level contract.

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Predators assign 2014 pick Fiala to Milwaukee

Thursday, 01.15.2015 / 6:18 PM / News

NashvillePredators.com

Nashville, Tenn. – Nashville Predators President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile announced Thursday that the club has assigned forward Kevin Fiala to the American Hockey League's Milwaukee Admirals. The St. Gallen, Switzerland native played the first half of the 2014-15 season with HV71 of the Swedish Hockey League.

"We would like to commend and thank former Nashville Predator and HV71 Head Coach Andreas Johansson for his mentorship of Kevin both on and off the ice over the past season and a half and wish them the best in their playoff push," Poile said. "However, we feel that Kevin's development into an NHL-ready player is best served by playing the duration of the 2014-15 season under the guidance of Milwaukee Head Coach Dean Evason and Assistant Coach Stan Drulia in the Predators system. By getting a head start on the acclimation process to the North American style of play and smaller rinks, we expect Kevin – like Filip Forsberg two seasons ago – will continue his growth as a dynamic offensive prospect."

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Predators goalie Rinne out 3-5 weeks with knee sprain

Thursday, 01.15.2015 / 2:18 PM / News

Robby Stanley - NHL.com Correspondent

NASHVILLE -- Nashville Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne will be out 3-5 weeks with a sprained knee he sustained in the game Tuesday against the Vancouver Canucks, the team announced Thursday.

Rinne will be re-evaluated after the All-Star break, which ends Jan. 26.

Rinne leads the NHL with 29 wins and was named to the 2015 Honda NHL All-Star Game after missing 51 games last season with a hip infection.

"It doesn't change anything as far as we go," Predators coach Peter Laviolette said. "I mean it's tough to lose players. We've been on a little streak here where we've lost some players with [Eric] Nystrom being out, [Ryan] Ellis being out, [Taylor] Beck and [Matt] Cullen were out for a little bit. Nothing really changes as far as the game plan goes."

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Blues hope Brodeur hasn't closed chapter in St. Louis

Thursday, 01.15.2015 / 1:46 PM / NHL Insider

Louie Korac - NHL.com Correspondent

ST. LOUIS -- While goalie Martin Brodeur takes a week to ponder his future, the St. Louis Blues hope the veteran comes back.

Brodeur, 42, was granted a leave of absence by the Blues on Wednesday and went back to his hometown of Saint-Leonard, Quebec to spend time with his family.

But the Blues, who host the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday, hope Brodeur, who has been relegated to being the No. 3 goalie, will remain with them moving forward.

"Yeah, selfishly, yeah," coach Ken Hitchcock said when asked about wanting Brodeur back.

"Kind of caught everybody off guard. We didn't know what was going on and still don't know what's going on. I've gotta tell you, him being here, man it was really helpful. It was helpful to every piece of this organization between trainers, coaches, players, management … he was a real helpful guy. He shared information that you just can't buy, you can't pay for. I'm hoping that whatever he decides with him and his family, that he comes back to us and we can help him a little bit maybe in something that he wants to do, but he can help us a bunch. Selfishly, we're hopeful that he does come back."

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Quote of the Day

I don't think it's really truly going to sink in until we drop the puck, to be honest. I know there's going to be a lot of smoke and mirrors with the media attention and all that. We came [Monday] and it was sort of a light day to get things organized. We just want to focus in on the business aspect, the game itself. That's what we're preparing to do. Get these next couple of days out of the way and it's game on.

— Lightning captain Steven Stamkos on playing in his first Stanley Cup Final