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Fantasy top 60 'D': Klingberg starring for Dallas

Wednesday, 01.21.2015 / 1:04 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Brian Metzer - NHL.com Correspondent

Every Wednesday during the season, NHL.com fantasy hockey correspondent Brian Metzer will provide you with in-depth defensemen analysis. From updated weekly top 60 rankings to trending players and more, Metzer will be your go-to guy for fantasy blue line advice all season long.

John Klingberg wasn't an unknown commodity before the season, but no one could have predicted the way the fifth-round pick from the 2010 NHL Draft would kick off his career with the Dallas Stars.

The 22-year-old started the season with the Texas Stars of the American Hockey League and had four goals and eight points in 10 games. Couple that production with the fact he is a right-handed shot and general manager Jim Nill couldn't help but bring the defenseman to the NHL in early November.

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NHL to host inaugural 'NHL Mascot Showdown'

Wednesday, 01.21.2015 / 11:00 AM / 2015 NHL All-Star Weekend

NHL.com

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The National Hockey League will host the inaugural NHL Mascot Showdown™ during the 2015 NHL All-Star Weekend in Columbus, with 13 Eastern Conference Mascots, under the helm of Columbus Blue Jacket's own Stinger™, facing off against 13 Western Conference Mascots in two days of friendly but fierce competition at both the 2015 NHL Fan Fair™ at the Greater Columbus Convention Center and just before the 2015 Honda NHL All-Star Skills Competition at Nationwide Arena.

The newest part of the NHL's midseason celebration, the NHL Mascot Showdown™, marks the first time that all 26 NHL Mascots™ (not every NHL has its own mascot) will compete during NHL All-Star Weekend to show off their hockey skills and athletic "prowess," offering family-friendly fun for fans of all ages.

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Inside the matchup: Blackhawks vs. Penguins

Wednesday, 01.21.2015 / 9:40 AM / Tale of the Tape

NHL.com

The Chicago Blackhawks and Pittsburgh Penguins will be trying to head into the All-Star break on a high note when they face off at Consol Energy Center in the Wednesday Night Rivalry game (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN).

Each team is playing the second half of a back-to-back set and trying to break out of a slump that has dropped it out of first place in its division. The Penguins (26-12-7) are 0-2-1 after a 3-2 overtime loss at the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday; they trail the first-place New York Islanders by four points in the Metropolitan Division. Chicago (29-15-2) ended a two-game losing streak by defeating the Arizona Coyotes 6-1 at United Center on Tuesday, but the Blackhawks are third in the Central Division, five points behind the first-place Nashville Predators.

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Around the League notebook for Tuesday, Jan. 20

Wednesday, 01.21.2015 / 9:00 AM / News

NHL.com

OVERTIME HIGHLIGHTS TUESDAY GAMES

Of the eight games contested Tuesday:

* Seven games were tied or within one goal during the third period (OTT-NYR, EDM-WSH, PIT-PHI, NSH-MTL, MIN-DET, VAN-TBL, BOS-DAL).

* Five games went past regulation, including three that were decided in overtime. Carl Hagelin of the New York Rangers, Claude Giroux of the Philadelphia Flyers and P.K. Subban of the Montreal Canadiens all scored in overtime while Teddy Purcell of the Edmonton Oilers and Pavel Datsyuk of the Detroit Red Wings each had game-deciding goals in the shootout.

* Five teams overcame a deficit at any point in the game to earn a victory. Of those five teams, four rallied from third-period deficits to pick up wins, including the Oilers, who erased a 4-2 deficit in the final 4:11 of regulation before winning in a shootout. The Minnesota Wild also erased a multigoal third-period deficit (4-1) to pick up one point in Detroit.

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Five things to watch in Rivalry Night doubleheader

Wednesday, 01.21.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

NHL.com

The team in each conference with the most postseason games played since 2008 and the two teams that played the most games against each other over the previous four seasons will be featured in a Wednesday Night Rivalry doubleheader.

Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins (26-12-7) welcome Patrick Kane and the Chicago Blackhawks (29-15-2) to Consol Energy Center in the early game (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN). Each team is within striking distance of first place in its division.

The Penguins and Blackhawks have combined to win the Stanley Cup three times in the past six seasons. The Penguins' 98 postseason games since the start of the 2007-08 season lead the NHL, and the Blackhawks' 94 are third (tops in the Western Conference).

The Los Angeles Kings (20-14-12) and San Jose Sharks (24-17-6) will play for the 44th time since the start of the 2010-11 season in the back half of the doubleheader (10:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN). San Jose has won 22 of 43 games, but Los Angeles has won two of the three playoff series, each in the past two seasons and in seven games.

Here are five things to watch during the doubleheader:


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Sharks' Hertl more comfortable since move to center

Wednesday, 01.21.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Eric Gilmore - NHL.com Correspondent

SAN JOSE -- San Jose Sharks forward Tomas Hertl can't say he wasn't warned about the danger of a sophomore slump.

As a rookie last season, Hertl scored six goals in his first three games, including four against the New York Rangers. He had 15 goals and 25 points in his first 32 games before damaging two ligaments in his right knee on Dec. 19 during a collision with Los Angeles Kings forward Dustin Brown that kept him out until late in the season.

This season, Hertl has eight goals and 17 points through 47 games entering the Sharks' game Wednesday against the Kings at SAP Center (10:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN).

"Everybody thought it would be a harder season for me," Hertl said. "For some guys it's hard. For some guys it's OK. For me I think it's hard. Maybe before the season, maybe it was in my head that this season I needed to play good because of last season. Maybe it was just in my head. Maybe I put a little bit of pressure on myself."

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Penguins' Perron, Crosby found quick chemistry

Wednesday, 01.21.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

Predicting chemistry on a forward line is as easy as predicting the lottery.

Three players who on paper should be able to jell fail to produce, while three players who might look like misshaped puzzle pieces fit together and make magic.

"The chemistry and synergy of linemates only happens when they're together," Pittsburgh Penguins assistant coach Gary Agnew said. "You can predict as much as you want."

But a prediction is what Agnew and the Penguins coaching staff had to make when right wing David Perron was acquired from the Edmonton Oilers on Jan. 2. Perron is a talented offensive player who scored at least 20 goals three times in his first seven NHL seasons with the St. Louis Blues and Oilers. But almost no one in the Penguins organization had any history with Perron.

"I knew [Kris Letang] a little bit," Perron said. "Knew [Marc-Andre Fleury] slightly, same with [Pascal Dupuis] because we have the same agent."

The only person who had any real relationship with Perron was Agnew, who was an assistant coach with the Blues in 2012-13, Perron's final season in St. Louis. Though it was 48 games in the lockout-shortened season, Agnew said it was more than enough time for him to get an understanding of the kind of player and person Perron is.

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Sharks' Burns acclimates quickly back to defense

Wednesday, 01.21.2015 / 3:00 AM / 2015 NHL All-Star Weekend

Eric Gilmore - NHL.com Correspondent

When the San Jose Sharks decided to move Brent Burns back to defenseman this season after he spent a season and a half as a productive and disruptive force at forward, some questioned the move.

Burns was coming off a career-high 48-point season with 22 goals and 26 assists. He thrived on the top line with center Joe Thornton, who loved playing with free-spirited Burns, a 6-foot-5, 230-pound wrecking ball with an explosive slap shot.

Then there was the issue of Burns having to adjust to another position switch. He was chosen in the 2003 NHL Draft by the Minnesota Wild as a forward, but they turned him into a defenseman, and he was selected for the NHL All-Star Game at that position in 2011, his final season with Minnesota before being traded to San Jose. Midway through his second season with the Sharks, he was on the move again, going back to forward, where he energized a slumbering offense. He had nine goals and 20 points in 23 games after the switch that season.

The transition back to defenseman this season has been challenging at times for Burns, but he has 11 goals and 35 points in 47 games and was selected as an All-Star for the second time.

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Blackhawks' Seabrook, the 'other guy,' now an All-Star

Wednesday, 01.21.2015 / 3:00 AM / 2015 NHL All-Star Weekend

Brian Hedger - NHL.com Correspondent

CHICAGO -- He's seen as the "other guy" in the top defense pairing for the Chicago Blackhawks, but Brent Seabrook means a lot more than that to his teammates.

If they need an emotional lift, he'll provide it. If they need a huge goal, his slap shot is often a reason they get it. If they need a big brother, on the ice or off, he's never too far away.

"He's been here through thick and thin," said center Andrew Shaw, 23, who's playing his fourth season with Seabrook. "He's seen a lot, he's done a lot, and he's just a great leader. He says what needs to be said and then he goes out there and does it."

Seabrook has a career full of accomplishments to back that up. The 29-year-old won a gold medal with Canada in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. He hoisted the Stanley Cup with the Blackhawks in 2010 and 2013, playing a big role in each championship. He's steadily climbing Chicago's all-time statistical categories in his 10th season for the team that selected him with the 14th pick in the 2003 NHL Draft.

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Price's goaltending has Canadiens among best in East

Wednesday, 01.21.2015 / 1:43 AM / NHL Insider

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

MONTREAL -- As the race for the Vezina Trophy as the NHL's top goaltender became more and more of a two-man derby, the game Tuesday at Bell Centre between the Nashville Predators and the Montreal Canadiens was looking like it could be a showdown between those leading men.

An injury to Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne prevented that from happening. But someone forgot to tell Carey Price.

The Canadiens' goaltender returned from a one-game absence due to injury to make 36 saves in a 2-1 overtime win against the Predators. In the process, Price made a convincing case for why he might be the Vezina frontrunner instead of his injured rival.

When the Predators scored at 12:10 of the second period on a Mike Ribeiro deflection directly in front of Price, Nashville was outshooting Montreal 26-6 but led 1-0. At one point the Canadiens went 22:15 without forcing Predators goalie Carter Hutton to make a single save.

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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