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Lightning ready for 'measuring stick' vs. Blackhawks

Wednesday, 01.20.2016 / 9:23 PM / NHL Insider

Corey Long - NHL.com Correspondent

TAMPA -- The Tampa Bay Lightning have won six in a row but are about to find out how good they really are.

The Lightning host the Chicago Blackhawks at Amalie Arena on Thursday for the first time since Game 5 of the 2015 Stanley Cup Final, trying to extend their winning streak to seven while ending a Blackhawks-record winning streak at 12 (7:30 p.m. ET; TVA Sports, SUN, CSN-CH).

"It's going to be a good measuring stick for us," Tampa Bay captain Steven Stamkos said. "I think we are starting to find what's successful and what's not. We still have some work to do, but it's another opportunity to take advantage of playing in front of our fans."

Lightning suspend Drouin for missing AHL game

Wednesday, 01.20.2016 / 7:36 PM / News

NHL.com

The Tampa Bay Lightning suspended forward Jonathan Drouin indefinitely without pay Wednesday for failing to report to an American Hockey League game between the Syracuse Crunch and Toronto Marlies.

Drouin, the No. 3 pick in the 2013 NHL Draft, has been with Syracuse since Jan. 2. A trade request made on his behalf by his agent in November was revealed the next day.

Tampa Bay said it will have no further comment.

Drouin's agent, Allan Walsh, released a statement that said in part, "We proposed to Tampa that Jonathan not play in the next few AHL games but continue practicing with the club to avoid any potential injury from preventing an imminent trade. Unfortunately, the Tampa Bay Lightning refused this reasonable request, however, Jonathan was not willing to accept this risk."

UFC fighters work out with New Jersey Devils

Wednesday, 01.20.2016 / 5:00 PM / NHL Insider

NHL.com

A group of mixed-martial arts fighters representing the Ultimate Fighting Championship, headlined by former professional wrestler CM Punk, worked out with the New Jersey Devils on Wednesday at the Prudential Center as part of the UFC's cross-training program.

Blues forward Schwartz returns to practice

Wednesday, 01.20.2016 / 4:14 PM / News

NHL.com

St. Louis Blues forward Jaden Schwartz practiced Wednesday for the first time since surgery to repair a fractured left ankle Oct. 23.

Schwartz, who had 28 goals and 35 assists last season, has four assists and a plus-4 rating in seven games this season. Coach Ken Hitchcock would not speculate when Schwartz would return for the Blues (27-15-7), who are in third place in the Central Division.

He sustained the injury while taking part in a warmup drill. He shot a puck and reached to get the rebound when he lost an edge and crashed into the net where goalie Brian Elliott was practicing. The initial diagnosis was Schwartz would miss at least 12 weeks; Friday will be 13 weeks since the injury.

Senators' Wikstrand loaned to Swedish team

Wednesday, 01.20.2016 / 4:09 PM / News

OttawaSenators.com

OTTAWA – The Ottawa Senators announced today that the club has loaned defenceman Mikael Wikstrand to Färjestad BK of the Swedish Hockey League (SHL) for the remainder of the 2015-16 season.

"After further conversations with both the player and his representatives, it appears that playing hockey in North America is not a consideration for Mikael at any point in the immediate future," said Senators general manager Bryan Murray. "In an effort to further monitor his development, we have agreed to loan Mikael to Färjestad for the remainder of the season. We will retain his North American rights and should he change his outlook on working towards playing in the National Hockey League, we will be open to discussing a potential return at an appropriate time in the future."

Blackhawks face Lightning seeking 13th straight win

Wednesday, 01.20.2016 / 3:32 PM / NHL Insider

NHL.com

The Chicago Blackhawks, winners of 12 straight games, have a chance to accomplish what the Florida Panthers recently took a run at themselves: tying the 1992-93 Pittsburgh Penguins' NHL record of 17 consecutive regular-season victories.

The Blackhawks' next challenge comes Thursday against the Tampa Bay Lightning (7:30 p.m. ET; TVA Sports, CSN-CH, SUN), who they defeated in a six-game Stanley Cup Final last June.

The Blackhawks have been dominant in tying the record for the longest winning streak this season and becoming one of 14 teams in League history to have at least 12 straight wins.

They are the fifth Stanley Cup champion to win at least 12 straight games in the League's modern era, according to Elias Sports Bureau. The 1970-71 Boston Bruins (13-0-0), 1981-82 New York Islanders (15-0-0), 1992-93 Penguins (17-0-0) and the 2000-01 New Jersey Devils (13-0-0) are the others.

Hurricanes place goalie Ward on injured reserve

Wednesday, 01.20.2016 / 2:28 PM / News

NHL.com

Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Cam Ward was diagnosed with a concussion and placed on injured reserve, the Hurricanes announced Wednesday.

Ward started last Friday and allowed three goals on 22 shots in a 3-2 overtime loss to the Vancouver Canucks, ending his three-game winning streak. He's 14-11-5 with a 2.42 goals-against average, .905 save percentage and one shutout in 32 games this season.

Hurricanes coach Bill Peters said he wasn't sure when Ward sustained his concussion.

"His symptoms started to come on and felt worst as he went and then he got tested and now he goes through the protocol," Peters told the Hurricanes website. "Obviously it's gotten worse as it's went along. Hopefully it's not a long-term thing."

Islanders' Pelech may miss rest of season: report

Wednesday, 01.20.2016 / 1:25 PM / News

NHL.com

New York Islanders defenseman Adam Pelech likely will miss the rest of the season because of an upper-body injury, Newsday reported Wednesday.

Pelech was cut on the right cheek by the skate of New York Rangers forward Derek Stepan during the Islanders' 3-1 win Jan. 14 but returned to the game. He missed the Islanders' 2-1 shootout loss to the Vancouver Canucks on Jan. 17.

Islanders coach Jack Capuano told Newsday that Pelech was having medical tests Wednesday. The Islanders placed Pelech on injured reserve Tuesday.

Fantasy defensemen: Sharks' Vlasic underrated

Wednesday, 01.20.2016 / 12:00 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Brian Metzer - NHL.com Correspondent

If you were asked to identify the top six scorers among defensemen during the past month, who would be on the list? It's certain there will be least one name that would be omitted and that is why that player is the topic of this week's column.

Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang leads defensemen with 16 points in 10 games between Dec. 20 and Jan. 20. The Chicago Blackhawks' Duncan Keith is second with 14 points, and the San Jose Sharks' Brent Burns, the Arizona Coyotes' Oliver Ekman-Larsson and the Calgary Flames' Mark Giordano are tied for third with 13 points apiece.

That list shouldn't be shocking as all of them were highly coveted assets in fantasy drafts. What might surprise is that the player who is sixth with 12 points was selected in three percent of Yahoo standard drafts, and when he was selected it didn't happen until on average the 14th round with the 165th pick.

That player is the Sharks' Marc-Edouard Vlasic.

Oilers' Hall reaches personal goal with All-Star invite

Wednesday, 01.20.2016 / 10:00 AM / 2016 NHL All-Star Weekend

Derek Van Diest - NHL.com Correspondent

The 2016 Honda NHL All-Star Game in Nashville on Jan. 31 is less than two weeks away. In the lead-up to All-Star Weekend at Bridgestone Arena, NHL.com sat down with a host of this season's participants to talk about playing in the game. In this edition, Taylor Hall of the Edmonton Oilers discusses playing in his first All-Star Game.

1. What does being an All-Star mean to you personally?

I'm very proud of it. It's my first one going there. You set goals before the beginning of the season and being there was definitely one of them. I'm proud to be going to it.

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