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Weekly Primer

NHL All-Star Game highlights week ahead

Quenneville's return to Chicago as Panthers coach among can't-miss events

by Jon Lane @JonLaneNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

The 2020 Honda NHL All-Star Game will be played at Enterprise Center in St. Louis on Saturday. But there are more stories to watch this week. Here are the top five along with fantasy can't-miss players.

 

1. All-Star Game comes to St. Louis

Ryan O'Reilly, Alex Pietrangelo, Jordan Binnington and David Perron will represent the host St. Louis Blues in the 2020 Honda NHL All-Star Game at Enterprise Center on Saturday (8 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS).

O'Reilly, Pietrangelo and Binnington were named to the Central Division team. Perron was among the four players who won the 2020 NHL All-Star Last Men In presented by adidas fan vote. Each helped the Blues win their first Stanley Cup championship last season.

In addition to Perron, forward T.J. Oshie of the Washington Capitals (Metropolitan), forward Mitchell Marner of the Toronto Maple Leafs (Atlantic) and defenseman Quinn Hughes of the Vancouver Canucks (Pacific) were voted in. Each will be making his first All-Star Game appearance.

The 2020 NHL All-Star Skills competition is Friday. This is the current roster for the game.

 

2. Quenneville back in Chicago as Panthers coach

Joel Quenneville will coach for the Florida Panthers against the Chicago Blackhawks at United Center on Tuesday (8:30 p.m. ET; ESPN+, NBCSCH, FS-F, NHL.TV) for the first time since he was fired by the Blackhawks on Nov. 6, 2018, after they got off to a 6-6-3 start.

Quenneville, a three-time Stanley Cup winner with Chicago (2010, 2013, 2015), is 26-16-5 in his first season as Panthers coach. He had 452 wins for the Blackhawks from 2008-18 and was 76-52 in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Video: Coach of the Decade: Joel Quenneville

 

3. Penguins surging toward top of Eastern Conference

The Pittsburgh Penguins visit the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday (7:30 p.m.; NBCSN, ATTSN-PT, NHL.TV) riding a 17-4-1 stretch since Dec. 4 that's moved them from the second wild card into the playoffs from the Eastern Conference to second in the Metropolitan Division. Pittsburgh's 35 points in that span are the most in the NHL.

Sidney Crosby has eight points (three goal, five assists) in four games since returning from core muscle surgery Nov. 14. The Penguins are without forward Nick Bjugstad (lower body) and and defensemen Brian Dumoulin (lower body) and Justin Schultz (lower body) because of injury. Forward Jake Guentzel, tied for second on the Penguins with 43 points (20 goals, 23 assists), is out for the season with an upper-body injury.

Video: Crosby, Penguins rally to knock off Bruins

 

4. Two-game schedule takes NHL into break

The last games before the All-Star break take place Wednesday when the Winnipeg Jets play the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena (7:30 p.m. ET; SN, TVAS, FS-O, NHL.TV) and the Detroit Red Wings visit the Minnesota Wild for "Wednesday Night Hockey" (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN).

The Blue Jackets (24-16-8) are 15-2-4 in 20 games since Dec. 9, a stretch that's moved them up to the first wild card into the playoffs from the Eastern Conference. Goalie Elvis Merzlikins has given them a spark in the absence of Joonas Korpisalo, who is out following knee surgery, by going 6-2-0 with a 1.51 goals-against average and .955 save percentage in his past 10 starts, a stretch that included two consecutive shutouts Jan. 11-14 and three in four games.

The Jets (25-20-4) and Wild (22-20-6) each are within striking distance of a wild card spot in the Western Conference.

 

5. Islanders, Rangers continue rivalry

The New York Islanders and New York Rangers play for the third time this season at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET; MSG, MSG+, NHL.TV).

The Islanders (28-15-5) are 124-123-6 with 19 ties against the Rangers since entering the NHL in 1972, including consecutive losses last week. They are third in the Metropolitan Division. The Rangers (23-20-4) are nine points out of the second Eastern wild card.

 

Fantasy can't-miss picks

Anthony Cirelli, TBL: The 22-year-old center had a hat trick against the Winnipeg Jets on Friday and has six points (three goals, three assists) over his past three games. Although the Tampa Bay Lightning don't play again until Jan. 27 because of their mandated break, they have four games in the week following the 2020 NHL All-Star Game, making Cirelli worth adding for this extended scoring period. -- Pete Jensen

Lead photo courtesy of St. Louis Blues

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