Mike Richards isn't superstitious at all

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1-richards-wales.jpgBy now, we’re used to the routine when it comes time to award the winner of the Eastern or Western Conference their trophy. Jonathan Toews of the Blackhawks opted to treat the Clarence Campbell trophy like it had a mix of the plague, ebola and something from the jungle that hasn’t been discovered yet and didn’t even bother touching it. Philadelphia’s Mike Richards, on the other hand, didn’t seem to care what was going on and embraced the Prince of Wales trophy.

“There was actually a little bit of a debate on the ice,” Richards said. “I thought about it a bit [Sunday] night. My first instinct was to grab it.  Obviously, it took us a lot to get here and obviously [that’s] not the trophy that we want. But we haven’t done anything conventional all year, especially in these playoffs, so I might as well go against the grain one more time.”

For those of you who believe that walking under ladders or having black cats cross your path are bad luck, you’re probably cringing at Richards’ ability to effectively thumb his nose at superstition. For what it’s worth, Sidney Crosby last year picked up the Prince of Wales trophy but cited his reasoning being that he didn’t pick it up the year before and they lost, so why not change things up just to be sure. Makes sense to me… If I believed in voodoo or the moon landing being faked. If you honestly believe the fate of your team hinges upon whether or not the captain of the team touches the trophy, I’d like to tell you that if you give me the deed to your house, you’ll be safe from alien abduction and that I’ll even throw in the Brooklyn Bridge to prove it.

Then again, hockey fans aren’t the sanest of fans around. We’re the type to grow out a playoff beard with our teams, or dye our hair to match the team (although I may be speaking a bit too personally there) and try to conform to all sorts of strange phenomenon in a way to appease the fantastically mythical “hockey gods” who smite all those who don’t believe.

Just keep this in mind, if hockey gods existed, would they have allowed the Chicago Blackhawks to go since 1961 without winning the Stanley Cup or kept the Toronto Maple Leafs Cup-free since 1967 while teams from Anaheim, California and Raleigh, North Carolina found ways to win? I think not.

Stars end Capitals’ winning streak, pass Blackhawks for West lead

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For two periods, the Dallas Stars seemed to say, “Are you sure the Washington Capitals are the best team in the NHL?”

They chased Braden Holtby and built a 4-0 lead through those first 40 minutes, and that was enough … but barely. The Stars beat the Capitals 4-3 on Saturday, which accomplished the following:

  • Dallas ended Washington’s winning streak at five games. The Stars have now won three straight.
  • This win slides the Stars ahead of the Chicago Blackhawks for first place in the highly competitive Central Division. While both teams sit at 77 standings points, Dallas holds three games in hand.
  • By passing Chicago, the Stars now lead the Western Conference as a whole.

Impressive stuff. Some might even call it a statement game, although others may hold that nail-biting ending against them (possibly arguing that the Stars’ flaws may come back to haunt them in the playoffs).

Dallas’ biggest concern likely has little to do with doubters. Instead, they must monitor the statuses of forwards Tyler Seguin and Cody Eakin.

Long story short, the Stars are red-hot, yet bigger challenges likely lie ahead.

Blackhawks fall to Ducks in OT, lose Hossa to injury

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The Chicago Blackhawks are on edge on Saturday, and it’s not because of what’s currently a close game against the Anaheim Ducks.

(Not that they’re indifferent toward a match against their opponents from last year’s conference final match, mind you.)

Instead, the Blackhawks are quite concerned about the health of Marian Hossa, who needed help off of the ice following an awkward, scary-looking crash into the boards. (Hampus Lindholm delivered the hip check that sent Hossa sprawling, in case you’re wondering.)

You can see that moment in the video above, while My Regular Face’s GIF also captures that troubling moment:

It’s too early to tell if Hossa will bounce back or miss some time from this. Stay tuned for potential updates.

Update: Joel Quenneville seems optimistic about Hossa, broadly speaking:

Ryan Getzlaf scored the overtime game-winner as the Ducks won 3-2 (OT).

Understatement: Saturday was a rough night for Panthers

Nashville Predators center Colin Wilson (33) checks Florida Panthers center Jonathan Huberdeau (11) during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)
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If it weren’t for Mike Yeo and the Minnesota Wild, you could argue that the Florida Panthers suffered from the worst night so far.

You can see that Saturday was unpleasant merely from looking at the scoreboard: the Nashville Predators pummeled the Panthers by an unkind score of 5-0.

The pain goes beyond that … literally so.

For one thing, Quinton Howden suffered an upper-body injury and did not return. That’s no good, but if you want to feel sick to your stomach, footage of Brandon Pirri‘s likely lower-body injury (ankle maybe?) may do the trick.

(Seriously, you may be happier if you don’t look.)

The Panthers didn’t make an announcement about Pirri one way or another, so we’ll see if he somehow avoided anything significant.

Either way, it was a night this team would like to forget.

Fractured jaw from fight sidelines Chris Stewart for 4-8 weeks

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It’s unlikely that Chris Stewart will generate another 30-goal season in the NHL, but he still might be missed by the Anaheim Ducks.

The team announced that the ornery forward is expected to miss four-to-eight weeks with a fractured jaw. If that’s the recovery window, Stewart may go into the playoffs a little rusty (if he can get in any regular season games at all).

The Ducks didn’t elaborate, but the Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline believes that the injury happened during a fight with Dalton Prout of the Columbus Blue Jackets. You can see that brawl in the video above.

One bright side for Anaheim: if they believe that they need to replace what Stewart brings to the table (rugged play with a dash of offense), then at least this injury happened before the the Feb. 29 trade deadline.