The world’s worst kept secret has been confirmed this morning in a press conference in Ottawa. The 2012 All-Star Game will be headed to Canada’s capital city. Well, at least a city near Ottawa (the Senators play in Kanata, Ontario). Ottawa is the last of the Canadian cities to host an All-Star Game.
Gimmie some of the PR jingle talk Gary Bettman.
“The league is extremely pleased that Ottawa and Scotiabank Place will be home to the events of all-star weekend 2012,” said Gary Bettman, NHL commissioner. “Ottawa and the Senators have distinguished themselves in hosting the Stanley Cup final and two NHL entry drafts, and I have no doubt they will provide an outstanding welcome for our fans, guests, media and business partners.”
Having such a big event in Canada certainly adds a bit of spice to things. After all, hockey is kind of a big deal there still. For Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk though, this is a moment for him to wave the Sens banner high and cash in on an ownership promise he made when he bought the team in 2003.
Delivering the all-star game to Ottawa fulfilled a promise made by Melnyk when he bought the Senators franchise and the arena in 2003. Bettman had also suggested the club would be in line for an all-star game after it successfully played host to an NHL draft, which it has done twice previously — in 2005 at the Westin Ottawa and three years later at Scotiabank Place.
It’s fun when you can back up a campaign promise of sorts. While the Senators have been up and down in recent seasons going from the Stanley Cup Finals in 2007, to out of the playoffs in 2009, to back into the playoffs in 2010, bringing the NHL’s big mid-season event to Ottawa is a great thing for Ottawa and Kanata respectively.
Now if only they could do something about Kanata being a more fun town for everyone to be in in the meantime, we’ll be in business. If you’re wondering which NHL cities haven’t hosted the All-Star Game, hang on to your seats because you might be surprised to know that Nashville, Phoenix/Glendale, Anaheim, and Columbus haven’t hosted the NHL’s biggest stars. I know, I was stunned too. Phoenix/Glendale was supposed to host the game in 2005 (at least we’re pretty sure they were) but got boned over by the lockout.
Yes, the Philadelphia Flyers’ playoff hopes are basically squashed, but Sunday should provide plenty of motivation: giving the Pittsburgh Penguins grief.
The two rivals will face off on NBCSN tonight with the Penguins hoping to improve their situation in the three-team Metropolitan race for the division crown (and, failing that, at least one round of home-ice advantage).
The Penguins must fight injuries and a cross-state rival. There should be plenty of talent on the ice, too, so this should be a fun one.
You can watch on NBCSN, online and via the NBC Sports App.
Click here for the livestream.
Sunday’s overtime win against the Wild wasn’t the last hurrah for the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena, but that time is rapidly approaching.
The Red Wings have four more dates at the historic building:
April 1: vs. Maple Leafs
April 3: vs. Senators
April 8: vs. Canadiens
April 9: vs. Devils
With the playoffs out of reach, Red Wings fans must grapple with the end of an era.
To help with that cause, Mike “Doc” Emrick narrated a great look back at Joe Louis Arena, which you can enjoy in the video above.
And, if it helps make the future look a little rosier, take a look at highlights from Sunday’s victory.
After missing nearly three weeks due to a lower body injury, Henrik Lundqvist will be back in net for the New York Rangers on Sunday night when the team visits the Anaheim Ducks.
Coach Alain Vigneault already said that Lundqvist is expected to start two of the three games on this west coast trip, and after Antti Raanta started and recorded the shutout in Los Angeles on Saturday night it seems that Lundqvist will finish the trip with starts against the Ducks and then again on Tuesday against the San Jose Sharks.
Lundqvist has not played since March 7 when he stopped 43 out of 45 shots in a win over the Florida Panthers.
It was that game that Lundqvist suffered the injury that kept him out of the lineup.
Raanta played every game for the Rangers during his absence and continued what has been a strong season as Lundqvist’s primary backup, but if the Rangers are going to have a chance in the postseason they are not only going to need a healthy Lundqvist, but to also have him playing at the level he has been playing at over the past couple of months. Since the beginning of February Lundqvist has recorded a .931 save percentage in his 14 appearances for the Rangers.
Speaking of the postseason, the Rangers can clinch a spot in the playoffs on Sunday night with a win over the Ducks.
No official word from the Ducks on their starter on Sunday, but look for Jonathan Bernier to get an opportunity to continue his recent hot streak.
Elsewhere on Sunday…
— It was Devan Dubnyk going against Jimmy Howard in the early NBC game between the Minnesota Wild and Detroit Red Wings.
— Keith Kinkaid gets the start at home for the New Jersey Devils when they go against the Dallas Stars, who will be countering with Kari Lehtonen.
— Matt Murray goes for the Pittsburgh Penguins when they host their cross-state rivals the Philadelphia Flyers. The Flyers went with Michal Neuvirth on Saturday so look for Steve Mason on Sunday.
— Michael Hutchinson will be in net for the Winnipeg Jets when they host the Vancouver Canucks. The Canucks have not announced their starter, but after Richard Bachman got the start on Saturday it should be Ryan Miller in net for this one.
Well, the good news for the Minnesota Wild is Sunday’s game in Detroit wasn’t anywhere near as embarrassing as their game on Saturday. They were at least competitive in this and took the game to overtime to earn a point in the standings.
The bad news is the result was pretty much the same — another loss in the standings.
Thanks to Andreas Athanasiou‘s 17th goal of the season 1:52 into the overtime period, the Red Wings were 3-2 winners on Sunday afternoon, sending the Wild to their 11th loss in 14 games this month.
The game continues Minnesota’s late-season collapse that has seen the team lose its stranglehold on the Central Division and play some of its worst hockey of the season with the playoffs just around the corner. They have collected just seven out of a possible 28 points in the standings this month and still sit seven points back of the Chicago Blackhawks for the top spot in the division after Sunday. The Wild led the division by five points at the start of the month.
As bad as another loss is, this was far from the Wild’s worst game during this recent stretch. They limited Detroit to just 19 shots on goal, they had their chances to win it. But at the end of the day nobody in Minnesota wants to hear that right now because it’s still a loss, and it still looks like a team that is struggling to find answers on the ice. Not really the type of thing you want to see at this time of year.
Minnesota actually entered the third period with a 2-1 lead but let it slip away early in the period on a Tomas Tatar power play goal 55 seconds in. The Wild had their share of chances late in the game only to have Jimmy Howard make a couple of huge stops on Eric Staal and Jason Zucker in the final minute.
Staal did score his 26th goal of the season earlier in the game to give the Wild a 1-0 lead.
As for the Red Wings, the win is their fourth in their past six games (and the fifth with at least a point during that stretch) while Henrik Zetterberg continued his recent strong play recording another assist.
Defenseman Mike Green also scored in the win.