2012 NHL All-Star Game awarded to Ottawa

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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.

Capitals’ Schmidt hurt by Leafs’ Komarov; Record 18th playoff game to OT

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Now, players are known to at least try to return to games after injuries, sometimes ultimately demeaning such efforts unsuccessful.

So, it’s possible that the Washington Capitals should still be concerned about defenseman Nate Schmidt. The solid depth blueliner was helped off the ice after a hit by Leo Komarov of the Toronto Maple Leafs, but the good news is that he was at least able to make his way back for a spin later on in the same third period.

Does that mean he’ll be OK? We’ll see. The game is entering OT – the 18th of this round, a new NHL record – so a possible Schmidt injury could put Washington at a disadvantage during “free hockey.”

It makes sense that Toronto and Washington made it a new record, as this is the fifth time in six games that they beyond regulation in this series. Wow.

Auston Matthews keeps goal streak alive, gives Leafs 1-0 lead in third

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These are the moments Toronto Maple Leafs fans were dreaming about when they drafted Auston Matthews. At least those bold enough to picture such great things, so soon in his career.

Speaking of so soon … that’s not how you’d describe a 1-0 goal happening in the third period of a game in this Leafs – Washington Capitals series, but it took that long to break the ice in Game 6.

It took a very lucky bounce for the puck to find its way to Matthews … but the finish was pure skill. With that, the remarkable rookie now has a goal in four straight games (with an assist thrown in for good measure).

The lead wouldn’t last long, however, as Marcus Johansson scored to tie it 1-1.

Things could get awfully nervous for Toronto as they try to force a decisive Game 7 in Washington, but that was a huge goal by Matthews either way.

Clarke MacArthur, Craig Anderson made Sens win that much more emotional

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It could have been over for Clarke MacArthur plenty of times during his turbulent NHL career. Scratch that, his turbulent hockey career.

His team walked away from his salary arbitration award. MacArthur’s seen plenty of people give up on him. And then, when he finally found a home with the Ottawa Senators, concussion issues threatened to end his playing days.

Yet, there he was on Sunday … drawing a penalty in overtime and then scoring on the ensuing power play to help the Senators advance beyond the Boston Bruins.

He didn’t deny that he imagined very different possibilities during his darker moments.

And, as uplifting as his story was – seriously, just watch this interview and try not to root for the guy – it wasn’t the only emotionally charged moment from Game 6.

Nicholle Anderson was on hand to cheer on Craig Anderson in this one, and the two were able to embrace after the contest:

As violent and intense as the playoffs can often be, MacArthur and Anderson reminded us of the gentler human side of it all.

Erik Karlsson played through hairline fractures in foot to help Sens advance

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Remember when many were keeping an eye on Erik Karlsson after he was seemingly cramping up after logging more than 40 minutes in an OT contest against the Boston Bruins?

It’s possible he was also dealing with that sort of ailment, but he earned some “hockey tough” kudos on Sunday after word surfaced that the Ottawa Senators defenseman was dealing with hairline fractures in his left heel through the series.

Sportsnet’s Jason York refers to the issue as “two small fractures” while ESPN’s Joe McDonald went into specifics, noting that Karlsson explains that the injury happened on March 28 (and was why he missed some games late in the season).

There’s some optimism as the Senators ready for the New York Rangers, at least according to Karlsson.

Hmm.

Either way, that’s impressive stuff from the Senators defenseman, and the sort of information that usually only surfaces after a team has been eliminated. We’ll see if he’s hindered by such issues as the playoffs go along.