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2011 All-Star Game tidbits: Plenty of first-timers, more snub talk, Weekes’ Carolina hot spots

Let’s take a look at a few of the stories regarding the 2011 NHL All-Star Game.

  • From Steven Stamkos to Marc-Andre Fleury and Dustin Bfyuglien, NHL.com reports that 21 of the 42 players set to play in the exhibition will be making their first appearances in the event. It’s easy to critique the choices (more on that in a moment), but let’s not forget that this event is supposed to be a leisurely celebration of the sport more than anything else. Seeing players get their first chance to enjoy it is a nice treat.
  • Brendan Shanahan points out the fact that injuries will likely change the makeup of the roster anyway, but discussed the selection process made by Hockey Operations. Shanahan said that they decided the remaining 36 players (fans voted for the top six) based on a combination of their overall body of work and their play leading up to the process.
  • Philadelphia Daily Times Anthony SanFilippo provided quite the diatribe about the biggest snubs. While it seems like his anger is a little excessive – after all, this is a meaningless game, as he put it – there  were some ridiculous omissions. It’s tough to deny the fact that the teams will be missing the likes of Nicklas Backstrom, John-Michael Lilies, Ondrej Pavelec and other slightly lower profile but nonetheless high-end 2010-11 players were left on the sidelines while Patrik Elias managed to get a spot.
  • Finally, let’s take a breezy look at the top five places to visit in Raleigh, North Carolina via former Hurricanes goalie Kevin Weekes. If you didn’t take lunch yet, you’ll probably want to plan that out right about … now.

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Video: Rangers shut out red-hot Sidney Crosby and the Penguins

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The New York Rangers are likely too far behind the Washington Capitals to take any legitimate run at the Atlantic Division down the stretch.

But winners now of four straight, the Rangers have opened up a bit of a gap between them and other Eastern Conference teams in the playoff race. New York scored a 3-0 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins, winners in six of their last seven games, on Wednesday.

In the process, they held a red-hot Sidney Crosby off the score sheet, which has been a difficult, sometimes impossible task for opposing teams since about the middle of December. He entered this game with a seven-game scoring streak.

(In fact, New York held No. 87 to without a shot on goal in the entire game.)

Henrik Lundqvist stopped all 34 shots he faced for the shutout.

Kevin Hayes gave the Rangers the lead in the first period, before Dominic Moore and Jesper Fast put the game away in the third.

Pittsburgh remains in the second Wild Card spot in the East. The Rangers now move three points clear of the rival Islanders for second in the Metropolitan.

Video: Wideman hearing ‘a tricky case’ as NHLPA hopes to get 20-game suspension reduced

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There is no certain timeline for when NHL commissioner Gary Bettman might rule on Dennis Wideman‘s appeal, according to a report from hockey insider Darren Dreger on NBCSN, as the Calgary Flames defenseman hopes to get his 20-game ban for hitting linesman Don Henderson reduced.

“Now, ultimately what they’re hoping from a Wideman perspective and the Players’ Association is that commissioner Gary Bettman will rule and he will reduce the number of games suspended down from 20,” said Dreger during a segment on NBCSN.

“Is he going to reduce it by three games? Five games seems a bit of a stretch. And when might he do that? There’s no timeline on this.”

Report: Coyotes shut down Vitale (concussion) for the season

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Joe Vitale will not play again this season.

The Arizona Coyotes have shut Vitale down for the remainder of the 2015-16 campaign due to “concussion-related issues,” according to a report from Sarah McLellan of azcentral sports on Wednesday.

Vitale, a 30-year-old veteran center, appeared in only one game for the Coyotes this season. That was back on Oct. 17, when he suffered a concussion and broken orbital bone in a fight with Kevan Miller of the Boston Bruins.

Sens announce Frattin, acquired in Phaneuf deal, will stick with AHL Marlies

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Matt Frattin was traded by the Leafs to Ottawa yesterday as part of the Dion Phaneuf blockbuster.

But for now, he’s staying in Toronto.

On Wednesday, Sens GM Bryan Murray announced that Frattin will remain with the Leafs’ AHL affiliate — the Toronto Marlies — on loan, but will be available for selection should Ottawa require his services down the road.

Frattin, 28, has spent all of this season with the Marlies, scoring nine goals and 22 points in 47 games. His last NHL appearance came during the ’14-15 campaign, with the Leafs.

Prior to that, the former North Dakota standout had spent time in Los Angeles and Columbus.