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Handicapping the Fantasy Draft: Who might end up on Team Staal, Lidstrom?

It’s silly to make any bold proclamations about tonight’s Fantasy Draft, especially considering the fact that it’s about fun above all else. There also might be a bit of one-upping, as the two sides try to turn the screws on each other.

Still, it might be fun to guess who might pick whom, even if we’re proven wildly wrong. So here are a few things to consider.

Alternate captains: Martin St. Louis and Patrick Kane for Team Lidstrom; Ryan Kesler and Mike Green for Team Staal

St. Louis will push for Steven Stamkos and possibly former teammate Brad Richard. Kane will push for Chicago Blackhawks Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith and Patrick Sharp (maybe former ‘Hawk Dustin Byfuglien too).

Meanwhile Kesler will push for the Sedin twins while both Kesler and Kane are equally likely to pull for Americans. Green will push for Alex Ovechkin.

It would be surprising, then, to see Stamkos on Team Staal and Ovechkin on Team Lidstrom, but you never know.

Sedins split?

I think splitting the Sedins might come down to timing (or just how much the two sides are conspiring to split them up). Fellow Swede Lidstrom might manage to snap them up while Staal is satisfying teammates Cam Ward and Jeff Skinner along with his brother Marc. Unless there’s some draft time shenanigans with that as well, of course. We shall see.

Country loyalty/friends

Again, Lidstrom will lean toward Swedes in specific and Europeans in general. Kesler will likely want the handful of Americans but will be canceled out by Kane in that regard. Green might want more Canadians, but so will Eric Staal and St. Louis.

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If Staal and Lidstrom call most of the shots, both sides will feature an interesting disparity between Europeans and North Americans as well as Eastern Conference players vs. West. Then again, Lidstrom might lean toward drafting defense and goalies before Staal does.

So what is the takeaway? Well, we don’t really know what is going to happen, but it should be fun to watch.

Kudos to the NHL for coming up with this interesting wrinkle.

(NHL.com tries to get inside the heads of the two captains here.)

Video: Canucks escape Arizona with another win for the moms

at Pepsi Center on February 9, 2016 in Denver, Colorado.
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With their mothers traveling on the road trip — Matt Bartkowski‘s mom, Beth, has become a cult hero in Vancouver after another priceless media interview — the Canucks took back-to-back wins, moving them right back into the thick of the playoff fight in the Western Conference.

After beating the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday, the Canucks held on for the 2-1 victory in Arizona on Wednesday, despite being without Brandon Sutter (broken jaw), Alex Edler (broken fibula) and Derek Dorsett, who was scratched from the lineup due to illness, as per Sportsnet’s Dan Murphy.

It was only a few days ago, following a home loss to the Calgary Flames, that it felt like the Canucks’ playoff hopes were essentially dashed. They fielded their healthiest lineup in months and couldn’t score and couldn’t win.

Two quick wins later, they’re two points out of a Wild Card spot in the West, despite getting outshot in Arizona.

Up by a goal in the third period, defenseman Alex Biega played the hero, pulling the puck out of the crease after it got by Ryan Miller on a backhand shot from Kyle Chipchura, maintaining Vancouver’s lead.

Phaneuf burned on Zetterberg game-winner in Sens debut

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A day after getting traded out of Toronto, Dion Phaneuf made his Ottawa Senators debut.

It ended with a 3-1 road loss for the Senators, and Phaneuf getting burned by Henrik Zetterberg on the eventual game winner early in the third period.

Zetterberg picked up the puck near the Ottawa blue line, beat Phaneuf to the outside, slipped the puck under the stick of the Sens’ newest blue liner and quickly roofed his shot on Craig Anderson.

“He made a real good play and you’ve got to give credit when credit is due,” Phaneuf told the Ottawa Sun.

“I put my stick there, he put (the puck) under and he made a good shot. I’ve got to have a better stick in that situation, but you’ve got to give him credit for that play.”

Phaneuf finished the night with a minus-one rating and two hits in almost 22 minutes of ice time, putting him second among Sens defensemen in that category behind Erik Karlsson, who played a whopping 33:30.

Phaneuf drilled Red Wings defenseman Danny DeKeyser with a hard slap shot early in the third period.

DeKeyser played one more shift — all of 10 seconds — before exiting the game.

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.”