Chicago Blackhawks v Phoenix Coyotes

Patrick Kane denies rumors that he missed practices because of a ‘two-day hangover’

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Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin are still the two highest profile players in the sport, but no hockey star seems to be a tabloid magnet (sometimes fair, sometimes not) quite like Patrick Kane.

Perhaps it comes with the territory, though. For one thing, Kane isn’t just a flashy hockey player, he’s a flashy American hockey player. He isn’t a bountiful source of one-liners on the same scale as Jeremy Roenick, but he isn’t a clichebot like Crosby either. And let’s face it: Kane isn’t shy about having a good time.

Kane’s somewhat wild reputation (built on the regrettable cab driver incident and those mostly-just-embarrassing shirtless limo photos) leads many to jump to conclusions – right or wrong – about the slick winger’s social life. Deadspin ran a story Friday claiming that Kane missed Chicago’s Monday and Tuesday practices because of a “two-day hangover” rather than flu-like symptoms. This is far from the first time that an NHL player has been accused of having the booze flu, but Kane denied the story to Chris Kuc, saying that the photos were old and that he was indeed sick.

Ultimately, it’s a game of he-said/huge Internet rumor Web site-said between Kane and Deadspin, but there are a few important takeaways:

1. There are no reports that Kane hurt himself or anyone else, meaning the stakes are pretty marginal even if the report is accurate and the photos were from this weekend.

2. Sports athletes (and in some cases, owners such as Jerry Jones) shouldn’t ever pose for photos with people when they’re out having a few drinks.

(Honestly, if I was in Kane’s position, I’d probably force everyone to check their cell phones/cameras at the door in any situation in which spirits might be consumed.)

You can watch Kane refute the reports (and discuss his team’s struggles) in the video below, via CSN Chicago. This story will probably go away, but it does beg the question: did Kane already lose the benefit of the doubt in many circles?

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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.