Admitted gamer Steven Stamkos will be the cover star for NHL ’12

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EA Sports announced that Tampa Bay Lightning sniper Steven Stamkos will be the cover star for their next hockey video game NHL ’12. This breaks the run of Chicago Blackhawks stars who graced the series’ covers in the last two years (Jonathan Toews for NHL ’11; Patrick Kane for NHL ’10).

One of the appealing by-products of the post-lockout era’s surge in young stars is their familiarity with video games. Most of them have probably grown up playing hockey video games; one can only imagine the ribbing a player might get for having a pitiful speed rating. (Toews, Kane and Stamkos aren’t much older than the seminal NHL ’94 title , after all.)

Stamkos ranks as one of those guys who played hockey video games growing up. In fact, he admitted that it was often on his wish list at Christmas time and he excitedly bought the first NHL title that featured his likeness.

“I was a big gamer, especially as a kid,” Stamkos said. “I asked for it every Christmas. You dream of playing in the NHL one day but you never really dream of being on the cover of the NHL video games, especially the most popular one. My friends are just as excited.”

Stamkos said that he doesn’t know his player rating just yet, but noticed some flaws in the game of his polygonal counterpart.

“My faceoffs weren’t very good in the game, so maybe I’ll take a hint to get better [in that area],” Stamkos said. “I haven’t checked out the ratings system yet, but usually when you’re on the cover you get a good one.”

Every now and then, a cover player doesn’t have an outstanding rating in a hockey video game, but you usually have to be at an elite level to grace a game cover in the first place.

The cover art might bring a surprise for fans who haven’t been paying attention to uniform-related news: he’s wearing the new blue and white getup that the Lightning will wear in the 2011-12 season. The game is expected to be released on September 13, giving hockey-starved fans a needed distraction a few weeks before the beginning of next season.

Logan Couture can at least speak and eat following horrifying mouth injury

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As much as many of us suffer during a trip to the dentist, few can fathom the horrors hockey players often go through when a puck, stick or fist finds their teeth/mouths. Consult this vintage PHT post from 2010 if you want to cringe, a lot.

Much like Eddie Lack “only” dealing with a neck sprain, it’s strange to be heartened to hear that Logan Couture can speak and eat after his own painful ordeal, but that’s the positive update from the Mercury News on Tuesday.

Couture, Wilson said, did not need to have his jaw wired shut after a deflected puck caught him in the mouth on Saturday when the Sharks played the Nashville Predators.

“Hey, he can speak and eat … and his jaw isn’t wired shut!” Yeesh.

To little surprise, Couture isn’t playing on Tuesday. As far as the Sharks next three games (Thursday, Friday and Sunday), that remains to be seen.

As an aside, consider this: on the same day Jonathan Drouin‘s celebrating his birthday after helping the Lightning win, Couture is lucky if he can force down some birthday cake. Life: it isn’t always fair.

PHT discussed his trip to the dentist on Monday.

More mouth pain:Ā When David Backes felt like his face was falling off.

Athanasiou got hurt during that Lack collision, too (and he blames Rask’s hit)

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The Carolina Hurricanes and Detroit Red Wings both exchanged signs of respect after Eddie Lack left last night’s game on a stretcher, but there’s a little controversy surrounding that situation … from the Red Wings’ perspective.

You see, AndreasĀ Athanasiou may not have collided with Lack if not for a shove/cross-check by Hurricanes forward Victor Rask.

Athanasiou is out for the Red Wings tonight, and as the Detroit Free Press’ Helene St. James reports, he blames the Rask hit.

Here’s a screen grab of that moment via NBCSN/the Fox Sports broadcast:

Now, check it out in full motion:

It’s unfortunate that two injuries came of that overtime-clincher, though one may at least mildly defend Rask in noting that Athanasiou was really displaying his blazing speed on that play.

The Red Wings could very well be eliminated tonight, or soon, butĀ Athanasiou has been a bright spot during a sometimes-glum season for Detroit. Hopefully, like Lack, this is merely a minor issue from an unfortunate collision.

More promising Eddie Lack news: Hurricanes label his injury a neck strain

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Yes, it feels a little weird to “cheer” a neck strain, but such injury news feels pretty fantastic for Eddie Lack.

The Carolina Hurricanes announced that he’s dealing with exactly that on Tuesday morning, not that long after Lack’s scare after being stretchered off the ice following a collision with Detroit Red Wings AndreasĀ Athanasiou.

Lack ended up being hospitalized, but as it turns out, that was a pretty short-term situation.

With the positive news in mind, it’s already appropriate to wonder when Lack might be back, particularly since he’s been on quite a tear during Carolina’s unlikely push for a possible playoff spot. The Hurricanes didn’t provide a window of time for his recovery, and Lack himself was vague-if-positive:

In the mean time, the Hurricanes recalled Alex Nedeljkovic, who one would assume would primarily back up Cam Ward.

So, long story short: things seem very positive for Lack, though his rehab process remains cloudy.

Bruins recall McIntyre from AHL on emergency basis

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Update: As it turns out, Anton Khudobin might be the goalie dealing with an injury, according to the Boston Herald’s Steve Conroy. So, tonight’s starter boils down to Tuukka Rask or Zane McIntyre.

(Rask it is.)

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Tuukka Rask was supposed to be back in goal for the Boston Bruins tonight.

But then, just a couple of hours before their game with the Nashville Predators, the B’s announced they’d recalled goalieĀ Zane McIntyre from the AHL on an emergency basis.

It’s not yet clear why McIntyre was recalled. Rask missed Saturday’s game in Brooklyn with a lower-body injury, but coach Bruce Cassidy said earlier today that Rask was healthy and ready to go.

ā€œTuukka is healthy,ā€ said Cassidy. ā€œThatā€™s what he indicated to me and thatā€™s all I needed to hear. Heā€™ll be our starter tonight.ā€

If Rask is unable to play, expect Anton Khudobin to get the nod.

Khudobin backstopped the Bā€™s to a 2-1 victory over the Isles on Saturday.