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EA Sports unveils the first three legends for NHL ’12: Gretzky, Chelios and Bourque

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If you don’t already know by now, EA Sports’ NHL ’12 will feature a collection of retired hockey legends in its Legends Mode. In that last post, we speculated about which legends might be incorporated in the game, but those were just educated guesses. EA made three of those nine players official through a Games Trailer video late last night: Wayne Gretzky, Chris Chelios and Ray Bourque.

To start off the clip, you can see Gretzky working in his “office.” (Which was one of the things I hoped to see when that initial legends trailer was released. Nice job, EA.) The interesting part is that he was setting up a goal for Taylor Hall instead of, say, Jari Kurri. That indicates a few things: the game probably won’t have classic teams – an understandable bummer – and it also shows that legends will be available for use with all 30 NHL teams. (They’ll also be available in the game’s HUT mode, though one could imagine them being harder to come by.)

Moving on, the clip also showed Bourque and Chelios in action. Close-ups of Chelios and Gretzky make it clear that EA went to great lengths to capture the look of each player and the “office” footage shows that there was at least some attention paid to their styles and quirks. Here’s that video in question.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Of course, the question EA wants you to ask is: which other six players will be in the game?

There are various hints that indicate Mario Lemieux, Patrick Roy, Bobby Orr and Gordie Howe will likely be included in the game. (The shape of the silhouettes gives away the presence of a goalie and a few players who aren’t wearing helmets. Sadly, Craig MacTavish probably won’t be one of those players.)

Doug Miller of Kukla’s Korner does a solid job of breaking down the remaining candidates for the last two spots (assuming that the first seven are correct, of course).

So with that, here is my short list of more “modern” forwards, along with likely team, who might grab one of those final two spots…

– Mark Messier (New York Rangers)
– Joe Sakic (Colorado Avalanche)
– Steve Yzerman (Detroit Red Wings)
– Mike Bossy (New York Islanders)

Taking the “helmet” issue into account, here are some old school alternatives, of which there could only be one included, assuming I’m right about Howe and Orr…

– Jean Beliveau (Montreal Canadians)
– Bobby Hull (Chicago Blackhawks)
– Maurice Richard (Montreal Canadians)
– Bobby Clarke (Philadelphia Flyers)

Woof, it’s pretty tough to narrow that list down to just two more players, isn’t it? If I had to narrow the list down a little bit, I’d say that one of the spots could come down to Yzerman or Messier while the other might come down to Hull or Richard. Again, that’s a complete guess, though.

Which nine legends would you like to see in the game? Personally, I’m a little bummed out that Dominik Hasek probably won’t be involved, especially since video game technology has come far enough to accurately mimic the Slinky-spine movements that made him so fun to watch. As they say in sports and sports video games, there’s always next year.

Latest way the Wild lost? Killed by penalty kill

Minnesota Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk sits on the ice after giving up a goal to St. Louis Blues' Jori Lehtera, of Finland, during the second period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
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It’s said that variety is the spice of life, yet it seems to be the spite of the Minnesota Wild.

As head coach Mike Yeo said, this struggling team appears to find a new way to lose virtually every night. That couldn’t have happened once again on Saturday, when they fell 4-1 to the St. Louis Blues, could it?

Actually …

If you ask Jarret Stoll, the latest problem was the penalty kill.

Honestly, Stoll may have been too specific, likely trying to throw his own unit under the bus. Instead, it might be more accurate to say that Minnesota’s special teams let them down.

Indeed, the Wild struggled to limit the Blues’ power play, which went an unsettling 3-for-6. That said, Minnesota had a chance to trade blows with St. Louis. Instead, the Wild managed one power-play goal on seven opportunities.

The silver lining is that the Wild believe that they showed more fight than this fragile bunch had been generating before.

On the other hand, with Jonas Brodin on IR and Jared Spurgeon apparently hurt, that silver lining may not be so easy to see.

Statement in Blackhawks’ blowout of Stars? Coach Q says they’re even

Chicago Blackhawks center Artem Anisimov (15) scores a goal against Dallas Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen (32) during the second period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016, in Dallas. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
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Worry (if you’re pulling for the Stars) or gloat (if you’re a Blackhawks fan) all you want, but the bottom line is that the Central Division’s No.1 spot is clearly in Chicago’s control after Saturday night.

The Blackhawks earned a decisive 5-1 win against the Dallas Stars, giving them a five-point standings lead over Dallas for the Central Division lead.

You may feel like that’s more of the same, but consider this: things would look a lot closer if Dallas won or gained points, as they hold three games in hand on the ‘Hawks.

At least one Blackhawks player admits this game means a little more than your average W.

Indeed, while Antti Niemi was pulled from the game and Kari Lehtonen faced his own struggles in Dallas’ net, Corey Crawford ranked as one of the big reasons why the score was so lopsided.

(Artem Anisimov had a big say in that, too.)

As a wise coach with 1,000+ games of experience would do, Joel Quenneville didn’t go overboard in assessing the victory.

Was this a statement game? Who knows, but a certain statement is that the Blackhawks now have a five-point standings lead.

Brad Marchand wins it … on a penalty shot … in overtime

Boston Bruins' Brad Marchand celebrates after scoring on a penalty shot during the overtime period of the Boston Bruins 2-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres in an NHL hockey game in Boston Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
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Looking at the standings, beating the Buffalo Sabres was pretty important for the Boston Bruins. The Atlantic Division’s run for spots appears particularly congested out East.

Of all the Bruins to get a chance to win it all, the team might have wanted Brad Marchand to have that opportunity. He’s on pace to destroy his previous career-highs for scoring, and Marchand’s been particularly hot lately.

Either way, Marchand came up big indeed, scoring the rare overtime game-winner on a penalty shot. Check out the drama below:

That can be a big extra point and ROW (regulation/overtime win) when the regular season is finished.

Note: Many believe that Marchand should not have received a penalty shot on the play.

Crosby kills the Cats: Penguins end Panthers’ winning streak

Pittsburgh Penguins' Sidney Crosby (87) collides with Florida Panthers' Connor Brickley (86) during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Pittsburgh, Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2015. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
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For quite some time, it looked like the Florida Panthers would keep the Pittsburgh Penguins under wraps.

Florida nursed a 1-0 lead into a 2-0 margin almost halfway through the third period, looking to win its sixth consecutive game. That looked great … and then Sidney Crosby + Kris Letang happened.

Let’s put it this way: this GIF of Crosby being frustrated is amusing, yet it doesn’t exactly tell the story of Saturday’s 3-2 overtime win for the Penguins:

Instead, Crosby grabbed his 900th point assisting on a Letang goal, and finished the night with 902 by collecting the game-tying goal and grabbing a helper on Letang’s overtime game-winner.

Crosby crossing that barrier is indeed special, even if it prompts “What if?” questions about No. 87’s health.

The resurgence of Crosby and Letang already played a big role in the Penguins going from disjointed and frustrating to sneaky and scary, so it  shouldn’t be that surprising to see them play so well. Doing so in such brisk order is a little bewildering, however.