2012 Molson Canadian NHL All-Star Skills Competition

Today on NBCSN: The 2012 NHL All-Star Game


It’s finally here. The NHL All-Star Game between Team Alfredsson and Team Chara drops the puck in Ottawa this afternoon (4:00 p.m. ET) and while it’s just an exhibition and the guys are out there to do their part to light up each other’s goalies, there are some curious juxtapositions in this game.

Team Alfredsson is made up of all the Swedish All-Stars. Daniel Alfredsson captaining the team with Henrik Lundqvist as the assistant managed to pick up Alex Edler, Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin, and Erik Karlsson.

This also means that Team Alfredsson has all the Vancouver Canucks in today’s game on their team. Comparing that with Team Chara captained by Zdeno Chara who also drafted his Bruins teammates Tyler Seguin and Tim Thomas to his side and you have a the whole Bruins-Canucks rivalry at hand. If this game were played like a playoff game, there’d be enough fire there to make sure no one tuned out.

As it is we’ll have to hope to see maybe the Sedins work some magic around Thomas or perhaps see Chara throw a bodycheck on Edler. With checking being practically forbidden, any hit would be enough to cause a stir. If all that isn’t enough drama for you, perhaps seeing Phil Kessel being coached by Claude Julien one more time is enough to get you excited.

As for the guys that will take the worst of it in the game, the goalies are ready to be shelled. Team Chara rolls with Thomas, Canadiens goalie Carey Price, and Red Wings starter Jimmy Howard. Team Alfredsson will try to hold things down with Lundqvist, Kings star Jonathan Quick, and Blues starter Brian Elliott.

For what it’s worth, Bovada Sports (formerly Bodog) has the over/under on goals scored in this game at 19.5 — Keep in mind that last year’s game ended up 11-10 win for Team Lidstrom over Team Staal and the 2009 All-Star Game was a 12-11 win for the East over the West.

Streaking: Team Chara starting goalie Tim Thomas has been the winning goalie in the last three All-Star Games. Should Team Chara get ahead while he’s in the game, Thomas will have a shot at making it four in a row. It’s a bit of a silly stat, but it’s impressive nonetheless.

See also: Breaking down Team Alfredsson and Team Chara’s lineups.

Star struck: Sens chase Niemi after three goals on nine shots (Update: And now he’s back)

Milan Michalek, Antti Niemi
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Bet Antti Niemi misses playing Buffalo.

Niemi, who stopped 46 of 47 shots in back-to-back wins over the Sabres last week, was hooked during Tuesday’s game against the Senators after allowing three goals on nine shots.

In Niemi’s defense, tonight’s goals weren’t exactly his fault.

John Klingberg coughed up the puck badly on Bobby Ryan‘s opening tally…

And on Ottawa’s second goal, Jyrki Jokipakka lost a board battle moments before Milan Michalek snapped one home:

The Sens’ third marker also came on a turnover.

Update: Well, this is quite the night for Dallas netminders. Kari Lehtonen replaced Niemi, allowed a goal, then got hurt in this collision with Klingberg, which forced him from the game and Niemi back into action.

Foley aware of Seattle reports, but says Vegas is ‘proceeding as if we will play in 2017’

Gary Bettman, Bill Foley
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Bill Foley, the man behind Las Vegas’ prospective NHL expansion team, says he knows about reports claiming the league is keeping an eye on a proposed Seattle arena.

He also says he isn’t going to worry about things out of his control.

“I’m aware of what’s going on (in Seattle) but in my communication with the league, our situation isn’t dependent on third parties,” Foley said Tuesday, per the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “We believe we’re in good shape and we’re proceeding as if we will play in 2017.”

Over the weekend, a Seattle Times piece suggested the NHL had yet to award Vegas or Quebec City an expansion franchise because the league is “avoiding any expansion decision until after an upcoming Seattle City Council vote likely to decide the fate of Chris Han­sen’s proposed Sodo District arena.”

The piece also suggested Seattle could be granted an expansion club for the 2018-19 campaign.


That vote, on granting Hansen part of Occidental Avenue South for his arena, is expected by January. No one knows how it will go, only that the lead-up should be politically charged and fiercely contested.

But passing it — future legal appeals notwithstanding — paves the way for Hansen to obtain his Master Use Permit and have his arena “shovel ready” should he choose to build.

And that means, once a vote passes, it’s entirely possible the NHL could conditionally award Seattle an expansion team.

To his credit, Foley remains solely focused on his Vegas bid — not what potential rival bids could bring to the table. And while he confirmed he has yet to be invited to the Dec. 7 NHL Board of Governor’s meeting in Pebble Beach, he re-iterated his only objective is to strengthen Sin City’s case for a hockey team.

“I’m focused on trying to find a place to build our practice facility,” he said. “I’m focused on the new arena and our fans who’ve put down deposits on season tickets.”

Report: Sabres’ Lehner (ankle) suffered minor setback in recovery

Robin Lehner
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Sabres fans hoping Robin Lehner would return early from his high ankle sprain received some tough news on Tuesday — per ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun, Lehner suffered a “little setback” in his recovery.

Lehner was hurt in Buffalo’s opening game of the year and, originally, slated to miss 6-10 weeks. Six weeks have now passed, but optimism he’d be able to return in the earlier part of the timeframe has been dashed — LeBrun says Lehner’s projected return is now for mid-to-late December.

(So, closer to the 10-week estimate.)

While it’s not great news for the Sabres, it’s a positive development for the club’s other Swedish netminder, Linus Ullmark.

Recalled from AHL Rochester shortly after Lehner got hurt, Ullmark is on a really nice run in November — just check his last five games played:


The last Lehner update from the Sabres came in early November, when head coach Dan Bylsma told the News his goalie was “doing really well,” but “not close yet to getting back on the ice.”

Welcome Ryan Johansen to the trade rumor mill

Ryan Johansen

Well, this kind of seemed inevitable — there are now trade rumblings involving Columbus center Ryan Johansen.

This evening, TSN’s Darren Dreger revealed that teams have been calling Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen about the talented pivot, adding that one team classified Johansen as being “softly” in play.

More (transcribed from video):

“That doesn’t mean [Kekalainen] is calling teams, saying ‘what are you going to give me?’ However, when teams call, he’s not dismissing the interest. He is saying ‘well, what’s your offer?’

“What that tells you is there’s at least some interest in considering the trade of Ryan Johansen and, as we saw on the weekend, his minutes dropped, he was demoted to the fourth line — so if the right deal comes along, they’ll consider it.”

The incident Dreger referred to occurred during Sunday’s 5-3 loss to San Jose, in which head coach John Tortorealla limited Johansen to just 13:52 TOI — his lowest total of the season.

It’s the latest incident from what’s already been a tumultuous year; not long after getting hired, Tortorella told the reigning All-Star MVP he was out of shape.

Johnansen was then away from the team for a pair of games dealing with an undisclosed illness. During that absence, the Dispatch reported Johansen had been hospitalized this summer because of an accelerated heart rate.

All this, of course, came one year after an ugly contract dispute at the start of last season, during which the Jackets and Johansen’s representation engaged in a public spat before agreeing to a three-year, $12M deal.