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Poll: Who will win the 2012 Vezina Trophy?

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As mentioned earlier, the NHL announced its Vezina Trophy finalists this morning — New York Rangers’ Henrik Lundqvist, Los Angeles’ Jonathan Quick and Nashville’s Pekka Rinne.

The nominations came as no real surprise given how well each goaltender has played this season, and what unique resumes each brings to the table: Lundqvist was the MVP of the best team in the Eastern Conference and the No. 2 squad in the NHL, Quick won 35 games and made the playoffs despite L.A. having the league’s second-worst offense and Rinne played more than any goalie in the league, leading in appearances (73) and wins (43).

Before we get to the vote, some things to consider:

— NHL GMs vote on the Vezina, not the Professional Hockey Writers Association. This is key, because there’s a long-held belief that Western Conference goalies (see: Quick, Jonathan) fail to get proper recognition because by the time they play, most GMs are passed out in a recliner.

— To that point: 17 of the last 20 Vezina winners have come from the Eastern Conference.

— Snubs? Not really. This has to be one of the strongest (and most obvious) trio of finalists in recent memory. You could make the case for Phoenix’s Mike Smith or St. Louis’ Brian Elliott — both had outstanding seasons — but to do that you’d have to remove one of Lundqvist, Quick and/or Rinne…and that’s a tough sell.

— None of the three finalists have won a Vezina before. This is Quick’s first-ever nomination; Rinne was a finalist for the first time last season while this is Lundqvist’s fourth time at the dance. Could be why many figure it’s his award to lose.

— The last Rangers goalie to win a Vezina was John Vanbiesbrouck in 1985-86.

— No King and/or Predator has ever won.

Okay, to the poll…

Crosby, Karlsson and Trocheck are NHL’s three stars of the week

Pittsburgh Penguins' Sidney Crosby celebrates his goal during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Carolina Hurricanes in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Jan. 17, 2016. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
AP
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Penguins center Sidney Crosby, Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson, and Panthers center Vincent Trocheck have been named the NHL’s three stars for the past week.

From the NHL:

Crosby led the League in goals and points (5-3-8) in three games as the Penguins (26-18-7, 59 points) earned four of a possible six points to secure the second Wild Card position in the Eastern Conference.

Karlsson led the League in assists and ranked second in points (0-7-7) in three games as the Senators (24-23-6, 54 points) won one of three starts for the week.

Trocheck notched six points (3-3—6) in three games, helping the Panthers (31-15-6, 68 points) widen their lead atop the Atlantic Division to six points.

Related: Red-hot Crosby could make Pens a flawed (but dangerous) dark horse

Malkin to miss third straight game with lower-body injury

Evgeni Malkin
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Evgeni Malkin‘s “nagging” lower-body injury will keep him out at least one more game.

Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said this morning that the star center will sit out tonight at home against the Ducks. Malkin already missed two contests this weekend in Florida. His status is day-to-day.

The Penguins lost, 6-3, in Tampa on Friday, but rebounded Saturday with a 3-2 OT win over the Panthers.

Pittsburgh’s next game after tonight’s is Wednesday at home versus the Rangers.

McDonagh out with concussion after Saturday’s altercation with Simmonds

Ryan McDonagh
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The New York Rangers will be without Ryan McDonagh tonight at home to New Jersey, the club announcing this morning that the defenseman is out with a concussion.

McDonagh left Saturday’s game in Philadelphia following an altercation with the Flyers’ Wayne Simmonds that ended with McDonagh taking a punch to the face from Simmonds.

Simmonds received a match penalty and was thrown out of the game, but did not receive any supplemental discipline.

Given the standings, the Rangers can ill afford to lose McDonagh for long. They play in Pittsburgh Wednesday, followed by three home games against Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Chicago.

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Lucic’s plan is to ‘remain a King’ for remainder of career

Milan Lucic, Alex Burrows, Dan Hamhuis
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Tuesday night, Milan Lucic will play his first game in Boston as a member of the Los Angeles Kings.

It should be an emotional return for the big 27-year-old winger. In an interview with the L.A. Times, he recalled his time with his former club fondly, saying how great it was to be a “part of one of the best-ever eras to be a Bruin.”

A pending unrestricted free agent, Lucic also commented on his contract negotiations with the Kings.

“Nothing to get excited about,” he said. “There’s been two or three little talks here and there. My plan is to remain a King and hopefully finish off my career here. Like I said, I go day by day and you never know what tomorrow is going to bring.”

Lucic has 12 goals and 18 assists in 50 games this season. Though the Kings reportedly want to keep him, the question is whether they can find the cap space to make it happen.

Los Angeles already has Anze Kopitar, Jeff Carter, Dustin Brown, Marian Gaborik, Kyle Clifford, Drew Doughty, Jake Muzzin, Alec Martinez, and Jonathan Quick locked up long term. Plus, Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson will require new deals after next season.

Related: Why Lucic is an interesting pending UFA