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Video: Early NHL 13 trailer is all about skating

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I hate to bum everyone out, but here’s a sobering thought: there are only four-to-seven NHL games left in the 2011-12 campaign. Along with the 2012 NHL Entry Draft and free agency, hockey fans will probably turn to EA Sports’ NHL 12 for their hockey fix, which might make people clamor for NHL 13 in turn. While Electronic Arts polls fans to determine the cover star, Operation Sports shares some screen shots taken from this early preview video.

Perhaps I’m not very observant, but I’ve found the skating in the games to be pretty fantastic, so it wasn’t immediately clear what precisely the difference is (despite how undeniably cool all of that looked). Game Informer sheds a little more light on the changes that are in store for the next iteration of the popular (and unopposed) hockey video games series, which includes these bits. (Also added: some quips from your nerdy, game-playing author.)

 1. Previous NHL entries featured speed differentiation between players, but the developer is the first to admit the skaters lacked explosiveness. For NHL 13, EA Canada has completely reworked the skating engine, which its marketing team is dubbing True Performance Skating. This year speedy wingers like Marian Gaborik have the ability to fly by defenders.

That’s bad news for digital Hal Gill.

4. To build the new skating system, EA Canada has added over 1,000 new animations. Players will dig their skates hard into the ice when making abrupt changes in direction, and it takes them a second to gather their momentum when quickly stopping and skating in the opposite direction. You will also see skaters subtly dodge defenders who mis-time their checks.

OK, now that sounds promising.

7. EA has tweaked goaltender performance to open up the five hole for more scoring opportunities.

8. For the first time in the series, goalies now have individual limb control, which introduces more save possibilities and could also result in more deflection goals off their arms and legs.

EA Sports needs to call it Total Limb Control, unless that’s a real plan for a scary future in which we’re all flailing in some sickening virtual reality goaltending simulator. (If that ever happens, I’ll totally take a swig of a drink after allowing a goal, just like a real netminder.)

Anyway, Game Informer’s preview includes plenty of other early details on the much-anticipated next installment in the long-running series.

Video: Canucks escape Arizona with another win for the moms

at Pepsi Center on February 9, 2016 in Denver, Colorado.
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With their mothers traveling on the road trip — Matt Bartkowski‘s mom, Beth, has become a cult hero in Vancouver after another priceless media interview — the Canucks took back-to-back wins, moving them right back into the thick of the playoff fight in the Western Conference.

After beating the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday, the Canucks held on for the 2-1 victory in Arizona on Wednesday, despite being without Brandon Sutter (broken jaw), Alex Edler (broken fibula) and Derek Dorsett, who was scratched from the lineup due to illness, as per Sportsnet’s Dan Murphy.

It was only a few days ago, following a home loss to the Calgary Flames, that it felt like the Canucks’ playoff hopes were essentially dashed. They fielded their healthiest lineup in months and couldn’t score and couldn’t win.

Two quick wins later, they’re two points out of a Wild Card spot in the West, despite getting outshot in Arizona.

Up by a goal in the third period, defenseman Alex Biega played the hero, pulling the puck out of the crease after it got by Ryan Miller on a backhand shot from Kyle Chipchura, maintaining Vancouver’s lead.

Phaneuf burned on Zetterberg game-winner in Sens debut

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A day after getting traded out of Toronto, Dion Phaneuf made his Ottawa Senators debut.

It ended with a 3-1 road loss for the Senators, and Phaneuf getting burned by Henrik Zetterberg on the eventual game winner early in the third period.

Zetterberg picked up the puck near the Ottawa blue line, beat Phaneuf to the outside, slipped the puck under the stick of the Sens’ newest blue liner and quickly roofed his shot on Craig Anderson.

“He made a real good play and you’ve got to give credit when credit is due,” Phaneuf told the Ottawa Sun.

“I put my stick there, he put (the puck) under and he made a good shot. I’ve got to have a better stick in that situation, but you’ve got to give him credit for that play.”

Phaneuf finished the night with a minus-one rating and two hits in almost 22 minutes of ice time, putting him second among Sens defensemen in that category behind Erik Karlsson, who played a whopping 33:30.

Phaneuf drilled Red Wings defenseman Danny DeKeyser with a hard slap shot early in the third period.

DeKeyser played one more shift — all of 10 seconds — before exiting the game.

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.”