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AHL reaps some lockout rewards

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Beyond charities and overseas leagues, there’s an obvious benefactor from the lockout: the American Hockey League.

That impact hasn’t been lost on AHL players and team owners, according to this lengthy story from The Associated Press.

” … I certainly think that there’s more of an emphasis on the American Hockey League now across the board,” Syracuse Crunch owner Howard Dolgon said. “People are realizing just how good this league is, and now that they’re seeing it, the players are probably feeling a real sense of pride playing in this league. We’ve always been the second-best league in the world.”

“Now, more people know that we are.”

The AP rolls out some specifics about attendance so far this season:

At midweek, overall attendance in the 30-team AHL stood at 970,416 after 184 games, an average of 5,274 per game. Five clubs were averaging more than 7,000 and another 10 were surpassing 5,000 nightly. Hershey led with an average attendance of 8,684 in six home games, while Syracuse had attracted 5,440 per game for the first four home dates, ahead of 2011-12.

Crunch forward (and Tampa Bay Lightning first-rounder) Brett Connolly spoke about playing under the shadow of the lockout after appearing in 68 NHL games last season.

” … Obviously, the NHL is on a lot of people’s minds, but it can’t be because you don’t know when it’s going to start again,” Connolly said. “If it’s locked out for the whole season, we’ve got a team here that can repeat. There’s a lot of positive things.”

Especially if you’re running an AHL team.

Despite tough fight, Stars hand Wild their sixth straight loss

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The Minnesota Wild put together the kind of effort that would beat a lot of NHL teams on Tuesday. Unfortunately for that beleaguered group, it wasn’t enough to edge the Dallas Stars.

Despite generating 40 shots on goal and generating 1-0 and 2-1 leads, the Wild lost to the Stars 4-3 in overtime. With that, they’ve lost six straight games.

(The view doesn’t get much prettier if you pull away a little further, either, as Minnesota’s only won once in the last month, going 1-9-2 in their last 12.)

Ultimately, the Stars’ big guns were too powerful. Tyler Seguin generated two assists and so did Jamie Benn, who set up John Klingberg‘s overtime game-winning goal.

Again, the effort sure seemed to be there for the Wild, even if they’re far beyond the point of accepting moral victories.

As frustrating as this must be, Minnesota’s not that far from a playoff spot. Still, it has to sting to see “Close, but not good enough” as a prevailing theme as of late.

Royal beating: Lucic, Kings crush Bruins 9-2

As Boston Bruins' Patrice Bergeron (37) looks on Los Angeles Kings' Milan Lucic waves to the crowd after a tribute to him was played on the screen during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Boston Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
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The Boston Bruins welcomed Milan Lucic back on Tuesday. Maybe they shouldn’t have extended such a warm welcome to the Los Angeles Kings overall, however.

You won’t see many games as lopsided as this one, at least in 2015-16, as the Kings walloped the Bruins by a humbling score of 9-2.

Lucic wasn’t just there, either, as he scored a goal and an assist in his quite triumphant return to Boston.

Tuukka Rask had a short night in Boston’s net, yet it wasn’t as if Jonas Gustavsson enjoyed his time. It was a pretty sound beating by all accounts.

This dominant win is a heck of a way for the Kings to begin an imposing seven-game road trip, which continues against the New York Islanders on Thursday. The Bruins probably want to burn the tape on this one themselves, as they’re about to head on a six-game road trip.

Video: Evander Kane believes he won his fights vs. Alex Petrovic

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The Florida Panthers are beating up the Buffalo Sabres where it counts – on the scoreboard – but Evander Kane was happy to highlight his perceived victories in a couple bouts.

Buffalo’s power forward fought Alex Petrovic twice on Tuesday, and Kane wasn’t shy about holding up a “2-0.”

You can watch the second fight above, and the first one below, via Hockey Fights by way of MSG:

This GIF might just say it all, really:

Update: Apparently they fought again moments after this post went up.

Probably safe to call it a rivalry between the two, right?

The Panthers ultimately won 7-4.

Fight video: Yes, a visor-breaking punch

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Some hockey players resist the urge to wear a visor, at least if they’re given that choice.

Perhaps a few will say “Hey, Nathan Beaulieu will just punch it off anyway.”

Maybe not, but Beaulieu provided a rather unique moment in his fight with Cedric Paquette during the Montreal Canadiens – Tampa Bay Lightning game. You can watch that bout in the video above, and see a cut on the Lightning pest’s face from that blow.

Want it in GIF form? OK then: