Goalie Pekka Rinne #35 of the Nashville Predators looks on during a break in the action against the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center on March 30, 2013 in Denver, Colorado.
(March 29, 2013 - Source: Doug Pensinger/Getty Images North America)

Pekka Rinne, once pepper-sprayed by Finnish pizzeria owner, highlights ’13 Masterton nominee list


The official nominees list is in for the 2013 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy and, if voting is based purely on entertaining anecdotes, Pekka Rinne will be the runaway winner.

Nashville’s Masterton nominee for this season, Rinne had this story attached to his nomination bio:

In the summer of 2006, after Rinne’s first year in North America with the Milwaukee Admirals, he was at a bachelor party in Finland when he was a victim of an assault by a pizzeria owner.

The assailant fired pepper spray into Rinne’s eyes and tackled him. Rinne had to undergo shoulder surgery, which kept him out four months.

“I was still young and right away you’re thinking ‘this is it,’ ” Rinne said in a 2011 article about the incident. “It’s a scary feeling.”

Kudos to whoever wrote this for going into such detail, though now we’re left to wonder why a Finnish pizza joint owner was packing pepper spray. Is this, like, a thing?

Anyway, back to the Masterton…

The award is given annually to the National Hockey League player that “best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication” to hockey.

Last year’s winner, Montreal’s Max Pacioretty, captured the award after suffering a concussion and fractured vertebrae (on this hit from Zdeno Chara) to record career-highs in goals (33), assists (32) and points (65).

Each team was asked to submit one player for consideration for this year’s award.

They are:

Western Conference

Andrew Cogliano (Anaheim), Steve Begin (Calgary), Marian Hossa (Chicago), Jean-Sebastien Giguere (Colorado), Vinny Prospal (Columbus), Ray Whitney (Dallas), Patrick Eaves (Detroit), Ryan Smyth (Edmonton), Jonathan Bernier (Los Angeles), Josh Harding (Minnesota), Pekka Rinne (Nashville), James Sheppard (San Jose), Brian Elliott (St. Louis), Shane Doan (Phoenix), Kevin Bieksa (Vancouver).

Eastern Conference

Adam McQuaid (Boston), Jochen Hecht (Buffalo), Dan Ellis (Carolina), Peter Mueller (Florida), Andrei Markov (Montreal), Stephen Gionta (New Jersey), Radek Martinek (New York Islanders), Marc Staal (New York Rangers), Andre Benoit (Ottawa), Sidney Crosby (Pittsburgh), Kimmo Timonen (Philadelphia), B.J. Crombeen (Tampa Bay), James Reimer (Toronto), Tom Poti (Washington), Ron Hainsey (Winnipeg).

Video: Dylan Larkin adds to his rookie goals lead

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So far, the 2015-16 crop of rookies is living up to the hype, if not exceeding it. Connor McDavid‘s unfortunate injury hasn’t even derailed this year’s crop.

The Detroit Red Wings are watching their own blue chip blossom, as Dylan Larkin is making an instant impact.

No. 71 scored his 10th goal of the season against the Florida Panthers on Sunday, fattening his rookie goals lead.

He still needs five points to match rookie points leader Artemi Panarin, though.

Latest report leaves Carey Price’s injury timeline fuzzy

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There’s one thing we seem to know about Carey Price‘s injury situation: he first got hurt stepping on a puck on Oct. 29, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman.

Contrary to earlier reports about him missing about a month, it sounds like his window of recovery is still up in the air (which, to be fair, could mean that he’ll still miss about a month when it’s all said and done).

ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun reports that Price underwent testing with Montreal’s team doctor on Saturday and is expected to go through more; we may not know more about his expected injury timeline until early this coming week.

So, basically, Price’s situation is fuzzier than his mustache right now.

Leg injuries can be tricky anyway, so we shouldn’t be too surprised that there are mixed signals regarding Price, and this may remain a fluid situation for some time.

(But we’ll hopefully know more soon enough.)

Lightning lament life as a .500 team

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The Tampa Bay Lightning have plenty of time to rise above mediocrity, yet it still must be deserving to finish at .500 for two straight months.

After last night’s 3-2 loss to the New York Islanders, that’s exactly where they find themselves:

Record at the end of October: 5-5-2

Record at the end of November: 11-11-3

As of this writing, the Lightning found themselves on the outside looking in at the playoff picture. It all stands as a pretty tough thing for the reigning Eastern Conference champs to swallow.

The uncomfortable-yet-vital question is: can the Lightning break out of this funk?

Looking at their schedule, it won’t be easy, at least not right away.

They crawl through California during a three-game road trip to start December, and they also face six of eight on the road from Dec. 2 – 18.

The Lightning soak up home dates to finish 2015 after that, but what damage will be done by then?

Frankly, the Bolts will need to dig deep to break this pattern. If nothing else, they’ve fought with their backs against the wall before.

Dubinsky won’t change, and he won’t go easy on Crosby


Sometimes a suspension will shame a player, or at least inspire him to change the way he plays.

That apparently won’t happen regarding Brandon Dubinsky‘s one-game timeout session for cross-checking Sidney Crosby.

Dubinsky told Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch that he won’t alter his style, whether it’s against Crosby or someone else.

“Nope,” Dubinsky said. “You know, I’ve played the same way my whole career and I’m not going to change. The next time I have an opportunity to play (Crosby), I’m going to play him hard.”

In case you’re wondering, that next opportunity comes on Dec. 21 in Pittsburgh, assuming that both players are healthy and not suspended.

One can understand Dubinsky’s perspective, although such honesty would be that much more interesting if there’s another incident with Crosby. His initial reaction to the hit was interestingly candid, admitting that his “stick rode up” on his adversary.

Would that stance – which, from a harsher view, might seem flippant to Dubinsky’s critics – open the door for a bigger future bit of a discipline?

Maybe, maybe not … but at least his comments aren’t as inflammatory as what John Tortorella said (at least on the record).