2019 NHL All-Star rosters announced

The NHL has announced the four rosters for the 2019 All-Star Game today, scheduled to be held on January 26th in San Jose. Earlier today, Alex Ovechkin, who was elected captain of Metropolitan Division squad, told the league that he wouldn’t be attending and will accept the punishment of missing one game either before or after the break. Connor McDavid, Nathan MacKinnon, and Auston Matthews will represent the Pacific, Central and Atlantic respectively, as the other captains. A replacement captain for Ovechkin has yet to be named.

The full rosters are as follows:

Pacific Division

John Gibson (ANA)
Marc-Andre Fleury (VGK)

D Erik Karlsson (SJS)
Brent Burns (SJS)
Drew Doughty (LAK)

Connor McDavid (EDM)*
Johnny Gaudreau (CGY)
Joe Pavelski (SJS)
F Elias Pettersson (VAN)
F Clayton Keller (ARI)

Central Division

Pekka Rinne (NSH)
Devan Dubnyk (MIN)

D Roman Josi (NSH)
D Miro Heiskanen (DAL)

Nathan MacKinnon (COL)*
Mikko Rantanen (COL)
Blake Wheeler (WPG)
Patrick Kane (CHI)

Mark Scheifele (WPG)
F Ryan O’Reilly (STL)

Atlantic Division

Jimmy Howard (DET)
G Carey Price (MTL)

Keith Yandle (FLA)
D Thomas Chabot (OTT)

F Auston Matthews (TOR)*
F Nikita Kucherov (TBL)
F Steven Stamkos (TBL)
John Tavares (TOR)

F David Pastrnak (BOS)
F Jack Eichel (BUF)

Full List

By Zach Leach

Predators Beat The Blues To Advance to First WCF

Written by Jen Neagle at YahooSports.com

For the first time in franchise history, the Nashville Predators are headed to the Western Conference Finals.

In Game 6 of the series, the Predators defeated the Blues, 3-1. And the home crowd, as the kids say, was ‘lit.’

Kevin Fiala, who broke his leg in Game 1 against the St. Louis Blues, was on hand to whip the Nashville crowd into a frenzy following the anthem by multi-Grammy award winning group, Lady Antebellum.

The Preds didn’t appear to get the memo that the game had started for real.

Two minutes in, Austin Watson gets the puck and appears to attempt to get it out of the zone with the softest pass in the history of hockey. Colton Parayko easily intercepts. The Blues skate circles around the Preds before Vladimir Tarasenko sends a shot on net. The puck bounces off Pekka Rinne’s pad and lands behind the netminder’s skate where Paul Stastny punches it in. Blues up 1-0.

The sleepy Predators could not get anything going despite having two power plays to work off of. The first period ended with the Blues leading, 1-0.

Nashville pounded a double espresso (or something) during intermission because they came out awake.

Thirty five seconds into the second period, Mattias Ekholm fired a cross-ice pass to a waiting Roman Josi. The defenseman blasts a one-timer past Jake Allen to tie it up.

The Preds power play continued to struggle, getting another two opportunities with the extra man in the second, and coming up empty each time.

For the fourth time in six games, the Blues and Predators entered tied in the third period.

The physicality continued as Ryan Reaves plastered PK Subban. The Preds defenseman went back to the bench in pain, but would return to play. Reaves was not penalized.

The Preds took the lead early in the third.

Nashville caught St. Louis pinching. Viktor Arvidsson received a pass in the neutral zone and beat Jay Bouwmeester. Arvidsson, managed to hold up just slightly to buy time for a streaking Ryan Johansen.

Johansen beat Colton Parayko, then beat Jake Allen on the backhand. Preds go up, 2-1.

To continue reading this article, click here.

Blues Furious Over Late Penalty That Lead to GWG For Preds

Written by Jeremy Rutherford at St.Louis Dispatch.com

The Blues managed only one goal for the second consecutive game, so they have little to complain about in terms of not winning Game 4 against Nashville on Tuesday. But they weren’t happy with a turn of events that triggered the Predators’ 2-1 victory.

There was extracurricular activity throughout the game between members of the fourth lines, but when it happened with 15 minutes, 49 seconds left in regulation, the penalties handed out were not what many except the crowd of 17,273 at Bridgestone Arena might have expected.

The sequence resulted with the Blues’ Joel Edmundson and Ryan Reaves, along with Nashville’s Cody McLeod, being assessed roughing penalties, and on the ensuing power play Ryan Ellis broke open the scoring. The Predators added a goal by James Neal with 6:57 to play, and that stood as the game-winner after Edmundson scored with 3:49 to go.

The game finished close, but the Western Conference semifinal is no longer that, with Nashville’s victory building a 3-1 lead in a best-of-seven series that now heads back to Scottrade Center for Game 5 on Friday.

The Blues know one goal per game won’t cut it against the Predators and admitted that a too many men on the ice penalty on the power play in Game 4 was costly, but they all left Music City singing the same tune about the turning point in Tuesday’s game.

“I think it’s a terrible call,” Reaves said. “I disagree with it 100 percent. There’s 10 guys all grabbing one guy and you pick one extra on one team in a crucial part of the game in a big series … I think it’s bad judgment.”

To continue reading this article, click here.

Predators Beat Blues To Take 2-1 Lead in Second Round Matchup

Written by Adam Vingam at The Tennessean.com

Word of mouth dates Nashville’s christening as “Music City” as far back as the 1800s.

“Defenseman City” doesn’t have the same ring to it, but its origins are clearer. The Predators’ nearly two-decade existence has seen the franchise manufacture high quality defenseman after high quality defenseman. They are the organization’s defining characteristic and having a dramatic effect on the Predators’ playoff run to this point.

“I always say that our defense is our backbone,” Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne said after the team’s 3-1 second-round victory in Game 3 against the St. Louis Blues on Sunday. “It’s no secret. That’s the way it is.”

The Predators tied for the NHL lead with 181 points from defensemen this season, and now 12 of their past 13 goals have involved a defenseman in some capacity after each of their three goals Sunday included a point from the back end.

Nashville has a league-leading seven goals from defensemen this postseason, receiving two more Sunday.

“The last couple years, I’m pretty sure we’ve been tops or pretty close to the top of the league as far as contributing,” said Predators defenseman Ryan Ellis, whose first-period goal extended his playoff point streak to six games, second-longest in team history. “We stress how everyone has to be active.

“It’s a five-man game out there. We can’t watch the forwards do everything. The (defense) has to get up and do (its) part.”

The ability of the Predators’ defense to influence the flow of play might be unmatched in the NHL. It’s reflected in statistics used to track puck possession and the Predators’ 15-0 advantage in shots that spanned the first 13 minutes of Sunday’s second period.

“They know that they need their defensemen being part of the attack,” Blues coach Mike Yeo said. “That’s going to be a challenge. We knew that was a challenge right from the start walking into this series.”

To continue reading this article, click here.

Preds Score More Than Blues To Win Game 1

Written by Jake O’Brien at NBCSportsNet.com

The Nashville Predators’ 4-3 Game 1 win against the St. Louis Blues makes it difficult to use “perfect.”

You could get away with using that word, mind you, as the Predators followed up their surprising sweep of the Chicago Blackhawks by going up 1-0 against the Blues in St. Louis. Still, the ride was so bumpy in the third period, it’s probably wiser to focus on the fact that Nashville is unbeaten.

Because, yikes, that third period was a roller coaster for Nashville.

P.K. Subban scored a goal and two assists in the first 40 minutes to help the Predators bring a 3-1 lead into the final frame. The Blues absolutely dominated play in the third, however, briefly tying the game as they put immense pressure on Pekka Rinne & Co.

Ultimately, the Predators received a game-winner from an unlikely source in Vernon Fiddler, gaining a 1-0 series edge.

Even so, few will talk about “mystique” after that shaky finish.

For one thing, both Rinne and Jake Allen allowed goals that they’d like to forget. Also, both squads experienced lopsided periods; Nashville dominated shots in the second (15-8) while the Blues almost doubled-up the Preds in the third (11-6).

Nashville also seems likely to play without rising rookie Kevin Fiala, who was hospitalized after an absolutely horrifying crash into the boards.

It was a weird and often wild – sometimes nasty – contest, with the Predators ultimately coming out on top. There’s plenty of intrigue heading into Game 2, which airs on NBCSN at 8 p.m. ET on Friday.

To continue reading this article, click here.

Blues Hanging On To Dear Life Down 3-1

Written by Jeremy Rutherford at St.Louis Dispatch

A crowd 19,721 strong — the largest at Scottrade Center this season — was in their seats early chanting “Let’s Go Blues!” A video message from Arianna Dougan, the 11-year-old cancer patient who recently attended a Blues’ road trip as the guest of Vladimir Tarasenko, played on the Jumbo-tron. “Go Blues!” she shrieked. The puck dropped and they had a chance to sweep a playoff series for the first time since 2001.

The Blues had more motivation than perhaps needed going into Game 4 of their Western Conference quarterfinal series against Minnesota on Wednesday night and somehow it wasn’t enough.

The Blues came out flat and their emotions showed up too late, allowing the Wild to prevail 2-0 on goals by Charlie Coyle and Martin Hanzal and a 28-save shutout by goaltender Devan Dubnyk. The Blues now lead the best-of-seven series 3-1 as it heads back to Minnesota for Game 5 Saturday at 2 p.m. at Xcel Energy Center.

“That’s what you’re dealing with this time of year, the emotions,” Blues coach Mike Yeo said. “Whether it’s lack of desperation or nerves, we were on our heels. We let them dictate and not a good recipe.”

Minnesota was just more desperate Wednesday, and that was evident when Wild coach Bruce Boudreau pulled a maneuver rarely seen in the NHL. He insisted Wednesday morning that despite having an offense with just three goals in the three games of the series, he was keeping his lines the same. He even went to the extreme of having his players skate their old combinations during the pre-game warmups, and then switch to the new ones at the start of the game.

“We’re down 3-0, you’ve got to try everything you can try,” Boudreau said. “Down 3-0, all the tricks are out of the bag.”

To continue reading this article, click here.

Blues About To Sweep Wild

Written by Joe Bouley at Hockey Wilderness.com

Early goals in this series have been killer. That same trend held true Minnesota’s 3-1 loss to the Blues in Game 3. St. Louis got on the board early and then they let Jake Allen take over.

And he did everything.

Outside of not stopping a Charlie Coyle shot, Allen thwarted the Wild’s insistence to dump-n-chase by acting like a third defenseman back in his zone. Oh, and he also made saves – a bunch of them. He turned away 40 shots in the win, while Devan Dubnyk at the other end allowed three goals on 31 shots. So much was made about Minnesota getting to the front of the net, but even when they do, Allen has just been too good to beat.

The first period was really the only period you needed to know how the rest of the game was going to go. Minnesota, a team that needed to be on the scoreboard first, was betrayed by their goaltender Devan Dubnyk. Colton Parayko’s shot at the top of the circles found twine over Dubnyk’s glove not even 4 minutes into the game. Ryan Suter wasn’t good on his gap. He wouldn’t be able to get away with that kind of gap on Tarasenko, and it should forgiven for giving that much up against a defenseman.

But the Wild were clearly rattled after the softy. Suter was forced into a hooking minor when he (hardy) put his stick on something called Zach Sanford. The following penalty kill was a mess. It was a lot of running around, few clears, and lots of good looks for the Blues, including a shot off the post. That said, Minnesota did kill the penalty.

To continue reading this article, click here.

Jake Allen Stood On His Head Against Minnesota

Written by Pete Blackburn at FoxSports.com

The St. Louis Blues stole Game 1 of their opening round series with an overtime win on the road against the Wild on Wednesday night. Jake Allen’s ridiculous performance between the pipes was a big reason why.

The 26-year-old Blues goalie brought his A-game for the series opener, making a career-high 51 saves against the league’s second-best offense in Minnesota. The Wild outplayed St. Louis and led in a bunch of statistical categories — including shots, possession, face-offs, and hits. Minnesota actually doubled the Blues’ shot output 52-26, but Allen stifled the Wild and kept them off the board nearly all night long.

Allen had an up-and-down year in St. Louis. After a rough start to the season in which he went 17-13-3 with an ugly .895 save-percentage, he turned it around following the firing of head coach Ken Hitchcock on February 1st. After Hitchcock’s dismissal, Allen went 16-7-2 with a .938 save-percentage and three shutouts under Mike Yeo. The Blues had the league’s lowest goals-against-average during that time.

But heading into Game 1, doubters — including myself — wondered if that stretch was possibly just a fluke. Allen’s career playoff numbers before Wednesday hadn’t been great. He had a .902 save-percentage in 12 career postseason appearances, so it was fair to wonder whether he’d be the same goalie that we saw in the second half of the regular season.

Then he went and had 51 saves in a playoff game. Whoops.

To continue reading this article, click here.

Caps Acquire Kevin Shattenkirk From Blues

Written by Tom Gulliti at NHL.com

Not satisfied with being in first place in the NHL standings and allowing the fewest goals in the League, the Washington Capitals made a bold move to further strengthen their defense by acquiring Kevin Shattenkirk from the St. Louis Blues on Monday.

Shattenkirk, 28, was the one of the top players available before the 2017 NHL Trade Deadline (3 p.m. ET; March 1) and came at high cost to the Capitals, who gave up forwards Zach Sanford and Brad Malone, a first-round pick in the 2017 NHL Draft and conditional draft picks. The Capitals also received Pheonix Copley to fill their need for an experienced goaltender with Hershey of the American Hockey League.

“We felt it was important to acquire another defenseman to strengthen and add depth to our blue line,” Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan said in a statement. “Kevin is a skilled, puck moving defenseman who we think will help our team at even strength and on the power play.”

The Capitals visit the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET; SN1, SNO, SNP, TVA Sports, MSG, CSN-DC+, NHL.TV). MacLellan said Shattenkirk is expected to arrive in New York on Tuesday and be in the lineup.

A right-handed shot, Shattenkirk is in the final season of a four-year, $17 million contract with an average annual value of $4.25 million, according to CapFriendly.com. As part of the trade, the Blues will retain 39 percent of Shattenkirk’s salary and bonuses.

Shattenkirk can become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. If the Capitals re-sign him to a contract that includes the 2017-18 season, or if they advance to the 2017 Eastern Conference Final and Shattenkirk plays in at least 50 percent of their playoff games in the first two rounds of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Blues will receive the Capitals’ second-round pick in the 2019 NHL Draft.

To continue reading this article, click here.

Blues Fire Their Head Coach

Written by Greg Wyshynski at YahooSports.com

Ken Hitchcock was fired on Wednesday morning by the St. Louis Blues, and it was really the only logical button to press for GM Doug Armstrong as he attempts to salvage a season that’s slipping away.

Hitchcock’s calling cards as Blues coach: The gritty defensive prowess of his teams and annual regular-season success.

The defense this season has been embarrassingly bad, leading to a 3.12 goals-against average for No. 28 in the NHL. The Blues have a minus-16 goal differential. In the first five years under Hitchcock, the team had a goals-against average of 3.12.

Much of that is insufficient goaltending – which is why goalie coach Jim Corsi was turfed as well – as the Blues team save percentage is last in the NHL at .887 even though they’re allowing the fourth-fewest shots per game (27.6). But some of it is also team defense. Something had to change.

The regular-season success had suddenly changed as well. Their points percentage in 50 games was .530. The Blues hadn’t finished lower than a .625 (in the 48-game lockout season of 2012-13) under Hitchcock. Fear of seeing that regular-season success erode was a constant lifeline for Hitchcock, even as his talented teams floundered in the postseason. No longer.

Plus, Armstrong was in the enviable position of having the team’s next head coach – not interim, not short-term replacement, but head coach – already on the bench in Mike Yeo.He was hired as the next head coach when Hitchcock decided to return for the 2016-17 and declared (at least at the time) that it would be his last in the NHL.

“I feel really confident that the team and the franchise is going to be in great shape with Mike at the helm,” said Hitchcock at the time, also using the word “stewardship” to describe his role.

To continue reading this article, click here.