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

NHL Power Rankings: Standout rookies for all 31 teams

Youth continues to be served in the NHL, as almost every team has a first-year player making an impact. For this week’s ESPN NHL Power Rankings — voted on as always by ESPN’s panel of experts — we take a look at some of its best freshmen (or, in some cases, middle schoolers waiting to get the call-up to the big school) of the 2018-19 season thus far.

1. Nashville Predators

Previous ranking: 1

Eeli Tolvanen. There was a time when this talented Finnish winger was being chatted up as a potential Calder Trophy contender, before being demoted to the AHL in the preseason. So far, he has eight points in 14 games with Milwaukee, with four of his seven assists coming on the power play.

2. Tampa Bay Lightning

Previous ranking: 2

Anthony Cirelli. The Lightning forward has four points in 15 games, skating 13:50 per night, with a minus-4 goal differential at 5-on-5.

3. Toronto Maple Leafs

Previous ranking: 5

Igor Ozhiganov. The 25-year-old KHL import doesn’t have a point in 12 games while skating 13:50 per night. As Kevin McGran of the Toronto Star wrote: “He hasn’t done anything particularly noteworthy — no big goals, or memorable passes. But he hasn’t done anything wrong, and that in itself is often praise-worthy of a defenseman.” So, congrats on not being noteworthy, Igor.

4. Colorado Avalanche

Previous ranking: 3

Vladislav Kamenev. Acquired from the Predators as part of the Matt Duchene trade, Kamenev had his arm broken by defenseman Brooks Orpik last season, limiting him to just three games. He’s played nine games this season with a goal and an assist, skating just 9:05 per game as a fourth-line center.

5. San Jose Sharks

Previous ranking: 6

Antti Suomela. The 24-year-old Finnish center has two goals and three assists in 14 games. His 1.91 points per 60 minutes at 5-on-5 is third best on the Sharks this season.

6. Boston Bruins

Previous ranking: 7

Ryan Donato. One of the most surprising demotions of the season thus far. Donato had one goal in 11 games and was sent down to AHL Providence to work on his offensive game. That’s after his incredible nine points in 12 games debut for the Bruins in 2017-18.

7. Winnipeg Jets

Previous ranking: 8

Brendan Lemieux. The most notable accomplishment for the spawn of Claude Lemieux this season has been a two-game suspension for an illegal check to the head of Vincent Trocheck. Otherwise, he’s averaged 5:32 per game and is a minus-17 in shot attempts at 5-on-5.

8. Washington Capitals

Previous ranking: 10

Travis Boyd. The depth forward, 25, was injured in the preseason and returned on Nov. 5 with two assists against the Oilers.

9. Pittsburgh Penguins

Previous ranking: 4

Juuso Riikola. Injuries on defense for the Penguins gave the 24-year-old Finn some early-season chances. He’s been a bit overwhelmed, to the tune of minus-39 in shot attempts, worst among Pittsburgh defensemen. Yes, including Jack Johnson.

10. Minnesota Wild

Previous ranking: 9

Jordan Greenway. The promising winger was sent down to the AHL after a rough start, playing a couple of games for Iowa. He returned with a rediscovered confidence, and has a goal and two assists in his last four games.

11. Calgary Flames

Previous ranking: 15

Juuso Valimaki. Another Finn! Valimaki, a first-rounder for the Flames in 2017, is skating 14:46 per game. He’s on the plus side of possession but has a minus-5 in goal differential.

12. Vancouver Canucks

Previous ranking: 24

Elias Pettersson. The Canucks star rookie became the first player to record 16-plus points through his first 10 career NHL games since 1992-93, when Dimitri Kvartalnov and Nikolai Borschevsky accomplished the feat. You heard it here first: Elias Pettersson, the new Nikolai Borschevsky.

13. New York Islanders

Previous ranking: 16

Josh Ho-Sang. As usual, interesting things are happening around Josh Ho-Sang. He was on fire for the AHL Bridgeport Sound Tigers, including a 12 points in 12 games run. At the same time, he had to apologize for comments he gave to the New York Post about his lack of premium ice time.

14. Montreal Canadiens

Previous ranking: 14

Jesperi Kotkaniemi. He’s 18 years old, the No. 3 overall pick in June, and has seven points in his first 15 NHL games for the resurgent Habs.

15. Columbus Blue Jackets

Previous ranking: 17

Calvin Thurkauf. He’s missed a bit with an undisclosed injury, but the former Swiss world junior team captain had 24 points in 75 games with Cleveland last season. He’s got some upside, and the Jackets will have an eye on the AHL to see what the winger does in his second pro season.

Full List

By: Greg Wyshynski

Every NHL team’s odds to win the Stanley Cup

Toronto Maple Leafs (13/2)

The pressure for the Toronto Maple Leafs to win this season is going to be immense. They were already a really good team with an embarrassment of riches at forward, and then they went out and signed John Tavares in one of the biggest free-agent moves in recent NHL history. For any team in any other NHL city, this would be pressure. In Toronto, where the Maple Leafs have not won a championship in the post-Original Six era and have not advanced beyond the first round since 2004, the expectation to do something is going to be sky-high. There will be no excuses to be had, either. They have a team willing to spend to the cap, with a couple of superstars, and the highest paid, highest regarded coach in hockey.

Tampa Bay Lightning (15/2)

This team is absolutely loaded on paper with a couple of Art Ross Trophy contenders (Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stamkos) at forward, a Norris Trophy contender (Victor Hedman) on defense and a Vezina Trophy contender (Andrei Vasilevskiy) in goal, with a strong supporting cast around all of them. J.T. Miller, Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat, Brayden Point, Ryan McDonagh, Anton Stralman, so on and so on. On paper this is one of the best teams in the league and has been in at least the Eastern Conference Final in three of the past four years. It is not a stretch to think the Lightening could be there again.

Winnipeg Jets (19/2)

They lost Paul Stastny to the team that beat them in the Western Conference Final, which is not ideal, but Stastny was always a luxury on this team. The Jets have one of the best collections of young forward talent in the league, and Patrik Laine could be on the verge of taking yet another step forward this season (50 goals?). The key to their success will be whether or not starting goalie, Connor Hellebuyck, repeats what he did a year ago for them.

Nashville Predators (11/1)

No team in the NHL has a defense that can match Nashville’s. The Predators also are incredibly deep at forward, and they have two goalies capable of starting and playing at a high level. There is no real, clear-cut weakness on this team, and even better, the entire core is locked in place on long-term, salary cap-friendly contracts. The Predators fell a little short in their quest to repeat as Western Conference champions, but they are not going away as Stanley Cup contenders anytime soon.

Full list here

Capitals giving Washington fans reason to believe as they take 2-0 lead vs. Lightning h

TAMPA — A running joke for Washington area sports fans for many years has been that every spring, in our nation’s capital, cherry blossoms bloom and the Washington Capitals wilt.

But this season’s Capitals appear determined to break the cycle of postseason failures. The Capitals turned in another strong overall game to down the Tampa Bay Lightning 6-2 and claim a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference final.

Two weeks ago, the story was the Capitals hadn’t been to the conference finals in the Alex Ovechkin era. Now, the Capitals are two wins from reaching the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in 20 years.

“We are playing good,” said Brett Connolly, who scored one of Washington’s goals.  “They look like they are a frustrated a little over there, and we have to continue to play hard, keep playing fast, and stay on them.”

Forgive Washington fans if they don’t know how to act on Tuesday when the series shifts to D.C. for Games 3 and 4.

The Capitals aren’t just squeaking by against the Lightning. Despite missing key center Nicklas Backstrom because of an injury, the Capitals have outscored the Lightning 10-4 in the two games in Tampa. This is a Lightning team that boasted the league’s No. 1 offense in the regular season. The Lightning have one even-strength goal against Washington in two games.

Enthusiasm abounds for the Capitals. It’s as if the Washington players, now with a huge weight lifted off their shoulders by escaping the second round, are now playing with unbridled confidence. The Capitals are 3-0 without Backstrom, who is among the NHL’s best centers. They are 7-1 on the road. They overcame a blown officiating call that led to a Lightning power-play goal.

Continue article here

By. Kevin Allen


Capitals vs. Lightning Preview: 3 keys to the series

The Capitals certainly have their work cut out for them in the Eastern Conference Final. They are facing a Tampa Bay Lightning team that has reached this round three times in the last four years and that has a loaded roster.

If they hope to advance on to the Stanley Cup Final, here are three keys to the series.

1. Winning the goalie duel

On paper, Tampa is better on offense and defense. If they get the better of the goaltending matchup as well then…well, there’s not much left for the Capitals to build on. Washington must have the edge in goaltending if they hope to win.

Fatigue is a definite question mark when it comes to Vasilevskiy. He already admitted midseason he was struggling with it and, while you could certainly argue that seemed to affect Braden Holtby as well, the difference is that Holtby got a chance to rest thanks to Philipp Grubauer.

Holtby played in 54 games in the regular season as compared to Vasilevskiy’s 65. Both goalies have given comparable performances in the playoffs thus far, but the longer this postseason run goes for Vasilevskiy, the more you have to wonder if fatigue will catch up to him again in much the same way it did during the regular season when his numbers plummeted.

Even if fatigue is not a factor, however, Holtby must still find a way to outperform his counterpart. Goaltending can often be a mitigating factor in the playoffs and it needs to be for Washington given how deep the Lightning’s roster is.

By: J.J Regan


Ben Bishop Out For 3-4 Weeks

Written by Alec Nathan at Bleacher Reports.com

Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Ben Bishop suffered a lower-body injury during Tuesday night’s matchup against the Detroit Red Wings and was forced to leave the game.

On Wednesday, it was revealed that he will miss three to four weeks because of it, per Erik Erlendsson of LightningInsider.com.

Bishop suffered the injury during the first period after going down into the butterfly position to stop a shot from Red Wings defenseman Nick Jensen.

The injury bug continues to find Bishop, who suffered a left knee injury after falling awkwardly during Game 1 of the 2016 Eastern Conference Final against the Pittsburgh Penguins, and the ailment was severe enough at the time that he had to be stretchered off the ice.

But before he was forced to bow out of the postseason, the VezinaTrophy finalist was positively superb throughout the 2015-16 campaign. In 61 appearances, the 30-year-old went 35-21 with a .926 save percentage and a league-leading 2.06 goals-against average tally.

But 22 games into the 2016-17 season, Bishop has regressed with a 9-10-2 record with a .907 save percentage and a 2.79 goals against average.

For a team that’s already without Steven Stamkos, who is recovering from a right knee injury that required surgery and will likely hold him out for the remainder of the regular season, Bishop’s loss will provide just another hurdle for the 16-14-3 Lightning.

Andrei Vasilevskiy will be Tampa Bay’s interim starter in net a year after he went 11-10 and posted a .910 save percentage. He’s been better than Bishop this year, going 7-4-1 with a .923 save percentage and 2.41 goals-against average.

Considering that he inked a three-year contract extension over the summer with Bishop’s deal set to expire at the end of the season, a long-term absence like this could open the door for the 22-year-old to make the Lightning his team.

To continue reading this article, click here.

Penguins Win Game 6, Force Finale in Game 7

Written by Corey Long at NHL.com

The Pittsburgh Penguins extended the Eastern Conference Final with a 5-2, Game 6 win against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Amalie Arena on Tuesday.

Game 7 is at Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh on Thursday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports). The winner will advance to the Stanley Cup Final.

Penguins goalie Matt Murray made 28 saves, 17 in the third period. Murray, who turns 22 on Wednesday, was back in net after Marc-Andre Fleury played in a 4-3, Game 5 overtime loss.

“He doesn’t get rattled,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said of Murray. “If he lets a goal in, he just continues to compete. … Usually it takes years to acquire that, and to have it at such a young age is impressive. That’s always impressed us about him. Certainly it’s impressed me since I’ve got to know him and watch him as a goaltender but also as a person.”

Murray, who was pulled from a 4-3, Game 4 loss after giving up four goals in two periods, had to survive a push from the Lightning before the Penguins scored two late goals.

“It’s not my job to worry about [coach’s] decision,” Murray said. “It’s my job to be ready if my name is called, and if my name is called, to go out and play my heart out and compete.”

Phil Kessel, Kris Letang, Sidney Crosby, Bryan Rust and Nick Bonino scored for Pittsburgh.

Brian Boyle scored twice for the Lightning, who lost Game 6 in a series for the third consecutive time. Tampa Bay also lost Game 6 of the 2015 Eastern Conference Final at home to the New York Rangers before winning Game 7 on the road (2-0).

“We had a great chance tonight and kind of tiptoed around it a little bit,” Boyle said. “We were tentative and weren’t aggressive. We weren’t on top. We weren’t skating.”

To continue reading this article, click here.

Lightning Have 3-2 Lead Over Pens In ECF

Written by Chris Adamski at New York Times.com

Two days after taking a puck to the face before the start of a game, Tyler Johnson took a puck to his back to end one.

Jason Garrison’s wrist shot deflected off Johnson as he stood in the slot facing the net, and the puck flew into the net 53 seconds into overtime to pull the Tampa Bay Lightning to within a win of their second consecutive Stanley Cup finals with a 4-3 win in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals Sunday night.

Johnson quipped that he thought Garrison was “going for my head again, so I just turned around.”

“I got lucky; I guess it hit me,” Johnson said. “I wasn’t really sure if it hit me or not — I was just excited when I saw it in back of the net.”

Tampa Bay leads the best-of-seven series, three games to two, and has a chance to close out the series in Game 6 Tuesday night at Amalie Arena in Tampa.

Nikita Kucherov’s second goal of the game tied it with 3 minutes 16 seconds left in regulation, and Alex Killorn also scored for Tampa Bay, which rode the momentum of Game 4’s home victory Friday.

Johnson was bleeding before faceoff of that contest after a teammate’s shot hit him during warm-ups. He played in the game anyway, with a protective grille over his face — one that was absent Sunday.

Johnson’s injuries, he noted casually, were some stitches and some missing teeth. “We will know more when everything settles down, but no, I don’t want to play with anything on my face,” he said. “That was an easy decision for me. As soon as they let me make the decision, I made it.”

Johnson was seemingly in the middle of everything Sunday — taking two penalties, delivering four hits, attempting a team-high-tying eight shots and assisting on Kucherov’s late tying goal before his lower back was the final thing to touch the puck an instant before it went past Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury for the winner.

“No shot’s a bad shot in overtime,” Garrison said. “So we will take the outcome of that.”

To continue reading this article, click here.

Pens Take Game 3, Lead Series 2-1

Written by Mary Clarke at SBNation.com

Game 3 between the Lightning and Penguins very much followed the script of their previous encounter. Pittsburgh dominated in shots, pressure and on the scoreboard in a 4-2 victory.

The Lightning started strong on the puck, putting up seven shots quickly on Matt Murray. However, their effort was wasted as the Penguins were able to tilt the ice slowly in their favor as the first period went on. A failed power play late in the first by the Lightning helped push the momentum further to the visiting Penguins.

It was all Pittsburgh in the second period, as the Penguins put up 21 shots on Andrei Vasilevskiy. In return, the Lightning mustered up just six shots in the middle frame. With 10 seconds to go in the period, a bad Lightning turnover gave the Penguins a break down the ice, which Carl Hagelin finished on the rebound to get their 31st shot of the game past Vasilevskiy.

Phil Kessel, who was visible all game, doubled the Penguins’ lead to 2-0 after being left alone in front of the net. Nick Bonino’s backhand pass found Kessel at the side of the cage, and he lifted the puck up and over Vasilevskiy for the goal.

Fourteen seconds later, Tyler Johnson finally got the Lightning rolling on a goal. The Penguins defense seemed to take a break on the following shift, giving Johnson a lane to speed through and catch Murray between the arm for the 2-1 score.

Coincidental minors plus one penalty from Braydon Coburn put the Penguins up on a 4-on-3 power play, and Sidney Crosby did not miss from a one-timer at the right circle that restored Pittsburgh’s two-goal lead.

Chris Kunitz finished the Penguins’ third-period explosion three minutes after Crosby’s goal. Tampa Bay’s defense was nowhere to be found as Kunitz was able to pick up a rebound and stash it home for the 4-1 score with Vasilevskiy out of position to make a save.

To continue reading this article, click here.

Crosby Wins Game 2 for Pens, Ties Series

Written by Kevin Allen at USAToday.com

Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper refused to accept the premise that Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin were not producing.

“I don’t know how dry they are,” Cooper said Sunday. “Doesn’t Crosby have 11 points in the playoffs? That’s probably a lot more than other guys who are playing right now. I think Sidney’s dry spell is most players’ hot spell.”

Maybe Cooper had a sense of foreboding.

On Monday night Crosby scored 40 seconds into overtime to lift the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 3-2 win that ties the Eastern Conference Final 1-1. It was Crosby’s first career NHL playoff overtime goal.

“I think he got rewarded for a hard effort,” Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan said.

Crosby scored on his sixth shot on goal against Tampa Bay goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy, who played brilliantly as the replacement for injured No. 1 goalie Ben Bishop.

“I thought he was outstanding tonight and probably the reason why that game went to overtime in the first place,” Cooper said.

Vasilevskiy made 38 saves and earlier in the game had robbed Crosby on a backhander set up by Malkin. “I thought I got pretty good wood on that,” Crosby admitted.

Bryan Rust, usually a fourth liner, set up the game-winner after he heard Crosby screaming for the puck.

“I didn’t think Rusty saw me, so I tried to let him know I was there,” Crosby said. “I didn’t know exactly what he was going to do. He had a good chance to shoot, too, but he made a perfect pass.”

The Penguins poured 16 shots on Vasilevskiy in the third period. “I thought we had the right mindset going into the third,” Crosby said.

“As the game wore on, I thought we got better and better,” Sullivan said.

Although Vasilevskiy is 21, he has some experience in big games. He replaced an injured Bishop in last year’s Stanley Cup Final and won that game.

To continue reading this article, click here.