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  • What is it about long suspensions and players with the letter ‘o’ in their last names recently? Probably a coincidence between Dan Carcillo’s recent six-game ban and Zac Rinaldo’s eight-game suspension for charging and boarding, which was announced Monday. 

    The Rinaldo hit in question occurred Jan. 20 when he charged and slammed a defenseless and puck-less Kris Letang into the boards of a Flyers/Penguins game. Left his feet, shoulder to face ... awful

    Here is a look at the video – we don’t have an official NHL suspension vid at the moment … may have something to do with that pesky Northeastern snowstorm and stranded NHL personnel in Columbus from last weekend’s All-Star Game:

    Completely and utterly brutal play by Rinaldo – who most of us picked for most-suspended player this year.

    Last season Rinaldo, who waived his right to an in-person hearing, was suspended four games for a head-shot on Buffalo blueliner Chad Ruhwedel.

    He was also suspended two-games for charging Jonathan Ericsson (2012), and was fined for a late hit on Jacob Josefson and tripping Zach Parise in the same game. Not quite in Carcillo territory, but getting there.

    As for Letang, who missed one game, and his injury, the blueliner appears to be recovered per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

    Earlier today, following his team's practice at Consol Energy Center, Letang said he passed all concussion testing and was optimistic he will play in the Penguins' next game at home Tuesday against the Winnipeg Jets.

    So eight games? Players like Rinaldo and Carcillo are interesting cases, as we pointed out recently. And the shifting dynamic away from oafish enforcers – see Scott, John – to more skill-type goons like Rinaldo and Carcillo has created an interesting wrinkle in how the game needs to be policed.

    The fact that Rinaldo boasted about it afterwards is kind of absurd. Crushing someone’s skull … not a laughing matter, nor is being docked $73,170.72.

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    Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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  • Sergei Bobrovsky was forced to pull out of the NHL All-Star Game last week after he suffered a groin injury during a loss to the Winnipeg Jets. And now that the weekend is over and players are returning to their teams, we’ve learned that this season for the Columbus Blue Jackets is definitely cursed. 

    The team announced on Monday that Bobrovsky will miss the next 4-6 weeks because of the injury. Goaltender Anton Forsberg has been recalled from Springfield.

    As of last Tuesday, Columbus was third the NHL in man games lost to injury with 170. Only Pittsburgh and New Jersey reported more. After a thrilling 2013-14 season which ended with the franchise’s second playoff berth, 2014-15 has been a nightmare. Seemingly every week there’s someone on the Blue Jackets getting hurt, a major reason why the team sits 14 points out of a playoff spot as the second half gets set to begin. 

    Being forced to miss All-Star Weekend was tough for Bobrovsky, as he told the Columbus Dispatch. His father had flown in from Siberia to see him participate, and we would have likely been treated to a patented Bob/Nick Foligno celebratory hug during the Fantasy Draft at some point. 

    “It is sad, really sad,” he told Michael Arace of the Dispatch. “I wanted to play in front of my fans, with my teammates (Ryan Johansen and Foligno). It’s the first time (as an) All-Star for me. It was the first time for my city. It was so special, and I am so disappointed right now.”

    The Blue Jackets weren’t the only team hit by injury. New York Islanders head coach Jack Capuano dropped a bombshell after practice on Monday when he announced forward Kyle Okposo would miss the next 6-8 weeks with an upper body injury.

    The team’s second-leading scorer and John Tavares’ wingman played 19:33 during a 7-4 win over Philadelphia and then participated in a full practice last Tuesday. Capuano didn’t reveal what happened to Okposo. 

    Obviously it’s bad news for the Islanders, but it’s a blow that the team is in better position to handle than in year’s past. With GM Garth Snow beefing up their depth up front, there’s confidence that Mikhail Grabovski or one of their young forwards can fill Okposo’s slot while he’s gone. 

    New York faces a tough test right out of the break with the visiting New York Rangers Tuesday night, a game that may be postponed due to the east coast snow storm.

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    Sean Leahy is the associate editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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  • Did you hear the news that the Devils reportedly put Tim Sestito on waivers? Oh and Mike Richards as well.

    Wait, THE Mike Richards?

    Yes, that Mike Richards, who has been extraordinarily unproductive this year in spite of having a $5.75 million salary cap hit over the next five seasons.

    Said the Los Angeles Times:

    Richards was an integral part of the Kings'  2012 Stanley Cup championship win, and although his role was diminished last spring when they won the Cup again, he did manage 10 points in 26 playoff games. This year, Richards has five goals and 15 points in 47 games and is a minus-7; since Nov. 22, he has managed to score just once.

    The move will give the Kings cap relief on a player that they were getting absolutely nothing out of. Will someone claim him? The answer is probably no … mostly because he does not have the one ring to rule them all.

    In all sincerity the Kings have gotten a lot out of Richards. Two Stanley Cups? Depth down the middle. Stinks for him that at the ripe young age of 29, he looks so completely donezo. And the Manchester Monarchs suddenly got way deeper at center.

    Some general manager would have to be nuts to pick him up. The issue isn’t exactly the cap number, it’s the amount of years. That’s just too many for a guy who has fallen off so far like Richards.

    And what if Richards decides to call it quits before the end of the deal? Unless the Kings try Flyers-like cap circumvention ... the below per TSN's Bob McKenzie.

    According to the Orange County Register, the Kings toyed with the idea of parting ways with Richards over last summer:

    Lombardi had a chance, last June, to buy out the final six seasons of Richards’ contract. Instead, he kept Richards, encouraged by what he believed to be Richards’ re-dedication to training and fitness.

    Per The Times, the Kings would like to re-sign Justin Williams to an extension this summer and need cap space to do so. Also, this should enable Los Angeles general manager Dean Lombardi to do his usual deadline deal that propels the Kings from a meandering regular season to yet another Stanley Cup.

    They really have a very interesting formula for this.

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    Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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  • Like many six-year-olds, little Alex is losing his baby teeth.

    Like any hockey player, he knows losing a Chiclet on a slap shot is a rite of passage.

    So with some parental supervision -- and kids, don't try this at home without some -- Alex combined his passion for the game with some amateur dentistry and yanked his own tooth out.

    By tying it “super tight” to a puck and then firing the disc at the goal.

    (Has Shea Weber considered this as a side job?)

    According to his father, the experiment was a success, and Alex now has an official hockey smile. And, not for nothing, an incredible hockey set-up in his basement. Things have come a long way since Sidney Crosby fired pucks at a washer/dryer. 

    Question is, does this moment put him on the road to becoming an oral surgeon or winning the shot accuracy contest at the 2030 NHL All-Star Game?

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  • COLUMBUS, Ohio – Florida defenseman Aaron Ekblad sat on the Team Toews bench at the 2015 NHL All-Star Game and started to get a little nervous. There was such anxiousness in the 18-year-old’s body that he started to shimmy a little.

    “I was sitting on the bench getting the shakes a little bit. I was trying not to try too hard,” he said. “That’s kind of like the thing to do almost. It is hard to do. I got chirped a little bit for trying too hard.”

    An All-Star Game for a first year player is tough. You want to play at your regular season pace. You want to look good in front of your boyhood heroes. You don’t want to embarrass yourself. But really, it’s just a glorified exhibition.

    “That was like summertime hockey,” Ekblad later said.

    With several players pulling out at the last minute before the mid-winter classic/sponsor-fest, there were few replacements close and available. So the league had to add its pool of rookies it originally designated for the Saturday skills competition.

    Ekblad, Nashville's Filip Forsberg and Calgary's Johnny Gaudreau all found their way into the big game Sunday and all found out about it during the weekend. This led to some interesting emotional drama for the youngsters and some travel rearrangements.

    “I heard some rumors I was playing at first and I got kind of a little bit excited. I heard I wasn’t playing, which wasn’t very fun,” Gaudreau said. “Then I got a chance to play and I was extremely excited about it.”

    Ekblad led the way with four assists. Forsberg notched two goals and ‘Johnny Hockey’ notched two assists. Interestingly, Gaudreau and Forsberg played on a line with one another.

    “You just have to try to make plays when they’re there,” Forsberg said. “Just try to have some fun out there and I think everyone did a pretty good job at that.”

    At points, the two rookie forwards were lined up with crafty veteran Patrik Elias, the oldest player in the game at age 38. And Elias didn’t need to calm down the youngsters. In fact they brought him up to speed when he notched an assist on Forsberg’s first goal.

    “I think they fit in fine. I think we had a really good group of guy here and made it easier for them to be around us,” Elias said. “Their skills, their hands. You can see the game they play, the vision. It was pretty impressive.”

    But all in all they were still rookies and still got the young guy treatment. When it was brought up to Florida's Roberto Luongo that Ekblad had four assists, he gently ribbed his Panthers teammate.

    "Did he? But how many was he on the ice for against?" Luongo said.

    Ekblad was a minus-2 in a game with no penalties, Bobby Lu.

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    Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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  • COLUMBUS, Ohio — We need a recount! Just as Latvians and Chicago Blackhawks fans voted in droves for the NHL All-Star Game starting six, Columbus Blue Jackets fans inside Nationwide Arena on Sunday did the same for Ryan Johansen. 

    Even though Johansen and Team Foligno lost 17-12 to Team Toews, the Blue Jackets forward (four points) won Most Valuable Player honors after an in-arena Twitter vote. He's the first losing player to take home the car since Daniel Briere and his five-point night in 2007. He’s also the first player since Alex Kovalev in 2009 to win the award in front of the home fans.

    But if there are two fanbases who might have some beef with the results it’s those of the New York Islanders and Philadelphia Flyers. John Tavares joined Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Vincent Damphousse, Mike Gartner and Dany Heatley as the only players with four goals in an All-Star Game. Voracek, meanwhile, tied Lemieux’s All-Star record of most points with six with a hat trick and three assists.

    So do the two Team Toews teammates feel robbed of a 2015 Honda Accord EX-L?

    “Well, you score four goals I think you probably know you’ve got a good opportunity,” Tavares said. “But always nice to see the hometown guys do well. Ryan had some nice goals tonight, some nice plays. Definitely very worthy as well.”

    “Joey deserves it the way he handled the weekend overall,” said Voracek. “Him and Nick Foligno, I'm sure they've been under the spotlight. Even at the skills yesterday, they did a great job. It was well-deserving.”

    Despite going home without an extra car in the driveway, Tavares and Voracek had weekends to remember. 

    Voracek returned to Columbus, where he began his NHL career, saw some old friends and showed why he currently leads the league in scoring. Afterward, he called the weekend the “most fun in hockey that I’ve ever had.”

    Tavares’ historic All-Star night was another moment for Islanders fans to smile about this season. As the second half gets set to begin, they can look atop the Eastern Conference standings and find their team.

    Team Toews tried to get Tavares a record fifth goal, but he lost an edge on his skate and had trouble accelerating. But that's okay, as four ended up being memorable enough for Tavares.

    “You certainly won’t forget a game like that.”

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    Sean Leahy is the associate editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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  • COLUMBUS, Ohio – Alex Ovechkin wanted a car in Columbus this weekend. Badly. 

    He lobbied to be the last pick in the NHL All-Star Fantasy Draft on Friday, as the “Mr. Irrelevant” for each team was given a brand new Honda – a campaign hilariously chronicled on his Instagram feed, including a hand-written sign that read “I WANT TO BE LAST. I NEED A CAR.”

    Alas, he was picked second to last.

    On Sunday, he vowed to win the Most Valuable Player in the NHL All-Star Game, a wild affair that saw a new record established for goals scored in a game with 29.

    Alas, he finished with three assists, but his linemate and local fan favorite Ryan Johansen won the car.

    "I'm not disappointed,” said Ovechkin. “There's going to be a couple surprises."

    The surprise is a heartwarming one: Honda is giving Ovechkin a 2015 Accord, and Ovechkin will do what he intended to do since he arrived in Columbus with a car on his mind: Donate it to Ice Dogs, a Northern Virginia hockey program for special needs youth players.

    Ovechkin has worked with the program before. He met a young player named Ann Schaab in the preseason, a 10-year-old girl with Down Syndrome whom he befriended. She memorably asked the Washington Capitals captain for a sushi date, and the resulting video was a viral sensation.

    After Ovechkin begged for a car at the NHL Fantasy Draft and didn’t get one, executives from Honda took notice. “Once we saw all the action, activity and emotion, we reached out to the NHL and asked if we could work something out,” said Nick Lee, their national advertising manager.

    “We didn’t find out the reason he wanted one until we connected with his agent.”

    As Ovechkin told NHL.com, "Honda connected with my agent and they just gave me a car, so I'm going to donate to [Ice Dogs] and that sweet little girl."

    Ovechkin’s agent David Abrutyn said the Capitals star always intended to donate any car he received during All-Star Weekend to charity, and decided that Ice Dogs should be the beneficiary because of his time with Ann Schaab.

    “With the skate that he did with the [Ice Dogs] in the preseason … it was about the organization that Ann works with. It was a special time for him,” he said.

    Ovechkin was surprised by the gesture, and was glad he could help the organization.

    "It's going to go to Ann and the [Ice Dogs] organization. It's all about having fun and making people happy."

  • COLUMBUS, Ohio – Imagine you’re at the 2015 NHL All-Star Game at Nationwide Arena. You’re sitting down, about to have a nice cold soda. You put the straw to your lips. Team Foligno scores a goal! You hear AC/DC come on the loudspeakers … “For those about to rock …” (BOOM) a fake cannon blast sound fills the entire building.

    You're shocked. You're scared. You almost had a heart attack. The soda? All over your recently cleaned shirt. Oh the humanity.

    This is something that actually happens at every Blue Jackets game when the home team scores. But it took extra prevalence Sunday in Team Toews’ 17-12 win over Team Foligno.

    Even the players in the game seemed to be getting annoyed. Team Toews/Panthers goaltender Roberto Luongo tweeted mid-game that he wanted the cannon to stop.

    Don’t worry Bobby Lu … you had many friends in the press box.

    “I didn’t like the cannon. After a while, you get used to it, but the first few times … yesterday and stuff was a little bit freaked out,” Luongo said.

    Said Team Foligno/Flyers forward Claude Giroux, “I hate the cannon.

    Technically the cannon was fired 11 times. There was a misstep after a goal in which it did not go off.

    The cannon is adored by the Blue Jackets and lauded with their Cannonball Wall in this building.

    The rest of us? Not so much.

    “It definitely catches you by surprise even if you’re ready. You see a bunch of guys out there preparing for it before it goes off,” Predators defenseman Shea Weber said.

    How does one prepare if you’re on a hockey bench.

    “Plug your ears? You see guys bracing themselves and have a reaction to it,” he added.

    The main issue during the weekend involved the timing of the cannon. It didn’t just get fired after home goals. It caught fans and players off guard during introductions and other in-arena moments during Saturday’s skills competition.

    "No, I don't like that. I don't think anyone does,” Team Foligno/Kings defenseman Drew Doughty said. “It's not good when we come here. It scares me, still."

    But did motivation to not have the cannon fired spur Team Toews to victory? It’s a plausible theory.

    “You saw guys backchecking in the second and third period,” Luongo said. “You want to preserve the eardrums for a little bit.”

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    Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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  • COLUMBUS, Ohio – The 60th NHL All-Star Game was an offensive affair. 

    Take that any way you’d like.

    The teams captained by Jonathan Toews of the Chicago Blackhawks and Nick Foligno of the Columbus Blue Jackets set a new League record for most combined goals in an All-Star Game, in a 17-12 victory for Team Toews on Sunday at Nationwide Arena in Columbus.

    Patrick Kane’s (Foligno) goal at 13:09 of the third period was No. 27 for the night, breaking the 26-goal record set in 2001 during the North America vs. The World format.

    We don’t want to say the 29-goal night was overwhelming, but at one point the Civil War-dressed workers that fire a cannon after every home-team goal seemed to simply forget to do so. Maybe they ran out of ammo; the teams certainly didn't. 

    John Tavares of Team Toews became the sixth player in history to score four goals in the NHL All-Star Game. Tavares scored once in the first period, twice in the second and another in the third period.

    He joins some elite goal-scoring company: Wayne Gretzky, Campbell, 1983; Mario Lemieux, Wales, 1990; Vincent Damphousse, Campbell, 1991; Mike Gartner, Wales, 1993, and Dany Heatley, East, 2003.

    After two days of goofy fun at the NHL Fantasy Draft and the skills competition, the Sunday was a bit of a snoozer. The goals were plentiful, the skating was casual and the crowd only popped for the hometown heroes.

    So basically it was the NHL All-Star Game.

    The first period saw a combined eight goals, four by each team. Ryan Johansen (Foligno) had two of them, while Roberto Luongo (Toews) made a few quality glove saves. Radim Vrbata (Foligno) opened the scoring at 3:09 of the first period with his first all-star goal.

    The second period featured 11 goals, an All-Star Game record and a metric ton of sarcasm.

    Team Foligno goalie Marc-Andre Fleury of the Pittsburgh Penguins tied an ignominious record in giving up seven goals in a period. That tied Mike Vernon’s 1990 record for the Campbell Conference. The partisan Columbus crowd, which considers the Penguins arch rivals, began mockingly cheering his routine saves.

    Team Toews received goals from Ryan Suter, Tyler Seguin, Rick Nash, Filip Forsberg, two from Tavares and one from Jakub Voracek.

    The third period was just as porous, as the goals kept piling up at a record pace.

    Here’s the full scoring sheet for the game. Try not to strain your eyes:

    A few call-outs:

    - Philadelphia Flyers forward Jakub Voracek, the NHL's leading scorer, had a hat-trick and a six-point night. 

    - Jonathan Toews and Patrice Bergeron (Boston Bruins) had 5-point nights. 

    - Mark Giordano of the Calgary Flames led all skaters with a plus-5.

    - Tough minus-5's for Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Dustin Byfuglien.

    With two goals and two assists, Team Foligno and Blue Jackets center Ryan Johansen was voted by fans as the game’s MVP. He won a Honda. So now we can drive far, far away from this game.

  • John Tavaras just cost Kevin Shattenkirk the Norris Trophy.

    Ok, maybe that's a little too severe of a conclusion considering it's was a scoring play in the All-Star Game.

    Puck handling against Shattenkirk as he crossed the blue line, Tavares dangles the puck behind his skate, brings it back to the front, skates around the front of the net and fires a wrister at Carey Price from an awkward angle. At first the announcers thought Price made an unconventional semi-pad stack/turtle on its shell save, but alas, Tavares had scored.

    The video is way better than words can express:

    The goal tied the game at 4-4 with 57-seconds left in the first period. The camera caught the New York Islanders captain enjoying the replay of his goal from the bench and the look on his face is about as magical as his puck handling.

    Via Stef (@myregularface):

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    Jen Neale is a staff writer for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email her at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow her on Twitter!

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