Here are 10 storylines to watch the rest of the way

Slava Voynov  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

COLUMBUS – Well, that was some “showcase of skill” wasn’t it? Unless of course, you consider bodychecking, backchecking, stopping pucks and skating hard for pucks to be valuable skills.

There’s a good chance that you’ve forgotten whether Team Toews or Team Foligno won as you read this. But it was a good weekend and good on the city of Columbus for being so hospitable and welcoming. And good on the players for letting their hair down a little and letting the fans in on the fun.

Now to more important matters, specifically the second half and stretch run leading up to the playoffs. Here are 10 storylines that should provide some compelling moments as we hit the most crucial part of the season: Read more

Shea Weber unloads 108.5 MPH blast at All-Star Skills

Jared Clinton
Shea Weber  (Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)

Zdeno Chara may not be in Columbus for All-Star weekend, but he’s certainly going to be hearing about Shea Weber’s booming blast that nearly unseated his Hardest Shot Competition record.

Weber, the Nashville Predators blueliner who has put pucks through the net on more than one occasion and blasted holes in the boards with his booming slapshot, stepped up and fired an absolute laser during one of the night’s most famous events. Blink and you’ll miss it. Read more

Shea Weber finally wins hardest shot, could the Norris be next?

Ken Campbell
Shea Weber  (Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)

COLUMBUS – All right, so Shea Weber wins the hardest shot competition after finishing as runner-up three times. This is the same Shea Weber who has been a finalist, but not a winner, of the Norris Trophy in each of the past four seasons.

Soooo, if he’s finally removed the hardest shot monkey off his back, it only stands to reason we should be expecting an addition to his trophy case after the season, right?

“I know where you’re going with this,” Weber told thn.com after winning the event with a 108.5 blast, the second hardest shot in the history of the event. “I’m not going there.” Read more

Filip Forsberg gets that new-car smell in a big way

Ken Campbell
Forsberg and Nuge

COLUMBUS – Filip Forsberg went from having no cars to owning two in record time. The Nashville Predators rookie, who has been bumming rides from teammate Mattias Ekholm most of his first season in the NHL, bought a new Jaguar recently, then won a Honda Accord for being taken last overall in the all-star fantasy draft.

In a recent piece on Forsberg in THN’s Rookie Issue, Forsberg talked about not having a set of wheels. “That might change soon,” he said. Little did he know at the time he was going to have one too many cars before long.

“It was just a really fun thing to be here with the guys,” Forsberg said. “Hopefully I can play in another All-Star Game and move up in the draft in the future. And I get a car out of this. That’s not too bad either.”

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins of the Edmonton Oilers, who was chosen second last in a fan vote, also received a Honda Accord. No word on whether it was equipped with a block heater.

Both Forsberg and Nugent-Hopkins said they would likely give the new car to a family member, “but you can never have too many cars,” Forsberg said.

Nugent-Hopkins said he expects members of his family back in Burnaby, B.C. will be vying for the prize.

“I’m expecting a few calls from family members lobbying for it,” Nugent-Hopkins said. “We’ll see who gets it.”

Predators’ Filip Forsberg will replace Evgeni Malkin at all-star game

Filip Forsberg (Getty Images)

The NHL didn’t take long to fill the all-star game void created by injured Penguins star Evgeni Malkin, naming Predators rookie Filip Forsberg as his replacement at the 2015 game in Columbus.

Malkin was declared unable to play early Thursday afternoon due to a lower-body injury, and Forsberg was a relatively easy choice to replace the veteran center. The 20-year-old Swede leads all Preds scorers with 15 goals and 40 points in 45 games, and was already scheduled to participate in this year’s all-star festivities as one of six freshmen selected to take part in the skills competition. Read more

Preds coach Peter Laviolette at center of hockey’s first, uh, winking scandal

Adam Proteau
Peter Laviolette (Getty Images)

Many things get said between NHL coaches and on-ice officials during a game. But it’s safe to say the conversation that recently took place between Predators head coach Peter Laviolette and referee Kevin Pollock will not be seen again anytime soon.

During a game between the Blackhawks and Preds at the end of December, Laviolette took umbrage with what he perceived to be Pollock winking at the Blackhawks’ bench. And he did not take it well at all. At. All.
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Barry Trotz sheds a single, manly tear following Nashville tribute

Josh Elliott
Barry Trotz in Nashville

Physically speaking, there’s no sturdier-looking coach than Washington bench boss Barry Trotz. The guy’s built like a bomb shelter. But the former Predators coach was clearly shaken up on Friday when his old team paid tribute to his 15-year career with the Nashville franchise.

Fans waved their towels, stood on their feet and applauded while Trotz graciously waved from the Washington Capitals bench during the first TV timeout.
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