Which skills are the hardest? The all-stars weigh in

Bobby Ryan skates in on Corey Crawford (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)

COLUMBUS – The moves that NHLers can pull off are incredibly impressive, especially since they perform them in front of thousands of people live and many more on TV. The All-Star Game’s skills competition puts many of those tricks on display, but which are actually the hardest? The players themselves have weighed in.

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Steven Stamkos likely to stay in Tampa as NHL’s highest earner

Ken Campbell
Steven Stamkos (Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)

As of today, it’s looking more like Steven Stamkos is going to remain a member of the Tampa Bay Lighting for a long, long time. The only question now is whether or not he’ll sign the richest eight-year contract in NHL history this summer and become the league’s highest-paid player.

Stamkos, who has in the past been a little coy about his future with the Lightning, was a definitive as he’s ever been about his contract status. In fact, he set off something of a social media firestorm this summer when he retweeted a tweet from Adam Proteau suggesting Stamkos follow the lead of LeBron James and sign with his hometown team, the Toronto Maple Leafs. Stamkos’s deal with the Lightning expires after next season, but he and the Lightning can announce a contract extension as early as July 1. And that’s clearly what Stamkos wants to do at this point. Read more

Fellow top picks to Ryan Nugent-Hopkins: It gets better

Edmonton's Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images)

COLUMBUS – Despite some high-profile cancellations, a lot of players are happy to be at the NHL All-Star Game in Columbus this weekend. For some, it’s the chance to treat friends and family to a grand experience. For others, it’s the camaraderie on the ice. But Edmonton’s Ryan Nugent-Hopkins may also sneak in some time to do some fact-finding in Ohio.

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Bolts lose key blueliner Matt Carle, but have depth to handle injured vet’s absence

Adam Proteau
Matt Carle (Getty Images)

The Tampa Bay Lightning received some tough news Monday when they announced veteran blueliner Matt Carle would be out of the lineup for the next 6-8 weeks after surgery for an injured lower abdomen. Fortunately for the Bolts, they’ve got enough depth in their defense corps to keep them at or near the top of their division until Carle returns.

The 30-year-old Carle was injured Jan. 15 against Edmonton and had a 347-game snapped when he missed Saturday’s game against Colorado. He’ll have surgery Tuesday in Philadelphia to repair torn adductor muscles in his lower abdomen. And although his absence is a significant blow to a Tampa back end that’s already lost Radko Gudas for the rest of the regular season with a knee injury, the Lightning entered the season with one of the NHL’s deepest bluelines and are fortunate to have stellar Swedes Victor Hedman and Anton Stralman to pick up some of the slack. In that game against Colorado, Lightning coach Jon Cooper leaned on the duo to a greater degree, bumping up by a couple of minutes their average ice time of 22 minutes a night. Fellow veteran Jason Garrison will also be given more minutes, and youngsters Mark Barberio and Nikita Nesterov will get tested perhaps a little sooner than the organization would’ve preferred. But this is life in the compressed-schedule NHL – if you’re not anticipating injuries, you’re not being realistic. Read more

Yet more evidence that you should never fight Zdeno Chara

Ryan Kennedy
Zdeno Chara (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

If you have watched hockey consistently for the past 15 years or so, it should be perfectly clear to you that fighting massive Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara is the worst idea in the world. Few brawlers can claim a draw with the B’s captain, let alone a win – and Tampa Bay’s Cedric Paquette found that out the hard way last night.

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Tyler Johnson, Victor Hedman “day-to-day” for lucky Lightning

Jared Clinton
Victor Hedman (Getty Images)

Ask the Tampa Bay Lightning about how much an injury can hurt a team as they head toward the playoffs. They know all about it.

Last season, when goaltender Ben Bishop went down with a hand injury just days before the playoffs began, it destroyed any hopes the Lightning may have had in their first round series against the Montreal Canadiens. Montreal swept Tampa Bay in four games, and the Lightning headed home much earlier than some had expected. That’s why Lightning fans are probably counting their lucky stars on Tuesday. Read more

Five AHL players to watch the rest of the season

(Len Redkoles/Getty Images)

Every season, there are a few players who tear up the AHL and shock the big league when they finally make the jump. Last season, it was Detroit’s Gustav Nyquist. This season, Ottawa’s Mike Hoffman is making a name for himself.

So who are the players to watch from North America’s second best league? One of them, Teemu Pulkkinen, will likely make his debut tonight as a member of the same Red Wings Nyquist broke in with last season. Another, Teuvo Teravainen, worked his way in to the Chicago Blackhawks lineup following Kris Versteeg’s injury, but he was scratched on Thursday before drawing back in on Friday.

Another AHL notable, Pittsburgh’s Derrick Pouliot, is up with the big club, though he hasn’t seen game action since Jan. 2. Were he in the AHL at the moment, he, too, would make the list. But here are the five AHL players to watch in the latter half of 2014-15. Read more