Johan Franzen, Jakub Kindl

Could Detroit end up in the Southeast Division? It’s being discussed

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Could the Detroit Red Wings end up in the Southeast Division next year? According to TSN’s Bob McKenzie, that’s one realignment move that’s getting the most traction amongst the NHL governors.

According to McKenzie, the idea getting the most run would see the Red Wings move to the Southeast Division and trading places with the Winnipeg Jets in a straight swap, sending the Jets back to the Western Conference. Getting to the Eastern Conference has been high on the Wings’ wish list and with realignment coming next season, there will be changes ahead. It would also mean that fellow Eastern time zone mates in Columbus would be stuck still holding the bag in the Western Conference.

Of course, this move is nearly as logical as having Winnipeg in the Southeast now. The closest team to Detroit, geographically speaking, would be Washington, followed by Carolina. Having the two Florida teams as division mates makes virtually no sense at all. Getting the Red Wings in the mix with Alex Ovechkin and Steve Stamkos (not to mention former Wings captain and current Lightning GM Steve Yzerman) helps create a lot of marquee matchups and added drama.

Winnipeg moving to the Central Division would end the Dallas Stars’ hopes of landing in the Central and getting themselves out of the Pacific Division. It also means that the NHL Board of Governors would be both caving in to Detroit’s wishes (granting a Bettman promise?) while simultaneously wussing out on giving the NHL the radical realignment and four division setup that’s been rumored already.

If you want to throw your tinfoil hat on for a second, the NHL could be holding off on their radical realignment while they figure out just what and potentially where the Phoenix Coyotes end up. Their future in the desert hangs by a thread and if they are forced to relocate, it could change things dramatically. That’s enough of the tinfoil though.

If the NHL wants to get things right, they’ll do it by making things as normal as possible. Planting palm trees in Detroit doesn’t make them a southeastern team. It’s either that or they’re taking the lyrics to Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” a bit too literal about that whole “South Detroit” thing.

PHT Morning Skate: Sharks name stray cat after captain Joe Pavelski

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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

–The stray cat that ran onto the ice prior to Game 1 between the Sharks and Preds has been named after Joe Pavelski. (Associated Press)

–Speaking of that black cat, here’s a mountain of pucks shaped like the cat. (The Score)

–When Lukas Head was younger, he played with Steven Stamkos and P.K. Subban. Here’s his story. (Toronto Star)

–Watch the highlights from yesterday’s game between the Stars and Blues. (Top)

–A look behind the scenes of the NHL draft lottery. (Canadian Press)

–Two-time Olympic gold medalist Sharon Szabados loves curing and the Oilers and she was forced to make a tough choice on Saturday. (Sportsnet)

Pascal Dupuis, who was named one of the Masterton Trophy finalists, is adjusting to retirement. (NHL.com)

Pavelski’s late goal helps Sharks grab 2-0 series lead over Preds

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The San Jose Sharks became the only team in the second round to jump out to a 2-0 lead in their series. The Sharks did it by beating the Predators 3-2 in Game 2 on Sunday night.

San Jose opened the scoring in the second period when Logan Couture buried a rebound by Preds goalie Pekka Rinne. Brent Burns took the initial shot from the point and extended his playoff point streak to four games.

The Predators finally got on the board at the 12:56 mark of the third period when Mattias Ekholm tied the game at one.

Here’s the goal:

Nashville’s good fortune didn’t last very long. Sharks captain Joe Pavelski gave San Jose a 2-1 lead less than five minutes later.

Pavelski also picked up two assists in the game. The 31-year-old has at least one point in six of his seven postseason games in 2016.

Joe Thornton then added an empty-netter in the final minute of play before Ryan Johansen scored with four seconds remaining.

Despite the loss, Preds head coach Peter Laviolette wasn’t too disappointed by the way his team played.

The Predators outshot the Sharks (39-25), they outhit San Jose (46-26), but they just couldn’t outscore them.

Like the old saying goes: “you’re not in trouble until you lose a game on home ice.” The Preds still haven’t done that, which means they’re not done yet.

The series now shifts to Nashville for Game 3, which will be played on Tuesday night.

Video: Marc-Edouard Vlasic saved by his visor after taking Shea Weber shot to the face

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It’s a scary night for players getting hit in the head with pucks.

After Brian Elliott was hit in the head by a Jason Spezza slapshot, it was Marc-Edouard Vlasic‘s turn to narrowly avoid disaster.

In the third period of Sunday’s game against the Predators, Vlasic took a puck to the face. The end result could have been catastrophic had Vlasic not had a visor.

You can see the incident by clicking the video at the top of the page.

It’s nice to see that Vlasic was in a joking mood after the game:

Hockey Twitter breathed a collective sigh of relief after Vlasic got back up:

It sounds like Olli Maatta won’t be ready for Game 3

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You’ve all seen it by now (if you haven’t, click the video at the top of page). Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta was forced to leave Game 2 against the Capitals after taking a late hit from Brooks Orpik. Not only was the hit late, but Orpik also caught Maatta in the head.

After the Penguins’ optional skate on Sunday, Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan wasn’t optimistic about Maatta’s chances of playing in Game 3 on Monday night.

“Olli’s being evaluated as we speak, so I don’t have any real update as far as his status is concerned,” Sullivan said, per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “He’s being evaluated today, we’ll probably have more information in the morning.

“I don’t have a lot of sense of his availability. I’m probably not optimistic, though.”

After the game, Capitals coach Barry Trotz stood up for his defenseman.

“We’ll let the league handle it,” Trotz said, per CSN Mid-Atlantic. “If you know anything about Brooks, he plays hard, he plays clean. He’s not a dirty player.”

And the league certainly did handle it, as they suspended Orpik for three games.

Related:

Penguins coach takes issue with late, high Orpik hit on Maatta