Minnesota Wild v Nashville Predators

PHT Morning Skate: Ryan Suter is more than Shea Weber’s wingman

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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.

As respect for Shea Weber has exploded around the league, there are those who may have forgotten that Ryan Suter could be just as good. (Tennessean)

Whether he’s ready or not, the magical 2011 has finally come to an end for Logan Couture. (CSN Bay Area)

Cam Charron talks about Petr Mrazek’s celebrations and reminding everyone that hockey games between young kids (the World Juniors) is supposed to be fun. (Backhand Shelf)

Talk about living the charmed life. Not only has Adam Henrique had a chance to break into the NHL, he’s getting the chance to do so between Ilya Kovalchuk and Zach Parise. This is taking the “putting him in position to succeed” idea to a whole new level. (Star-Ledger)

The good news is that Team USA looked a lot better in their narrow defeat to Team Canada at the World Junior Championships. The bad news is that the game didn’t mean a thing (for either team) after back-to-back losses by Team USA earlier this week. (Buzzing the Net)

Is it too soon to call the Avalanche losers in that Semyon Varlamov trade? What about the Erik Johnson trade? Adrian Dater says the jury is still out. (Denver Post)

Tim Thomas spoke out about going 11 days between starts after the Bruins 4-2 loss in Dallas. Actually, he refused to say anything—which told us all we needed to know. (Boston Herald)

Matthew Hulsizer had until midnight to complete his purchase of the St. Louis Blues. Since the deadline has come and gone, now what? (Post-Dispatch)

Panthers’ enforcer Krys Barch was ejected from Saturday night’s game after a linesman heard him drop a racial slur directed at PK Subban. Judging by the Panthers general partners comments, the game misconduct could be the least of Barch’s worries. (On Frozen Pond)

Finally, Steven Stamkos finishes the year in style. A hat trick for Stammer and the 500th assist for Martin St. Louis. He’s going to be pretty good when he grows up. (NHL)

Struggling Sabre Tyler Ennis out with upper-body injury

Tyler Ennis, James Wisniewski
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Tyler Ennis can probably relate with the Buffalo Sabres’ opponent on Wednesday, as he’s struggling almost as much as the Nashville Predators.

Perhaps some of that has to do with health?

Whether that’s the case or not, Ennis is out for the Sabres tonight, as the team announced that he’s dealing with an upper-body injury.

The Buffalo News discussed Ennis’ struggles in this article.

“I’d say he’s pressing too much. You can’t make those plays in every situation and in every point you touch the puck,” Dan Bylsma said to the Buffalo News. “ … He’s just got to simplify his game. He is a special player who can make those plays, but he can’t be trying to do it every time he touches the puck.”

He’ll need to wait a while to start getting things together, anyway.

WATCH LIVE: Wednesday Night Rivalry (Flyers-Islanders; Blackhawks-Sharks)

Ryan White, Matt Martin
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You can check out tonight’s Wednesday Night Rivalry doubleheader on NBCSN, and you can also stream them online.

Here are the handy links for the two contests.

First, the New York Islanders host the Philadelphia Flyers.


After that, the Chicago Blackhawks visit the San Jose Sharks.


Braun out with upper-body injury; Zubrus to make Sharks debut

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The San Jose Sharks will be missing a top-4 defenseman tonight when they host the defending champs from Chicago.

Justin Braun has an upper-body injury. His status is considered day-to-day.

“Brauny has been one of our unsung heroes here through the first quarter of the season,” coach Peter DeBoer told CSN Bay Area. “He’s played some outstanding hockey. So, we’re going to miss him, but it’s a great opportunity for Mueller and Tennyson and one of these guys to establish themselves. It’s a great opportunity for us to reward Dillon for how well he’s played.”

Against the Blackhawks, Brenden Dillon will take Braun’s spot on the top pairing alongside Marc-Edouard Vlasic; Paul Martin and Brent Burns will stay together on the second pairing; and 20-year-old Mirco Mueller will skate with Matt Tennyson.

Mueller has played just four games for the Sharks this season. In his last game, Thursday in Philadelphia, he received only 9:13 of ice time.

Also tonight, new Shark forward Dainius Zubrus is expected to debut on the fourth line.

Related: Sharks sign Zubrus, because DeBoer

Johansen calls trade rumblings ‘weird,’ says relationship with Torts is ‘great’

Ryan Johansen
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One day after reports surfaced of Ryan Johansen being at the center of trade talks, all parties involved from Columbus did what they’re supposed to do — downplay the situation.

You can read the denials in full over at the Dispatch, but here’s the gist:

— Johansen said the rumors were “weird” and that he’s “never seen it before.” He also said there were no issues between him and head coach John Tortorella, calling the relationship “great.”

— GM Jarmo Kekalainen wouldn’t address the report, nor would Johansen’s agent, Kurt Overhardt.

— Johansen added he hasn’t spoken to any of Columbus’ management about the trade rumblings.

So there’s that. What’s next?

At this stage of the game, it’s hard not to think about another Overhardt client, Kyle Turris.

Turris, you’ll recall, spent four (mostly) stormy years with the Coyotes before his trade out to Ottawa was orchestrated. Turris eventually told GM Don Maloney “this is not going to work out” with the club, and he was gone.

So, consider the similarities now:

— Turris was 22 at the time of the trade, with four years and 137 games under his belt.

— Johansen is 23, with five years and 291 games.

— Both had contentious contract holdouts with their respective clubs.

— Both are Overhardt guys.

— The Turris trade happened after the Coyotes went from Wayne Gretzky to Dave Tippett as head coach.

— Johansen is already on his third head coach (Scott Arniel, Todd Richards, Tortorella).

For now, these are all coincidences (or a forced narrative, depending what you think of the author).

And, of course, the one big — big — difference between the two is that, at the time of his trade, Turris wasn’t as good or established a player as Johansen currently is. Therefore, logic suggests any Johansen trade would be a lot more blockbuster-y and, therefore, probably more complex.

And as we know, complex deals aren’t easy to pull off.