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.
Jeff Carter is likely to miss tonight’s game with an ankle injury. Carter’s been quite helpful in the Los Angeles Kings’ turnaround, but he’s still had an ailment-plagued 2011-12 season. His cap hit obviously is friendly, but the term becomes more of a worry when he keeps dealing with bumps and bruises. (Los Angeles Times)
Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville received a vote of confidence, which is odd for a guy who’s about to make the playoffs in four out of four seasons with the team and also won their first Stanley Cup in ages. If you want another measure of how far this franchise has come in the last five years or so, this is one of the best ones. (CSNChicago.com)
The Colorado Avalanche might just be 30 out of 30th in the NHL when it comes to teams getting along with bloggers – at least considering that they could probably use the actual ink, digital or otherwise – but the Denver Post is the only outlet that is credentialed to cover them. James “Tapleg” Gralian hopes to put together a “blogger summit” to try to change that. (Jerseys and Hockey Love)
Washington Capitals coaches are defending Jason Cimera for his controversial hit on Adam McQuaid. (CSNWashington.com)
It could be some time before he matches Nicklas Lidstrom’s defensive prowess – if ever – but Erik Karlsson is already putting up numbers that make him among the most productive Swedish blueliners ever. In fact, with 76 points so far, Bruce Garrioch points out that it’s possible Karlsson could tie (or pass) Lidstrom’s Swedish blueliner points record of 80 points, which Lidstrom set in 2006-06. (Ottawa Sun)
Mike Smith looked like the goalie we thought he was when the San Jose Sharks whooped him and the Phoenix Coyotes to open this season. Perhaps it only makes sense that dominating the Sharks has been a big part of his renaissance, as Jim Gintonio discusses his three shutouts against San Jose this season. (AZ Central)
The Calgary Flames hope “the hole they dug isn’t a grave,” according to whoever wrote the Calgary Herald headline. All I can think of is a lesser known Faith No More song. (Calgary Herald)
Humiliating the Toronto Maple Leafs last night might really boost the confidence of the Philadelphia Flyers’ rookies. (CSNPhilly.com)
Not only did the Ottawa Senators lose on Sunday, but three different forwards left the game because of injury.
And that was after they had already lost forward Bobby Ryan indefinitely because of a hand injury. In a 3-2 loss to the Winnipeg Jets, the Senators had Mike Hoffman, Mark Stone and Tommy Wingels leave with injuries.
Hoffman suffered a lower-body injury in the first period, while Stone was caught with a hit to the head from defenseman Jacob Trouba. That infraction might result in Trouba getting further supplementary discipline from the NHL.
“Tough day with the loss of Bobby and then we lost another bunch of guys. At some point I felt, there was nobody on the bench,” said Senators coach Guy Boucher, who appeared furious with the officials’ decision to give Trouba only a minor penalty for an illegal check to the head.
“I can give you an update – it doesn’t look good. We have to wait until tomorrow to be clear and precise about all these guys.
“Right now, we could be losing quite a few guys … It looks like a disaster. We’ll see tomorrow and maybe the disaster is not as bad as we think but you’ve got to be ready for anything.”
What especially hurts for the Senators is that Hoffman, Stone and Ryan are three very capable offensive players, and if all three are out long-term, that’s a good chunk of scoring suddenly gone from their lineup. Stone leads the team with 22 goals, while Hoffman is tied for second in that category with Kyle Turris at 19 goals.
The Senators had a chance to take over top spot in the Atlantic Division. With a win, Ottawa would’ve tied Montreal with 70 points, but taken first in the division because of fewer games played.
The Eastern Conference playoff race is tightening up, especially when it comes to the wild card.
The Buffalo Sabres, thanks to a three-game winning streak and six wins in their last 10 games prior to Sunday, have suddenly jumped right into the thick of that race. But with a chance to win four in a row and tie, at least temporarily, the Bruins at 64 points, the Sabres ran into the Chicago Blackhawks.
And that proved problematic.
After Evander Kane scored the equalizer with 5.6 seconds left in the first period, Chicago took over through the second half of the game, scoring four unanswered goals for a 5-1 victory to move within seven points of the Minnesota Wild in the Central Division.
Patrick Kane put a stamp on this one. Given an absurd amount of time in front, Kane was able to put on a stickhandling clinic before beating Robin Lehner on the backhand.
It further hurt Buffalo’s cause that it was unable to capitalize on a lengthy five-on-three in the first period.
“I thought our opportunity was that 5-on-3, to get not just one goal, maybe two. We gave them too much,” said coach Dan Bylsma, per the Sabres.
The Sabres now enter their bye week. They play the last-place Colorado Avalanche next Saturday. The time off might provide a rest in the middle of a grinding season, but teams have struggled immediately out of the break and the Sabres can ill afford a set back in the playoff race.
Born in Scottsdale, AZ., Auston Matthews has taken the NHL by storm in his rookie season as an elite talent headlining an impressive freshman class.
Taken first overall last June, Matthews made history with four goals in his debut, surely a dizzying experience for Maple Leafs fans accustomed to heartbreak and frustration. And he really hasn’t slowed down since.
On Sunday against the Carolina Hurricanes — and on Hockey Day in America — the 19-year-old Matthews once again put on a show, scoring his 28th goal of the season. That gave Toronto a two-goal lead.
As he’s often done in his brief time in the NHL, this goal was of the spectacular variety, as he broke in off the left wing and, as he was getting hauled down to the ice, slid the puck five-hole on Cam Ward.
Related: Auston Matthews is having a rookie season for the ages
For about a month now, Evander Kane has enjoyed a particularly productive stretch for the Buffalo Sabres.
Kane scored with 5.6 seconds remaining in the first period of Sunday’s game versus the Chicago Blackhawks, converting on a nifty pass from Jack Eichel and going top shelf on Scott Darling.
He now has goals in three straight games, and 15 points in 14 games as the Sabres have fought their way back into the playoff race in the Eastern Conference.
Of course, this latest run comes just before the trade deadline, and Kane’s name has consistently been in speculation about a possible move — in addition to off-ice issues. While GM Tim Murray has said earlier this month that he’s not actively shopping Kane, he also didn’t absolutely rule out trading the 25-year-old left winger, now into his second season in Buffalo.
(Murray: “Is there a crazy deal that somebody could throw at me that would force me to do it? I guess there is.”)
Most impressive about Kane’s numbers — remember he missed time earlier this season with a rib injury and then had a slow start, which drew the ire of the coach — is that he’s done the vast majority of his scoring, 20 of 21 goals, at five-on-five.