GLENDALE, AZ - APRIL 27: Mike Smith #41 of the Phoenix Coyotes makes his way to the ice for warm-ups prior to facing the Nashville Predators in Game One of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Jobing.com Arena on April 27, 2012 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images)

PHT Morning Skate: Where we wonder if Mike Smith is for real

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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 Phoenix Coyotes are out of the playoffs, but with Mike Smith locked up for the next season, it’s natural to wonder if they can actually be this competitive again. The Contrarian Goaltender has an interesting one-man point/counter-point on that subject. (Brodeur is a Fraud)

Wednesday was a big night for the New Jersey Devils’ fourth line, which naturally brings about generic quotes about that fourth line being “more than” a fourth line. (Fire & Ice)

The Sports Business Journal named the Boston Bruins the sports team of the year. (CSNNE.com)

Wayne Gretzky weighs in on the Los Angeles Kings’ 2012 playoff run, calling it “spectacular.” (Los Angeles Times)

Michael Russo wonders if Mikael Granlund has instantly become the Minnesota Wild’s top prospect. (Minnesota Star-Tribune)

A treat for Dino Ciccarelli and all the other Claude Lemieux fans out there, as the former villain/”clutch” hero sits down for a question and answer session. (New York Times)

Katie Carrera reviews the Washington Capitals’ defensemen. (Washington Post)

Kevin Kurz believes that the Los Angeles Kings’ playoff successes might alter the San Jose Sharks’ off-season plans. (CSNBayArea.com)

NHL.com takes a look at how Martin Brodeur survived (or at least the New Jersey Devils fought through) his “shaky” performance in Game 5. (NHL.com)

Video: Rangers shut out red-hot Sidney Crosby and the Penguins

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The New York Rangers are likely too far behind the Washington Capitals to take any legitimate run at the Atlantic Division down the stretch.

But winners now of four straight, the Rangers have opened up a bit of a gap between them and other Eastern Conference teams in the playoff race. New York scored a 3-0 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins, winners in six of their last seven games, on Wednesday.

In the process, they held a red-hot Sidney Crosby off the score sheet, which has been a difficult, sometimes impossible task for opposing teams since about the middle of December. He entered this game with a seven-game scoring streak.

(In fact, New York held No. 87 to without a shot on goal in the entire game.)

Henrik Lundqvist stopped all 34 shots he faced for the shutout.

Kevin Hayes gave the Rangers the lead in the first period, before Dominic Moore and Jesper Fast put the game away in the third.

Pittsburgh remains in the second Wild Card spot in the East. The Rangers now move three points clear of the rival Islanders for second in the Metropolitan.

Video: Wideman hearing ‘a tricky case’ as NHLPA hopes to get 20-game suspension reduced

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There is no certain timeline for when NHL commissioner Gary Bettman might rule on Dennis Wideman‘s appeal, according to a report from hockey insider Darren Dreger on NBCSN, as the Calgary Flames defenseman hopes to get his 20-game ban for hitting linesman Don Henderson reduced.

“Now, ultimately what they’re hoping from a Wideman perspective and the Players’ Association is that commissioner Gary Bettman will rule and he will reduce the number of games suspended down from 20,” said Dreger during a segment on NBCSN.

“Is he going to reduce it by three games? Five games seems a bit of a stretch. And when might he do that? There’s no timeline on this.”

Report: Coyotes shut down Vitale (concussion) for the season

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Joe Vitale will not play again this season.

The Arizona Coyotes have shut Vitale down for the remainder of the 2015-16 campaign due to “concussion-related issues,” according to a report from Sarah McLellan of azcentral sports on Wednesday.

Vitale, a 30-year-old veteran center, appeared in only one game for the Coyotes this season. That was back on Oct. 17, when he suffered a concussion and broken orbital bone in a fight with Kevan Miller of the Boston Bruins.

Sens announce Frattin, acquired in Phaneuf deal, will stick with AHL Marlies

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Matt Frattin was traded by the Leafs to Ottawa yesterday as part of the Dion Phaneuf blockbuster.

But for now, he’s staying in Toronto.

On Wednesday, Sens GM Bryan Murray announced that Frattin will remain with the Leafs’ AHL affiliate — the Toronto Marlies — on loan, but will be available for selection should Ottawa require his services down the road.

Frattin, 28, has spent all of this season with the Marlies, scoring nine goals and 22 points in 47 games. His last NHL appearance came during the ’14-15 campaign, with the Leafs.

Prior to that, the former North Dakota standout had spent time in Los Angeles and Columbus.