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Are both sides showing cracks in their armor?


For the most part, the owners haven’t shared their thoughts on the lockout and the players have primarily expressed their support for the NHLPA and its executive director, Donald Fehr.

That’s given the impression of two unified fronts clashing against each other, but is that an accurate perception? Ultimately, we can’t fully know what goes on behind closed doors, but recent reports have suggested that both sides have their detractors.

One of the first in a series of noteworthy events within the last week was an anonymous NHL player stating that a player was called out and embarrassed during a conference call for asking “Don why he was learning details of the NHL’s last proposal through the media.”

That was followed by Roman Hamrlik’s recent criticisms of Fehr. He later expanded upon his initial comments, but didn’t offer a retraction.

Michal Neuvirth then chose to up the ante by not only supporting Hamrlik, but also saying that, “This lockout is not about majority of players, I think. It is about several superstars with big contracts.”

On the flip side, a Philadelphia Daily News report asserted that Flyers owner Ed Snider is teaming up with the rival Pittsburgh Penguins to bring an end to this lockout.

“If this is the deal we are going to get, what’s the point of dragging this out?” a source familiar with Snider’s thinking said at the time.

Snider was quick to distance himself by calling the report “erroneous,” but the reporter, Frank Seravalli, stood by what he had written.

If nothing else, the stories and statements that have come out over the last few days have been interesting. If you’re fishing for reasons to stay positive, then they might offer you a ray of light in the hope that somewhere behind closed doors, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and Fehr might be feeling some pressure to make a deal sooner rather than later.

PHT Morning Skate: Beat writers survey predicts Ducks will win Cup

Corey Perry, Frederik Andersen
AP Photo
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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.

In a survey of 29 beat writers, the Anaheim Ducks emerged as the clear favorite to win the Stanley Cup. If you’ll recall, they have that in common with the EA Sports simulation. (Boston Globe)

Alex Ovechkin would pick an Olympic hit against Jaromir Jagr as the biggest check of his life. (Russian Machine Never Breaks)

Here are the highlights from Minnesota’s 5-4 victory over Colorado:

The Montreal Canadiens seem committed to using Alex Galchenyuk as a center throughout the 2015-16 campaign. (The Canadian Press)

The NHL recently enlisted its players to read off some not so mean tweets. (USA Today)

Bills coach Rex Ryan talked about the Sabres in Thursday’s press conference. (NHL.com)

Frederik Andersen may have the Anaheim Ducks’ starting job for now, but with John Gibson still a big part of their plans, Andersen has to keep proving himself. (Orange County Register)

Niemi blanks Pens, notches two assists in Stars debut

Antti Niemi, Sidney Crosby, Patric Hornqvist

DALLAS (AP) — Antti Niemi recorded his 33rd career shutout and assisted on two goals in his Dallas debut, as the Stars beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-0 on Thursday night in the season opener for both.

Ales Hemsky had a power-play goal and an assist.

Rookie Matthias Janmark scored on his first shot on his first shift in an NHL game to make it 1-0. The Stars acquired Niemi and Janmark in trades earlier this year.

Dallas scored on two of five power plays. Jamie Benn, the NHL’s leading scorer last season, had a power-play goal in the third period.

Niemi made 37 saves to improve his career record against the Penguins to 5-1-1. He withstood a flurry in the final minute after Pittsburgh pulled goalie Marc-Andre Fleury for an extra skater.

Fleury had 21 saves.

The Stars are 4-0-1 in their last five home games against Pittsburgh, and have won three in a row overall.

Janmark skated down the slot, took a pass from Hemsky and shot between Fleury’s legs at 1:39 of the first.

The Penguins dominated the latter half of the period, but couldn’t score. Niemi’s best stop was a reaching glove save of Rod Scuderi’s drive from the blue line with less than 3 minutes remaining. Pittsburgh outshot the Stars 10-4 in the first.

Hemsky scored at 5:42 of the second on Dallas’ first power play. His shot from the top of the right faceoff circle went in over Fleury’s right shoulder.

The Penguins again had an advantage in shots, 13-11. Pittsburgh had chances in close, but Niemi turned those away. Midway through the second, John Klingberg cleared away a loose puck from in front of the net.

Seven seconds into the Stars’ fourth power play of the third period, Jamie Benn tipped in Jason Spezza‘s shot from the right point.

NOTES: Dallas acquired Janmark as part of a March trade that sent Erik Cole to Detroit. The rookie had been playing in the Swedish Hockey League. . San Jose traded Niemi’s rights to the Stars in June for a seventh-round draft pick. Also making their Dallas debuts were LW Patrick Sharp and D Johnny Oduya, teammates with Chicago’s Stanley Cup champions last season. . In his first game for the Penguins, Phil Kessel played in his 447th straight game. . Pittsburgh was 0 for 3 on the power play.