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 Detroit Red Wings might finally rest goaltender Jimmy Howard this week. However, it’s not clear if Jonas Gustavsson (groin), Joey MacDonald (back), or recently promoted 20-year-old netminder Petr Mrazek will get the nod. If Gustavsson and MacDonald aren’t healthy in time, then it looks like Mrazek will make his NHL debut this weekend. (Detroit News)
The Edmonton Oilers line of Sam Gagner, Nail Yakupov, and Ales Hemsky has been a huge part of their offense this season. 23-year-old Gagner in particular has excelled with three goals and 10 points in nine games this season. (Edmonton Sun)
21-year-old forward Chris Kreider is close to returning from an ankle injury, but he might not be in the New York Rangers’ lineup when he’s healthy. (The Bergen Record)
The first trial regarding Vancouver’s 2011 Stanley Cup riot has begun. Spencer Kirkwood has pleaded not guilty, claiming that he has no memory of participating in the riot, despite there allegedly being video footage of him smashing a downtown office building’s window with a street barricade. (CBC)
Stars goaltender Cristopher Nilstorp has been activated from the injured reserve list and sent to the minors. That solidifies Richard Bachman’s place as Dallas’ backup goaltender for now. (Sportsnet)
Defenseman Dustin Byfuglien (lower body) will be absent for a third consecutive game Tuesday, but he’s not likely to miss “weeks,” according to Winnipeg Jets coach Claude Noel. (Winnipeg Sun)
Boston Bruins forward Daniel Paille (eye) might be back on Wednesday. (CSN New England)
Edmonton Oilers defenseman Ryan Whitney isn’t happy with the decision to make him a healthy scratch on Monday, but he knows he can play better. Oilers coach Ralph Krueger suggested that this is an opportunity for him to take a step back and “come back even stronger.” (Edmonton Sun)
Capitals shine glaring light on Blues’ goalie woes
It wasn’t just that the Washington Capitals bombarded the Blues by a score of 7-3. It’s that they really didn’t need to fire a whole lot of shots on goal to get to seven.
Here’s a harsh rule of thumb: when both of your goalies play in a game and each one barely makes more saves than goals allowed, that’s an awful night. Take a look at what Jake Allen and Carter Hutton went through:
Allen: six saves, four goals allowed in 25:11 time on ice
Hutton: five saves, three goals allowed in 35:49
Allen got pulled from the contest twice, by the way. He’s been pulled from four games since Dec. 30. Woof.
Even before these horrendous performances, the Blues goalies have been shaky. Hutton came into tonight with an ugly .898 save percentage; Allen wasn’t much better with a .900 mark.
Those are the type of numbers that would make Dallas Stars fans cringe, or at least experience some uncomfortable familiarity.
Now, is it all on Hutton and Allen? Much like with the Stars’ embattled goalies, much of the struggles probably come down to a team struggling in front of them.
Even so, if you assign more of the blame to Allen and Hutton, nights like this Capitals thrashing definitely strengthen your argument. Yikes.
Rangers overwhelm Leafs, make life pretty easy for Lundqvist in win
Heading into Thursday, many were wondering how the New York Rangers will handle Henrik Lundqvist‘s struggles. Instead, the focus shifted to the Toronto Maple Leafs’ difficulties, perhaps specifically in dealing with Morgan Rielly‘s absence.
The Rangers handily won this one 5-2, at least giving Lundqvist the win. He wasn’t especially busy, stopping 23 out of 25 shots, so you can probably file his story under “To be continued.”
Really, it was all about the waves of attackers the Rangers can send at opponents and the trouble that caused for the Maple Leafs. It wasn’t the easiest night for Frank Corrado, in particular, who took a couple costly penalties.
The Rangers’ next two games come in a road contest vs. the Red Wings on Sunday and a home game against the Kings on Monday. Perhaps those matches will serve as a better barometer for where Lundqvist’s really at, as he passed tonight’s test … but it wasn’t a particularly difficult one.
So, is Mike Condon actually really good? He certainly was against Columbus
Considering their numbers heading in, many were perplexed when the Ottawa Senators essentially replaced Andrew Hammond with Mike Condon. Now many are perplexed by just how strong Condon’s often been for Ottawa.
Thursday might stand as the prime example that this guy could be better than many expected.
The Columbus Blue Jackets dominated much of the play, generating a 42-28 shots on goal advantage, but Ottawa ended up winning 2-0 tonight.
Condon already came into tonight with a solid save percentage (.915 before this shutout), and he’s now won four of his last five games. Three of his four career shutouts have come this season.
Ignoring his one game with Pittsburgh this season for the sake of simplicity (it was bad), just consider his tough times with Montreal last season. He went 21-25-6 with a shaky .903 save percentage.
This marks just his 21st start and 23rd appearance of this season, so it’s not a guaranteee for future results. Still … it’s another example that goalies are as just about as unpredictable as they are crucial to a team’s fate.
More and more, it seems like Condon might just be a difference-maker, and in the positive sense this time around.
Greiss blanks Stars as Isles win in first game of post-Capuano era
The New York Islanders began the Doug Weight era in the same way Jack Capuano’s ended: with a shutout.
Yeah, it’s easy to forget that the Islanders actually won their last game under Capuano, consider all that’s happened since.
They blanked the Boston Bruins 4-0 on Monday and generated a 3-0 shutout against thd Dallas Stars on Thursday. It’s quite a feather in the cap of goalie Thomas Greiss, who owns these back-to-back shutouts.
(It’s worth mentioning that, for all the Bruins’ and Stars’ flaws, they can be very explosive on offense …)
That Monday shutout wasn’t enough for Capuano to save his job, and the Isles still have a long way to go after this encouraging outcome. The East’s second wild card spot still seems like a long shot for Weight & Co.
Even so, the Islanders will take it. They play their next five games at home and seven of eight in Brooklyn, so if there’s ever a time for movement, it would logically come now.