PHT Morning Skate: Where it’s been a while since last Panthers power-play goal

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.

Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards has split up top blueliners Jack Johnson and James Wisniewski because he thinks they both need a “calm guy” that can play more of a defensive role and allow them to be aggressive. (Columbus Dispatch)

The Washington Capitals have started to turn their season around, but eventually they need to prove that they can win against playoff-bound teams. (Washington Times)

Penguins forward Evgeni Malkin has 17 points in 16 games, so he’s certainly not struggling, but he’s found the back of the net just three times over 50 shots on goal. All the same, Penguins coach Dan Bylsma thinks Malkin has created plenty of scoring chances lately. (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)

Charlie Sheen and Buffalo Sabres defenseman Christian Ehrhoff had a bit of an exchange on Twitter after Sheen referred to Ehrhoff as “some dooshy teammate” of goaltender Ryan Miller. (Buffalo News)

Detroit Red Wings forward Tomas Tatar is trying his best to help fill the void left by Tomas Holmstrom’s retirement by parking himself in front of the net during power plays. Tatar is hoping that his speed will make up for the size difference between him and the 6-foot-3 Holmstrom. (Detroit News)

Two-time Rocket Richard Trophy-winner Steven Stamkos is a pretty superstitious guy and if any player tells you they’re not, Stamkos thinks they’re “probably lying.” (Tampa Bay Times)

When was the last time the Florida Panthers scored a power-play goal? Don’t ask Peter Mueller, it’s been so long that he can’t even remember. (South Florida Sun-Sentinel)

The Nashville Predators and St. Louis Blues swapped AHL players. The Predators received 33-year-old defenseman Scott Ford in exchange for 22-year-old Jani Lajunen. (NHL.com)

The San Jose Sharks ended their seven game losing streak on Tuesday. If you want to check out the highlights, you can do so below:

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Rangers make changes after loss in Anaheim

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The scuffling New York Rangers — coming off a 6-3 loss Sunday in Anaheim, and with just two wins in their last seven — are expected to have a slightly different lineup tonight in San Jose.

Up front, winger Matt Puempel is likely to replace rookie Pavel Buchnevich. And on the back end, Dan Girardi will come in for Kevin Klein.

The Girardi-for-Klein switch is no huge surprise. Both d-men have been battling injuries, with Klein only returning Sunday after an extended absence due to back spasms. Head coach Alain Vigneault told reporters that he “didn’t want to put two injured defensemen in at the same time,” so Klein gets the night off tonight.

As for the potential scratching of Buchnevich, that decision would be slightly more controversial. The 21-year-old has two goals and three assists in his last 11 games, but clearly has not gained the full trust of his coach.

Henrik Lundqvist is expected to start in goal after a tough return to the net against the Ducks.

Canucks hint at shutting down injured Markstrom

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It doesn’t sound like Jacob Markstrom will play any more games for the Vancouver Canucks this season.

The 27-year-old goalie has been trying to recover from a knee injury suffered in the Canucks’ skills competition on Feb. 26.

“I don’t think things are great,” head coach Willie Desjardins said today. “We’ve got to make a medical decision on him.”

It has to be frustrating for Markstrom, who was hoping to challenge Ryan Miller for the starting job this year. The tall Swede played well at times, going 10-11-3 with a .910 save percentage — but in the end, he only made 23 starts.

“He’s a good goalie,” Desjardins said of Markstrom. “He can challenge for the number-one spot. Every time he goes in net, I’ve got lots of confidence in him. He’s left his mark this year.”

Markstrom is signed through 2019-20, while Miller is a pending unrestricted free agent.

It’s possible that the Canucks will re-sign Miller and come back with the same netminding tandem next season.

Oilers sign Walter Brown Award winner Gambardella

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Joe Gambardella, the UMass-Lowell senior that scored 52 points in 41 games this year, has signed a two-year, entry-level deal with Edmonton, the club announced on Monday.

Gambardella, 23, captured this year’s Walter Brown award as the top American-born collegiate player in New England. He beat out the likes of Clayton Keller, Colin White, Charlie McAvoy and Tage Thompson for the honor, and joined a distinguished list of past winners.

Rangers forward Jimmy Vesey won the Walter Brown in ’16 and ’15, while Calgary’s Johnny Gaudreau won it in ’14.

Gambardella is the first UMass-Lowell player to ever win the award, which has been given out annually since 1953. It capped off a nice year in which he also paced the River Hawks to the NCAA tournament.

An undrafted free agent, Gambarella’s ELC will kick in next season. It’s also worth noting that one of his UMass-Lowell teammates, defenseman Michael Kapla, signed with the Devils earlier today.

 

 

Coyotes to honor Cunningham for his ‘tremendous courage’

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The Arizona Coyotes will honor Craig Cunningham with a ceremonial puck drop on April 8 before their final home game of the season against the Minnesota Wild.

From the team press release:

Cunningham, who survived a medical emergency prior to the Tucson Roadrunners game on November 19, has made a remarkable recovery. Fans will have an opportunity to congratulate him on the tremendous courage, willpower and perseverance he’s demonstrated throughout his rehabilitation.

Cunningham was recently honored by the Roadrunners.

The 26-year-old’s hockey career is unfortunately over after doctors were forced to amputate part of his left leg due to concerns over infection.

True to form, though, he’s maintained a positive attitude.

“Obviously I miss playing every single day, and I miss the atmosphere around the locker room,” Cunningham said, per the Arizona Daily Star. “The guys have been great. From Day 1, they’ve been to see me every day. It’s been pretty incredible.”