NHL realignment

PHT Morning Skate: Where we look at realignment, Olympics, Leafs

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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.

Rather than move Detroit or Columbus from the East to West to fix the Conference size imbalance, would it be better to make the conferences geographically neutral like the MLB or NFL? (Rotoworld)

Don Cherry criticized Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Dion Phaneuf for declining to fight Montreal Canadiens forward Brandon Prust during the Leafs’ 5-2 loss on Wednesday. “I knew they were going to lose when he didn’t answer the bell,” Cherry said. (Sportsnet)

Anaheim Ducks forward Kyle Palmieri looks back on Wednesday’s hat trick. At 22-years-old, he became the second-youngest Ducks player to ever accomplish that feat. (Ducks.nhl.com)

37-year-old defenseman Francis Bouillon was afraid that the lockout would end his playing career. Now that the work stoppage is behind us, the Montreal Canadiens’ blueliner is reaching some meaningful milestones. (Montreal Gazette)

Forward Aaron Volpatti is looking forward to bringing his physical game to the Washington Capitals. (Washington Times)

Former head coach Ron Wilson figured the Maple Leafs firing him a year ago “was kind of inevitable,” according to his friend and current Capitals assistant coach Tim Hunter. He thinks Wilson, 57, would also take another coaching position if the opportunity presented itself. Wilson had a 648-561-101-91 record with Anaheim, Washington, San Jose, and Toronto. (Toronto Star)

New Jersey Devils forward Ryan Carter confirmed that he sustained a concussion on Feb. 18. On the plus side, he thinks he might be able to return Saturday. (New Jersey Online)

On the anniversary of Sidney Crosby’s golden goal, Steve Yzerman reflects on Canada winning gold at the 2010 Winter Olympics. (ESPN.com)

Top New York Rangers prospect Chris Kreider is back in the minors. (New York Newsday)

Video: Maple Leafs lose Morgan Rielly after fall into boards

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Down 2-0 to the Buffalo Sabres, the Toronto Maple Leafs are off to a shaky start on Tuesday. Still, their concerns likely revolve the most around the health of defenseman Morgan Rielly.

As you can see from the video above, the young Buds blueliner was shaken up by an awkward spill into the boards.

It’s too early to know if he avoided injury or might miss some time, but there’s at least some concern that he might have aggravated an issue from before his NHL days:

We’ll need to wait and see, but with his offensive skills and overall importance in mind (average just under 23 minutes a game this season, more or less in line with his breakthrough year in 2015-16), the Maple Leafs are crossing their fingers that this isn’t anything major.

WATCH LIVE: Chicago Blackhawks at Colorado Avalanche

CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 23:  Patrick Kane #88 of the Chicago Blackhawks controls the puck as he turns against Tyson Barrie #4 of the Colorado Avalanche at the United Center on December 23, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. The Avalanche defeated the Blackhawks 2-1 in overtime.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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The Chicago Blackhawks need to put a tough weekend behind them; maybe the Colorado Avalanche are just what the doctor ordered.

Colorado is clearly ranked last in the league, whether they believe they have some assets in the likes of Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog or not. Perhaps there will be a few scouts on hand to see how such potential Avs trade targets perform against a contending team?

It’s rarely a dull night when the Blackhawks roll out talented players like Patrick Kane, Artemi Panarin and Jonathan Toews – among others – so it should be a good time on NBCSN on Tuesday.

You can watch online or via the NBC Sports App. Click here for the livestream link.

Short-lived return? No Tyler Ennis for Sabres tonight

PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 25:  Tyler Ennis #63 of the Buffalo Sabres takes a shot on goal against the Philadelphia Flyers during the first period at Wells Fargo Center on October 25, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
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Tyler Ennis‘ return to the Buffalo Sabres lineup on Monday after a 30-game absence seemed like a breath of fresh air. Tuesday, then, represents letting the air out of the balloon.

The Sabres announced that Ennis wasn’t out for warm-ups heading into tonight’s Sabres – Toronto Maple Leafs game. It certainly gives the impression that his groin injury isn’t fully healed.

Ennis contributed a goal to Buffalo’s 4-1 win against the Dallas Stars on Monday and nearly scored another in “lacrosse” style:

When healthy, he’s been a 20-goal, 40+ point player for Buffalo lately, so he was missed. The team tweeted out Ryan O'Reilly‘s comments about Ennis’ return mere hours ago, so you get the impression that it was a surprise for many:

Maybe it’s just a minor setback?

Update: The Sabres deem it a “precautionary scratch,” according to John Vogl of the Buffalo News. So maybe file this under minor setback. We’ll see.

Stars’ Eakin is ‘prepared’ for Rangers retribution for that Lundqvist hit

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The New York Rangers were probably glad that Cody Eakin received a four-game suspension for his “intentional” hit on Henrik Lundqvist, but they might seek a more direct form of justice against the Dallas Stars tonight.

Eakin is aware of that fact, too, as he told the Dallas Morning News’ Mike Heika.

“I’m prepared. If it was our team, there would obviously be words that were shared,” Eakin said. “I’ll be prepared and I’ll continue to play a hard game. Whatever happens, happens.”

Hey, Lindy Ruff apparently hoped that Jamie Benn “emptied his frustration tank” during his outburst following Monday’s loss; perhaps Benn will have a little bit left over to defend Eakin?

The Rangers aren’t playing coy about the hit being a talking point.

“That’s not something you forget about,” Chris Kreider said, according to Pat Leonard of the New York Daily News. “I’m sure someone will have a conversation with him.”

Sounds so civil. Perhaps they will have this conversation over a soothing cup of chamomile tea?