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PHT Morning Skate: Where Ryan Miller’s one game away from 500

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.

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville was impressed by how 23-year-old forward Drew LeBlanc did in his NHL debut on Wednesday. “He got better every shift,” Quenneville commented. (CSN Chicago)

Ryan Miller will play in his 500th career game on Friday. His agent Mike Liut, who played between the pipes in 664 NHL contests, reflected on Miller’s upcoming milestone. (Buffalo News)

19-year-old defenseman Dougie Hamilton is the winner of NESN’s Seventh Player Award. Past winners include Tyler Seguin and Tuukka Rask. (Boston Globe)

Adam Burish talked about how goaltender Antti Niemi has changed and what’s stayed the same since the two were members of the 2010 Stanley Cup winning Chicago Blackhawks. (CSN Bay Area)

Daniel Alfredsson plans on making a Twitter account. The 40-year-old Ottawa Senators captain is concerned about it from a privacy perspective but at the same time he said, “it would be good for me to get involved in today’s high speed world.” (Ottawa Sun)

The Boston Bruins’ nominee for the 2013 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy is Adam McQuaid. The 26-year-old defenseman dealt with blood clots and required two emergency surgeries that derailed his offseason routine. All the same, he made a full recovery and took part in the Bruins’ season opener. (Bruins.nhl.com)

After a 4-0 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs, the 30th place Florida Panthers are mercifully just one game away from finishing their season. Panthers coach Kevin Dineen said there’s been some “hard lessons learned” and “it’s going to be a long summer.” (South Florida Sun-Sentinel)

Is San Jose Sharks forward Logan Couture a major contender for the Selke Trophy and/or Lady Byng Trophy? (San Jose Mercury News)

Highlights from the New Jersey Devils’ 3-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins.

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Devils unveil ‘The Salute’ statue in honor of Martin Brodeur

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The New Jersey Devils on Monday unveiled ‘The Salute’ — a statue paying homage to one of the greatest goalies in NHL history, Martin Brodeur, who will have his No. 30 uniform retired Tuesday at Prudential Center.

“Looking at the pictures of my career and some of the events that meant a lot to me, I always saluted the fans,” Brodeur, a three-time Stanley Cup winner with the Devils, told the Fire and Ice blog.

“That picture, at different times, in different jerseys, actually, like with Team Canada, it all came to that same pose.”

More on the statue from the Devils:

The 900-pound bronze statue was created by renowned sculpture and artist Jon Krawczyk, who worked with Brodeur on the design. Krawczyk, a Boonton Township, N.J. native and lifelong Devils fan, who also created the hockey statue on Championship Plaza outside of Prudential Center, personally drove “The Salute” from his Malibu, Cali. studio to the arena late last week.

Video: Panthers furious after Abdelkader ‘cheap shot’ hit on Barkov

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The Florida Panthers are fuming after their skilled 20-year-old forward Aleksander Barkov left Monday’s game against the Detroit Red Wings following a hit from Justin Abdelkader.

Abdelkader caught Barkov with a hard hit near the goal line as the Panthers player tried to move the puck up ice early in the second period.

The only call on the play was to Panthers’ blue liner Alex Petrovic for the retaliatory cross check on Abdelkader. Barkov left the game and didn’t return with an upper-body injury.

Members of the Panthers irate with the hit, and the fact there was no call.

“It was a cheap hit, I don’t know how the ref didn’t call it,” Nick Bjugstad told the Miami Herald. “It was frustrating, the whole bench felt that way. We’re not happy with it. It turned the game around. Barkov has tough shoes to fill. It looked pretty serious. We’ll see how the league handles it and I think they will. I just don’t know how it wasn’t handled on the ice.”

“You hate to lose your top player, but that’s part of the game,” added Panthers’ head coach Gerard Gallant.

“We’re disappointed to lose him. I thought it was a cheap shot but the referees didn’t see it that way and explained to me it was a clean check. It’s tough. It happens quick and we get to see the replay. I think it’ll be looked at. [Abdelkader] left his feet a little and got him in the jaw.”

The Panthers gave up three goals in the third period in a 3-0 loss to the Red Wings.

Penguins thump the Ducks as Crosby’s hot streak continues

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In a meeting between two clubs enjoying hot streaks and their own subsequent climbs through the standings, the Pittsburgh Penguins bested the Anaheim Ducks courtesy another dominant Sidney Crosby performance on Monday.

After that slow start, Crosby has put together a growing number of dominant performances of late.

The latest, a four-point night, helped the Penguins to a 6-2 final over the Ducks, stopping Anaheim’s winning streak at six games.

— He extended his scoring streak to a career best seven games, and did so with two beauty goals versus the Ducks.

— From Dec. 18 to Feb. 8, he’s appeared in 21 games. In that span, he’s recorded 34 points.

— Crosby is now into the top five among NHL players in points, with 53 in 51 games this season.

He wasn’t the only Pittsburgh player to have a big night. Keep in mind, Evgeni Malkin wasn’t even in the lineup due to a lower-body injury.

Ten different Penguins players recorded points. In addition to Crosby, Chris Kunitz and Kris Letang had multi-point efforts, and four players — Kunitz, Crosby, Olli Maatta and Patric Hornqvist — were plus-four.

The Penguins now move into third in the Metropolitan Division, while the New York Islanders slip into the first Wild Card spot in the East. Pittsburgh’s lead over the Islanders, however, is only one point.

The Islanders also have a game in hand.

Panthers’ Barkov (upper-body injury) leaves game versus Red Wings

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The Florida Panthers will be without Aleksander Barkov for the remainder of their game versus the Detroit Red Wings on Monday.

As per multiple reports, Barkov will not return due to an upper-body injury suffered after a hit from Justin Abdelkader early in the second period.

Abdelkader wasn’t given a penalty on the play. Barkov didn’t play another shift after that hit.

In 42 games this season, the 20-year-old Barkov has 16 goals and 35 points.