TGIF: Five NHL games to watch this weekend

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Saturday: San Jose at Montreal (7 p.m. ET)

The Sharks lost in regulation Thursday, the first time they’ve done that this season. They’ve also scored just once in their last two games, inviting at least a hint of adversity into what’s been a mostly worry-free start to their schedule. Against Montreal, they’ll try to bump their mini slump against a goalie, Carey Price, who boasts an impressive .936 save percentage. The Habs have won five of their last seven.

Saturday: NY Rangers at Detroit (7 p.m. ET)

Both teams are coming off tough losses. The Rangers fell 2-1 to Philly on Thursday; the Wings, 6-1, to Ottawa on Wednesday. Of course, New York (2-6-0) is in far more dire straits than Detroit (6-4-1). Consider: the Rangers’ goal differential (-19) after just eight games is even worse than Buffalo’s (-18) after 11. Anytime you’re statistically worse than the Sabres at something, you know it’s not good.

Saturday: Pittsburgh at Toronto (7 p.m. ET)

Sidney Crosby in Toronto! Sidney Crosby in Toronto! Yeah, there might be a few reporters at his stall for this one. The Penguins won both their visits to the ACC last season, 5-4 in a shootout on Mar. 9 and 3-1 five days later on Mar. 14. This season, Crosby is quietly off to a very loud start (if that makes sense); the 26-year-old leads the NHL with 17 points in nine games, just shy of a two-points-per-game average. Ho-hum.

Saturday: Minnesota at Chicago (8 p.m. ET)

A good test for the resurgent Wild, winners of two straight after going winless (and unlucky) in three. Unfortunately for Minnesota, goalie Josh Harding (lower body) won’t be available for this one. The 29-year-old has been brilliant so far, registering a .953 save percentage and 1.00 goals-against average in nine appearances. Niklas Backstrom, on the other hand, hasn’t been nearly as solid (.867, 2.98), and apparently isn’t fully healthy either.

Sunday: Edmonton at Los Angeles (9 p.m. ET)

We couldn’t pick all Saturday games (meaning we’re totally snubbing St. Louis at Nashville, if you care to complain about PHT’s blatant big-market bias below…seriously, the Rangers?), so we’re going with this one. Why? Well, that’s a good question. Hmmm. OK, here’s something to consider: in Jonathan Quick’s last 47 regular-season appearances (37 last season, 10 this one), his save percentage is a rather mediocre .903. Yes, he was excellent in the playoffs, but still, kind of interesting. Or not. Whatever. There aren’t any great NHL match-ups Sunday. Feel free to watch the World Series or football.

PHT Morning Skate: Crosby would ‘love to’ be a goalie for a game

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Sidney Crosby has accomplished so much in his career, but there’s still one thing he wants to cross off his bucket list. In an interview with Dan Patrick, Crosby admitted that he’d like to be a goalie for a game. “I’d love to play one game in the NHL (as a goalie). We’ll see. There’s still some time left if it ever came down to it. I’d love to get that.” Just a hunch, but I don’t think the Pens would go for that. (Top-4:20 mark)

–The Score looks at three 2017 draft prospects that will have the most long-term value to their respective teams. The first two picks of the draft are on the list, but the third name may surprise you. (The Score)

–As you may remember, Connor McDavid took an awkward looking picture with two strangers hugging him pretty tight. The picture, which took place at an airport, immediately went viral. Now, McDavid explained exactly how everything unfolded. Well, that story is pretty stupid. I was walking into the security line and I had actually walked past them. And then they say ‘hey Connor can we get a picture?’ and I say ‘sure’ and sure enough they come up to me and start hugging me. (Yahoo)

–Devils beat reporter Chris Ryan sat down for a Q&A with top pick Nico Hischier, who has a pretty busy summer ahead of him. “I’ll go back (o Switzerland) and practice and do my workouts every day, then I’ll come for Development Camp, and they’ll sit together and tell me what I still need, what I need to improve. Then I’ll go back again and work on those things.” (NJ.com)

–Speaking of Hischier, did you know that he didn’t start playing hockey full time until he was 12 years old? That’s only six years ago. “What you’re looking at is a guy who has a big upside and isn’t even close to reaching the ceiling,” Devils head coach John Hynes said. (New York Times)

 –Kyle Beach was selected 11th overall by the Chicago Blackhawks back in 2008. Unfortunately for Beach, he never made it to the NHL and he still isn’t over that. “Whenever you get as close as I did and don’t make it, there are going to be a lot of questions that never can be answered. I was a player growing up who never had to work that hard because I was always a top player. It was a rude awakening. Could I have been more prepared? Absolutely.” (Chicago Tribune)

Video: Crosby to Dan Patrick – Subban fight ‘wasn’t as bad as it looked’

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Listerine, the 2017 Stanley Cup Final, and a growing rivalry. Sidney Crosby and P.K. Subban battled it out at the highest level not so long ago, but some of that action looked worse than it actually was.

At least, that’s the message Crosby sent on “The Dan Patrick Show,” as you can enjoy in the clip above.

As a bonus, Crosby also discussed his favorite Stanley Cup traditions – hey, there can be traditions when something happens three times – and how Mario Lemieux inspires some especially creative ideas:

Rebuild on hold? Red Wings reportedly eye Girardi, Hainsey, Daley

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For the first time in ages, the Detroit Red Wings missed the playoffs. To some, the sliver lining was that this might send a message to management to truly commit to a rebuild.

Perhaps GM Ken Holland & Co. aren’t quite ready for that.

Look, one or even a couple of potential free agent signings won’t disqualify the Red Wings from going younger. Still, the rumored defensemen they’re targeting aren’t exactly spring chickens.

Three names floating out there are Trevor Daley, Dan Girardi, and Ron Hainsey.

Daley was mentioned by The Athletic’s Craig Custance, MLive.com’s Ansar Khan, and the Detroit Free-Press’ Helene St. James. Khan and Custance both mention Hainsey and Girardi, too.

Even in one-case mentions, the “veteran” theme continues, with Brian Campbell‘s name coming up while forward Thomas Vanek seems like at least a remote possibility to return to Detroit.

Let’s look at the ages of the defensemen mentioned, noting that Daley is older than some might have expected.

Daley – 33
Girardi – 33
Hainsey – 36
Campbell – 38

In the case of Daley and Girardi, you could also argue that each blueliner also has a lot of “mileage” for their age. Girardi, in particular, plays the sort of grinding, shot-blocking style that might have accelerated his troubles with the Rangers.

As great as experience might be, even for a “final push,” this sends a troubling signal. In Mike Green (31), Jonathan Ericsson (33), and Niklas Kronwall (36), the Red Wings already have an aging group of defensemen. Kronwall and Ericsson are dealing with injuries that may hinder them for the remainder of their careers, too.

When you also note that Holland exposed 25-year-old goalie Petr Mrazek instead of 33-year-old Jimmy Howard, the picture isn’t especially pretty.

Maybe the Red Wings can have their cake (push for a playoff rebound) and eat it too (start to transition to youth), yet it’s not necessarily the aggressive move toward a rebuild that many likely hoped to see.

At least there’s time for Holland to prove these early worries wrong.

Note: In other Red Wings news, the team signed Ben Street to a one-year extension.

Blue Jackets sign Schroeder after trading for him

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Not long after acquiring him in a minor trade from the Minnesota Wild, the Columbus Blue Jackets signed Jordan Schroeder to a two-year contract.

The team confirms that it is a two-way deal for 2017-18 and then becomes one-way in 2018-19.

Schroeder is guaranteed $350K for the first year of that contract and then $650K in 2018-19, according to the Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline.

The 22nd pick of the 2009 NHL Draft receives a fitting contract: he’s been a “tweener,” bouncing around the NHL and AHL. He hasn’t been able to make much of an impact, Schroeder at least provides some organizational depth.

That could come in handy, as Portzline indicates that Sam Gagner – not so surprisingly – is expected to garner a lot more attention this time around in free agency. Perhaps Schroeder could serve as insurance for Gagner?