Alex Steen

NHL on NBCSN: Red-hot Steen, Doan collide in Blues vs Coyotes

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NBCSN continues its coverage of the 2013-14 campaign tonight when the St. Louis Blues host the Phoenix Coyotes at the Scottrade Center at 8:00 p.m. ET. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game online.

The Coyotes and Blues might not be two of the most popular teams in the NHL, but they are certainly worth of attention. Both of them have been playing exciting hockey and winning in the process.

Phoenix and St. Louis rank seventh and fifth respectively in goals per game after they were mediocre to bad offensively in the 2013 campaign. For the Blues, the big difference has been Alexander Steen.

Related: Pro Hockey Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $2,500 Fantasy Hockey league tonight (Tuesday). It’s just $10 to join and first prize is $500. Starts at 7:30 p.m. ET. Here’s the link.

The 29-year-old forward has only been held off the scoresheet once all season and is currently riding a 10-game point streak. He’s never recorded more than 24 goals in a single campaign, but Steen already has 14 goals in 15 games this season. That puts him in a tie with the now injured Steven Stamkos for the NHL goal scoring lead.

Phoenix will counter with a forward that’s been almost as hot lately, its captain Shane Doan. Although the 37-year-old’s season numbers pale in comparison, Doan has scored in five of his last six contests. If the Blues manage to neutralize Doan though, the Coyotes are far from doomed. They have plenty of offensive depth with nine different players that have recorded at least 10 points in 2013-14.

St. Louis goaltender Jaroslav Halak will consequently have his hands full, but he’s capable of rising to the occasion. After enduring a rough and injury-riddled 2013 campaign, Halak has bounced back this season with a 2.19 GAA and .913 save percentage. Phoenix will likely counter with netminder Mike Smith, who has been less than ideal so far, but still typically performs well enough to get the job done.

These two teams have combined for just six regulation losses all season, but the Western Conference has been dominant. As a result, Phoenix just has a four-point cushion between them and fifth place in its division and the Blues’ hold on a playoff spot is only six points.

So as good as they’ve been, neither team can afford to let up.

PHT Morning Skate: Adam Henrique wants to make NHL 17 great again

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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.

Martin Jones is a calming presence in the Sharks’ net. (Sports Illustrated)

–The Rangers should go after Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk. (The Hockey News)

–Some people have pretty wild hockey tattoos. (BarDown)

–Watch the highlights of last night’s game between the Penguins and Capitals. (Top)

–A great piece on how Bruce Boudreau impacted the Ducks and Capitals. (Sportsnet)

–It should be an interesting off-season for the Anaheim Ducks. (Daily Breeze)

Adam Henrique is a funny guy. He took to Twitter to try and get himself on the cover of NHL 17:

Capitals accuse Letang of leaving his feet, hitting Johansson in head

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Get this: the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins seem divided on the legality of Kris Letang‘s hit on Marcus Johansson.

(Take a moment to gather your thoughts amid this shocking revelation.)

You can watch the hit over and over in the video above. This post features some takes on that check, which the NHL’s Department of Player Safety is reportedly reviewing.

Generally speaking, the three things people discuss regarding the check is how late it might be, if Letang used his feet and if Johansson’s head was the principal point of contact.

Letang told his side of the story:

The Capitals disagree:

While Barry Trotz pleads the Fifth after his previous comments about Brooks Orpik‘s suspension:

No doubt about it, Letang’s status is the top story to follow in this series between Games 3 and 4. We’ll find out soon enough how it all shakes out.

Penguins ride Murray’s masterpiece to 2-1 series lead vs. Capitals

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If Marc-Andre Fleury suiting up bothers Matt Murray, then the rookie goalie channeled those feelings into a masterful performance on Monday.

The Washington Capitals absolutely dominated Game 3, but Murray was even better, stopping 47 shots as the Penguins stole one 3-2 to take a 2-1 series lead.

(Capitals fans might see some parallels to Washington’s Game 5 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers; they fell 2-0 despite a 44-11 shots on goal edge thanks to Michal Neuvirth‘s heroics.)

Murray stopped chance after chance before Alex Ovechkin finally broke through for his first goal of this series. Justin Williams then brought the Penguins’ lead down to 3-2 to make for a hold-your-breath final minute.

A driven Ovechkin and strong overall play from the Capitals (despite this defeat) aren’t the only reasons why Game 4 might present some twists.

First things first: Kris Letang might get suspended for Game 4 (if not for more than one game) thanks to this controversial check on Marcus Johansson.

Beyond that, there could be some bumps and bruises from this contest.

Bryan Rust left during the first period and didn’t return to the game after blocking a shot. Brian Dumoulin seemed shaken up after an Alex Ovechkin hit in the third period. The Capitals might have a player or two to look at, as well.

In other words, the Penguins could really lack for quality defensemen with Letang possibly suspended and possible injury absences for Dumoulin and Olli Maatta.

This series is living up to the hype … and really building up the hate.

Yes, NHL is reportedly looking at Letang’s hit on Johansson

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It remains to be seen if Kris Letang will get suspended for his hit on Marcus Johansson … and if he does, for how long.

(You can read initial reactions and some analysis about the specifics of the check vs. the one that got Brooks Orpik suspended here.)

There are a few things we do know already.

For one thing, the NHL’s Department of Player Safety is reportedly looking into it.

Another factor that could help Letang avoid a suspension or limit the duration of supplemental discipline: Marcus Johansson returned during the second period.

In fact, Johansson delivered some hits on Letang.

There have been some nasty moments in Game 3, and more might be coming. The Penguins lead 2-0 with a few minutes remaining in the middle frame.