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.
The Colorado Avalanche have shifted Nathan MacKinnon back to his natural position of center so that he can replace the injured Matt Duchene on a line with Ryan O’Reilly and Jamie McGinn. (Denver Post)
Editor’s Note: Pro Hockey Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a $750 Fantasy Hockey league for Tuesday night’s NHL games. It’s just $10 to join and first prize is $200. Starts Tuesday at 7:00 p.m. ET. Here’s the FanDuel link.
Steve Downie isn’t experiencing concussion symptoms at this point, but he won’t play on Tuesday. (CSN Philly)
Back in New Jersey, defenseman Adam Larsson thinks his time in the minors did him some good. The highly regarded 21-year-old has had some difficulty establishing himself in the NHL and was once called “his own worst enemy sometimes” by AHL Albany coach Rick Kowalsky. (The Bergen Record)
Maple Leafs forward Dave Bolland spoke about the need to stay positive despite Toronto’s collapse, but the locker room atmosphere Monday morning suggested that his teammates are having trouble doing that after they all-but completely slipped out of contention for a playoff spot. (Ottawa Citizen)
James Sheppard admitted to be worried on Saturday when his left knee/leg collided violently with the boards. His NHL career had previously been put into jeopardy over a left knee injury, but fortunately his new ailment wasn’t significant. (CSN Bay Area)
With the season almost over and the Florida Panthers chances of making the playoffs long since dead, forward Brad Boyes is nevertheless frustrated by his team’s habit of being unprepared and falling behind early. Florida has been outscored 81-42 in the first period of games in 2013-14. (Miami Herald)
Speaking of which, here are the highlights from New Jersey’s 6-3 victory over Florida:
Ken Hitchcock wants the Blues to spend more time attacking and less time defending.
Because hockey isn’t rocket science, that’s why.
“To score and win games in the National Hockey League…you have to spend as much time in the offensive zone as you can,” Hitchcock told the Post-Dispatch.
“When you’re occupying the offensive zone more, you’re forechecking more. When you’re occupying the offensive zone more, the goalie has to make saves. They’re having to defend more. And the opposing team takes penalties on you. So they’re all connected. … What I want to see from us is staying on the puck for longer stretches.”
According to the stats, the Blues have not been spending as much time in the offensive zone as we’re used to seeing from them. In fact, in their last 20 games, they rank in the bottom third of the league in score-adjusted Corsi. That compares to their first 20 games when they were in the top third.
The result is fewer shots, and more importantly, fewer goals. The Blues have fallen all the way to 25th in offense, averaging just 2.37 goals per game. Last year, they finished fifth (2.91).
Yes, some of that may be due to the absence of Jaden Schwartz, and he should be back soon. But there’s a reason people are watching GM Doug Armstrong as the Feb. 29 trade deadline approaches. This team could probably use another piece up front.
The Blues host Minnesota Saturday.
St. Louis has scored just five goals in its last five games.
Tonight in Anaheim, Anders Lindback will make his first start for the Arizona Coyotes since Jan. 16.
The Coyotes have been riding rookie Louis Domingue since just before Christmas, but Domingue has allowed five goals in each of his last three starts, including last night’s 5-4 loss to Chicago.
Lindback’s last appearance came Tuesday in relief, when he allowed one goal on 10 shots in a 6-2 loss to the Kings.
Lindback was in goal for one of Arizona’s three victories this season over Anaheim, stopping 33 of 36 shots in a 4-3 overtime win on Nov. 9. However, his .896 save percentage ranks among the lowest in the league.
Frederik Andersen is expected to start for the Ducks.
— No word yet on a Penguins starter in Tampa, but Ben Bishop will go for the Bolts.
— Cam Ward will start for the Hurricanes in Winnipeg, where Connor Hellebuyck is expected for the increasingly desperate Jets.
— Joonas Korpisalo was solid last night in Vancouver, but the Blue Jackets have not announced their starter for tonight’s game in Calgary. Karri Ramo will be in goal for the Flames.
The latest Penguins injuries, these ones to Evgeni Malkin and Eric Fehr, have led to an opportunity for Oskar Sundqvist.
Sundqvist will make his NHL debut for the Penguins tonight in Tampa. The 21-year-old center has five goals and 11 assists in 39 AHL games this season.
“Sunny’s a pretty solid two-way player,” coach Mike Sullivan said, per the Tribune-Review.
“I don’t think he’s going to dazzle you with flashy plays, but I think he’s a guy who plays the game the right way. He’s hard to play against because of his size. He’s got a long reach, and he’s got a good stick.”
Sundqvist was selected 81st overall by the Pens in 2012. He’ll become the fourth player out of that Pittsburgh draft class to make his NHL debut, after Olli Maatta, Derrick Pouliot, and Matt Murray.
Veteran Matt Cullen will replace Malkin on the second line, skating with wingers Carl Hagelin and Phil Kessel.
Related: Nick Bonino out ‘at least a month’ with hand injury
As if John Scott wasn’t already having a great week, now he’s the proud father of twin girls.
The Montreal Canadiens shared the good news via their Twitter account today.
Scott, the unlikely 2016 All-Star Game MVP, is currently back home in Michigan; however, he’s expected to resume his career at some point with Montreal’s AHL affiliate in St. John’s, Newfoundland.
When, exactly, he suits up for the IceCaps remains to be seen, but it won’t be tonight or tomorrow.
Related: Therrien on Canadiens possibly recalling John Scott: ‘You never know’