James Neal

PHT Morning Skate: James Neal’s excellent bar story

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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.

Now that we’ve hooked you in with the headline, Rob Rossi shares some final thoughts on James Neal’s time spent in Pittsburgh and closes it out with a story Penguins fans may wind up really enjoying. (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)

Flyers GM Ron Hextall came out of the NHL Draft thinking the team did really well. Well I’d hope he would think they did well, otherwise the start of his tenure would be a bit dicey. (CSNPhilly.com)

This shouldn’t come as a big shock: The Red Wings have serious interest in Christian Ehrhoff. Them and about 25 other teams as well. (Mlive,com)

Ever wonder how the NHL and NHLPA settled on a $69 million salary cap? No, it didn’t have anything to do with it being hilarious. (The Globe And Mail)

Fans in Vancouver rallied outside of Gino Odjick’s hospital and the Canucks legend came outside to greet them. (Vancouver Metro)

Aaron Ekblad was pretty easy for the Florida Panthers to pick first overall. Him being as mature as he is at 18 years old was a big reason why. (Canadian Press)

He’s mature and he’s also motivated and confident as all get out:

Goalie nods: Lindback ‘really excited’ for first start in almost three weeks

Anders Lindback
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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.

Elsewhere…

— 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.

A ‘pretty solid two-way player,’ Sundqvist to make NHL debut for Penguins

Pittsburgh Penguins' Oskar Sundqvist (49) collides with Minnesota Wild's Jason Zucker (16) in the first period of a NHL preseason hockey game in Pittsburgh, Thursday, Sept. 25, 2014. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
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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

John Scott’s wife gives birth to twin girls

Pacific Division forward John Scott looks into the stands during the NHL hockey All-Star championship game against the Atlantic Division Sunday, Jan. 31, 2016, in Nashville, Tenn. The Pacific Division won 1-0 and Scott was named most valuable player. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
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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’

Ducks motivated to beat Coyotes, who have ‘kicked our butt three times’

Arizona Coyotes' Antoine Vermette (50) scores a goal against Anaheim Ducks' John Gibson, left, as Ducks' Kevin Bieksa (2) looks on during the second period of an NHL hockey game Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2015, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
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The Anaheim Ducks have played the Arizona Coyotes three times this season, and all three times they’ve lost.

The Ducks’ most recent defeat at the hands of the plucky Desert Dogs — on Nov. 25 by a score of 4-2 — left head coach Bruce Boudreau to lament the “times we looked like we were brain dead.”

Those were not fun times for the Anaheim Ducks.

But, of course, that was then and this is now. And right now, there aren’t many hotter teams than Anaheim.

That’s why Boudreau is calling the fourth installment of Ducks-Coyotes, tonight at Honda Center, “the biggest game of the year” for his resurgent club.

“This team has kicked our butt three times,” he said. “We both know what [tonight] means.”

Anaheim enters on a five-game winning streak.

“We have a nice little streak going here,” said defenseman Kevin Bieksa. “Everything is better when you’re winning, and we want to keep it going.”

A regulation Ducks win would move Anaheim three points clear of Arizona for third spot in the Pacific Division.

The Coyotes, meanwhile, have lost three straight and have just two wins in their last nine. So tonight is a big game for them, too. A regulation win and they’d catapult the Ducks into a playoff spot.