PHT Morning Skate: A full hockey scouting report on Santa Claus

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–It’s Christmas time, which means that we need a full hockey scouting report on Santa Claus. NBC Hockey Analyst Pierre McGuire even draws parallels between Jolly Saint Nick and Pavel Datsyuk. (Top)

–Earlier this week, Jaromir Jagr tied Mark Messier for second all-time in points, but which player was more dominant at their best? NHL.com’s Rob Vollman makes a case for Jagr’s best being better than Messier’s best. (NHL)

–The Minnesota Wild have made some pretty significant moves in the last few years. They’ve traded for Devan Dubnyk, hired Bruce Boudreau and signed Eric Staal. All those things have come together and have helped make the Wild a solid team in 2016-17. (Minneapolis StarTribune)

–The Philadelphia Flyers and Washington Capitals played a tight game last night, and it was eventually went to a shootout. Three total goals were scored in the shootout and the Flyers came out on top. Here are the highlights from that game:

–Hurricanes forward Lee Stempniak, who grew up in Buffalo, is appreciative of the support he received from his hard-working parents when he was growing up. “When it comes to hockey they were the two biggest influences in my life, just in terms of hard work and commitment,” he said of his parents. Tonight, he’ll play in his hometown. (Charlotte Observer)

–Many people feel the Oilers are lacking a true number one defenseman, but the Edmonton Journal believes they have one. His name is Andrej Sekera, and although he may not be a traditional top d-man like P.K. Subban or Drew Doughty, he’s certainly been effective. (Edmonton Journal)

–With Ben Bishop sidelined for 3-4 weeks, the Lightning will turn to Andrei Vasilevskiy to lead them in the short-term. But Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones argues that it’s time for the Bolts to give Vasilevskiy the starting job for good. (Tampa Bay Times)

Ducks take control of second in Pacific after edging Oilers

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Connor McDavid was fantastic on Wednesday, but the Anaheim Ducks overcame his strong showing for a significant win in the Pacific.

McDavid scored a goal and two assists, yet Ryan Getzlaf was right there with him with three assists, helping the Ducks win 4-3.

With that, Anaheim is clearly ahead of Edmonton for second in the Pacific. The Ducks would hold home-ice over the Oilers if the playoffs began today, and better yet for them, a division title isn’t out of the question:

1. Sharks – 91 points in 73 games played
2. Ducks – 89 points in 73 GP
3. Oilers – 87 points in 73 GP
4. Flames – 86 points in 73 GP

As you can see, the Oilers aren’t exactly far ahead of the Flames for third, either.

Going forward, the Oilers have an interesting schedule: a mix of games against cellar dwellers (two apiece against the Canucks and Avalanche) plus two games apiece versus the Kings and Sharks.

The Ducks’ schedule includes two matches against the Flames, one against the Kings and one more match at Edmonton on April 1.

Long story short, the jockeying for position is far from over, but this was a pretty significant win for the Ducks.

Video: Connor McDavid shows off speed and skill (again)

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Connor McDavid‘s 26th goal of 2016-17 was a lot like many others: an impressive display of skill and speed. He didn’t blaze past the Anaheim Ducks like has against opponents on other occasions, but his rare wheels still came in handy.

Maybe more than sheer speed, this tally is a reminder that McDavid could do impressive things while losing little or no momentum. It’s one thing to have straight-line speed, but he has the hands and hockey IQ to take advantage of his swift skating.

McDavid already has two points in this one, pushing him to 84 points. He also extended his point streak to five games (three goals, six assists if he stays at one of each on Wednesday).

Islanders grab precious points by beating Rangers

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The goal posts might move from time to time – now they’re chasing the Boston Bruins more than the Toronto Maple Leafs – but the bottom line is that the New York Islanders need to get it done to make the playoffs.

They still have some climbing to do, but Wednesday represented a step in the right direction with a tough 3-2 win against the New York Rangers.

The Rangers built 1-0 and 2-1 leads in the second period as John Tavares struggled with a “hat trick” of penalties, but Tavares & Co. wouldn’t give up. They managed two power-play goals in the third (one by Nikolay Kulemin, the winner by Andrew Ladd) to turn things around for a significant win.

Anders Lee was also a big part of the win, grabbing a goal and an assist. The biggest difference-maker may very well have been Thomas Greiss, who stopped 34 of 36 shots (including all 11 in the third) as the Rangers created a lot of offense.

The Islanders now have 80 standings points, placing them two behind the Bruins for the East’s final wild card spot.

The Rangers’ hold over the first wild card seems quite secure, but they do have to worry ever so slightly about their play at home. With this defeat, they’ve now lost seven straight (0-5-2) at Madison Square Garden.

Video: Rick Nash scores 20th goal in sprawling style

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Rick Nash has his critics stemming from his playoff struggles in the past, but for those who support him, moments like these are satisfying.

Why? Because you’d be absurd to discredit how hard he tries when Nash scores goals like he did for the New York Rangers against the New York Islanders on Wednesday.

Nash went all-out for his 20th goal of the season, sprawling after scoring against Thomas Greiss. It’s quite a sight, and Getty Images really was on top of that one.

via Getty Images

The Rangers may need more from him tonight, however, as the Islanders just went up 3-2. Watch the remainder of the contest on NBCSN.