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PHT Morning Skate: Comparing McDavid’s first 80 games to other NHL greats

Auston Matthews is all set to play his first NHL game in his hometown of Arizona, and his childhood rink is ready for his return. If ever you visit Arcadia Ice Arena, you’ll quickly realize that Matthews once played there. During a trip to the rink last summer, an arena worker made him sign the Zamboni. (Sportsnet)

–Union College senior Mike Vecchione is having at terrific season. He’s the leader in most offensive categories in NCAA Division I hockey this season and he’s hoping that his success will lead to him having a solid NHL career one day. “I’ve grown up playing hockey every single day of my life, and it’s the one thing that i truly love. I hope it’s going to take me a long way in life, but at the end of the day it’s gonna be that degree I’m going to have to fall back on. If I’m lucky I can play so many years in professional hockey, but one day it’s gonna come to an end.” (Sports Illustrated)

–Calgary Flames coaches recount some of their Christmas memories from when they were kids. Each one of them remembered asking for some kind of hockey-related gift instead of regular toys. Martin Gelinas remembers getting a table hockey game, Jordan Sigalet got his first painted mask and Glen Gulutzan recalls getting his first hockey net. (CalgaryFlames.com)

–Caps forward Alex Ovechkin skated with 50 youth hockey players from the Fort Dupont Cannons Ice Hockey Club, which is the oldest youth minority hockey program in North America. Founder and coach Neal Henderson had this to say about the experience: “Kids get a great kick out of working with him. They get on a friendly basis with him. I tell them all, ‘This is how the pros get started.’ Hockey players are different from a lot of other sports. They’ll put their skates on and come over to the rink and skate with the guys. Very seldom do you see a basketball player go to a park and start working with kids.” (NHL)

–Lightning forward J.T. Brown and his wife are helping with the “Guide the Thunder” hockey program, which gives kids who wouldn’t normally be able to play hockey a chance to skate every Monday night. Ice time for the kids is dependent on their grades and behavior. If they aren’t pulling their weight, they won’t skate. “We want to use hockey as a means to teach life lessons to kids who otherwise wouldn’t have those kinds of opportunities,” said Jay Feaster, who’s now in charge of the Lightning’s community outreach programs. (ESPN)

–Because of the broken collarbone he suffered last season, Connor McDavid only hit the 80-game mark of his career this season. How do his numbers stack up against some other NHL superstars over the last 20 years? Take a look:

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    Report: ‘Hawks could add Ulf Samuelsson to coaching staff

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    The Chicago Blackhawks are searching for an assistant coach, and Ulf Samuelsson might just be their guy.

    According to the Chris Kuc of the Chicago Tribune, Samuelsson is the “top candidate” to replace Mike Kitchen, who was fired after the ‘Hawks were swept by the Nashville Predators in the opening round the playoffs.

    The obvious connection here, is that Samuelsson and head coach Joel Quenneville were teammates with the Hartford Whalers back in the 1980s.

    Samuelsson, 53, was an associate coach with the Arizona Coyotes from 2006 to 2011 and he was an assistant with the New York Rangers from 2013 to 2016. Last season,  he served as the head coach of Carolina’s farm team, the Charlotte Checkers.

    He led the Checkers to a 39-29-8 record during the 2016-17 AHL campaign.

    2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs schedule for Monday, May 22

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    Will the Nashville Predators become the first team to clinch a berth in the 2017 Stanley Cup Final? We’ll find out tonight.

    The Preds were able to push the Ducks to the brink of elimination after their impressive win in Game 5 on Saturday night.

    Nashville was able to get the job done without centers Ryan Johansen and Mike Fisher. We know Johansen will be out for Game 6, but maybe Fisher can give them a boost.

    Here’s what you need to know:

    Anaheim Ducks vs. Nashville Predators (Preds lead 3-2)

    Time: 8:00 p.m. ET

    Network: NBCSN (Stream live here)

    Check out the highlights from Nashville’s 3-1 win in Game 5

    Related:

    Ducks will be without Eaves and Rakell in Game 6

    Pontus Aberg ‘face planted’ before scoring game-winning goal in Game 6

    PHT Morning Skate: Is it time for the Wild to blow up their roster?

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    –Former NHL head coach Don Cherry weighed in on Preds fans throwing ducks on the ice during games, and he’s not a fan. “I know there’s duck hunters and all that, that’s OK, duck hunters, they have an even chance. And you’re gonna say, ‘Well yeah, Cherry, you had the octopus.’ Okay, but that octopus, we got it from a fish market, it was already dead.” (Sportsnet)

    Mats Zuccarello was driving around in Norway when he noticed a kid shooting pucks into a net. The Rangers forward pulled over and made sure to have a good chat with the youngster. (New York Daily News)

    –Team USA may have failed to pick up a medal at the World Hockey Championship (again), but with plenty of young talent on the roster, the future appears to be bright for the program. It’s too bad the NHL is deciding not to go to the Olympics though. (New York Post)

    –The Pittsburgh Penguins annihilated the Ottawa Senators, 7-0, last night. You can see each one of those goals by clicking the video at the top of the page.

    –To drum up interest in the Golden Knights, the team organized a “Sticks for Kids” street hockey clinic over the weekend, and over 1500 kids left there with a stick and a ball. “We want to get them started learning the game at a young age. It’s a process, from putting a stick in their hands to learning to skate to then learning to play. We want to hit all demographics. We want everyone in Las Vegas to feel involved and welcomed. We don’t want it to be an afterthought for anyone.” (Las Vegas Review-Journal)

    –The Minnesota Wild got off to a great start this season, but they faded down the stretch and were eventually bounced in the opening round of the playoffs. Now, some people in Minnesota are wondering if it’s time for the Wild to blow things up and start from scratch. It would allow them to draft a high-end offensive talent, but is it the right approach? (Minneapolis StarTribune)

    –After their Game 5 win in Anaheim, the Predators were greeted at the local airport by over 1000 fans. It was a pretty wild scene:

    Former Blackhawks defenseman Bill White dies at 77

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    Bill White, who played 604 career regular season games in the National Hockey League, has passed away, the Chicago Blackhawks announced Sunday.

    He was 77 years old.

    More from the Blackhawks:

    White spent seven years in the minors before the National Hockey League grew from six to 12 teams in 1967. When the expansion Los Angeles Kings gained his rights, he immediately earned acclaim as an extraordinary stay-at-home defenseman. During the 1969-70 season, Pat Stapleton of the Blackhawks incurred an injury. With his club a serious contender, General Manager Tommy Ivan acquired White from the Kings. When Stapleton returned, he and White formed one of the NHL’s finest blue-line tandems, the former expertly generating offense and the latter adept at laying back.

    He scored 50 goals and 265 points during his time in the league.

    In addition to playing for the Kings and Blackhawks, White was also a member of Canada’s 1972 Summit Series team, which defeated the Soviet Union in an epic eight-game series.

    “A younger generation might not understand what we went through,” White once told the Toronto Sun. “I’m still asked about playing in the series at least twice a week.”