PHT Morning Skate: Kris Draper looks back at the ’90s ‘feud’ between the Avs and Wings

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–Are the Colorado Avalanche the worst team ever during the cap era? The Hockey News’ Sean McIndoe investigates by taking into account their record, basic numbers, advanced stats and more. In the end, they may be just a notch better than a couple of other cap era teams. (The Hockey News)

–We all know that the NHL will be expanding to Las Vegas next season, but how’s it going to work? Wayne Gretzky believes there’s a really good chance that things will work out perfectly well in the newest market. “Las Vegas is going to get an opportunity to pick some great players from all 30 teams. We have to put a half-decent product there… instead of putting the worst team together and after two years saying hockey Las Vegas isn’t a hockey city.” (Sportsnet)

–Speaking of the expansion draft, The Score put together a mock expansion list for each team in the Metropolitan Division. According to these lists, Michael Grabner (Rangers), Ryan Murray (Blue Jackets), Olli Maattaa (Penguins) and Brooks Orpik (Capitals) could all be available for Vegas. (The Score)

Steve Mason and the Philadelphia Flyers shut down the high-powered Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday night. You can watch the highlights of that game by clicking the video at the top of the page.

–Former Red Wings forward Kris Draper wrote a piece about the bloody brawls between Detroit and Colorado for The Players’ Tribune. Draper explained what happened to him during the 1996 playoffs after he was hit from behind. “I looked up at our trainer and he was blurry, but I could see this look of horror on his face. I’ll never forget that look. He put a towel over my head to hide my injuries. The last thing I remember is him and Keith Primeau helping me to my feet and escorting me off the ice to the dressing room.” (The Players’ Tribune)

–In the latest episode of The CHat,” Canadiens teammates Max Pacioretty and Shea Weber asked each other some pretty strange questions. For example, Pacioretty says he thinks Weber will be a lumberjack after his playing days are over. (Canadiens.nhl.com)

–The NHL’s Green Week is being held between Mar. 11-17 and former Rangers goalie Mike Richter is helping promote it. According to this NHL.com article, there are over 4,800 rinks in North America that are over 30 years old, and they each come with very high operating costs. The goal is to find a way to keep their costs low so they don’t go out of business. ” When you think of nearly 5,000 rinks across North America, these things are operating in a very tight margin and in the end you see a lot go out of business because they can’t bring in enough revenue to support that payment schedule. If you suddenly make them more efficient with off-the-shelf technology it would be eliminating massive amounts of maintenance.” (NHL.com)

Into the fire: Halak, recalled yesterday, starts for Isles in Pittsburgh

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A little scene setting for you.

New York heads into tonight’s massive game in Pittsburgh sitting two points back of Boston for the final wild card in the Eastern Conference. The Isles have two games in hand on the B’s — who are idle tonight — so a win could move them into a playoff spot.

As such, the Isles will start a goalie that hasn’t played in the NHL in 85 days.

Against the league’s highest-scoring offense.

The goalie in question is Jaroslav Halak, who’s spent the last three months playing for the Isles’ AHL affiliate in Bridgeport. Recalled yesterday, Halak will now face big league competition for the first time since Dec. 29, when he allowed four goals on 24 shots in a loss to Minnesota.

(Afterward, then-head coach Jack Capuano ripped Halak, saying he gave up “some soft goals to start” and “wasn’t sharp at all.”)

But Halak’s been really good in Bridgeport.

He’s posted a 17-7-1 record with a 2.15 GAA and .925 save percentage, and a pair of shutouts. And given how spotty Berube’s play has been as Greiss’ backup, the Isles really had no other choice than to recall Halak.

The club is in the midst of a compacted part of the schedule. Greiss was excellent in Wednesday’s win over the Rangers — stopping 34 of 36 shots in a 3-2 victory — but he was also busy.

The Isles are in Pittsburgh tonight, then host the Bruins on Saturday — another massive game — then host the Preds on Monday. It’s a compact part of the schedule, and Berube’s struggles have rendered him virtually unplayable, given how meaningful the games are (and, to borrow a timeless cliche, how vital points are at this time of the year.)

So it’s Halak tonight, and possibly more down the stretch.

For Tuukka Rask and the Bruins, a ‘bad goal’ at the worst possible time

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The growing ranks of Tuukka Rask detractors gained some serious ammunition during last night’s loss to Tampa Bay.

The deciding goal in the 6-3 defeat was a “bad one,” according to Rask and most anyone else who was watching.

It may have been a hard shot by Jonathan Drouin, unleashed at the top of the circle, but it still should’ve been stopped.

After the game, Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy told reporters that Rask “needed to be better tonight.”

In fact, Rask hasn’t been very good the past few months. Since Jan. 1, his save percentage is just .888. But with nobody trustworthy behind him, he’s had to just play through his struggles.

It’s impossible to say if Rask’s numbers would be better if the Bruins had a more capable backup. He’d be more rested, though. And when he was struggling, the coach would at least have another option to consider. With an .897 save percentage on the season, Anton Khudobin simply hasn’t been reliable enough to garner that consideration.

Don’t expect Rask to get the next game off. Saturday in Brooklyn, the Bruins — losers of four straight in regulation, and suddenly on the verge of falling out of the playoff picture — face the Islanders in arguably the biggest game of both teams’ seasons.

Bolts recall Koekkoek, putting Garrison’s status into doubt

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The Tampa Bay Lightning, after earning a big win last night in Boston, may not have defenseman Jason Garrison tonight in Detroit.

The Bolts recalled d-man Slater Koekkoek from AHL Syracuse this morning — a move that would seem to put Garrison’s status into doubt against the Red Wings.

Garrison was forced to leave the Bruins game in the second period with a lower-body injury.

Koekkoek has played 29 games for the Lightning this season, recording no goals and four assists.

Melnyk blasts ‘whiner’ Crosby, who won’t face hearing for Methot slash

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Sidney Crosby won’t face a disciplinary hearing for his slash on Ottawa d-man Marc Methot, an NHL spokesman confirmed — news that won’t be welcomed by Sens owner Eugene Melnyk.

The incident occurred during Ottawa’s 2-1 win on Thursday night, and forced Methot from the game with a bloodied, lacerated finger. The club later announced that Methot would be “out for weeks” with the injury.

Crosby’s slash came two nights after he speared Sabres forward Ryan O’Reilly below the belt. It should be noted that neither the O’Reilly spear or Methot slash resulted in penalty calls, and neither was subjected to supplementary discipline.

One individual that’s guaranteed to be upset with today’s news is Melynk. He appeared on TSN 1200 radio this morning and seemed to suggest the league was looking into the Crosby-Methot incident.

He also had a few choice words for No. 87: