Rickard Rakell

PHT Morning Skate: Talbot’s playoff guarantee; Eberle’s bounce back season

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Welcome to the PHT Morning Skate, a collection of links from around the hockey world. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at phtblog@nbcsports.com.

• Up top, check out the highlights from last night’s game between the Predators and Blackhawks.

• We’re really going to miss everything about Jaromir Jagr. (Vice Sports)

Jordan Eberle has put together a strong year in Brooklyn, and that’s reflected in his five-on-five numbers. (TSN)

• The AHL’s Rochester Americans have signed Brian Gionta to a one-game contract. The veteran we’ll use that tilt as a tune up game for the Olympics. (Amerks.com)

• There’s a special connection between Ducks forward Rickard Rakell and cancer survivor Katie Hawley. (ESPN)

• Why is Golden Knights defenseman Jason Garrison going up and down between the NHL and minors so frequently? (Sinbin.Vegas)

• Isles owner Jon Ledecky believes that splitting home games between Barclays and the Coliseum will be enticing to free agents and John Tavares. (The Sports Daily)

• No matter what anybody says, the Sens moving into a downtown arena is nothing but good news. (Welcome to your Karlsson Years)

• Oilers goalie Cam Talbot kind of guaranteed that his team was going to make the playoffs this year. (Oilers Nation)

• A company from London, Ontario is studying a hockey stick that is believed to be the oldest in the world. (CBC)

• With the NHL not going to the Olympics this year, women’s hockey will finally grab all the attention. (Fan Rag Sports)

• The IIHF announced their procedure for offside reviews and goalie interference calls for the upcoming Olympics. (IIHF)

• Here’s Hilary Knight on being a role model for others just like Cammi Granato was for her:

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

WATCH LIVE: NHL All-Star Game

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CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE AT 3:30 ET

Atlantic Division

Forwards:

Steven Stamkos
Nikita Kucherov
Brayden Point
Auston Matthews
Aleksander Barkov
Brad Marchand
Jack Eichel

Defensemen:

Erik Karlsson
Mike Green

Goalies:

Andrei Vasilevskiy
Carey Price

[Best, funniest, most heartwarming 2018 Skills Competition moments]

Metropolitan Division

Forwards:

Alex Ovechkin
Brian Boyle
Sidney Crosby
Josh Bailey
John Tavares
Claude Giroux

[Alex Ovechkin fires hardest shot at 2018 All-Star Skills Competition]

Defensemen:

Zach Werenski
Noah Hanifin
Kris Letang

Goalies:

Henrik Lundqvist
Braden Holtby

[Brian Boyle ‘thankful’ to be a part of NHL All-Star Weekend]

Central Division

Forwards:

Patrick Kane
Nathan MacKinnon
Blake Wheeler
Brayden Schenn
Eric Staal
Tyler Seguin

Defensemen:

P.K. Subban
Alex Pietrangelo
John Klingberg

Goalies:

Pekka Rinne
Connor Hellebuyck

[NHL All-Star Game returns to thriving Tampa Bay market]

Pacific Division

Forwards:

Connor McDavid
Johnny Gaudreau
Brock Boeser
James Neal
Rickard Rakell
Anze Kopitar

[2018 NHL All-Star Skills Competition Fastest Skater: Connor McDavid]

Defensemen:

Drew Doughty
Brent Burns
Oliver Ekman-Larsson

Goalies:

Mike Smith
Marc-Andre Fleury

[Coolest hair wasn’t enough, Boeser wins accuracy competition]

Best, funniest, most heartwarming 2018 Skills Competition moments

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However you feel about the actual game (or recently, games) that come with the All-Star experience, you have to be a real stick in the mud not to enjoy the skills competition.

The 2018 All-Star Skills Challenge did not disappoint in that regard.

The six events and everything around them brought about some fantastic ribbing from fans to a few polarizing players, many heartwarming moments where players gave back, stupendous displays of talent, and more. Let’s take a look at some of the standout bits.

Heartwarming gestures

Alex Pietrangelo is donating the $25K he won in the passing competition to charity, and that’s likely far from the only great gesture to come from this weekend.

Rickard Rakell spent time with Katie Hawley, a fan who fought off cancer on three occasions.

Brian Boyle, feel-good story of the weekend

One of the best ovations came to former Lightning forward Brian Boyle, who is fighting cancer. Every now and then, All-Star games give us a chance for emotional moments like these.

It prompted Boyle to take a moment to thank Lightning fans specifically.

[Even more on Boyle.]

Follicle follies

As this post mentions, Brock Boeser turned heads because of his accuracy and also because he’d probably be a great spokesman for Head & Shoulders.

His Thor-like mane stole the show, but don’t sleep on Noah Hanifin. Just ask Jack Eichel, who could probably look like that dude from “Workaholics” if he really let his hair go wild.

Everyone’s favorite goofball, Marc-Andre Fleury

Only Marc-Andre Fleury would choose a song from “Frozen” to pump him up during something like the save streak …

And then win it all, edging Pekka Rinne 14-13.

Getting grief

Some of the most fascinating fan interaction moments coming during player introductions. Who will get cheered? When will we hear a pin drop? Which players will be jeered the most heartily?

You wonder if Tampa Bay fans would identify even more “villains” in the next postseason, as they may very well be in for some bitter battles during the upcoming playoffs. Still, it was noticeable that Patrick Kane and Sidney Crosby drew some heat.

Recently suspended forward Brad Marchand might have gotten it the most, or at least he received it most often, as fans booed him during introductions (which he relished) and clearly enjoyed it as Marchand struggled during the accuracy shooting.

However you feel about Marchand, few NHL players were as comfortable in this role:

Fun shots, fun moments

What’s less shocking: Connor McDavid winning the fastest skater or P.K. Subban entertaining us all?

This kid might need to get his shot in the puck control relay, honestly.

Sometimes it’s comforting to see elite athletes struggle (fooling us into thinking they’re just like us), so Marchand’s issues during the accuracy shooting and Drew Doughty‘s frustrations were memorable.

The U.S. women’s Olympic team were in Tampa, which opened up some fun photo ops, like Hilary Knight and Alex Ovechkin (via NBC’s Matt Ziance):

Erik Karlsson, you scamp.

Actually, would a pirate call Karlsson a scamp, or something else?

It’s cool seeing opponents pal around, and it also provides opportunities for old friends to see each other again, like Crosby (and Kris Letang) did with MAF:

Henrik Lundqvist speaks for most of us in simply saying that it was a lot of fun. Yes, yes it was.

More from the All-Star Skills Challenge

Great moments in the past.

Alex Ovechkin wins hardest shot; Marc-Andre Fleury takes save streak.

Brock Boeser wins accuracy competition; Alex Pietrangelo shows off his great passing.

Connor McDavid shocks no one in winning fastest skater; Johnny Gaudreau shows off puck control.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

WATCH LIVE: NHL All-Star Skills Competition

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Fastest skater challenge:

Participants:
Brayden Point, Tampa Bay Lightning
Zach Werenski, Columbus Blue Jackets
Rickard Rakell, Anaheim Ducks
Noah Hanifin, Carolina Hurricanes
Josh Bailey, New York Islanders
Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado Avalanche
Jack Eichel, Buffalo Sabres
Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers

[NHL All-Star Game: Top moments from the Fastest Skater competition]

Passing challenge:

Participants:
Nikita Kucherov, Tampa Bay Lightning
Claude Giroux, Philadelphia Flyers
Brayden Schenn, St. Louis Blues
Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Arizona Coyotes
Eric Staal, Minnesota Wild
Alex Pietrangelo, St. Louis Blues
Kris Letang, Pittsburgh Penguins
Drew Doughty, Los Angeles Kings

[A simple request for future NHL All-Star Skills Competitions]

Save streak:

Participants:
Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers, vs. Central Division
Connor Hellebuyck, Winnipeg Jets, vs Pacific Division
Pekka Rinne, Nashville Predators, vs. Metropolitan Division
Marc-Andre Fleury, Vegas Golden Knights, vs. Atlantic Division
Andrei Vasilevskiy, Tampa Bay Lightning, vs. Central Division

[NHL All-Star Game: Fun Skills Competition moments]

Puck control relay:

Participants:
Johnny Gaudreau, Calgary Flames
Aleksander Barkov, Florida Panthers
Erik Karlsson, Ottawa Senators
John Tavares, New York Islanders
Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers
Auston Matthews, Toronto Maple Leafs
Tyler Seguin, Dallas Stars
Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks

[NHL All-Stars see lack of Olympic participation as ‘missed opportunity’]

Hardest shot:

Participants:
John Klingberg, Dallas Stars
Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals
P.K. Subban, Nashville Predators
Brent Burns, San Jose Sharks
Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning

[NHL All-Star Game: Top moments from the Hardest Shot competition]

Accuracy shooting:

Participants:
Brian Boyle, New Jersey Devils
Blake Wheeler, Winnipeg Jets
James Neal, Vegas Golden Knights
Brock Boeser, Vancouver Canucks
Brad Marchand, Boston Bruins
Anze Kopitar, Los Angeles Kings
Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins
Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning

[NHL All-Star Game: Top moments from the Accuracy Shooting competition]

The Tampa Bay Lightning, who are celebrating their 25th season, and the city of Tampa will host the 2018 Honda NHL All-Star Weekend. The League’s midseason showcase will take place at AMALIE Arena and will include the 2018 GEICO NHL All-Star Skills Competition on Saturday, Jan. 27 (7 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS) and 2018 Honda NHL All-Star Game on Sunday, Jan. 28 (3:30 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS).

WATCH LIVE: Pittsburgh Penguins at Anaheim Ducks

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PROJECTED LINEUPS

Pittsburgh Penguins

Dominik SimonSidney Crosby — Daniel Sprong

Carl HagelinEvgeni MalkinPatric Hornqvist

Conor ShearyJake GuentzelPhil Kessel

Tom KuhnhacklRiley SheahanRyan Reaves

Brian DumoulinKris Letang

Olli MaattaJustin Schultz

Matt HunwickJamie Oleksiak

Starting goalie: Tristan Jarry

[NHL on NBCSN doubleheader: Canadiens vs. Bruins; Penguins vs. Ducks]

Ducks

Rickard RakellRyan GetzlafCorey Perry

Derek GrantRyan KeslerJakob Silfverberg

Nick RitchieAdam HenriqueOndrej Kase

Chris WagnerAntoine VermetteJ.T. Brown

Cam FowlerKevin Bieksa

Hampus LindholmJosh Manson

Francois BeaucheminBrandon Montour

Starting goalie: John Gibson