Author: James O'Brien

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PHT Morning Skate: 50 Cent and the Flames, plus 30 games in 30 nights

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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.

A Calgary radio station apparently remixed 50 Cents “In da Club” to celebrate the Calgary Flames’ playoff bid. Timely. (Bardown)

Who should the Buffalo Sabres target in their coaching search? These six choices definitely count as thinking big. (Buffalo News)

Canadian hockey fan Rob Suggitt managed to see 30 NHL games in 30 days, with a charitable twist. (Sportsnet)

Do the Carolina Hurricanes owe Alexander Semin a fresh start? (Canes Country)

This 15-minute feature on Carey Price from The National is a great watch.

In honor of Jamie Benn’s feat, the Dallas Morning News looked back at every Dallas Stars player who’s scored a hat trick. (Dallas Morning News)

(50 Cent photo via Film Magic.)

Bridge built: Oilers hand Yakupov two-year, $5M extension

Edmonton Oilers v Vancouver Canucks
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Nail Yakupov and the Edmonton Oilers are at a crossroads right now, so a “bridge” contract makes some sense. The team announced that they signed the young winger to a two-year deal on Monday.

The contract is worth $5 million overall, which shapes up to be $2.5 million per season. This is an affordable compromise, and maybe the first of at least two with key young players for the Oilers, as Edmonton still must take the next step with polarizing defenseman Justin Schultz.

Yakupov, 21, had just finished the final season of his entry-level contract after being the first pick of the 2012 NHL Draft. It’s been a bumpy development process so far for the Russian forward. Plus/minus is a widely derided stat, yet it might most succinctly tell the story of how tough things have been for him at times: Yakupov is a -72 for his short career, including an all-time low of -35 in 2014-15.

That’s by no means Yakupov’s fault alone, mind you.

The biggest thing is that he’s been streaky (at best) when it comes to scoring, yet the good news is that he’s shown some improvement to close out this past season. He scored 21 points in his last 31 games versus just 12 in the first 50 games.

There’s plenty of time for a breakthrough, and if it happens, the Oilers are getting a nice (short-term) bargain.

P.K. Subban seems OK with being a ‘villain’

P.K. Subban Alex Ovechkin
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Some of the best stories in sports involve villains, real or perceived.

Hockey has a Claude Lemieux here and a Chris Pronger there, yet you don’t see a ton of players embracing that role. P.K. Subban didn’t outright say he strives to be the Joker to someone else’s Batman, but he didn’t deny that boos fuel his fire in an interesting interview with NHL.com.

“I’m not saying that I do. I’m not saying that I don’t,” Subban said with a grin. “But I don’t ask them to do that. When I go to Winnipeg, I don’t ask them to boo me. Philly, it’s the same thing. Pittsburgh, Toronto. I’m from Toronto; they still boo me.”

” … Let’s just say it doesn’t bother me.”

For some players, silencing a hostile crowd can be almost as rewarding – maybe more rewarding – than bringing home fans to their feet. It doesn’t hurt that Subban, 25, has the skill to do so.

In fact, Subban thinks he’s playing the best hockey of his career, explaining how he’s learned when to be aggressive and when to take his foot off the gas.

Subban also compared his style to that of upcoming opponent and fellow blueline star Erik Karlsson, yet it wasn’t really juicy enough to be worth noting.

(Hey, give Subban some time to fully embrace this “villain” thing …)

Calling in reinforcements: Islanders recall Reinhart

GriffinReinhart
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The New York Islanders have been a little banged up heading into the playoffs, so it makes sense that they’d try to add some depth by recalling defenseman Griffin Reinhart.

It may or may not be a sign that blueliner Travis Hamonic’s undisclosed injury is significant, as the Islanders may benefit from having another defenseman available anyway.

Reinhart, 21, has 22 points in 59 AHL games with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. He also appeared in eight games with the Islanders in 2014-15, collecting an assist and six penalty minutes.

As the fourth overall pick of the 2012 NHL Draft, the Islanders are hoping that Reinhart will be a fixture in their lineup in the future. Perhaps he’ll get his feet wet on the playoff level, then.

PHT Morning Skate: Sens try to shut out Habs fans

Montreal Canadiens v Buffalo Sabres
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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.

To be fair to the Ottawa Senators, attempts to keep arenas light on fans of opposing teams are common. That doesn’t making this any less humorous, though. (Habs Eyes on the Prize)

Maybe the Boston Bruins are better off missing the playoffs. (Stanley Cup of Chowder)

A retrospective on Elmer Lach and Dollard St. Laurent. (Greatest Hockey Legends)

The Penguins, Blackhawks and Predators are dealing with “rental flops” this season. (NHL Numbers)

Some friendly suggestions as the Toronto Maple Leafs search for replacements. (The Hockey News)

Grading the Philadelphia Flyers. (Philadelphia Inquirer)

Top 50 fantasy draft picks for playoff pools from someone expecting a New York Islanders – St. Louis Blues championship skirmish. (Sportsnet)