<span class="vcard">James O'Brien</span>

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PHT Morning Skate: Sharks corner market on weird hockey videos

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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.

Remember the San Jose Sharks’ Christmas/holiday rap video? Well, this weather report presents another strange-but-great offering:

If they miss the playoffs, can they still keep making videos like these?

Ryan Johansen gets one over on Nick Foligno in this Visa commercial, although his trolling game could use some work. (Kudos on the obnoxious grin, though.)

Editor’s Note: Pro Hockey Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting an $30,000 Fantasy Hockey league for Friday night’s NHL games. It’s just $2 to join and first prize is $3,000. Starts Friday at 7pm ET. Here’s the FanDuel link.

Mike Milbury says he’d probably coach the Boston Bruins if the offer was on the table. (CSNNE.com)

Adam Proteau says the next step in the advanced stat debate is advancing beyond that debate. (The Hockey News)

Speaking of advanced stats, NHL.com is rolling out its initiative, so here’s an inside look at that. (Puck Daddy)

Ducks’ Boudreau: ‘We have to pull ourselves out of this’

Tampa Bay Lightning v Anaheim Ducks
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The good news is that the Anaheim Ducks still have a nine-point lead in the Pacific Division. It almost seems like the bad news is “everything else.”

If you’ve been following along on PHT, you’re probably aware that the Ducks have been in a slump that might just be a sign of a team that isn’t as good as its record indicates. That much has been explored here and here.

Still, with injuries mounting, the Ducks were thumped by the Tampa Bay Lightning by a score of 4-1 last night, exacerbating worries that the team is waddling badly into the playoffs. Head coach Bruce Boudreau seemingly took a “what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger” perspective according to this OC Register report.

“I don’t think anybody’s very happy or used to what’s going on,” Boudreau said. “But it’s up to us. We can’t hang our heads. Friggin’ every other team wants to win to. We got to pull ourselves of this.

“When we do, we’ll be a better team for it. We’d certainly like to see it happen sooner than later.”

There’s at least some recognition of the struggles. Ben Lovejoy said “it’s not head-scratching” and that the Ducks are aware that the played poorly. So there’s that.

As with many slumps – particularly ones by teams that were seemingly getting a lot of puck luck until they hit a wall of regression – the question becomes “How much power does this team actually have to turn things around?”

It’s plausible that Frederik Andersen’s excellent work camouflaged a lot of issues for Anaheim before he was injured. Really, Boudreau might have a point that it’s a blessing in disguise to struggle now instead of in April, May or June.

That said, what this slump really might say is that the Ducks need to sacrifice some of their healthy cap space to get better via moves between today and the March 2 trade deadline.

Determining if it’s a matter of will or personnel is where the head-scratching really might take place.

NHL on NBCSN: Penguins host Blue Jackets

Pittsburgh Penguins v Columbus Blue Jackets
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NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2014-15 campaign as Pittsburgh Penguins host the Columbus Blue Jackets at the Consol Energy Center at 7:00 p.m. ET. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game and pre-show online.

Boy, a lot has changed since the Columbus Blue Jackets made the Pittsburgh Penguins in their 2014 playoff series.

The Penguins changed up their front office and at least attempted to shift away from a top-heavy lineup to a more balanced attack. Columbus dealt with Ryan Johansen’s contract negotiations (and have since enjoyed phenomenal bang-for-the-buck from that rising star), mind-numbing injury issues and plenty of turbulence to the point that its playoff hopes are pegged at .1 percent.

In a more immediate view, both teams seem to come into this one licking their wounds a bit. The Penguins have lost two in a row and Sidney Crosby’s been struggling – by his high standards – while the Blue Jackets remain feisty but far from 100 percent.

Nick Foligno is the latest Columbus player bit by the injury bug, and it remains to be seen if he can play tonight. It’s a real shame, too, as NBCSN audiences would get a chance to see a player who continues to defy expectations by playing at an All-Star level.

Editor’s Note: Pro Hockey Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a $30,000 Fantasy Hockey league for Thursday night’s NHL games. It’s just $2 to join and first prize is $3,000. Starts Thursday at 7pm ET. Here’s the FanDuel link.

However, if you take a step back, it seems like the two teams have the potential to build a rivalry much like Ohio State and Penn State would logically butt heads in college football.

The Blue Jackets have had lousy luck this season, but they’re still frequently a tough out. They have enough animosity built up against the Penguins that they weren’t going to lie down anyway, yet it seems like that’s not really in this team’s nature in the first place.

Crosby’s scoring problems ape the Penguins’ lack of scoring punch overall. They’ve only scored a goal apiece in each of the last two games and their power play is currently 0-for-18 in February.

It all shapes up to be an interesting game with plenty of snarl. Tune into NBCSN to catch the action.

PHT Morning Skate: Bird’s eye view of Levi’s Stadium gets very literal

bird
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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.

Originally, the headline for this video was going to be “bird’s eye view of Levi’s Stadium becomes bird’s eye view of bird’s eye,” but luckily some restraint reigned.

Here’s a more thorough look at how the event is taking over that building:

Scott Gomez: from waiver fodder to legitimate trade deadline target? (The Hockey News)

Editor’s Note: Rotoworld’s partner FanDuel is hosting a $30,000 Fantasy Hockey league for Thursday night’s NHL games. It’s just $2 to join and first prize is $3,000. Starts Thursday at 7pm ET. Here’s the FanDuel link.

Guy Lafleur in an old shoe ad. (Greatest Hockey Legends)

This came out a few days ago so the data isn’t up-to-the-minute, but it’s still fascinating to see how much offense each team gets from its four lines. (Pensburgh)

NHL on NBCSN: Someone will break their slump as Devils face Sabres

Buffalo Sabres v New Jersey Devils
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NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2014-15 campaign as New Jersey Devils host the Buffalo Sabres at the Prudential Center at 7:30 p.m. ET. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game and pre-show online.

The New Jersey Devils’ playoff chances are slim right now. To elaborate, Sports Club Stats gives them a .2 chance of making it.

If the Devils want to make a big push, that will need to really kick off starting on Tuesday, and not just because they’re hosting the cellar-dwelling Buffalo Sabres.

After losing four games in a row – all in regulation – the Devils begin a six-game homestand tonight. Not only that, they also play nine of their next 10 games in Newark.

Here’s what their schedule looks like:

Tonight: vs. Buffalo
Friday: vs. Vancouver
Saturday: vs. Carolina
Feb. 23: vs. Arizona
Feb. 25: vs. Calgary
Feb. 27: vs. Boston
Feb. 28: at Columbus
March 3: vs. Nashville
March 6: vs. Columbus
March 8: vs. Philadelphia

Seems like a nice chance to at least make things interesting, right?

After a somewhat decent start to February, the Sabres look as vulnerable as ever.

Buffalo has dropped three straight games in regulation, all at home. About the best thing one can say about them is that their goaltending has kept them in games and at least helped Buffalo avoid getting embarrassed.

With Jhonas Enroth shipped out of town, the net largely goes to Michal Neuvirth, who has been playing fairly well recently. He’s likely to have competition at the other end, as Cory Schneider remains one of the bright spots for New Jersey.

There isn’t a ton of firepower, but considering the looming trade deadline, there may not be that many more opportunities to see Jaromir Jagr in a Devils jersey.

Fans of contending teams might want a glimpse at Jagr as he stands to be a desirable trade target, too.