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

Buffalo Sabres v New Jersey Devils

PHT Morning Skate: Girgensons rap, more Ovechkin kindness

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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.

Finding some good news in the seemingly familiar situation for the Toronto Maple Leafs. (The Hockey News)

Henrik Zetterberg scored two points in the 800th game of his NHL career last night. (MLive.com)

A look at the “Birthplace of Hockey.” (Greatest Hockey Legends)

Editor’s Note: Pro Hockey Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting an $20,000 Fantasy Hockey league for Thursday night’s NHL games. It’s just $2 to join and first prize is $2,000. Starts Thursday at 7pm ET. Here’s the FanDuel link.

In case voting him into the 2015 All-Star Game wasn’t enough of a clue that Zemgus Girgensons has his native Latvia’s attention, feast your eyes (and ears) on this (H/T to Josh Flynn):

Alex Ovechkin is enjoying a hot streak in the best way lately, as it seems like heartwarming stories about his kindness toward fans keep popping up. Apparently a fan wanted a stick from warm-ups for her birthday last night:

But he did it one better:

NHL on NBCSN: Rangers test hot streak against Ducks

New York Rangers v Anaheim Ducks
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NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2014-15 campaign with Wednesday’s second game as the Anaheim Ducks host the New York Rangers at the Honda Center at 10:30 p.m. ET. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game and pre-show online.

As impressive as the New York Rangers have been in rattling off 10 wins in their last 11 games, today’s road contest against the Anaheim Ducks represents the beginning of their truest test yet.

There isn’t a gimme in the Rangers next seven games, but this week stands as the largest challenge, as the Rangers visit the Ducks tonight, the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday and then close out a California churn by facing the Sharks in San Jose on Saturday.

The Ducks are off to another strong start. They’ve won two in a row, and while many victories have come by slim enough margins that they aren’t exactly puffing out their chests, they can really sock away standings points. There are four games remaining on this current eight-game homestand, and three of those matches put them against East opponents.

Editor’s Note: Pro Hockey Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $18,000 Fantasy Hockey league for Wednesday’s NHL games. It’s just $2 to join and first prize is $2,000. Starts Wednesday at 7pm ET. Here’s the FanDuel link.

The two teams bring plenty of offensive firepower to the table. Rick Nash continues his explosive 2014-15 season, while he’s supported by quality scorers including Martin St. Louis, Derek Stepan and Derrick Brassard. As usual, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry generate MVP-like work for the Ducks most evenings.

Anaheim’s becoming something of a factory for young defensemen, especially Sami Vatanen and Cam Fowler. Grizzled Rangers veteran Dan Boyle’s beginning to pay dividends while promising blueliner Ryan McDonagh also seems to be finding his game.

Assuming that the Rangers roll with Henrik Lundqvist and the Ducks give Frederik Andersen the nod, we’ll see two goalies who seem to be on the top of their games, even if they boast very different resumes.

These two teams don’t see each other often, yet it could be quite an aesthetically pleasing contest, especially if both attacks are in strong form.

Jurco (back) likely out for Red Wings tonight

Detroit Red Wings v Boston Bruins
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The Detroit Red Wings expect to close out their back-to-back set games without Tomas Jurco in the lineup against the Calgary Flames on Wednesday.

Jurco, 22, suffered back spasms during Tuesday’s win against the Edmonton Oilers, MLive.com’s Ansar Khan reports.

The Slovakia native has two goals and 10 assists for 12 points in 37 games during the 2014-15 season. Perhaps a little time off the ice might do him some long-term good, as Jurco only has one assist in his last 11 games.

NHL on NBCSN: Penguins host Bruins on ‘Rivalry Night’

Pittsburgh Penguins v Boston Bruins
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NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2014-15 campaign when the Pittsburgh Penguins host the Boston Bruins at the Consol Energy Center at 8:00 p.m. ET tonight as part of a back-to-back set of games on NBCSN on Wednesday. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game and pre-show online.

On paper, a Boston Bruins road visit to the Pittsburgh Penguins would be a likely Eastern Conference finals preview. The Penguins are doing their part despite mumps and injuries, but the Bruins might just settle for a first-round matchup at this point.

The Bruins currently find themselves right outside the East playoff mix as they trail the Toronto Maple Leafs for the final wild card spot by a single point. While their calls are mere mumbles compared to the rumbling that resulted in Randy Carlyle’s firing, there are at least some people calling for Claude Julien’s head.

Just about every Bruins headline seems to be about people needing to loose up, or stuff like teammates shrugging off in-practice fights.

Editor’s Note: Pro Hockey Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $18,000 Fantasy Hockey league for Wednesday’s NHL games. It’s just $2 to join and first prize is $2,000. Starts Wednesday at 7pm ET. Here’s the FanDuel link.

Ultimately, the Bruins come into Pittsburgh with a 19-15-6 and plenty of frustrations. They can set the table nicely for themselves going forward, however, as Thursday begins a stretch in which they play four of five games in Boston.

On the other hand, the Penguins soldier on, navigating the peaks and valleys of an 82-game season. They hope to close out a four-game homestand with a third win as David Perron continues to get acclimated to new surroundings – and a potentially lucrative linemate draw in Sidney Crosby.

One would expect it to be a big-game goalie matchup in Tuukka Rask and Marc-Andre Fleury, yet you should stay tuned for goalie nods to see if that’s confirmed. Whoever’s in net, it’s difficult to gauge what kind of test they’ll face, as both squads seem capable of creating fireworks (yes, even the struggling Bruins) yet could also lock things down, too.

That 2013 Eastern Conference finals series feels a little distant considering Boston’s woes and Pittsburgh’s many changes, yet it’s unlikely that the usual suspects have forgotten. It should be entertaining to see the two franchises renew the rivalry tonight.

PHT Morning Skate: Big Fish Bjugstad

nickbigfish
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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.

Should we call him “Big Fish” Nick Bjugstad? (Willie Mitchell’s Instagram)

source:

Steve Dangle has an interesting take on the Maple Leafs firing Randy Carlyle, including a great dirty pants and shirt analogy (it will make sense when you see the video):

(via Sportsnet)

Numbers behind that failed situation. (QMI)

Russian defenseman Ziat Paigin threw his stick into the stands following his team’s loss to Canada in the gold-medal game of the 2015 WJC, but the good news is that it sounds like no one was hurt. (The Hockey News)

Editor’s Note: Pro Hockey Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $18,000 Fantasy Hockey league for Wednesday’s NHL games. It’s just $2 to join and first prize is $2,000. Starts Wednesday at 7pm ET. Here’s the FanDuel link.

Kevin Connuaton had an amusing request from his former team, the Dallas Stars.

A review of the fourth episode of Epix’s Road to the Winter Classic. (Puck Daddy)