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

lotr

PHT Morning Skate: Yay or nay on ‘Lord of the Rings’ jersey?

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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 look at the “star-making” season for Tampa Bay Lightning forward Tyler Johnson. (The Hockey News)

Donald Duck, Goofy and hockey. (Greatest Hockey Legends)

From the ECHL team who brought you those “Seinfeld”-inspired “puffy shirt” jerseys, the Bakersfield Condors present a “Lord of the Rings” jersey. It’s … a lot to take in.

(Technically one might say it’s also inspired by the “Hobbit” trilogy.)

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Read more about the promotion here.

Watch Nationals Park transform in preparation for the 2015 Winter Classic:

Want a little more video this morning? Check out this interesting bit on the maturation of Gabriel Landeskog:

Gaudreau’s first hat trick helps Flames stun Kings

Johnny Gaudreau
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It started off as one of those typical “phone it in” type games, but for all their flaws, it’s probably foolish to label Johnny Gaudreau and the Calgary Flames as quitters.

They were down 3-0 against the defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings. After tonight, the Flames are off until Saturday.

A less spirited team may have slumped its shoulders and taken its ninth loss in a row.

Gaudreau instead lit a fire in his team and sparked a resounding 4-3 OT comeback win instead.

The spritely 21-year-old generated the first hat trick of his career, and he did it in “natural” fashion in erasing a 3-0 deficit to a 3-3 tie. He nearly iced it in overtime, too, but Mark Giordano instead did the trick with less than a minute left in extra time.

Take a look at Gaudreau’s hat trick in the videos below.

If there’s one lesson from “The Gaudreau Show,” it’s that you might not want to turn it off before it’s over.

Fowler after Ducks’ win vs. Sharks: ‘We never give up’

Toronto Maple Leafs play the Anaheim Ducks
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December was supposed to be a month that would really test an Anaheim Ducks team that still draws plenty of doubters. Instead, they’ve really just distanced themselves from the Pacific Division pack.

The San Jose Sharks have been just as hot this month, so the new state rivals presented an intriguing battle, and they didn’t disappoint. Ultimately, Ryan Kesler’s overtime game-winner ended up making the difference as Anaheim won 3-2 (OT).

That’s the kind of shot that prompted the Ducks to trade Kesler for, but it turns out that Antti Niemi had foiled the American-born forward on previous occasions tonight:

The Ducks have dealt with injuries and illnesses (not to mention a stretch in which they played seven of eight games on the road from Dec. 5-19), yet they keep winning games. If you ask Cam Fowler, it’s just a matter of will.

“We continue to develop the mentality that we never give up,” Fowler said. “We’ll go into this break and enjoy this win.”

It’s been quite a run for the Sharks since they fell to 10-10-4 in a 2-0 loss to the Calgary Flames on Nov. 26. Since then, San Jose went 9-1-1 in 11 games.

That hasn’t been enough to gain much ground against Anaheim – they’re 8-2-0 in 10 games – but San Jose now finds themselves second in the division.

Not bad for a team that was in dire condition not that long ago, yet the Ducks can still gloat that they’re a stride or two ahead of the Sharks.

Ducks’ Jackman won’t return after hit by Sharks’ Scott

Tim Jackman, John Scott
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The Anaheim Ducks announced that Tim Jackman won’t return to Monday’s game against the San Jose Sharks. It appears that he was injured after being butt-ended by John Scott on this play:

Scott didn’t receive a penalty during the play, as it may have gone unnoticed in real time. The 32-year-old is probably on the Department of Player Safety’s speed dial at this point, so we’ll see if something comes of this situation.

Mike Smith’s misery continues

mikesmithcoyotes
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Is Devan Dubnyk “the answer” for the Arizona Coyotes? That’s tough to say, but it’s getting tougher and tougher to watch Mike Smith melt down.

The 32-year-old barely made it into the second period of Monday’s game against the Vancouver Canucks before he was mercifully pulled from the Coyotes’ net. He allowed four goals on just 11 shots in yet another demoralizing effort.

At this point, you wonder what the Coyotes should do.

Should they send him to the AHL for a “conditioning stint”? Perhaps a sports psychologist needs to come on the scene?

It’s becoming difficult to trust Smith to fight through these issues. Then again, Arizona has so much invested in him that they’ll just need to stick it out (at least this season).

Just look at his distressing game log even before today’s game (via NHL.com):

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Yeah, that’s not too hot.

Update: Dubnyk’s night wasn’t that much more pleasant, as Vancouver eventually won 7-1. Yikes.