James O'Brien

Pittsburgh Penguins Unveil Mario Lemieux Statue

PHT Morning Skate: Mario Lemieux had heroes, too

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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.

The Montreal Gazette shared a rare file photo of a young Mario Lemieux looking with admiration at Guy Lafleur. To give you an idea of him just being a face in the crowd at that point, he apparently wasn’t even listed in the caption of the photo that ran. Check that photo out in the story linked here. (Montreal Gazette)

A review of the first episode of “Hockey Wives.” (Sportsnet)

Are the Buffalo Sabres winning their way out of “McEichel?” (Hockey News)

Editor’s Note: Play one-day fantasy hockey tonight! Pro Hockey Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a $25,000 league for Thursday’s NHL games. It’s just $2 to join and first place wins $2,000. Starts Thursday at 7:30pm ET. Enter Now!

How has Winnipeg fared since Dustin Byfuglien and Bryan Little got injured? (Jets Nation)

Some kudos to Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Justin Faulk. (SB Nation NHL)

Blackhawks scratch Versteeg

Florida Panthers v Chicago Blackhawks
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The Chicago Blackhawks seemed like they were on the verge of scratching Kris Versteeg on Tuesday, yet it turns out they’re doing so against the New York Rangers tonight, instead.

Michal Rozsival and Daniel Carcillo are the other Blackhawks scratches, as CSNChicago.com’s Tracey Myers notes. Andrew Desjardins gets into Chicago’s lineup in Versteeg’s absence while David Rundblad replaces Rozsival.

Versteeg realized earlier this week that he’s been performing poorly (in more colorful words) so this cannot be a huge surprise. Perhaps it will be the kind of push that inspires him to produce more regularly? That’s certainly the hope.

Video: Stars like Crosby, Datsyuk want 3-on-3 overtime

Sidney Crosby, Pavel Datsyuk
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Bob McKenzie was in the NBCSN studio on Wednesday at an ideal time, as he was able to add some color to the talk of 3-on-3 overtime and other issues from the NHL GM meetings.

McKenzie passes along some interesting tidbits, especially how Sidney Crosby, Pavel Datsyuk and others feel about the idea of having all that extra room in OT.

Related

How close is the NHL to adopting 3-on-3 OT?

Kings step back into West playoff picture with win

Jonathan Quick
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By shutting out the Arizona Coyotes 1-0 on Monday, the Los Angeles Kings end the night back in the West’s final wild card spot.

They had to grind this one out as Jonathan Quick made all 25 saves while Andy Andreoff scored the only goal on an increasingly spry Mike Smith (beaten just once on 35 shots). Los Angeles carried much of the play, but much like Washington out East, it wasn’t an easy night despite facing a “tanking” opponent.

Here is a quick look at the West wild card race after this one:

Minnesota (first wild card spot): 83 points, 35 regulation/overtime wins in 69 games played
Los Angeles (second wild card spot): 81 points, 32 ROW in 69 GP

Winnipeg: 80 points, 28 ROW in 69 GP
San Jose: 76 points, 31 ROW in 69 GP
Colorado: 75 points, 23 ROW in 69 GP
Dallas: 74 points, 29 ROW in 70 GP

It’s important to mention that the Kings could conceivably catch thee Calgary Flames (who have 81 points but two more ROW) and Vancouver Canucks (82 points, one game in hand on Los Angeles, plus three more ROW than the Kings) in the Pacific Division, too.

At this point, almost every win and loss could be framed as crucial. Regardless, the Kings would likely have some serious regrets if they dropped this one, but they managed to grit this one out. The West’s top teams probably aren’t happy, either.

Of course, a lot can still change in a month.

Kessel laments ‘all-time low,’ Kadri fears suspension after ugly Leafs loss

kadrifraser
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Whether Toronto Maple Leafs fans are hoping for their team to tank or not, Monday’s 4-1 loss to the Edmonton Oilers was gruesome in many different ways.

Things were especially bleak for Jonathan Bernier, as he allowed three goals on four shots before being mercifully pulled in the first period of the game. The reactions on Twitter and social media in general ranged from sardonic to sorrowful.

Phil Kessel seemed to be in the latter camp:

The game serves as another serious misstep for Nazem Kadri, who may find himself suspended by the league not that long after he was shelved by his team. Check out this hit he delivered on Matt Fraser:

As you can probably see, Kadri attempted to apologize to Fraser right after he delivered that check, which drew a two-minute illegal check to the head minor. After the game, he admitted that he’s concerned about getting suspended, as TSN’s Mark Masters reports.

Kadri eventually left the game after an altercation with defenseman Andrew Ference, but the damage was already done.

If tonight is any indication, the last month of the 2014-15 season could be a really rough one for the Maple Leafs.

Head coach Peter Horachek doesn’t want to hear any whining in that regard, though.