Jason Brough

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 16:  Craig Cunningham #22 of the Arizona Coyotes skates against the New York Islanders at the Barclays Center on November 16, 2015 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Pre-game reading: On Craig Cunningham, one of the good guys in the game

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This is a new feature on PHT. It’s like the Morning Skate, only not in the morning. 

Craig Cunningham is in stable but critical condition after suffering an apparent heart attack just prior to an AHL game on Saturday. The 26-year-old is a very popular player, and for many good reasons. One example: During Cunningham’s junior career in Vancouver, he visited the team’s beat writer in hospital, and that writer will never forget it. (The Province)

Martin Brodeur is learning the business of management with the St. Louis Blues. It’s not always glamorous, but he’s having fun while “getting to understand the behind-the-scenes of what it takes to put a team on the ice.” (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Why is the NHL expanding to Las Vegas when there are still problem franchises in Carolina, Arizona, Brooklyn, and Florida? The answer is money, but Scott Stinson wonders if it’s such a good idea. (National Post)

Larry Brooks takes the boots to the New York Islanders. “The season is young enough it cannot yet be considered a write-off. But the clock is ticking. It is ticking on Capuano, on Snow and on the Islanders.” (New York Post)

On the importance of the back-up goalie. There are a few NHL general managers who should read this. (Sports Illustrated)

Alex Burrows isn’t the most popular player in the NHL, but the 35-year-old is playing well in the final year of his contract with the Vancouver Canucks. Might there be interest at the trade deadline? (Vancouver Sun)

Niklas Hjalmarsson says he’s “playing like it’s my last contract.” But he’s actually signed through 2018-19, so don’t worry, Blackhawks fans, he’ll be around a while longer, “taking away shooting lanes, blocking shots” and doing his thing. (Chicago Sun-Times)

Tweet of the Day

Yeah, the Wild are having some trouble scoring.

Enjoy the games!

Blackhawks banking on improvement from rookies

Chicago Blackhawks' Vincent Hinostroza celebrates his goal against the Vancouver Canucks by jumping into the glass during the third period of an NHL hockey game in Vancouver, British Columbia, on Saturday Nov. 19, 2016. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP)
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It wasn’t so much that the Chicago Blackhawks came back from 3-0 down to beat the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday, it was the manner in which they did it.

After a couple of the usual suspects, Artemi Panarin and Patrick Kane, combined to make it 3-1 in the third period, it was Vincent Hinostroza with his first NHL goal to make it 3-2, and then Hinostroza again, setting up Ryan Hartman to tie things up. Marian Hossa‘s 11th of the season won it in overtime, assisted by Hinostroza, who entered the contest with zero points in 16 NHL games and left with a goal and two assists in 17.

Prior to Saturday, the ‘Hawks had mostly been living off their big guns. What they needed was exactly what they got against the Canucks — some timely production from their rookies, who’ve been tasked with replacing the likes of Andrew Shaw, Andrew Ladd, and Teuvo Teravainen.

“Yeah, when you look at Vinnie getting his first and Hartsy on a great play,” head coach Joel Quenneville said, per CSN Chicago. “We know these guys can score. They play the right way, you can put them in situations all over the ice and against most players in a game. There’s some progression there. Whether producing or not, playing the right way will be the best way for them to get better.”

Blackhawks rookies

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In order to remain legitimate Stanley Cup contenders, the Blackhawks will need their youngsters to step up. A two-line team just isn’t going to get it done in the playoffs, no matter how great the two lines. And according to GM Stan Bowman, barring injuries, it’s unlikely there will be enough cap space to add significant pieces at the trade deadline.

“We have six first-year players on our team,” Bowman told ESPN.com. “I’m looking more at those players being better players in the spring than they are now, just through playing 60-70 games in the league. I think we’re going to be improving from within more so than we are adding from outside. I like that part of it. I like the excitement of having Nick Schmaltz or Ryan Hartman or Tyler Motte or [Vincent] Hinostroza; those guys are doing pretty well right now. We haven’t given them big responsibility yet, but I think as we go along we’re looking at that sort of as our internal improvement, so to speak.”

The Blackhawks (13-4-2) are in Edmonton to play the Oilers tonight.

Flyers’ Stolarz seems likely to make NHL debut this week

PHILADELPHIA, PA - NOVEMBER 17:  Anthony Stolarz #65 skates in warm-ups prior to the game against  the Los Angeles Kings at the Wells Fargo Center on November 17, 2015 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Kings defeated the Flyers 3-2 in the shootout.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Michal Neuvirth is hurt and Steve Mason has been struggling.

That means AHL callup Anthony Stolarz could be making his first NHL start very soon. The 22-year-old Philadelphia Flyers prospect has been excellent for Lehigh Valley, going 6-2-0 with a .927 save percentage.

“We’ll take it a day at a time,” head coach Dave Hakstol said this morning, per CSN Philly. “I said a week ago, you’re going to see him get a start at some point in time. Possibility? We play three games in four-and-a-half days here so it’s a possibility, but I don’t want to go too far down the road here in making a decision.”

The Flyers are coming off a 3-0 loss Saturday at home to the Lightning. They play in Sunrise against the Panthers Tuesday, then have to face the Lightning the next day in Tampa. Friday afternoon they’re back home to host the Rangers (on NBC).

It would be a surprise if Mason (4-6-3, .886) started all three of those games. A likely scenario would be Stolarz getting the nod Wednesday, with Mason getting the other two starts.

“If my name is called, I’ll be ready,” Stolarz said. “I’ve [made] huge strides in my game. I like where I am at.”

NHL reveals All-Star voting guidelines, featuring new John Scott rules

John Scott (28) listens to the cheers as he gets ready to compete in the hardest shot competition at the NHL hockey All-Star game skills competition Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016, in Nashville, Tenn. Scott was elected as captain of the Pacific Division while with the Arizona Coyotes. He was traded to the Montreal Canadiens and he is now with the Canadiens' AHL affiliate in Newfoundland. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
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The NHL announced some new All-Star voting guidelines today, with the clear intention of discouraging another John Scott situation at the 2017 game in Los Angeles on Jan. 29.

Here are the guidelines:

— The 2017 NHL All-Star Fan Vote will allow fans to vote for one All-Star player from each Division, without regard to position. The top vote-getter from each Division will be named an NHL All-Star, as well as Captain of his respective team.

— Eligible players must be on an NHL Club’s active roster as of Nov. 1. Any player not on the active roster on that date due to injury or special circumstances can be added to the ballot if / when he returns to the NHL Club’s active roster.

— If a player is assigned / loaned to the American Hockey League (AHL) or any other minor league team between Nov. 1 and 5 p.m. on Jan. 26, the player is not eligible in All-Star balloting. However, if the minor league assignment / loan is due to conditioning reasons, the player remains eligible.

— In the event a vote leader is disqualified due to a minor league assignment or loan (or other reason) after close of the NHL All-Star Fan Vote on Jan. 2, the player with the second-most votes in that division will be named captain.

— Fans will be permitted to vote for a player from a list of all players that meet these eligibility guidelines. The list of eligible players will be updated as players are assigned to a minor league team or return from IR.

Last season, Scott played 11 games for the Coyotes before he was assigned to the AHL in January, but that assignment came after he was named an All-Star captain. He was then traded to the Canadiens and assigned to Montreal’s AHL club in St. John’s.

Scott, of course, ended up going to the All-Star game in Nashville, where he scored a couple of goals and was named MVP.

It was a great story — and there was even talk of a movie — but the NHL apparently has no interest in a sequel. (Or, at the very least, the NHL has created a potential escape clause, should one be required.)

Perhaps hockey fans will still rally around some other fourth-liner, someone who’s less at risk of being sent down like Scott was.

Ryan Reaves?

Jared Boll?

But the Scott story can never really be recreated, so while last year was fun, maybe just vote for the best players this time.

Klingberg will be a healthy scratch after missing team meeting

John Klingberg
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As if the Dallas Stars weren’t off to a tough enough start already, today comes word that defenseman John Klingberg will be a healthy scratch tonight against Minnesota for disciplinary reasons.

Stars head coach Lindy Ruff told reporters that Klingberg missed a team meeting this morning, and that’s why he’ll be sitting versus the Wild.

“To me, it sums up our year,” Ruff said, per Michael Russo of the Star Tribune.

Combined with Johnny Oduya’s injury, the Klingberg scratch means the Stars defense tonight will feature the inexperienced likes of Julius Honka (making his NHL debut), Stephen Johns, Esa Lindell, and Jamie Oleksiak. Dan Hamhuis will be by far the most experienced of the Dallas defenders, followed by Jordie Benn.

The Stars (7-7-5) are coming off a 5-2 loss to Edmonton on Saturday. They have yet to string together more than two wins in a row this season, and it’s not just the goaltending that’s to blame.

Klingberg leads all Dallas skaters in average ice time (22:53). He has two goals and eight assists in 19 games, with a minus-9 rating.

Related: Healthy scratch sends Hamhuis a ‘strong message’