Author: Joe Yerdon

Jeff Skinner, Tuomo Ruutu

PHT Morning Skate: Jeff Skinner is in the zone


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.

Carolina’s Jeff Skinner has nine goals in his last nine games. You might say he’s in the zone. (News & Observer)

Editor’s Note: Pro Football Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a $2,000 Fantasy Hockey league for Friday’s NHL games. It’s $10 to join and first prize is $400. Starts Friday at 7pm ET. Here’s the FanDuel link.

Kings coach Darryl Sutter has some fascinating ideas for what to do with the penalty box. Wonder what he’d say about this after Dustin Brown’s kneeing incident against San Jose. (L.A. Kings Insider)

Need something to lift you up today? Check out one Red Wings fan’s story about how hockey saved her life. (manhandles)

Kudos to Dallas goalie Kari Lehtonen for winning his 100th game with the Stars. (Stars)

The Blackhawks called up Jason LaBarbera from the AHL. Fare thee well, Kent Simpson. (Blackhawks)

Dylan McIlrath’s time with the Rangers is at an end for now, he and Arron Asham were sent down while J.T. Miller was recalled. (Blueshirts United)

Finally, Buffalo’s Ville Leino drew a tripping call on Boston’s Milan Lucic during the Sabres’ 4-2 win over the Bruins. He… May have embellished a bit. (Josh Gold-Smith)


Capitals don’t see much wrong with Wilson’s hit on Schenn

George McPhee

The hit Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson put on Philadelphia Flyers forward Brayden Schenn during the Flyers’ 5-2 win on Tuesday certainly grabbed everyone’s attention.

Wilson’s major penalty for charging helped turn the tide of the game as the Flyers scored twice on the power play. You’d think the Capitals would be upset about a young player taking a bad penalty. You’d be very wrong.’s Chuck Gormley heard from Caps GM George McPhee who called it “a great hit.” Coach Adam Oates said he thought the hit was “clean” and wasn’t worthy of a penalty. Captain Alex Ovechkin even expounded on it.

“To be honest with you I don’t think it was a dirty play,” Ovechkin said. “He saw him coming. He turned and Willy’s a big boy. It’s always dangerous play out there, but it’s hockey.

“When you get a hit, you have to be ready, especially today. I don’t think [Schenn] was ready. Willy finished his check and I don’t think it was two minutes. It was a good hit.”

Safe to say the Flyers feel differently. As for how the league feels, we should find out soon enough.

NHL on NBCSN: Rangers host hurting Penguins on Rivalry Night

Pittsburgh Penguins v New York Rangers

NBCSN continues its coverage of the 2013-14 campaign tonight when the New York Rangers host the Pittsburgh Penguins at Madison Square Garden at 8:00 p.m. ET. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game online.

There’s a good possibility fans might not recognize most of the guys taking the ice for the Pittsburgh Penguins when they face the New York Rangers.

The Pens have nine players on injured reserve and will be without James Neal for one more game due to his suspension for kneeing Boston’s Brad Marchand in the head. Add in Evgeni Malkin missing their game on Monday against Toronto with a lower body injury after being injured last Saturday along with Deryk Engelland having his hearing for hitting Detroit’s Justin Abdelkader today — it’s a mess of a situation.

Even in spite of all that, the Penguins lead the Metropolitan Division by 10 points. Captain Sidney Crosby leads the league in points, Marc-Andre Fleury has been strong all season in goal, and Chris Kunitz gives Crosby a steady linemate to work with. Sure, playing without their top four defensemen is troublesome, but the Penguins keep rolling along.

Editor’s Note: Pro Hockey Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a $500 Fantasy Hockey league that includes Wednesday and Thursday’s NHL games. It’s just $10 to join and first prize is $150. Starts Wednesday at 7:30pm ET. Here’s the FanDuel link.

That’s bad news for the Rangers as they’ve continued to struggle under new coach Alain Vigneault. At 16-17-1 they’re fifth in the Metropolitan behind both Philadelphia and Carolina. A win over the Pens would vault them back into a tie with the Hurricanes points-wise, but their issues have been many.

Henrik Lundqvist has been off his game most of the season. Injuries have hampered their lineup, although not to the degree they have for the Penguins, and their defense has had its share of woes.

If there are bright spots to be found it’s in the play of forwards Brad Richards, Derek Stepan, and Mats Zuccarello. Those three are tops on the team in points. Rick Nash’s return from a concussion in mid-November has seen him pick up the pace with nine points in 14 games. More consistent play from him would do a world of good, but that could be said about the rest of the team as well.

With the current state of the Penguins and the Rangers’ need to get right, New York could (should?) be looking at tonight’s game as a must-win. As the Pens showed on Monday night against Toronto, it won’t be easy. If the Rangers come out flat, the grumbles in Manhattan from the fans could turn into full-blown growls.