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James Neal
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PHT Morning Skate: Neal talks about what it takes to score in the NHL


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.

James Neal went into detail about what it takes to be a sniper in the NHL. (The Players’ Tribune)

On the benefits of using four forwards with the man advantage. (Hockey-Graphs.com)

If you missed the Pittsburgh Penguins’ 4-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Kraft Hockeyville game last night, here are the highlights:

Bob Costas also interviewed Hanson Brothers as part of the Hockeyville festivities:

Looking back at the 1992 NHL Strike and the role of hockey cards had in that work stoppage. (The Hockey News)

Derek Roy, who is attending the Capitals’ training camp on a tryout basis, feels “it’s been pretty good” so far. (Washington Times)

The New Jersey Devils might include Pavel Zacha on their opening game roster, but if they do it will have to be for a reason other than a desire to provide the promising 18-year-old forward with some NHL experience. (The Record)

Carl Gunnarsson missed Tuesday’s preseason game due to a groin injury, but the good news is that Robert Bortuzzo (lower body) should be back on Thursday. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Eberle exits game with injury, won’t practice Wednesday

Jordan Eberle
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For an Edmonton Oilers franchise that’s hoping to provide its fans with a sign that the worst is finally behind them after drafting Connor McDavid and overhauling their front office and coaching staff, the last thing they need for injuries to slow them down before they even have a chance to get going.

That unfortunate scenario might be the one they’re facing though as Jordan Eberle was unable to finish Tuesday’s game against Arizona due to an injury. The exact nature of his ailment isn’t clear yet, but it looks like it’s probably an upper-body issue:

After the game Oilers bench boss Todd McLellan ruled out the possibility of Eberle taking part in the team’s practice on Wednesday. Beyond that he didn’t offer any details, other than to say that he will know more tomorrow, per the Edmonton Journal’s Joanne Ireland.

Eberle was the tam’s scoring leader last season with 63 points.

Babcock needs Leafs veterans to start ‘playing the right way’

Mike Babcock
The Canadian Press via AP

Toronto Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock has a difficult task ahead of him. That point was reinforced by Toronto’s 4-0 loss to the Buffalo Sabres tonight.

Sure it was just an exhibition game, but for a team trying to undergo a culture change, the circumstances of that loss are relevant, especially seeing as it was the Leafs’ veteran players that seemed to be the problem.

“We’ve got to get our veterans playing the right way,” Babcock said, per TSN. “That’s the bottom line. We’ve got to get them playing. We can talk about kids; that’s a nice sideline story in exhibition but you’ve got to get your players to play.”

Babcock called on the team’s top players to lead the way.

“I didn’t think the people that you perceive as our good players were good enough, not even close,” he said.

After getting off to a strong start, Toronto has now lost three straight preseason games and has been shutout of the last two. Again, these are exhibition contests being discussed so the results can’t be read into too much, but Babcock does feel that the team isn’t spending enough time in the offensive zone.

To put this all into context, even if we were to take the Maple Leafs’ recent results at face value, it’s worth emphasizing that expectations are low for the team this season as they focus on rebuilding. After all, when he took the job, Babcock warned that there’s “pain coming.” He likely wasn’t referring to a couple preseason shutout losses when he made that prediction.

Stamkos alarmed by Lightning’s showing, Hedman hurt

Steven Stamkos
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Pittsburgh’s 4-2 victory over Tampa Bay in tonight’s Kraft Hockeyville game obviously won’t count towards the standings, but Lightning captain Steven Stamkos was still concerned by what he felt was his team’s sloppy play.

“I know it’s only preseason, but we have two games left to get things going, so that’s alarming,” Stamkos said, per the Tampa Bay Times’ Joe Smith.

It might be more than just the Lightning’s play that’s in danger of carrying into the regular season. Defenseman Victor Hedman suffered an undisclosed injury that caused him to leave the game in the second period.

The Lightning are describing Hedman’s injury as minor, although he will need to be evaluated on Wednesday. With the Lightning’s season opener just a little over a week away, the status of players dealing with day-to-day ailments is increasing in importance.

Lightning fans looking for a silver lining though can turn their attention to Jonathan Drouin. He found the back of the net tonight and Lightning coach Jon Cooper has noticed that the 20-year-old forward is playing with more confidence.

Penguins beat Lightning in Kraft Hockeyville game

Evgeni Malkin
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After winning the inaugural Kraft Hockeyville USA event, the fans of Johnstown, Pennsylvania were treated to Pittsburgh’s 4-2 victory over Tampa Bay tonight at Cambria County War Memorial.

The arena was featured in the movie Slap Shot, so naturally the Hanson Brothers were tasked with giving the Penguins an inspirational pregame speech:

It seemed to do the trick as Sergei Plotnikov put the Penguins ahead just 14 seconds into the game. Evgeni Malkin provided the deciding marker in the exhibition contest.

In addition to the city, which has an population of about 20,000, getting to host an NHL game, being selected also meant that Cambria County War Memorial received $150,000 in arena upgrades.

Related — PHT Morning Skate: Favorite ‘Slap Shot’ characters