St. Louis Blues

Oddsmaker: Sidney Crosby no longer Hart Trophy favorite

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Although Sidney Crosby is on a three-game point streak, he went on a rough stretch — at least when measured against the incredibly high standard he’s held to — from Jan. 20 to Feb. 19 where he recorded four goals and seven points in 13 games.

That seems to have taken its toll as Crosby’s no longer the favorite to win the Hart Trophy based on the odds from online bookmaker Bovada:

Carey Price 5/2
John Tavares 5/2
Sidney Crosby 3/1
Ryan Getzlaf 5/1
Alex Ovechkin 6/1
Jakub Voracek 15/2
Rick Nash 15/1
Mark Giordano 20/1
Vladimir Tarasenko 20/1

No goaltender has won the Hart Trophy since Jose Theodore in 2001–02, but there’s no denying that Carey Price has been vital to the Montreal Canadiens’ success. Meanwhile, Tavares was the big mover as he had 20/1 odds in early February.

Ovechkin also saw his chances jump significantly, from 15/1 to 6/1 as he chases his third straight Rocket Richard Trophy. Voracek has fallen from 9/2 to 15/2 while Philadelphia Flyers teammate Claude Giroux has slid off the list entirely.

PHT Morning Skate: Chris Culligan executes unreal goal in EIHL game

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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 United Kingdom’s Elite Ice Hockey League doesn’t usually get much attention in North America, but Chris Culligan’s goal for the Cardiff Devils deserves international attention:

Let’s follow that up with one of the best non-goals that ever found the back of the net:

Editor’s Note: Pro Hockey Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting an $35,000 Fantasy Hockey league for Friday night’s NHL games. It’s just $2 to join and first prize is $3,000. Starts Friday at 7:00 p.m. ET. Here’s the FanDuel link.

Vladimir Tarasenko has his bobblehead impression down to a science:

Here are the highlights from Minnesota’s 4-2 victory over Nashville:

Anders Lee is working towards a big payday. (Newsday)

TSN’s James Duthie did an Ask Me Anything on Thursday. (Reddit)

The argument in favor of the importance of a site like CapGeek. (Sportsnet)

Welcome back: Blues re-acquire Cracknell from Columbus

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The St. Louis Blues have brought a familiar face back into the fold, trading future considerations to the Blue Jackets in exchange for forward Adam Cracknell.

Cracknell, 29, made his NHL debut with the Blues in 2010 and spent four years with the club, appearing in 65 regular-season and 10 playoff games. He’s perhaps best known as part of the CPR Line — along with Chris Porter and Ryan Reaves — that provided a physical presence in a postseason series against Los Angeles a few years back.

Cracknell signed with the Kings last summer but never got a chance to play for the club during the regular season, as he was claimed off waivers by Columbus on Oct. 7. He’s since appeared in 17 games for the Blue Jackets, registering one assist.

Update: The Blues have announced Cracknell will report to AHL Chicago.

Goalie nods: Zepp starts fourth straight as Flyers push for playoffs

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All the latest from the blue paint…

Zepp goes for Flyers

Philly will turn to Rob Zepp for the fourth straight game when it takes on the Leafs in Toronto this evening.

Zepp, 33, has fared reasonably well in his first-ever NHL campaign. He’s posted a 5-2-0 record, though his GAA (2.80) and save percentage (.893) leave something to be desired.

At the same time, the Flyers need wins right now — they head into tonight’s action four points back of Boston for the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference — and Zepp has provided those; he’s won two of his last three starts, which included impressive victories against the NHL-leading Predators and Washington, who currently holds the east’s other wild card.

For Toronto, Jonathan Bernier will be in goal.

Elsewhere…

Canucks at Sabres: Eddie Lack vs. Michal Neuvirth (more here)

Coyotes at Rangers: Mike Smith vs. Cam Talbot

Habs at Jackets: Carey Price vs. Curtis McElhinney

Hawks at Panthers: (No word on a Chicago starter yet) vs. Roberto Luongo

Blues at Jets: Brian Elliott vs. Michael Hutchinson

Wild at Preds: (Devan Dubnyk likely) vs. Pekka Rinne

Sens at Kings: (No word on an Ottawa starter yet) vs. Jonathan Quick

Wings at Sharks: (No word on a Detroit starter yet vs. Antti Niemi

Rutherford: ‘Good chance’ Pens are done dealing after Winnik trade

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Wednesday’s acquisition of Daniel Winnik sounds like it’ll cap off a two-month flurry of transactions from Penguins GM Jim Rutherford.

“There’s a good chance that we’re done,” Rutherford said, per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “We’ll keep our ear to the ground. If something comes along we think we can improve our team a little bit, we’ll take a look at it.

“[But] there’s nothing we’re looking at right now.”

Rutherford’s action got underway in early January, first acquiring David Perron from Edmonton; then, at the end of January, he flipped Marcel Goc to St. Louis in exchange for Maxim Lapierre. Today, he paid a fairly significant price to acquire Winnik — Zach Sill, a second-round draft pick in 2016 and a fourth-round draft pick in 2015 — but feels he accomplished his goal of building a better bottom-six forward group than the Penguins have had in previous campaigns.

“I feel the team we have now has as good a chance (to win the Stanley Cup) as any other team,” Rutherford explained.

With this move, Pittsburgh’s bottom-six forward group will likely be comprised of Winnik, Lapierre, Brandon Sutter, Nick Spaling, Steve Downie and Beau Bennett. (Veteran Craig Adams can serve in a depth role.) It’s a good group that’s got a decent amount of postseason experience; Lapierre has played 75 playoff games and Winnik has been to the postseason in each of the last three years.