PHT Morning Skate: Laviolette loses it on referee Kevin Pollock

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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.

Nashville Predators head coach Peter Laviolette lost it on an official last month during a game against the Chicago Blackhawks. His problem? He claims referee Kevin Pollock was winking at the Blackhawks bench. (Puck Daddy)

Remember the name Denis Godla? He was the goaltender named tournament MVP and the best goaltender while playing for Slovakia at the recent world junior hockey championship. Godla made his professional debut in his native Slovakia this month and made a couple highlight-reel saves in his first game. (The Hockey News)

Editor’s Note: Pro Basketball Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $25,000 Fantasy Hockey league for Tuesday’s NHL games. It’s just $2 to join and first prize is $2,000. Starts Tuesday at 7pm ET. Here’s the FanDuel link.

Eric Staal wants to stick with Hurricanes. (ESPN)

Toronto Maple Leafs prospect William Nylander is in Toronto now with the AHL’s Marlies and set to make his debut on Friday night. Chris Johnston writes there’s no need for the Leafs to rush the 2014 first-round pick. (Sportsnet)

Bo Didur is a 17-year-old junior hockey goalie with superstitions reminiscent of goaltenders such as Gump Worsley or Turk Broda. (The Vancouver Province)

Mississauga Steelheads owner receivd a note on his car that scared his children. (Steelheads)

Oilers’ Taylor Hall thinks this is the worst stretch of his career. (Jim Matheson)

Yakupov: ‘I’m doing everything right’

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With all the problems the Edmonton Oilers have had this season, Nail Yakupov’s struggles have been overshadowed, but unless something changes he will regress offensively for the third straight season. The former 2012 first overall pick has just four goals and eight points in 34 games this season.

“I’m doing everything right,” Yakupov insisted, per the Edmonton Sun.

“I can say I do everything right. I work 100%. I’m not cheating (defensively). I’m not doing any bad stuff.”

He added that while he obviously would like to get more points, he doesn’t “want to get crazy” over it.

Of course this wasn’t what the Oilers envisioned when they drafted him, but it’s too early to dismiss him as a major bust despite the evidence pointing towards it. He is still just 21 years old and to paint his struggles in another light, he is actually tied for the career high in goals (32) and ranks second in points (63) among players from the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. Is the sample size small? Obviously, but that’s kind of the point.

It’s also worth noting that his offensive struggles haven’t come in isolation. The Oilers as a team have been remarkably bad offensively and everyone from Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Taylor Hall, and Jordan Eberle on down has underperformed. New bench boss Todd Nelson is hoping a system change will help spark the team and Yakupov in particular.

“We’re trying to create more offense as a team and he’s a guy who can provide that for us,” said Nelson. “You have to get into a position where he can shoot the puck. We have to keep on working with him, going into the scoring areas.

“And with the system we’re implementing, it should open up everybody. He’s just like every other player, we have to put these guys more in a position to succeed.”

Edmonton will play Arizona on Tuesday as the Oilers try to win for just the second time in 20 games.

Oilers chase Lehtonen with three unanswered goals

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The Edmonton Oilers’ problems this season have been numerous, but one of their most glaring has been their offensive struggles. They came into tonight’s game against the Dallas Stars with an average of just 2.09 goals per contest despite having some talented, skilled forwards on their roster.

In fact, Edmonton has scored three or fewer goals in every game since Nov. 19 — or at least that was true when the day began. Dallas had a 2-1 lead going into the second period, but Teddy Purcell evened the contest just 11 seconds into the frame. Mark Arcobello then gave the Oilers some insurance with his sixth and seventh goals of the season.

That ended Kari Lehtonen’s night just 29:19 minutes into this contest. He stopped 15 of 19 shots.

Rebounds were an issue for Lehtonen, but he shouldn’t take the full blame for the Stars’ performance so far tonight. That point was emphasized when Taylor Hall beat replacement goaltender Anders Lindback on the first shot the netminder faced.

(Video) PHT Extra: Would the Oilers really trade Taylor Hall?

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For the record, I have no idea what the Oilers could get for Taylor Hall. I imagine it would be a lot though, which is why the temptation has to be there for ol’ “man of action” Craig MacTavish to do something “bold” and turn one potentially great player into two or three really good ones.

So to clarify: I’m not saying the Oilers should definitely trade Hall. They could easily come to regret it if they do. I’m just saying the possibility should be on the table, with a future built around centers Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Leon Draisaitl, winger Jordan Eberle, and defenseman Darnell Nurse. (And the way things are going, maybe even Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel.)

Oh, and I’m not convinced Nail Yakupov is a bust either. The kid’s only 21 and hasn’t exactly been granted a great environment in which to develop. “You need to be patient,” some guy said today.

Eakins calls for patience in Edmonton, whether fans ‘like it or not’

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Fired yesterday by the Edmonton Oilers, Dallas Eakins had a tough message today for a frustrated fan base that’s already been waiting a long time to watch a winning hockey team:

“I can speak freely now, and like it or not, you need to be patient. … I understand being out of the playoffs for a long time, but the situation is the situation. … This organization is where it’s at. … The fans of this organization, you’ve suffered greatly. But I’m gonna tell you: you need to be patient.”

And according to Eakins, that show of patience needs to be extended to the team’s general manager.

“If anybody’s going to find the solution, it’s going to be Craig MacTavish,” he said.

While Oilers fans may not want to hear that they need to be even more patient than they’ve already been (what with Edmonton owning the longest playoff drought in the NHL and all), Eakins believes it was a lack of patience that hurt the team while he was behind the bench.

“We probably got ahead of ourselves a little bit, system wise,” he said, adding there “probably” should’ve been more focus on the “fundamentals of the game.”

As for all this talk “swirling” around Taylor Hall?

Eakins is frustrated by it.

“My experience has been a short one with Taylor,” he said. “But what I see from this young man is an amazing amount of growth in a year. I don’t know who Taylor was before I got here, but I know who he is now compared to when I came in last year. He’s maturing. He’s going to continue to mature. And as he grows into a fine young man, he’s going to turn into a great, great hockey player.”

Audio: Eakins on the need for patience