PHT Morning Skate: Who’s the top referee in the NHL?

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–NHL players were asked about who they thought the best referee in the NHL was. Wes McCauley and Dan O’Halloran were the clear winners of this ESPN poll. Some players, like Leafs defenseman Connor Carrick, didn’t really have an opinion.  “Oh, man. I’m terrible with names and I don’t talk to refs a lot because I’m a younger guy. I always love the ones that tell you, ‘You’re going down the wrong path, hey, you’re using your stick way too much tonight, next one you’re in trouble.'” (ESPN)

–Here’s an interesting study regarding the most loyal fans in the NHL. Using arena occupancy, social media followers and jersey sales, the Chicago Blackhawks fans were named most loyal, while the Penguins, Bruins, Rangers and Red Wings round out the top five. (wearefanatics.com)

–Leafs GM Lou Lamoriello was pushing for a restructuring of the points system in the NHL. He’s against teams getting a point for losing in overtime. We don’t know if the NHL will change the current format, but here’s what the standings would look like if three-point games were abolished. (Sportsnet)

–Jets forward Patrik Laine has scored 32 goals in his rookie season, which definitely puts him in the Calder Trophy conversation. But don’t tell TSN’s Travis Yost that Laine is just a sniper. Yost says there’s way more to Laine’s game than just finishing. “I do think there’s a perception that Laine is simply a pure finisher. That, in most instances, is a fair label to place on a guy who scores the way he does. But I do think it glosses over the fact that his teammates seem to score an awful lot more of their own goals when Laine is on the ice.” (TSN.ca)

–The Detroit Red Wings were hoping to get some solid offensive contributions from Riley Sheahan, but it simply hasn’t happened. Not only has he not produced, his slump has also been one of the worst in history. After Wednesday’s three-shot performance against Boston, Sheahan set a record by failing to score on his 86th shot of the year. (The Hockey News)

–The Montreal Canadiens may be in the middle of a Western Canadian road trip, but you wouldn’t know it by looking at the pro-Habs crowds at some of the games. “I’ve been here before with this team and there’s a lot of people out West that love the Montreal Canadiens,” said Claude Julien. “But (on Tuesday in Vancouver), to be honest with you, I was surprised to see how many red jerseys were out there. It felt a little bit like a home game, so it certainly was good for our team.” (Montreal Gazette)