PHT Morning Skate: Titans QB Marcus Mariota and his offensive line helped fire up the crowd in Nashville

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–Elliotte Friedman came out with a new “30 Thoughts” blog. His main story focuses on Canucks defenseman Jordan Subban trying to model his game after Predators defenseman Ryan Ellis. “It’s the way that he defends. He’s always in great position, always great with the stick. He plays hard and smart, he knows how to use his brain a bit more to slow down the game. I’m always trying to push the pace, so that’s something I’m going to watch.” (Sportsnet)

–Who says making trades is too hard? Each of the remaining teams in the playoffs has made a deal that’s had a huge impact on their team. The Penguins traded for Phil Kessel not too long ago, Ottawa nabbed Bobby Ryan, the Preds landed P.K. Subban and Ryan Johansen, and the Ducks went out and got Jakob Silfverberg and Andrew Cogliano. (Associated Press)

–It’s clear that to make a serious run at the Stanley Cup, a team needs to have at least one defenseman. The last time a team won the cup without a true stud on the defense was back in 2006 when Carolina did it. Both the Penguins and Ducks don’t necessarily have a true go-to guy on the blue line in their lineup right now, so they’ll hope that they can get it done with a committee of players. (Canadian Press)

–The Edmonton Oilers had a successful year in 2016-17, but that comes at a price. Leon Draisaitl will become an RFA this summer, while Connor McDavid will need a new contract next year. We’re not sure what the numbers on those deals will look like, but we know that they’ll be high. “Cap-wise, we’re OK next year, we could basically stay the same, it’s the following year when Mr. McDavid’s contract will kick in, so I have to be cognizant of that. But we’ve got a lot of different rosters we’ve looked at in the sense, at numbers, numbers for specific guys, term. But the [NHL salary] cap is expected to stay flat or raise a little bit, so we’re working off $73, $74, $75 [million] and we’ll see where it’s at.” (NHL.com)

–The Hockey News’ Matt Larkin continues his division-by-division expansion draft preview. Yesterday, he looked at the Central Division. After struggling last season, Marcus Kruger could be selected by the Golden Knights. The same can be said for Dallas’ Cody Eakin. (The Hockey News)

–We’ve seen P.K. Subban make an appearance or two at Tennessee Titans games, but last night it was some of the Titans players that showed up for a Preds game. Quarterback Marcus Mariota and his offensive line helped fire up the crowd in Smashville. They seem to be having a good time:

–Mariota and company ended up going home happy, as the Predators scored two goals in the third period to win Game 3 against Anaheim by a score of 2-1. You can check out the highlights by clicking the video at the top of the page.

Canucks’ Ilya Mikheyev to have season-ending knee surgery

Ilya Mikheyev
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VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Vancouver Canucks right wing Ilya Mikheyev is set to have season-ending surgery on his left knee.

Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin said Friday night the 28-year-old Russian forward tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the team’s first preseason game Sept. 25. Mikheyev will undergo surgery next week and is expected to be ready for training camp in the fall.

Mikheyev was originally listed as week-to-week with the injury and played 45 regular-season games, finishing with 13 goals and 15 assists. He scored in his final appearance Friday night, a 5-2 home victory over Columbus.

Mikheyev signed a four-year, $19 million contract as a free agent last summer.

Maple Leafs’ Matthews out at least 3 weeks with knee injury

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Nick Turchiaro/USA TODAY Sports
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Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews will miss at least three weeks with a sprained knee.

The team announced the reigning MVP’s anticipated absence Friday, two days after Matthews was injured in Toronto’s victory against the New York Rangers.

Matthews is expected to miss at least six games and could be out for a few more. The timing of the injury coinciding with the NHL All-Star break and the Maple Leafs bye week prevents this from costing Matthews more time out of the lineup.

After being voted an All-Star by fans, Matthews is now out of the event scheduled for Feb. 3-4 in Sunrise, Florida. The league announced Aleskander Barkov from the host Florida Panthers will take Matthews’ place on the Atlantic Division All-Star roster.

Matthews, who won the Hart Trophy last season after leading the NHL with 60 goals, has 53 points in 47 games this season.

Caufield opted for surgery with Habs out of playoff race

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MONTREAL — Montreal Canadiens winger Cole Caufield said Friday he wouldn’t be having season-ending surgery on his right shoulder if the team were in playoff contention.

But with the Canadiens near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, the 22-year-old Caufield said he decided to have the surgery to protect his long-term health. The procedure is scheduled to be performed by Dr. Peter Millett on Wednesday.

“I didn’t want to stop playing,” Caufield said. “I had a couple tests done to look at it more clearly but, in the end, like it could’ve been one more fall and it could have been even worse.”

Caufield, who leads the Canadiens with 26 goals in 46 games, had three different medical opinions on his shoulder before concluding that his season was over.

“I think they’ve seen a lot more than I have and they know the differences and what they like or don’t like about it,” he said about the medical opinions. “Long term, I think this is what’s best but for sure it was tough to sit out that game against Toronto on Saturday night.”

Caufield initially felt the injury in an awkward fall during Montreal’s 4-2 loss at Dallas on Dec. 23. He said his right shoulder popped, and he replaced it himself.

Caufield felt it again in the Habs’ 4-3 loss at Nashville on Jan. 12. The club announced on Jan. 21 that Caufield would miss the rest of the season.

Caufield is nearing the end of his three-year, entry-level contract and will be a restricted free agent this summer.

All-Star Matty Beniers to miss next 2 games for Kraken

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Joe Nicholson/USA TODAY Sports
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SEATTLE — Seattle Kraken rookie All-Star Matty Beniers will miss the team’s final two games before the All-Star break after taking a big hit from Vancouver’s Tyler Myers earlier this week.

Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said after morning skate Friday that Beniers would not play Friday night against Calgary or Saturday against Columbus. Hakstol did not speculate on Beniers’ availability for next weekend’s All-Star Game in Florida.

The team has not specified what kind of injury Beniers sustained from the hit. He was barreled over by Myers away from the play early in the second period in Wednesday’s 6-1 victory over Vancouver. Myers was penalized for interference on the play. Beniers returned briefly for one shift later in the period but did not play in the third period.

Beniers is Seattle’s lone All-Star selection this season. He leads all rookies in goals (17) and points (36), and is fifth in total ice time for rookies.

Seattle also placed defenseman Justin Schultz on injured reserve and recalled forward Max McCormick from Coachella Valley of the AHL. Hakstol said Schultz is improving but there’s no timeline on his return.