Welcome to the PHT Morning Skate, a collection of links from around the hockey world. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at email@example.com.
• William Douglas profiles the hockey journey of Joonas Oden in the latest edition of Douglas’ “Color of Hockey” series. Could Oden’s journey include playing with the Seattle expansion franchise? (NHL.com)
• Connor McDavid recently turned 23, so Frank Seravalli put him in elite company. (TSN)
• NJ.com’s Steve Politi argues that Devils co-owner Josh Harris needs to “look in the mirror” when pondering the team’s problems. (NJ.com)
• Blackhawks fans should relax about the team’s negotiations with Robin Lehner. My take: he’s been fantastic, again … but what kind of package would a contender send to Chicago to land such a talented goalie? If Chicago isn’t asking that type of question, even if they prefer an extension, then I would be worried. (The Rink)
• On the subject of pending free agent goalies, Jimmy Howard‘s really struggling. With Jonathan Bernier injured, the Red Wings might lean on him even more. Doesn’t seem like an ideal situation, folks. Maybe they should put him in situations to succeed so (wait for it) they can trade him to a contender? Just saying, part II. (Detroit Free-Press)
• More goalie talk: Ben Bishop and Anton Khudobin continue to dominate for the Stars. Can they keep it up? My feeling parallels that of the Islanders: if not, they should at least be commended for doing it for 1.5 seasons. Pretty tough to maintain such dominance in an unforgiving NHL. (Dallas Morning News)
• Brodie Brazil dares to wonder if the Sharks might be turning it around. (Goaltending ranks among his three reasons.) I dare to wonder if it’s already too late. (NBC Sports California)
• Andrew Berkshire breaks down what broke down for the Canadiens in 2019-20. (Sportsnet)
• The Blues Jackets keep defying those who assume they’re down for the count. (Jackets Cannon)
• Capitals fans vote on the team’s best jersey design. Allow an opinion: the general rule is: less bird, the better. (Nova Caps)
• More jersey design banter: Hockey By Design ranks the Maple Leafs sweaters from worst to first. (Hockey By Design)
NBC’s coverage of the 2019-20 NHL season continues with the 2020 Winter Classic between the Dallas Stars and Nashville Predators. Coverage begins at 1 p.m. ET from Cotton Bowl Stadium in Dallas, Texas on New Year’s Day. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.
JAMES: My favorite Winter Classic memory came from the first one between the Sabres and Penguins in 2008.
Being that I wasn’t covering Winter Classics yet, I was naturally hungover from New Year’s, making a lot of my memories of what was honestly a mostly unmemorable game quite blurry. Sidney Crosby winning the shootout in a snow globe atmosphere made it all work, though, and is a reminder that big moments can paint over otherwise bland affairs.
Watching that, likely while groaning on a couch, will always stick with me. It sure beats the times Crosby and others suffered possible concussions during outdoor games, too.
JOEY: The most memorable Winter Classic moment in my mind has to be in 2009. The Chicago Blackhawks took on the Detroit Red Wings at Wrigley Field.
A lot of the details from that game are pretty fuzzy for me. I remember that the Red Wings won, 6-4, but the one detail I will never forget is the Pavel Datsyuk partial breakaway goal. Datsyuk split two Blackhawks defensemen before scoring an awesome goal on his backhand. It was perfect because it was smooth just like he was throughout his career. There aren’t many things in hockey that get me to leap off my couch anymore, but that was definitely one of them.
SEAN: We all remember Crosby’s goal, the dramatic ending of the 2012 game, but mine is a memory that didn’t take place on the ice. During intermission of that Flyers-Rangers Winter Classic the NHL managed to get Philly’s own The Roots to perform, which has since set the musical act bar very, very high. Sadly, it’s not come close to being matched:
ADAM: It has to be the 2012 game in Philadelphia between the Flyers and New York Rangers. This was the second Winter Classic I had an opportunity to cover in person, and everything about it was pretty outstanding. Good venue, intriguing matchup, and the game itself was great thanks to the way it ended. With the Rangers leading, 3-2, with less than 20 seconds to play, Ryan McDonagh was whistled for covering the puck in the crease resulting in a penalty shot for Philadelphia’s Danny Briere to try and tie the game. Henrik Lundqvist stopped him, secured the win for the Rangers, and John Tortorella, even in victory, was furious with the call after the game in his press conference. He said something along the lines of the everyone getting together and trying to get the game to overtime for TV ratings. It was classic Tortorella.
SCOTT: The 2014 Winter Classic between the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs was an all-time classic between two Original Six teams. To see 105,491 fans pile into The Big House in Ann Arbor, Michigan was an unbelievable site. Additionally, the snow added to the mystique and brought back memories of skating on a pond in freezing temperatures for players from all over the world.
Jimmy Howard’s vintage brown pads coupled with Detroit’s red sweater was an awesome combination. The Winter Classic has felt a bit stale at times, but in 2014, the hype was justified.
Watch the 2020 NHL Winter Classic between the Nashville Predators and the Dallas Stars at the Cotton Bowl on Wednesday, January 1 at 1 p.m. ET only on NBC, NBC Sports and the NBC Sports app.
Mike Emrick, Eddie Olczyk, and Pierre McGuire and Brian Boucher will have the call from the Cotton Bowl. Mike Tirico will host the network’s on-site Winter Classic pre-game coverage alongside the NHL Live studio team of host Kathryn Tappen, and analysts Mike Milbury, Keith Jones and Patrick Sharp.Tirico will interview members of 1999 Stanley Cup Champion Stars team on-site during intermission of coverage on NBC.
While the severity of Mantha’s injury isn’t totally clear, the latest word isn’t very promising.
The Red Wings placed Mantha on IR on Sunday. Maybe this represents merely a smaller setback, but it’s troubling to see, considering his difficulty leaving the ice.
Detroit also received some decent news, though, as Jimmy Howard was removed from LTIR. It could be interesting to see where his career goes, as Howard is a pending UFA. Could he improve his trade value going forward? Howard’s contract doesn’t include a no-trade clause, so we’ll see.
Valtteri Filppula scored Detroit’s lone goal, and Jimmy Howard stopped 26 shots but the Red Wings fell to 1-11-1 in their last 13 games after suffering a fourth consecutive loss.
Rangers spread the wealth
The Rangers benefited from a complete team effort against the Red Wings as five different skaters found the back of the net and 11 members of the Blueshirts recorded at least one point.
Three different goal-scorers lit the lamp in an explosive second period, before Greg McKegg and Artemi Panarin sealed the deal in the final frame.
The Rangers appear to be on the right track since an embarrassing loss against the Boston Bruins. The club has picked up impressive victories against the Tampa Bay Lightning and Nashville Predators before a slip up against the Ottawa Senators earlier this week.
Howard falters against the Rangers
Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard has performed at his best against the Rangers throughout his career. He entered the game with a 10-3-3 record against New York coupled with a 1.77 GAA and 0.948 save percentage. Prior to the matchup on Wednesday, the two teams have played one-goal games in 14 of the previous 15 matchups
But on Wednesday, Howard allowed five goals on 31 shots, as the Red Wings’ four-game winning streak at Madison Square Garden was snapped.
The 35-year-old goaltender was born in Syracuse, NY, and grew up a Rangers fan.
Swedish influence lessened in Detroit
When the Red Wings took the ice Wednesday, it was odd to see only two Swedish-born players in the lineup, Christoffer Ehn and Patrik Nemeth. Whether it was Nicklas Lidstrom, Johan Franzen, Henrik Zetterberg, Niklas Kronwall or others, Detroit always had a strong Swedish influence during an incredible streak of qualifying for the Stanley Cup Playoffs 25 straight seasons.
Earlier this week, the final Swedish connection to the 2008 Stanley Cup champion team, Jonathan Ericsson, cleared waivers and will remain within the organization. Darren Helm is the only player on the active roster that was a part of the organization when they hoisted the cup that season.
As Steve Yzerman attempts to help the Red Wings become an elite organization once again, he would be wise to follow the blueprint that was successful the previous few decades.
Detroit Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard had a great start to Saturday’s game against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
He was giving his team a chance to hang around against one of the best offensive teams in the league and keeping them in it when they were not at their best. But with 30 seconds to play in the second period of what was a tie game, he decided to gamble and charged out of his net to try and win a race to a loose puck so he could knock it away from Maple Leafs forward Ilya Mikheyev.
His gamble did not work.
That is unfortunate.
It was all downhill for Howard and the Red Wings from there as they surrendered three more goals to the Maple Leafs in the third period to drop a 5-2 decision.