The Morning Skate: 2/20



RLD Hockey is an NHL blog of mine where we take a look at the hot topics around the league on a daily basis. One of our staples is the 'Morning Skate', where I rundown everything going on in the NHL, including predictions on the big games. The PensBlog has been nice enough to let me share the Morning Skate with you .  You can follow us on Twitter @RLDhockey!


The Morning After:
Yesterday’s scores:
Oilers 4, Thrashers 3
Senators 1, Maple Leafs 0 (SO)
Islanders 3, Kings 0
Devils 4, Hurricanes 1
Panthers 3, Lightning 2 (SO)
Blues 9, Ducks 3
Coyotes 3, Predators 2
Canucks 5, Stars 2
Sharks 4, Avalanche 0
Predictions record: 4-5

My 3 stars of the night (Skaters):
1. Taylor Hall, EDM (3 Goals)… Hall’s third period natural hat trick (the first of his young career) vaulted the Oilers past Atlanta.
2. Devin Setoguchi, SJ (3 Goals)
3. Daniel Sedin, VAN (2 Goals, 1 Assist)
Close but no cigar: T. Oshie, A. McDonald and C. Stewart, STL; M. Moulson, NYI; D. Zubrus, NJ; H. Sedin, VAN
My 3 stars of the night (Goalies):
1. Craig Anderson, OTT (47 Saves, Shutout)… Anderson’s debut in Ottawa couldn’t have gone any better, making 47 saves in a 65-minute-plus shutout of the Leafs.
2. Al Montoya, NYI (35 Saves, Shutout)
3. Antti Niemi, SJ (25 Saves, Shutout)

Today’s Slate:
Capitals @ Sabres, 12:30 ET
Flyers @ Rangers, 12:30
Red Wings @ Wild, 12:30
Penguins @ Blackhawks, 3:30
Canadiens vs. Flames, 6:00 – Heritage Classic

Games of the Day:
Philadelphia Flyers @ New York Rangers
12:30 ET… TV: NBC

Overall: Flyers (38-15-5) … Rangers (31-25-4)
Last Ten: Flyers (7-3-0) … Rangers (3-6-1)
Away/Home: Flyers (19-7-3) … Rangers (14-12-3)
Season Series: 3-0 Flyers

Players to watch:
PHI- Danny Briere
Briere seems to always play well against the Blueshirts.
NYR- Marian Gaborik
‘Gabby’ has been better, but needs to be a difference-maker today.

Projected Goaltenders:
PHI- Brian Boucher (2010/11 stats: 14-6-2, 2.27 GAA)
NYR- Henrik Lundqvist (2010/11 stats: 23-19-4, 2.36 GAA)

Injury Report:
PHI- Mike Richards (illness, questionable), Blair Betts (finger, doubtful), Ian Laperriere (head, out)
NYR- Chris Drury and Alexander Frolov (knee, out), Ruslan Fedotenko (appendectomy, out), Derek Boogaard (concussion, out)

Game Thoughts:
Hockey Day in America gets kicked off with a triple-header, highlighted by Rangers-Flyers at MSG. Peter Laviolette’s gang has taken the first three matchups this year and is coming off a frustrating loss. Meanwhile, the Rangers are playing better but need to keep it up to stray away from the bubble. I think this will be a low-scoring affair with the Flyers pulling it out.
Prediction: Flyers 3, Rangers 1

Pittsburgh Penguins @ Chicago Blackhawks
3:30 ET… TV: NBC

Overall: Penguins (36-19-4) … Blackhawks (29-23-6)
Last Ten: Penguins (6-4-0) … Blackhawks (3-5-2)
Away/Home: Penguins (16-9-3) … Blackhawks (17-14-0)
Season Series (09/10): 1-0 Blackhawks

Players to watch:
PIT- Kris Letang
Letang has points in three straight after a seven-game drought.
CHI- Marian Hossa
Hossa has 43 points in 37 career games vs. his former team.

Projected Goaltenders:
PIT- Marc-Andre Fleury (2010/11 stats: 27-14-2, 2.29 GAA)
CHI- Corey Crawford (2010/11 stats: 18-12-3, 2.16 GAA)

Injury Report:
PIT- Sidney Crosby, Arron Asham and Eric Tangradi (concussion, out), Evgeni Malkin and Mark Letestu (knee, out), Chris Kunitz and Dustin Jeffrey (lower body, out), Nick Johnson (upper body, out), Mike Comrie (hip, out)
CHI- Fernando Pisani (concussion, out), Ryan Johnson (upper body, out)

Game Thoughts:
The headliner of Hockey Day in America takes place in Chicago between the last two Cup champs. This game has obviously lost its attractiveness with the teams’ recent play. Pittsburgh is decimated by injury, while Chicago’s inconsistencies continue. I like the Hawks’ chances in this one given they are the more desperate team and have more healthy bodies.
Prediction: Blackhawks 4, Penguins 2

2011 Heritage Classic – Calgary, Alberta
Montreal Canadiens @ Calgary Flames

Overall: Canadiens (31-21-7) … Flames (30-22-8)
Last Ten: Canadiens (4-4-2) … Flames (7-1-2)
Away/Home: Canadiens (12-14-1) … Flames (17-9-3)
Season Series: 1-0 Canadiens

Weather Forecast: 24 degrees, sunny/clear, 20% precipitation

Players to watch:
MTL- Tomas Plekanec
Plekanec has been producing consistently and could rise to the occasion tonight.
CGY- Jarome Iginla
Look for Captain Iginla to put forth his best effort in this one.

Projected Goaltenders:
MTL- Carey Price (2010/11 stats: 27-19-6, 2.39 GAA)
CGY- Miikka Kiprusoff (2010/11 stats: 26-19-4, 2.67 GAA)

Injury Report:
MTL- Michael Cammalleri (shoulder, probable), Hal Gill (upper body, probable), James Wisniewski (face, questionable), Mathieu Darche (groin, questionable), Andrei Markov and Josh Gorges (knee, out), Jaroslav Spacek (lower body, out)
CGY- Adam Pardy (upper body, out), Daymond Langkow (neck, out), Raitis Ivanans (concussion, out)

Game Thoughts:
Montreal and Calgary are all set for tonight’s Heritage Classic – the NHL’s second outdoor game of the season. Brutally cold temperatures are expected, so it will be interesting to see how the players fare in the conditions. Past the spectacle and weather, important points are on the line. Calgary’s locked in the crazy pack in the West, while the Habs are looking to hunt down Boston in the division. The Flames are the host team, but the road teams have had a lot of success in these outdoor games over the years. I’ll go with Montreal in a toss-up…
Prediction: Canadiens 3, Flames 2

The rest of tonight’s predictions:
Capitals over Sabres
Red Wings over Wild

Video of the Day: