The Morning Skate: 2/22


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:
Islanders 5, Panthers 1
Blackhawks 5, Blues 3
Capitals 1, Penguins 0
Predictions record: 3-0

My 3 stars of the night:
1. Michal Neuvirth, WSH (39 Saves, Shutout)… ‘Neuvy’ stood tall between the pipes for the Caps in their shutout win over Pittsburgh.
2. Matt Moulson, NYI (3 Goals)
3. Patrick Kane, CHI (1 Goal, 1 Assist)

Tonight’s Slate:
Islanders @ Maple Leafs, 7:00 ET
Coyotes @ Flyers, 7:00
Rangers @ Hurricanes, 7:00
Predators @ Blue Jackets, 7:00
Sharks @ Red Wings, 7:30
Avalanche @ Blues, 8:00
Oilers @ Wild, 8:00
Devils @ Stars, 8:30
Bruins @ Flames, 9:00
Canadiens @ Canucks, 10:00

Games of the Night:
San Jose Sharks @ Detroit Red Wings
7:30 ET… TV: Local Networks

Overall: Sharks (33-21-6) … Red Wings (37-16-6)
Last Ten: Sharks (8-2-0) … Red Wings (7-3-0)
Away/Home: Sharks (18-11-3) … Red Wings (17-8-4)
Season Series: Tied 1-1

Players to watch:
SJ- Joe Pavelski
Since coming back from injury, Pavelski has been a lot more consistent than he was in the first half.
DET- Todd Bertuzzi
Bertuzzi has scored at least two goals in three of the last five games, plus netted the shootout winner on Sunday.

Projected Goaltenders:
SJ- Antti Niemi (2010/11 stats: 20-15-3, 2.43 GAA)
DET- Jimmy Howard (2010/11 stats: 30-10-3, 2.76 GAA)

Injury Report:
SJ- Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Scott Nichol (upper body, questionable), Kent Huskins (undisclosed, doubtful), Antero Niittymaki (lower body, out)
DET- Valterri Filppula (knee, questionable), Mike Modano (wrist, out), Chris Osgood (groin, out)

Game Thoughts:
The Sharks and Wings renew acquaintances tonight in the Motor City in what should be a hard-fought contest. The road team has won each of the first two games in this season series. San Jose’s recent surge has them playing for the division lead tonight, while Detroit is attempting to catch Vancouver atop the West. I see the Sharks putting up a fight, but the Wings prevailing.
Prediction: Red Wings 3, Sharks 2 (SO)

MontrealCanadiens @ Vancouver Canucks
10:00 ET… TV: Local Networks

Overall: Canadiens (31-22-7) … Canucks (38-13-9)
Last Ten: Canadiens (4-4-2) … Canucks (7-3-0)
Away/Home: Canadiens (12-15-1) … Canucks (21-4-5)
Season Series: 1-0 Canadiens

Players to watch:
MTL- Brian Gionta
With the team facing some adversity, Captain Gionta has to step to the forefront.
VAN- Ryan Kesler
Kesler has gone pointless in four of the last five games; can he start to catch fire again tonight?

Projected Goaltenders:
MTL- Carey Price (2010/11 stats: 27-20-6, 2.42 GAA)
VAN- Roberto Luongo (2010/11 stats: 28-10-7, 2.26 GAA)

Injury Report:
MTL- Jaroslav Spacek (lower body, out), Andrei Markov and Josh Gorges (knee, out), Mathieu Darche (groin, out)
VAN- Dan Hamhuis (concussion, probable), Keith Ballard (knee, questionable), Kevin Bieksa (foot, out), Alexander Edler (back, out), Andrew Alberts (wrist, out)

Game Thoughts:
The start of this game will be critical. How will Montreal come out of the gates after back-to-back lackluster performances? Will Vancouver take advantage and pounce early? Alain Vigneault’s club has been so good on home-ice this year, especially since mid-December (12-1-3). Add that to the fact that the Habs have not won in Vancouver since 2000, and I’m taking the Canucks tonight.
Prediction: Canucks 4, Canadiens 2

The rest of tonight’s predictions:
Maple Leafs over Islanders
Flyers over Coyotes
Rangers over Hurricanes
Predators over Blue Jackets
Blues over Avalanche
Wild over Oilers
Stars over Devils
Bruins over Flames

Morning Links:
ESPN… Pierre LeBrun wonders if the outdoor games will lose their luster.
Puck Daddy… Sean Leahy with his thoughts on the Stars/Pens trade, and whether James Neal is the missing link for Crosby.
The Fourth Period… Are the Avalanche shopping John-Michael Liles?
Pro Hockey Talk… What is Sheldon Souray’s future after clearing re-entry waivers?

Video of the day