The Morning Skate: 2/5

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:
Panthers 4, Devils 3 (OT)
Penguins 3, Sabres 2
Blue Jackets 3, Red Wings 0
Capitals 5, Lightning 2
Blues 5, Oilers 3
Canucks 4, Blackhawks 3
Predictions record: 4-2

My 3 stars of the night:
1. Nicklas Backstrom, WSH (2 Goals, 2 Assists)… The Caps called it the ‘biggest game of the year’, and Backstrom delivered with four huge points.
2. Steve Mason, CBJ (34 Saves, Shutout)
3. Roberto Luongo, VAN (42 Saves, 3 GA)

Today’s Slate:
Sharks @ Bruins, 1:00 ET
Rangers @ Canadiens, 2:00
Ducks @ Avalanche, 3:00
Maple Leafs @ Sabres, 7:00
Senators @ Islanders, 7:00
Stars @ Flyers, 7:00
Thrashers @ Hurricanes, 7:00
Oilers @ Blue Jackets, 7:00
Red Wings @ Predators, 8:00
Wild @ Coyotes, 8:00
Kings @ Flames, 10:00

Games of the Day:
New York Rangers @ Montreal Canadiens
2:00 ET… TV: CBC, Local Networks

Overall: Rangers (29-21-4) … Canadiens (29-18-5)
Last Ten: Rangers (4-5-1) … Canadiens (6-2-2)
Away/Home: Rangers (17-9-1) … Canadiens (17-6-4)
Season Series: 2-0 Canadiens

Players to watch:
NYR- Marian Gaborik
‘Gabby’ is riding a four-game point streak coming in.
MTL- P.K. Subban
The rookie has been producing more consistently here in the New Year.

Projected Goaltenders:
NYR- Henrik Lundqvist (2010/11 stats: 8-7-4, 2.14 GAA)
MTL- Carey Price (2010/11 stats: 25-16-5, 2.35 GAA)

Injury Report:
NYR- Chris Drury and Alexander Frolov (knee, out), Erik Christensen (knee, probable), Ruslan Fedotenko (appendectomy, out), Derek Boogaard (concussion, out)
MTL- Michael Cammalleri (shoulder, out), Andrei Markov and Josh Gorges (knee, out)

Game Thoughts:
As we sit right now, the Habs and Blueshirts are battling for playoff positioning in the East. Montreal is playing pretty good hockey right now, while the Rangers have kept their heads above water amidst the injuries. The Canadiens have taken the first two meetings of the year, and I like them again tonight.
Prediction: Canadiens 3, Rangers 2 (SO)

Dallas Stars @ Philadelphia Flyers
7:00 ET… TV: NHL Net. (US), Local Networks

Overall: Stars (30-17-5) … Flyers (34-13-5)
Last Ten: Stars (6-4-0) … Flyers (7-3-0)
Away/Home: Stars (14-10-1) … Flyers (17-7-2)
Season Series: 2-0 Flyers

Players to watch:
DAL- Brad Richards
Richards has 30 points in 29 career games against the Flyers.
PHI- Claude Giroux
Giroux has 13 points in his last nine games.

Projected Goaltenders:
DAL- Kari Lehtonen (2010/11 stats: 22-13-5, 2.62 GAA)
PHI- Sergei Bobrovsky (2010/11 stats: 22-7-3, 2.48 GAA)

Injury Report:
DAL- Jamie Benn and Tom Wandell (shoulder, out), Adam Burish and Krys Barch (eye, out), Ray Sawada (shoulder, doubtful), Mark Fistric (illness, questionable), Travis Morin (dizziness, questionable)
PHI- Ian Laperriere (head, out)

Game Thoughts:
The Stars and Flyers will both play their second straight inter-conference game tonight. After taking a physical beating in Boston, Dallas is looking for enough healthy bodies to play in this one. Meanwhile, Philly is back on track after edging the Predators on Thursday. This is a good litmus test for the Stars, but I see them falling short against the East’s beasts.
Prediction: Flyers 4, Stars 2

Detroit Red Wings @ Nashville Predators
8:00 ET… TV: Local Networks

Overall: Red Wings (31-14-6) … Predators (27-18-7)
Last Ten: Red Wings (5-4-1) … Predators (4-5-1)
Away/Home: Red Wings (16-7-2) … Predators (11-4-6)
Season Series: Tied 1-1

Players to watch:
DET- Nicklas Lidstrom
Lidstrom seems to always play at the top of his game against Nashville.
NSH- Patric Hornqvist
The Preds need Hornqvist, who has one point in the last five games, to be more consistent offensively.

Projected Goaltenders:
DET- Joey MacDonald (2010/11 stats: 1-2-1, 2.53 GAA)
NSH- Pekka Rinne (2010/11 stats: 17-13-5, 2.10 GAA)

Injury Report:
DET- Pavel Datsyuk (hand, questionable), Tomas Holmstrom (hand, out), Brad Stuart (jaw, out), Mike Modano (wrist, out), Chris Osgood (groin, out)
NSH- Steve Sullivan (lower body, out), Matthew Lombardi and Francis Bouillon (concussion, out), Cal O’Reilly (leg, out), Marek Svatos (knee, out)

Game Thoughts:
These Central Division combatants will face-off for the third time this year (first time in Music City). Detroit is coming off a disappointing loss against Columbus and is expected to start MacDonald tonight. Nashville has dropped four straight and will be looking to unleash some anger on the Wings tonight on home-ice. It should be a great game – go with Nashville.
Prediction: Predators 3, Red Wings 2 (OT)

The rest of tonight’s predictions:
Bruins over Sharks
Ducks over Avalanche
Sabres over Maple Leafs
Islanders over Senators
Hurricanes over Thrashers
Oilers over Blue Jackets
Coyotes over Wild
Flames over Kings

Video of the Day: