The Morning Skate: 2/7



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:

Capitals 3, Penguins 0
Devils 4, Canadiens 1
Lightning 4, Blues 3 (OT)
Predictions record: 3-0

My 3 stars of the night:
1. Michal Neuvirth, WSH (22 Saves, Shutout)… ‘Neuvy’ was rock-solid against rival Pittsburgh yesterday, picking up his second shutout while filling in for the ill Varlamov.
2. Steven Stamkos, TB (1 Goal, 3 Assists)
3. Travis Zajac, NJ (1 Goal, 2 Assists)

If the playoffs started today…
Eastern Conference:
1) PHI vs. 8) CAR
2) TB vs. 7) NYR
3) BOS vs. 6) MTL
4) PIT vs. 5) WSH
Western Conference:
1) VAN vs. 8) LA
2) DET vs. 7) PHX
3) DAL vs. 6) ANA
4) NSH vs. 5) SJ

Tonight’s Slate:
Thrashers @ Maple Leafs, 7:00 ET
Rangers @ Red Wings, 7:30
Oilers @ Predators, 8:00
Blackhawks @ Flames, 9:30
Avalanche @ Coyotes, 9:30
Senators @ Canucks, 10:00

Games of the Night:
New York Rangers @ Detroit Red Wings

Overall: Rangers (29-22-4) … Red Wings (31-15-6)
Last Ten: Rangers (3-6-1) … Red Wings (4-5-1)
Away/Home: Rangers (17-10-1) … Red Wings (15-7-4)
Season Series (09/10): 1-0 Red Wings

Players to watch:
NYR- Brandon Dubinsky
New York’s leading point-getter has one point in his first three games back from injury.
DET- Henrik Zetterberg
Zetterberg has not scored a goal since Jan. 10 – I think that drought ends tonight.

Projected Goaltenders:
NYR- Henrik Lundqvist (2010/11 stats: 21-17-4, 2.35 GAA)
DET- Jimmy Howard (2010/11 stats: 25-9-3, 2.85 GAA)

Injury Report:
NYR- Chris Drury (knee, out), Alexander Frolov (knee, out), Ruslan Fedotenko (appendectomy, out), Derek Boogaard (concussion, out)
DET- Pavel Datsyuk (hand, questionable), Tomas Holmstrom (hand, out), Brad Stuart (jaw, out), Mike Modano (wrist, out), Chris Osgood (groin, out), Jan Mursak (toe, questionable)

Game Thoughts:
These Original Six foes will face-off for the first time this season; Detroit won their only meeting last year. Neither team is setting the world on fire coming into this one. The Rangers have lost four in a row, while the Wings have been shutout in their last two games. I believe Mike Babcock’s crew will respond tonight, but it won’t be easy.
Prediction: Red Wings 3, Rangers 2 (OT)

Chicago Blackhawks @ Calgary Flames
9:30 ET… TV: Local Networks

Overall: Blackhawks (27-21-4) … Flames (26-21-7)
Last Ten: Blackhawks (6-3-1) … Flames (7-1-2)
Away/Home: Blackhawks (11-8-4) … Flames (14-9-2)
Season Series: Tied 1-1

Players to watch:
CHI- Jonathan Toews
Captain Toews has elevated his game with seven points in the last three games.
CGY- Alex Tanguay
Tanguay’s on a three-game point streak and has 34 points in 31 career games vs. Chicago.

Projected Goaltenders:
CHI- Corey Crawford (2010/11 stats: 16-10-2, 2.19 GAA)
CGY- Miikka Kiprusoff (2010/11 stats: 22-18-3, 2.71 GAA)

Injury Report:
CHI- Ryan Johnson (lower body, questionable)
CGY- Niklas Hagman (lower body, questionable), Steve Staios (upper body, out), Daymond Langkow (neck, out),

Game Thoughts:
If the season were to end today, neither the Blackhawks nor the Flames would make the playoffs. However, one of them can vault into the top eight with a victory tonight. Calgary had their six-game win streak snapped on Saturday, while Chicago is coming off a tough loss in Vancouver. The ‘Hawks have had Calgary’s number in recent years, especially in Cowtown. I think the Flames go down for the second straight game.
Prediction: Blackhawks 4, Flames 2

The rest of tonight’s predictions:
Maple Leafs over Thrashers
Predators over Oilers
Coyotes over Avalanche
Canucks over Senators (Lock of the night)

Morning Links:
ESPN… Pierre LeBrun on how Pittsburgh will respond to Evgeni Malkin’s season-ending injury.
Pro Hockey Talk… Are the Caps and Pens headed for a first-round meeting?
Puck Daddy… A short summary of the some of the changes that are coming to the Versus broadcasts.
SB Nation… Joe Beninati is leaving Versus; are the Caps next?
Preds On The Glass… I profile the Top 10 moments in Predators history.

Video of the Day