The Morning Skate: 2/8



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:

Maple Leafs 5, Thrashers 4
Red Wings 3, Rangers 2
Oilers 4, Predators 0
Flames 3, Blackhawks 1
Coyotes 3, Avalanche 0
Canucks 4, Senators 2
Predictions record: 4-2

My 3 stars of the night:
1. Jimmy Howard, DET (45 Saves, 2 GA)… Howard helped the Wings rebound with a great 45-save performance against New York.
2. Devan Dubnyk, EDM (37 Saves, Shutout)
3. Ilya Bryzgalov, PHX (26 Saves, Shutout)
Close but no cigar: M. Samuelsson, VAN; R. Vrbata, PHX; M. Grabovski and C. MacArthur, TOR

Tonight’s Slate:
Hurricanes @ Devils, 7:00 ET
Maple Leafs @ Islanders, 7:00
Blue Jackets @ Penguins, 7:00
Sharks @ Capitals, 7:00
Sabres @ Lightning, 7:30
Blues @ Panthers, 7:30

Game of the Night:
San Jose Sharks @ Washington Capitals
7:00 ET… TV: Local Networks

Overall: Sharks (28-19-6) … Capitals (29-15-10)
Last Ten: Sharks (7-2-1) … Capitals (5-2-3)
Away/Home: Sharks (15-9-3) … Capitals (17-5-7)
Season Series (09/10): Tied 1-1

Players to watch:
SJ- Logan Couture
On the road this season, Couture has 17 goals and 24 points in 26 games.
WSH- Nicklas Backstrom
After going pointless in four of the last five games, look for Backstrom to get on the scoresheet tonight.

Projected Goaltenders:
SJ- Antti Niemi (2010/11 stats: 15-13-3, 2.66 GAA)
WSH- Michal Neuvirth (2010/11 stats: 16-6-4, 2.46 GAA)

Injury Report:
SJ- Antero Niittymaki and Torrey Mitchell (lower body, out)
WSH- Mike Green (head, questionable), Alexander Semin (hip, questionable), Eric Fehr (shoulder, out), Tom Poti (lower body, out)

Game Thoughts:
San Jose will look to continue their great play tonight as they make a rare visit to the nation’s capital. Led by Niemi, Todd McLellan’s club has won seven of eight. The Caps are coming flying high as well after getting statement wins against Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh. Though the Sharks are playing well, I think Washington carries over their momentum into this one.
Prediction: Capitals 4, Sharks 2

The rest of tonight’s predictions:
Devils over Hurricanes
Islanders over Maple Leafs
Penguins over Blue Jackets (Lock of the night)
Sabres over Lightning
Blues over Panthers

Morning Links:
Copper and Blue… Could the Preds catch the Wings in the Central Division?
Denver Post… Avalanche players discuss the prospect of playing with Peter Forsberg.
Montreal Gazette… Jack Todd calls out Scott Gomez and his ‘childish’ play.
View From My Seats… A look at buyers and sellers from the Northwest Division.

Video of the Day: