The Morning Skate: 2/9


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:
Devils 3, Hurricanes 2 (OT)
Maple Leafs 5, Islanders 3
Blue Jackets 4, Penguins 1
Sharks 2, Capitals 0
Sabres 7, Lightning 4
Blues 2, Panthers 1
Predictions record: 4-2

My 3 stars of the night:
1. Drew Stafford, BUF (3 Goals)… Stafford recorded his third hat trick of the season, and two of his goals came in a crazy third period for the Sabres.
2. Antti Niemi, SJ (25 Saves, Shutout)
3. Mattias Tedenby, NJ (2 Goals)
Close but no cigar: T. Vanek, BUF; J. Halak, STL; R. Nash and S. Mason, CBJ; C. Armstrong, TOR; J. Skinner, CAR

Tonight’s Slate:
Canadiens @ Bruins, 7:00 ET
Sharks @ Blue Jackets, 7:00
Predators @ Red Wings, 7:30
Avalanche @ Wild, 8:00
Coyotes @ Stars, 8:30
Senators @ Flames, 9:30
Blackhawks @ Oilers, 9:30
Ducks @ Canucks, 10:00

Games of the Night:
Nashville Predators @ Detroit Red Wings
7:30 ET… TV: Local Networks

Overall: Predators (28-19-7) … Red Wings (32-15-6)
Last Ten: Predators (4-5-1) … Red Wings (5-4-1)
Away/Home: Predators (16-14-1) … Red Wings (16-7-4)
Season Series: 2-1 Predators

Players to watch:
NSH- Martin Erat
Erat was one of the players Coach Trotz called out yesterday. How will he respond?
DET- Pavel Datsyuk
In his first game back on Monday, Datsyuk chipped in with two points.

Projected Goaltenders:
NSH- Pekka Rinne (2010/11 stats: 18-14-5, 2.11 GAA)
DET- Jimmy Howard (2010/11 stats: 26-9-3, 2.83 GAA)

Injury Report:
NSH- Francis Bouillon and Matthew Lombardi (concussion, out), Cal O’Reilly (leg, out), Marek Svatos (knee, out)
DET- Valterri Filppula (knee, doubtful), Tomas Holmstrom (hand, out), Brad Stuart (jaw, out), Chris Osgood (groin, out), Mike Modano (wrist, out), Jan Mursak (toe, questionable)

Game Thoughts:
These division rivals will square off for the fourth time this season, but it will be the last meeting in Detroit. Nashville has taken two of the first three meetings, including a 3-0 win on Saturday. However, they are coming in off a shutout loss to Edmonton. Detroit stopped the bleeding with a win over the Rangers on Monday. I think Trotz and company will keep it close, as some of their better efforts follow a lackluster one. I’m going with the Wings in a shootout here…
Prediction: Red Wings 3, Predators 2 (SO)

Anaheim Ducks @ Vancouver Canucks
10:00 ET… TV: Local Networks

Overall: Ducks (29-21-4) … Canucks (35-10-9)
Last Ten: Ducks (7-3-0) … Canucks (6-1-3)
Away/Home: Ducks (12-13-3) … Canucks (19-3-5)
Season Series: Tied 1-1

Players to watch:
ANA- Corey Perry
Perry has five points in two games since the break.
VAN- Alex Burrows
Burrows is currently riding a seven-game point streak.

Projected Goaltenders:
ANA- Curtis McElhinney (2010/11 stats: 4-5-1, 2.76 GAA)
VAN- Cory Schneider (2010/11 stats: 9-2-2, 2.25 GAA)

Injury Report:
ANA- Ryan Getzlaf (face, probable), Jonas Hiller (fatigue, doubtful), Aaron Voros (eye, out)
VAN- Roberto Luongo (illness, doubtful), Keith Ballard (knee, out), Alexander Edler (back, out), Sami Salo (Achilles, out), Andrew Alberts (shoulder, out), Aaron Volpatti (rib, questionable), Guillaume Desbiens (hand, out)

Game Thoughts:
This could be a possible playoff preview tonight in Vancouver. However, it will likely be a battle of the backups… Schneider is expected to fill in for an ill Luongo; McElhinney will once again play in favor of a fatigued Hiller. Anaheim usually plays this Canucks team tough, and Alain Vigneault’s club is battered right now, despite winning five straight. I’ll say the Ducks pull off the mild upset as Getzlaf returns.
Prediction: Ducks 4, Canucks 3

Wednesday Game of the Week:
Montreal Canadiens (30-19-5) @ Boston Bruins (30-16-7)
7:00 ET… TV: TSN, VERSUS, Local Networks
Season Series: 3-0 Canadiens

Prediction: Bruins 3, Canadiens 1
More to come from this game…

The rest of tonight’s predictions:
Sharks over Blue Jackets
Wild over Avalanche
Stars over Coyotes
Flames over Senators
Blackhawks over Oilers (Lock of the night)

Morning Links:
CBC… Elliotte Friedman touches on Phil Kessel, along with his 30 thoughts.
SI… Will ESPN get left out in the cold with the new TV deal?
Puck Daddy… Frustrations are boiling over in Chicago after Monday’s loss in Calgary.
Tennessean… Talk about frustrations – Barry Trotz calls out a few players after yesterday’s practice.
Washington Post… How did the Sharks spend their off day in D.C. this week?