The Morning Skate: 3/18

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:

Thrashers 4, Flyers 3 (SO)
Red Wings 2, Blue Jackets 0
Canadiens 3, Lightning 2 (SO)
Senators 3, Devils 1
Panthers 4, Maple Leafs 0
Predators 4, Bruins 3 (OT)
Stars 5, Blackhawks 0
Flames 5, Avalanche 2
Coyotes 3, Oilers 1
Blues 4, Kings 0
Sharks 3, Wild 2
Predictions record: 7-4

My 3 stars of the night:
1. Joey MacDonald, DET (37 Saves, Shutout)… MacDonald filled in nicely for Jimmy Howard with a 37-save shutout in Columbus.
2. Ilya Bryzgalov, PHX (35 Saves, 1 GA)
3. Danny Briere, PHI (2 Goals, 1 Assist)
Close but no cigar: J. Benn and K. Lehtonen, DAL; S. Clemmensen, FLA; C. McElhinney, OTT; C. Price, MTL; M. D’Agostini and J. Halak, STL; J. Iginla, CGY; D. Legwand, NSH; N. Backstrom, MIN

Tonight’s Slate:
Capitals @ Devils, 7:00 ET
Canadiens @ Rangers, 7:00
Islanders @ Hurricanes, 7:00
Coyotes @ Canucks, 10:00

Games of the Night:
Montreal Canadiens @ New York Rangers
7:00 ET… TV: NHL Net. (US), TSN, Local Networks

Overall: Canadiens (39-25-7) … Rangers (37-30-4)
Last Ten: Canadiens (7-3-0) … Rangers (6-4-0)
Away/Home: Canadiens (17-16-1) … Rangers (16-16-3)
Season Series: 3-0 Canadiens

Players to watch:
MTL- Andrei Kostitsyn
Kostitsyn has gathered at least a point in 9 of his last 11 games.
NYR- Marian Gaborik
‘Gabby’ scored twice Tuesday and needs to carry over that success.

Projected Goaltenders:
MTL- Carey Price (2010/11 stats: 33-23-6, 2.32 GAA)
NYR- Henrik Lundqvist (2010/11 stats: 29-24-4, 2.34 GAA)

Injury Report:
MTL- Tomas Plekanec and Jeff Halpern (lower body, questionable), Hal Gill (flu, questionable), Brent Sopel (hand, questionable), Max Pacioretty (concussion, out), Andrei Markov, Josh Gorges and Jaroslav Spacek (knee, out), Mathieu Darche (groin, out)
NYR- Chris Drury and Alexander Frolov (knee, out), Martin Biron (shoulder, out), Derek Boogaard (concussion, out)

Game Thoughts:
Montreal enters tonight’s game in the Big Apple with three wins in their pocket already against the Blueshirts. That said, they are banged up and on the back half of a back-to-back. John Tortorella’s Rangers have won three of four after a rough patch and are still desperate for points. The Habs keep it close, but New York prevails.
Prediction: Rangers 3, Canadiens 1

Phoenix Coyotes @ Vancouver Canucks
10:00 ET… TV: Local Networks

Overall: Coyotes (38-23-11) … Canucks (47-16-9)
Last Ten: Coyotes (5-3-2) … Canucks (8-2-0)
Away/Home: Coyotes (21-12-5) … Canucks (25-7-5)
Season Series: 2-1 Canucks

Players to watch:
PHX- Ray Whitney
Whitney had two points last night and has been productive vs. Vancouver in his career.
VAN- Daniel Sedin
Daniel had three assists in their last meeting, plus 13 points on his current seven-game point streak.

Projected Goaltenders:
PHX- Ilya Bryzgalov (2010/11 stats: 32-17-8, 2.55 GAA)
VAN- Roberto Luongo (2010/11 stats: 33-13-7, 2.23 GAA)

Injury Report:
PHX- Martin Hanzal (lower body, questionable), Ed Jovanovski (eye, out)
VAN- Alexander Edler (back, out), Kevin Bieksa (foot, out), Manny Malhotra (eye, out), Andrew Alberts (wrist, out), Tanner Glass (upper body, questionable)

Game Thoughts:
The streaking Canucks have now won seven in a row, running away with the Western Conference lead. Phoenix has won four straight, looking to sweep their trip to Western Canada. This is a tough game to pick – the ‘Yotes have already won in Vancouver and played last night, while Vancouver’s streak will come to an end at some point. I’ll go with the Canucks grinding out another win.
Prediction: Canucks 3, Coyotes 2

The rest of tonight’s predictions:
Capitals over Devils
Hurricanes over Islanders

Video of the Day:



The Playoff Drive:
Countdown – 26 days

SportsClubStats swing game of the day:
NY Islanders @ Carolina
Hurricanes’ playoff chances w/ win: 30.9% (+5.8)
With a loss: 15.7% (-9.4)

Playoff video of the day: