The Morning Skate: 3/26

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:
Penguins 1, Devils 0 (SO)
Sabres 4, Panthers 2
Senators 2, Capitals 0
Canucks 3, Thrashers 1
Hurricanes 4, Lightning 3
Predictions record: 2-3

My 3 stars of the night:
1. Craig Anderson, OTT (31 Saves, Shutout)… Anderson stoned the playoff-bound Capitals with a 31-save shutout, his second with Ottawa.
2. Marc-Andre Fleury, PIT (21 Saves, Shutout)
3. Drew Stafford, BUF (2 Goals, 1 Assist)
Close but no cigar: E. Cole and E. Staal, CAR; R. Luongo, VAN; M. Brodeur, NJ

Today’s Slate:
Rangers @ Bruins, 1:00 ET
Avalanche @ Kings, 4:00
Devils @ Sabres, 7:00
Capitals @ Canadiens, 7:00
Flyers @ Islanders, 7:00
Lightning @ Hurricanes, 7:00
Maple Leafs @ Red Wings, 7:00
Stars @ Predators, 8:00
Blues @ Wild, 8:00
Ducks @ Blackhawks, 8:30
Sharks @ Coyotes, 9:00
Flames @ Oilers, 10:00

Games of the Night:
Dallas Stars @ Nashville Predators
8:00 ET… TV: Local Networks

Overall: Stars (38-25-10) … Predators (40-25-10)
Last Ten: Stars (4-2-4) … Predators (7-2-1)
Away/Home: Stars (18-14-2) … Predators (21-8-7)
Season Series: 2-1 Stars

Players to watch:
DAL- Mike Ribeiro
Ribeiro has been a point-per-game player in March.
NSH- Shea Weber
The Preds need Weber to bring his mean streak tonight.

Projected Goaltenders:
DAL- Kari Lehtonen (2010/11 stats: 30-20-10, 2.57 GAA)
NSH- Pekka Rinne (2010/11 stats: 29-20-8, 2.10 GAA)

Injury Report:
DAL- Brian Sutherby (back, questionable), Karlis Skrastins (thigh, out), Nicklas Grossman (knee, out), Adam Burish (leg, out)
NSH- Steve Sullivan (groin, out), Francis Bouillon and Matthew Lombardi (concussion, out), Marcel Goc (shoulder, out), Cal O’Reilly (leg, out)

Game Thoughts:
Dallas and Nashville close out their season series with a huge four-game tilt in Music City. The Predators, winners of five straight and seven of eight overall, are the hottest team in the West. On the flip side, the Stars are coming off a disappointing loss and will be playing desperate hockey in this one. I think the Preds will be able to match that on home-ice and put forth a much better 60-minute effort than they did on Thursday.
Prediction: Predators 3, Stars 2 (SO)

Anaheim Ducks @ Chicago Blackhawks
8:30 ET… TV: Local Networks

Overall: Ducks (41-28-5) … Blackhawks (40-25-8)
Last Ten: Ducks (7-3-0) … Blackhawks (6-2-2)
Away/Home: Ducks (18-16-3) … Blackhawks (23-14-0)
Season Series: 2-1 Blackhawks

Players to watch:
ANA- Corey Perry
The emerging MVP candidate has 11 goals in his last 8 games.
CHI- Jonathan Toews
Toews has arguably been the best player in the league since the All-Star break (34 points in 23 games).

Projected Goaltenders:
ANA- Jonas Hiller (2010/11 stats: 26-16-3, 2.56 GAA)
CHI- Corey Crawford (2010/11 stats: 29-14-5, 2.28 GAA)

Injury Report:
ANA- None
CHI- Patrick Sharp and Jordan Hendry (knee, out), Dave Bolland (concussion, out)

Game Thoughts:
I think this will be the best game of the night around the league. Both teams display a lot of firepower and are jockeying for playoff positioning in the West. With a win, Anaheim can leapfrog Chicago for the 7th seed. The Ducks will be looking to bounce back from a close loss against a ‘Hawks club that has been up and down this month. This one’s a toss-up… I’ll go with the Ducks.
Prediction: Ducks 4, Blackhawks 3 (OT)

San Jose Sharks @ Phoenix Coyotes
9:00 ET… TV: Local Networks

Overall: Sharks (43-23-9) … Coyotes (41-24-11)
Last Ten: Sharks (5-2-3) … Coyotes (8-1-1)
Away/Home: Sharks (22-12-4) … Coyotes (19-12-6)
Season Series: 3-0 Sharks

Players to watch:
SJ- Patrick Marleau
The red-hot Marleau has been clutch with 17 points in his last 11 games.
PHX- Keith Yandle
I’m sure the ‘Yotes would like to see more production from Yandle, who has 4 points this month.

Projected Goaltenders:
SJ- Antti Niemi (2010/11 stats: 30-17-6, 2.48 GAA)
PHX- Ilya Bryzgalov (2010/11 stats: 34-18-8, 2.47 GAA)

Injury Report:
SJ- Marc-Edouard Vlasic (lower body, questionable), Scott Nichol and Kent Huskins (upper body, out)
PHX- Martin Hanzal (lower body, out), Ed Jovanovski (eye, out)

Game Thoughts:
Tonight’s game in the desert is one of three remaining contests between the Coyotes and Sharks this season; they will play a home-and-home to close out the year. These games carry even more importance given the fact that they are separated by just two points. Bryzgalov has been stifling in net in his last four games, while Niemi has owned Phoenix in his young career. San Jose has won the first three meetings, but I think that changes tonight.
Prediction: Coyotes 3, Sharks 1

The rest of tonight’s predictions:
Bruins over Rangers
Kings over Avalanche (Lock of the night)
Sabres over Devils
Canadiens over Capitals
Flyers over Islanders
Hurricanes over Capitals
Red Wings over Maple Leafs
Blues over Wild
Flames over Oilers

Video of the Day:



The Playoff Drive:
Countdown – 18 days

SportsClubStats swing games of the day:
Dallas @ Nashville
Stars’ playoff chances w/ win: 75.3% (+14.5)
With a loss: 48.5% (-12.3)
Predators’ playoff chances w/ win: 96.8% (+5.4)
With a loss: 81.9% (-9.5)
Anaheim @ Chicago
Ducks’ playoff chances w/ win: 74.4% (+15.5)
With a loss: 47.3% (-11.6)
Blackhawks’ playoff chances w/ win: 96.6% (+4.6)
With a loss: 83.1% (-8.9)

Playoff video of the day: