April 26 — Morning Skate Celebrates 1-Year!

Yesterday’s NHL Score

Last Night’s News 📰

LIGHTNING STRIKES WHITE HOUSE: Taking a quick detour on their way back from Sunday’s game against the Florida Panthers, the Tampa Bay Lightning stopped by the White House to celebrate their Stanley Cup victory from last season. Ryan McDonagh, one of the few Americans on the Lightning roster, delivered the club’s remarks from the South Lawn

SHOULDER SHUTDOWN: After a strange few days of uncertainty surrounding the health of Vegas Golden Knights netminder Robin Lehner, Vegas has officially shut down the 30-year-old as he awaits offseason shoulder surgery. Logan Thompson will get the start tonight as the Golden Knights visit the Dallas Stars with their waning playoff hopes at stake.

MARLIES MOVE ON McKAY: Yesterday, the Toronto Marlies signed Minnesota State goaltender Dryden McKay to a two-year contract set to take place next season. McKay, who was recently named the Hobey Baker Award winner, is ineligible to join the Marlies or the Toronto Maple Leafs until Aug. 25 while serving a six-month suspension announced by the United States Anti-Doping Agency last week. 

THE CAT AND THE CAPTAIN: Jonathan Toews had a goal and an assist, while Alex DeBrincat matched his career-high in goals (set in 2018-19) by scoring his 41st on the season in the Chicago Blackhawks’ 3-1 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers. Patrick Kane also matched a career-high set in 2018-19, recording his 66th assist on DeBrincat’s goal.

Trivia Tuesday

How Well Do You Know the Presidents’ Trophy?

Nashville Predators with NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly and the Presidents’ Trophy 2018 (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski, File)
  1. The Presidents’ Trophy has been awarded 35 times to how many different teams since its inception during the 1985–86 NHL season?
    • 20
    • 10
    • 13
    • 17

  2. Which team was the first to win the Presidents’ Trophy?
    • Edmonton Oilers
    • Pittsburgh Penguins
    • Chicago Blackhawks
    • Calgary Flames

  3. Which team has won the most Presidents’ Trophies?
    • Detroit Red Wings
    • New York Rangers
    • Washington Capitals
    • Colorado Avalanche

Answers can be found at the bottom of the email.

Inside the Masterton Race

Under the guidance of 32 different chapters of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association (PHWA), the Masterton nominees for each NHL organization have been announced (some of which were broken by Morning Skate’s own Kristy Flannery and Morning Skate alum Patrick Brown). The Masterton Trophy recognizes “the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication.” Although each team possesses its representative bearing those qualities, there can only be one winner. 

Let’s sift through the list of many deserving Masterton nominees and focus on the players to watch, so to speak, ahead of the official announcement of this year’s recipient at the NHL Awards, which will be taking place on the off-day between Games 3 and 4 of the Stanley Cup Final. Here are some of the award favorites:

Carey Price

Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Beloved Montreal Canadiens star goaltender Carey Price would’ve been a worthy Masterton contender solely for working his way back from offseason knee surgery at 34 and returning to the crease. Back in October, however, he also entered the NHLPA/NHL player assistance program, making for yet another hurdle for the former Hart winner to overcome.

Jack Eichel

Jack Eichel (Photo by Jeff Bottari/NHLI via Getty Images)

Although he may not be getting much support from Western New York, Vegas Golden Knights and former Buffalo Sabres forward Jack Eichel merits consideration after returning from an 11-month absence, featuring an unprecedented artificial disc replacement neck surgery. While the Golden Knights’ season hasn’t gone as hoped, Eichel has 12 goals and 21 points since getting back on the ice in February.

Justin Danforth

Justin Danforth’s rookie season with the Columbus Blue Jackets (nine goals and 13 points in 42 games) doesn’t seem particularly remarkable unless you know about his path. The 5-foot-9 Danforth played four years at Sacred Heart of the Atlantic Hockey Association, a program that had never before graduated a player to the NHL. It took the undrafted center three years playing abroad in Finland and Russia before he got another opportunity on home soil.

Monitoring Key Injuries as Playoffs Loom

The 2021-22 NHL season has reached its final week, and with between two and four games remaining for every team, the playoff matchups are almost set. Unfortunately for a few playoff-bound teams, significant injuries have befallen the club as they prepare for the postseason. Here is a look at some injury situations to monitor as teams gear up for a Stanley Cup run.

Capitals Holding Breath With Ovechkin

Washington Capitals star forward Alex Ovechkin left in the third period of Washington’s 4-3 shootout loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs Sunday after tripping over Toronto goaltender Erik Källgren’s stick and crashing into the boards. On Monday, the Capitals had their team photo day (which Ovechkin attended), so they did not practice. However, the team has listed the 36-year-old day-to-day with an upper-body injury.

Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Ovechkin has only missed two of Washington’s 79 games this season. In those 77 games, he has 50 goals and 40 assists for the ninth season in which he reached 50 goals, tying an NHL record held by Wayne Gretzky and Mike Bossy. He is also at 780 career goals, which is third in NHL history behind Gordie Howe (801) and Gretzky (894).

The Capitals, currently in the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference, have clinched a playoff spot but are still fighting for a better seed as they host the New York Islanders. It remains to be seen whether Ovechkin, who has missed just 44 games during his 17-year career, plays in any of the final three regular-season games and is ready for the postseason.

Hurricanes Banged Up in Net

Currently, the Carolina Hurricanes have an area of concern between the pipes. Just over a week after All-Star goaltender Frederik Andersen had to be helped off the ice late in the third period of a 7-4 loss to the Colorado Avalanche, backup Antti Raanta left in the third period of Sunday’s 5-2 win over the Islanders.

Frederik Andersen, Carolina Hurricanes (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Carolina will re-evaluate Andersen this week, while Elliotte Friedman reported on Monday that Raanta should be good to go for tonight’s game against the New York Rangers. Behind Raanta is Pyotr Kochetkov, who earned his first NHL win on Saturday and stopped seven of eight shots in relief on Sunday.

The Hurricanes hope to have Andersen, who has a 2.17 goals-against average and a .922 save percentage in 52 games this season, back early in the playoffs. Carolina sits in first place in the Metro Division with two games remaining, four points ahead of the Rangers, who have a game in hand.

Nurse Not Yet Back for Oilers

Edmonton Oilers defenseman Darnell Nurse is still considered day-to-day after sustaining a lower-body injury in the second period of Edmonton’s playoff-clinching 6-3 win over the Colorado Avalanche on Friday. The Oilers don’t believe the injury is significant and hope to have the 27-year-old back by the start of the postseason next week.

Darnell Nurse, Edmonton Oilers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Nurse, now in his eighth season in Edmonton, has registered 35 points (nine goals, 26 assists) in 71 games. He also leads the team in blocked shots (132) and ice time per game (25:03). Neither he nor forward Jesse Puljujärvi, who didn’t travel with the team due to illness, will suit up for the Oilers tonight against the Penguins in Pittsburgh.

With three games to play, the Oilers are in second place in the Pacific Division, 10 points behind the Calgary Flames and two points ahead of the Los Angeles Kings with a game in hand. They will finish the season in either second place or third place in the Pacific, likely second.

Trivia Answers

  1. 17 Teams
  2. Edmonton Oilers
  3. Detroit Red Wings

NHL Standings

NHL’s Leading Scorers

Today’s NHL Schedule