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AM Skate: Canucks-Penguins, Pacific Division Dandies, Everybody Loves Raymond

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Vancouver Canucks foe, Sidney Crosby
Pittsburgh Penguins centre and captain Sidney Crosby takes on the Vancouver Canucks.

Game night for the Vancouver Canucks as they host Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins Saturday Night in NHL action on Hockey Night in Canada. The Penguins aren’t the consistent world beaters they used to be, they’ve been without Evgeni Malkin due to injury, they’ve had some Covid protocol issues, and they’ve been inconsistent as a result. Pittsburgh comes in 10-8-and-5 on the season while the Vancouver Canucks will try to improve on their 8-14-and-2 record and extend their second two-game winning streak of the season. Before they skate, let’s take a morning skate of our own around the National Hockey League …

Flames – Ducks Dandy

Watched a very entertaining game Friday night between two of the three teams occupying automatic playoff berths in the Pacific Division at the moment, the 1st place Calgary Flames visiting the Anaheim Ducks. The Flames entered the game with a 12-0-and-1 record when leading after two periods, the only blemish being an overtime loss to the Ducks back in October.

History almost repeated itself. The Flames took a one goal lead into the third period only to see the Ducks tie them again, but this time absolutely nothing happened in OT. In fact, there was a grand total of one-shot on goal as conservatism took over. In the shoot-out, Calgary picked up the victory in just two rounds with goals from Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk against Ducks goalie John Gibson.

It was a hard fought, exciting, physical game between two teams playing up-tempo hockey. Everyone talks about the Ducks youth, but their goaltender and D-men are experienced veterans with a lot of talent. The Flames have excellent balance, grit, and sound goaltending of their own from the starter and the back-up. The latter, Dan Vladar, picked up the 4-3 win last night and is now 5-0-and-1 with the Flames. Former Canuck Jacob Markstrom is the number-one.

By the way, Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf is listed as week-to-week after suffering a lower body injury this past Tuesday against the LA Kings.

Krazy Kraken

Definitely worth noting: The Seattle Kraken handed the Edmonton Oilers their first Pacific Division loss 4-3 Friday night at the Climate Pledge Arena. Seattle’s record stands at 9-13-and-2, the twenty points putting them two ahead of the Canucks at the bottom of the standings. The Kraken have picked up points in four straight games, three of them victories. Alex Wennberg tallied the game winner late in the second period as the Kraken withstood a furious Oilers comeback attempt in the third.

Oh No Igor!

The Vancouver Canucks beat a decent New York Rangers team in overtime at Rogers Arena 3-2 back on November 2nd. That same Rangers team recently “found itself” and is one of the hottest teams in the NHL. Their fifth win in a row came Friday night at home against the San Jose Sharks 1-0.

Unfortunately for the Blueshirts the shut-out was shared between Igor Shesterkin and Alexandar Georgiev. That’s because Shesterkin, 13-3-and-2 on the season with a 2.05 goals against average and a .937 save percentage, appeared to tweak his right knee during a bit of a scramble five minutes into the third period.

Ryan Strome scored the lone goal of the game, giving New York it’s fifth win in a row and its ninth in the last ten games. The Rangers sit in second place in the NHL’s Metropolitan Division, just one point behind the Washington Capitals with two games in hand.

Maybe a silver lining; one report had Rangers Head Coach Gerard Gallant saying that Shesterkin’s injury is not as bad as it originally looked, when the goalie had trouble putting weight on his leg and limped to the dressing room.

Duffer in Detroit

Bob Duff of Detroit Hockey Now has an in-depth look at the NHL’s leading rookie scorer Lucas Raymond, a native of Gothenburg, Sweden. Now 19-years of age, the 4th overall pick in the 2020 NHL draft for Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman is turning heads. Raymond sits three points ahead of Trevor Zegras of the Anaheim Ducks in the rookie scoring race, with the Detroit winger tallying his total in 24 games thus far. Learn a little more about one of the league’s future stars.

The Red Wings host the struggling New York Islanders this evening (Saturday).

Enjoy the Hockey Action !!

VHN Managing Editor Rob Simpson has been covering the NHL for three decades on live TV, radio, and as a journalist. He worked his first ever game getting postgame sound as a teenager; it was Vancouver vs. Detroit.

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