NHL MORNING SKATE – JAN. 27, 2015
 
 
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NHL RETURNS FROM ALL-STAR BREAK
The NHL returns from the All-Star Break with an 11-game slate. A look at the League, division and individual races with 56.7% of the regular season in the books (697 / 1,230 GP):
 
* Twenty-three teams are within 10 points of a playoff berth. In the Western Conference, four teams are separated by four points for the final Wild Card spot (CGY, LAK, COL, DAL).
 
* Eleven teams are separated by 10 points in the race for the Presidents’ Trophy. In 2013-14, the NHL’s top seven finishers entered the playoffs separated by 10 points.
 
* In the Eastern Conference, the top five teams are separated by four points. In the Western Conference, the top five teams are separated by eight points.
 
* The Lightning, Red Wings and Canadiens are separated by three points in the race for the Atlantic Division. The Islanders, Penguins, Rangers and Capitals are separated by six points in the battle for Metropolitan Division supremacy.
 
* The top four teams in the Central Division – the Predators, Blues, Blackhawks and Jets – are separated by five points. Although the Ducks hold a 12-point lead in the Pacific Division, the four teams below them – the Sharks, Canucks, Flames and Kings – are separated by four points.
 
* The Lightning lead the NHL with an average of 3.21 goals per game. They are followed by the Islanders (3.15), Blues (3.13), Stars (3.09) and Blackhawks (3.02).
 
* The Predators pace the League with an average of 2.24 goals against per game. They are followed by the Blackhawks (2.28), Rangers (2.32), Canadiens (2.33) and Jets (2.35).
 
* Flyers forward Jakub Voracek (17-39—56 in 48 GP) holds a four-point lead over Stars forward Tyler Seguin (28-24—52 in 46 GP) in the race for the Art Ross Trophy. Four other players have 51 points: Chicago’s Patrick Kane (22-29—51 in 47 GP), Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin (19-32—51 in 45 GP), Philadelphia’s Claude Giroux (16-35—51 in 47 GP) and Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby (15-36—51 in 43 GP).
 
* Rangers forward Rick Nash and Stars forward Tyler Seguin share the League lead with 28 goals. Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin (27), Lightning captain Steven Stamkos (26), Sharks forward Joe Pavelski (24) and Blues forward Vladimir Tarasenko (24) follow in the race for the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy. Overall, 11 players have at least 20 goals.
 
* Flames captain Mark Giordano (11-29—40 in 47 GP) leads all defensemen in points. He is followed by St. Louis’ Kevin Shattenkirk (8-31—39 in 46 GP), San Jose’s Brent Burns (11-24—35 in 48 GP), Washington’s John Carlson (5-29—34 in 46 GP) and Philadelphia’s Mark Streit (7-27—34 in 48 GP).
 
* Four defensemen share the League lead with 12 goals: Winnipeg’s Dustin Byfuglien, Arizona’s Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Colorado’s Erik Johnson and Calgary’s Dennis Wideman. Overall, 11 defensemen have at least 10 goals.
 
* Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin and Sharks forward Joe Pavelski pace the NHL with 12 power-play goals, followed by Red Wings forward Gustav Nyquist with 11. Flyers captain Claude Giroux (9-15—24) and Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk (4-20—24) share the League lead with 24 power-play points.
 
* Kings forward Tyler Toffoli paces all players with four shorthanded goals. Jets forward Michael Frolik, Islanders forward Nikolay Kulemin and Rangers forward Rick Nash each have three.

* Predators forward Filip Forsberg (15-25—40 in 45 GP) leads all rookies in points. He is followed by Calgary’s Johnny Gaudreau (13-22—35 in 46 GP), Ottawa’s Mark Stone (11-15—26 in 44 GP), Ottawa’s Mike Hoffman (16-9—25 in 43 GP) and Florida’s Aaron Ekblad (6-19—25 in 44 GP).
 
SNEAK PEEK AT TUESDAY’S ACTION
All Times Eastern
NY Rangers @ NY Islanders, 7:00 p.m., TVA, SNO, SNP, MSG, MSG+
Arizona @ Philadelphia, 7:00 p.m., FS-A, CSN-PH
Winnipeg @ Pittsburgh, 7:00 p.m., TSN3, ROOT
Washington @ Columbus, 7:00 p.m., CSN-DC, FS-O
Tampa Bay @ Carolina, 7:30 p.m., NBCSN
Dallas @ Montreal, 7:30 p.m., FS-SW, SNE, RDS
Detroit @ Florida, 7:30 p.m., FS-D, FS-F
Colorado @ Nashville, 8:00 p.m., ALT, FS-TN
Buffalo @ Calgary, 9:00 p.m., MSG-B, BELL TV, SNW
Minnesota @ Edmonton, 9:30 p.m., FS-N, SNOL
Anaheim @ Vancouver, 10:00 p.m., PRIME, SNP
NBCSN Channel Finder
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ISLANDERS, RANGERS RENEW BATTLE OF NEW YORK
The Islanders are scheduled to play host to the Rangers at Nassau Coliseum in the third edition of the Battle of New York. The Islanders have won their first two meetings of the season, picking up a 6-3 win on Oct. 14 and a 3-0 victory on Jan. 13 – both at Madison Square Garden. The Rangers, however, have earned points in each of their past six visits to Long Island dating to Nov. 15, 2011 (5-0-1), including four consecutive wins. At 31-14-1 (63 points), the Islanders hold a five-point lead over the Rangers (27-13-4, 58 points) for the top spot in the Metropolitan Division. These clubs will face off two more times in 2014-15: Feb. 16 and March 10, both at Nassau Coliseum. Overall, the Islanders have won five of their past six outings, while the Rangers are 8-2-0 in their last 10.
 
HIGH-FLYING JETS LOOK TO STAY HOT IN PITTSBURGH . . .
On their first five-game winning streak since April 6-18, 2013, the Jets look to stay hot when they visit the Penguins at CONSOL Energy Center. Pittsburgh, however, has won 20 of the past 23 meetings between these franchises dating to March 2, 2008, including five straight. The Penguins also have won 13 consecutive head-to-head matchups on home ice dating to March 24, 2007, their longest active home winning streak against any opponent. At 26-14-8 (60 points), the Jets hold the first Wild Card spot in the Western Conference and rank fourth in the Central Division – two points behind the Blackhawks (30-15-2, 62 points) and Blues (29-13-4, 62 points). The Penguins (26-12-8, 60 points), meanwhile, trail the Islanders (31-14-1, 63 points) by three points for the top spot in the Metropolitan Division.
 
. . . RED WINGS, DUCKS ALSO TRY TO BUILD ON STREAKS
The Red Wings and Ducks also return from the All-Star Break on five-game winning streaks:
 
* The Red Wings face the Panthers at BB&T Center, where they have picked up points in each of their past 13 visits dating to Feb. 16, 1997 (9-0-4). At 27-11-9 (63 points), Detroit trails Tampa Bay (30-14-4, 64 points) by one point for the top spot in the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference. Florida (20-14-10, 50 points), meanwhile, sits seven points behind Boston (25-16-7, 57 points) and Washington (24-13-9, 57 points) for the two Wild Card berths in the Eastern Conference.
 
* The Ducks visit the Canucks at Rogers Arena, where they have earned points in each of their past nine trips dating to Dec. 8, 2010 (7-0-2) – that includes five straight wins dating to Jan. 19, 2013. At 31-10-6, Anaheim paces the NHL with 68 points and also shares the League lead with 31 wins (w/ NYI). Vancouver (26-16-3, 55 points), meanwhile, sits third in the Pacific Division – one point behind San Jose (25-17-6, 56 points) and two points ahead of Calgary (25-19-3, 53 points).
 
DID YOU KNOW?
Fifty years ago on this date, Ulf Sterner (Deje, Sweden) became the first European-born and -trained player to skate in the NHL when he took the ice for the Rangers against the Bruins. Click here for more details.
 
LOOSE PUCKS
The Department of Player Safety suspended Flyers forward Zac Rinaldo for eight games for charging and boarding Penguins defenseman Kris Letang . . . The Kings placed forward Mike Richards on waivers . . . The Sharks signed forward Nikita Jevpalovs to an entry-level contract . . . Blue Jackets forward Ryan Johansen, Senators captain Erik Karlsson and Wild forward Zach Parise were named the NHL’s “Three Stars” for the week ending Jan. 25. Johansen – the top pick in the 2015 NHL All-Star Fantasy Draft presented by DraftKings, winner of the Honda NHL Breakaway Challenge and MVP of the 2015 Honda NHL All-Star Game – thanked the fans in Columbus for their support during the 2015 NHL All-Star Weekend.
 
 
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