The NHL wrapped up its busiest night of 2014 so far on Thursday and we’ve got your morning preview as people are still talking about the omissions of Bobby Ryan and Keith Yandle from the U.S. Olympic team.
Essential Water Cooler
Phoenix Coyotes star defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson left Thursday’s game with an upper-body injury after receiving a hit from behind from Columbus center Derek MacKenzie. Ekman-Larsson was driven face first into the glass and left the game immediately. He did not return to action as the Coyotes fell to the Blue Jackets 2-0. There was no penalty called on the play, but the incident is sure to be reviewed by the league. The loss of Ekman-Larsson could be a big one for a Phoenix team that is already minus fellow defenseman Zbynek Michalek.
Men of the Night
Jeff Skinner, Carolina: The former first round draft pick recorded his second hat trick in less than a month, including the overtime game-winner, against the Capitals in Washington last night. The 21-year-old Skinner has 30 points in 30 games on the season.
Kyle Okposo, NY Islanders: Just one day after being passed over for the U.S. Olympic team, Okposo decided to take out his frustrations on the Chicago Blackhawks. Okposo scored the game-winning goal in overtime and added an assist to give the Islanders a 3-2 win over the defending Stanley Cup champions.
Brian Elliott, St. Louis: Despite playing without David Backes and Alex Steen, the Blues managed to assault a struggling Los Angeles Kings team with goals, but it was the performance of Elliott that was most impressive in their 5-0 win. The native of Newmarket, On. earned his third shutout of the season, stopping 30 shots. Elliott is now 11-1-2 on the season.
P.K. Subban, Montreal: Sure, Max Pacioretty had a big night for Montreal, scoring two goals and adding two assists in their 6-4 win over Dallas, but the nod goes to Subban in this one. The fiery defenseman recorded a goal and three assists, while throwing six hits and logging close to 24 minutes of ice time.
Better Luck Next Time
Corey Crawford made his return to the Blackhawks line-up last night and somehow his team lost to the Islanders, who are one of the worst teams in the league. Not the comeback the netminder was hoping for. He didn’t look half bad out there, but the rust was still noticeable.