Around The Net – A Morning Skate Around the League…

With that let’s get to the topic at hand… your morning skate around the league! Around the Net!

With their victory yesterday afternoon the Penguins punched their ticket to the playoffs. The next thing on the agenda is to accumulate enough points to secure the Atlantic Division title that they have been chasing.They are currently sitting in the four spot in conference, tied with the New Jersey Devils. If the playoffs were to begin today, the Penguins would be in line for a 4/5 match up with the Ottawa Senators.

The Birds get back to work this afternoon against the Toronto Maple Leafs. I will have more on that game shortly, as this time is devoted to your morning skate around the league… Around the Net!

So with that… here we go…

First we have Dave Molinari’s game recap of the Penguins 4-1 victory over the Flyers. As we all know the Penguins clinched a playoff berth with the win and are now in hot pursuit of the Atlantic Division Title…

Dave’s Recap

Molinari also tells us that the Winter Classic is close to becoming a lock for Pittsburgh…it would be held at Heinz Field. Apparently the league wanted that venue the entire time based on its large seating capacity. As cool as it would have been to see the event take place at PNC Park, the Pirates home was never a strong possibility.

Pens and Caps Winter Classic Close

Kevin McGran of the Toronto Star takes a look at Alexei Ponikarovsky’s first game against his former team. It will be interesting to see how he and Luca Caputi perform against their former teams this afternoon.

Poni meets former mates for the first time

Rob Rossi takes a look at Alex Ovechkin’s status as Penguin Nation’s most hated man. It has been a rare superstar that has been able to illicit such piss and vinegar from a fan base, but this Russian bull has done it.

Ovechkin – Most Hated Man

Marc Savard spoke with the media yesterday for the first time since he sustained a head shot from Matt Cooke that ended his season. He looked thin, drawn and his hair was shorter than I remember seeing it. He stated that he has no desire to speak with Cooke and that he feels that his intent was to injure.

Savard feels that Cooke had Intent

Speaking of head shots, David Booth, who sustained his second head injury of the season on Thursday evening, will be out for the remainder of the season. Booth was hit by Montreal’s Jaro Spacek and is suffering similar symptoms to those he dealt with earlier in the season after being hit by the Flyers Mike Richards.

Booth done for the year

The Johnstown Chiefs, who were made famous in the movie Slap Shot, are headed to South Carolina. It is a sad day for many in Johnstown who have followed the team for ages. There was speculation floating around the Mellon Arena press box yesterday that the Wheeling Nailers could be taking their place in Jtown… we shall see!

Chiefs exit War Memorial

The Windsor Star blog takes a look at the Wings’ Jimmy Howard. The youngster has had one heck of a season and is looking more and more like he could take the Calder Trophy this season.

Howard Shines for Wings

Anonymous player poll provides some interesting results.

Player poll provides interesting answers

Mike Brophy gives his take on the league in his Sportsnet column. Specifically taking about Calgary going down in FLAMES.

Brophy: Calgary down in Flames

Donald Fehr is dangerously close to taking the reins of the NHLPA… a proposition that has got to have Gary Bettman and the League’s owners quaking in their boots. Sure it would be a great move for the players, considering the concessions that he has gotten for the players of Major League Baseball over the years, but it up heave the salary cap structure that was laid out in the last CBA.

Fehr in bed with NHLPA

More later…