NHL MORNING SKATE – DEC. 31, 2015

NHL MORNING SKATE – DEC. 31, 2015

Welcome to the “NHL Morning Skate,” a daily collection of the latest news and notes from around the League.

WINTER CLASSIC FESTIVITIES BEGIN

Festivities for the 2016 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic kick into full gear with today’s team practices, 2016 NHL Winter Classic Alumni Game presented by Molson Canadian and Outdoor Women’s Classic presented by Scotiabank as well as the opening of the 2016 NHL Winter Classic Spectator Plaza.

Today’s full schedule of events (all times ET):

Media Credential Distribution
8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Gillette Stadium – Lot 6

Media Snack
9:30 – 11:30 a.m.
Gillette Stadium (Blue Level Press)

Boston Bruins Team Practice/Photo followed by Media Availability
11:00 a.m.
Gillette Stadium
* No field access for media

Media Access to 2016 NHL Winter Classic Spectator Plaza
11:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Gillette Stadium – Lot 22

Montreal Canadiens Team Practice/Photo followed by Media Availability
12:30 p.m.
Gillette Stadium
* No field access for media

Media Meal
2:00 – 4:00 p.m.
Gillette Stadium – Press Box (Red Level Press)

Outdoor Women’s Classic presented by Scotiabank
2:00 p.m.
Boston Pride (NWHL) vs. Les Canadiennes (CWHL)
Gillette Stadium
* Media availability for coaches and select players will take place in the Press Box following the game

2016 NHL Winter Classic Alumni Game presented by Molson Canadian
3:30 p.m.
Gillette Stadium
NBCSN, SN, TVAS

2016 NHL WINTER CLASSIC ALUMNI GAME . . .

More than 40 former players and coaches are scheduled to participate in today’s 2016 NHL Winter Classic Alumni Game presented by Molson Canadian (3:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, SN, TVAS). The game will consist of three 20-minute periods (running time) and two 12-minute intermissions.

Click here for full rosters.

. . . OUTDOOR WOMEN’S CLASSIC

The Boston Pride of the newly formed National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL) also will face Les Canadiennes of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League (CWHL) today in the first-ever Outdoor Women’s Classic presented by Scotiabank (2:00 p.m. ET).

Click here for more information.

WINTER CLASSIC QUICK HITS

* There have been 15 regular-season outdoor NHL games to date: Seven Winter Classics, five Stadium Series games and three Heritage Classics.
* Eight outdoor games have been hosted by football venues, seven have been hosted by baseball stadiums.
* The NHL’s 15 regular-season outdoor games have drawn total attendance of 853,288 – an average of 56,886 per game. The seven Winter Classics have been attended by 413,548 fans, an average of 59,078.
* A total of 481 players and head coaches have participated in the NHL’s 15 regular-season outdoor games to date.
* Road teams are 11-3-1 in outdoor games, including a 6-2-0 record since the start of the 2013-14 season.
* A look at the two-day forecast for Foxborough, Mass., courtesy of the Weather Channel:

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

* Bruins goaltender Jonas Gustavsson and Canadiens goaltenders Mike Condon unveiled their masks for the 2016 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic.
* Click here for the complete time-lapse video of the transformation of Gillette Stadium.
* The NHL issued fan reminders for fans attending today and tomorrow’s games.
* Click here for a recap of the third episode of Road to the NHL Winter Classic, which premiered on Wednesday.
* Bruins players, including forward Max Talbot, tested the ice at Gillette Stadium during a skate on Wednesday with family and friends.

BOSTON, MA – DECEMBER 30 : Max Talbot #25 of the Boston Bruins enjoys the Family Skate on December 30, 2015 during 2016 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

WEDNESDAY’S RESULTS

Home Team in Caps
Toronto 3, PITTSBURGH 2 (SO)
WASHINGTON 5, Buffalo 2
New Jersey 3, OTTAWA 0
NY Rangers 5, TAMPA BAY 2
SAN JOSE 4, Philadelphia 2

CAPITALS KEEP STREAKING WITH SWEEP OF HOME-AND-HOME

The Capitals scored four unanswered goals in the third period to sweep their home-and-home series with the Sabres and pick up their ninth consecutive win overall as well as their ninth straight victory at Verizon Center.

* At 28-6-2 (58 points), the Capitals continued their best start to a season – in terms of wins and points – in the franchise’s 41-year history. They also leapfrogged the idle Stars (27-8-3, 57 points) for first place in the NHL standings, aided by a 16-1-1 run since Nov. 21.
* The Capitals have won nine straight games overall for the first time since Feb. 26 – March 15, 2011 (also 9-0-0). They have posted nine consecutive victories at home for the first time since Jan. 5 – March 6, 2010, when they set a franchise record with 13 straight home wins.
* Braden Holtby made 25 saves to earn his League-leading 24th win of the season (30 GP), including eight in a row. He has compiled a 16-0-1 record in 18 games since Nov. 12 (1.76 GAA, .942 SV%, 2 SO); Elias says that is the longest point streak by a goaltender since Roberto Luongo went 16-0-5 over a 21-game span with the Canucks from Dec. 8, 2010 – Feb. 12, 2011.
* Alex Ovechkin scored twice to reach the 20-goal milestone for the 11th time in as many NHL seasons. Ovechkin, who sits five goals shy of 500 in his career (795 GP), has recorded 102 career multi-goal performances.

FASTEST TO 500 GOALS (IN GP), NHL HISTORY

1. Wayne Gretzky: 575 GP
2. Mario Lemieux: 605 GP
3. Mike Bossy: 647 GP
4. Brett Hull: 693 GP
5. Phil Esposito: 803 GP

CLUBS CLOSE 2015 ON HIGH NOTES

Four teams closed their calendar year with victories:

* Cory Schneider stopped all 36 shots he faced, including 28 over the final two periods, to earn his 20th career shutout (third this season) and lead the Devils to their third win in their past four games. Schneider, who improved to 16-10-5 this season (2.10 GAA, .927 SV%, 3 SO), also upped his record to 5-1-1 in seven career appearances vs. OTT (1.39 GAA, .951 SV%, 1 SO).
* The Sharks scored three unanswered goals in the third period – including a pair from Joe Pavelski – to pick up points for the fifth time in their last seven contests (4-2-1). Pavelski registered his seventh game-winning goal of the season, tops in the NHL. He also shares fifth in the League with 20 goals overall (w/ Alex Ovechkin).
* The Rangers also recorded three unanswered goals in the third period – including the tiebreaker by former Lightning forward Dominic Moore (1-1—2) – to snap an eight-game road losing streak (0-6-2). Moore compiled 22-29—51 in 133 games with Tampa Bay from 2010-12.
* Jonathan Bernier made a season-high 39 saves and denied another two attempts in the shootout to propel the Maple Leafs to a 6-2-2 record in their last 10 games. Bernier has won four of his past six outings after beginning the season with a 0-8-3 record.

MILESTONES & BENCHMARKS

* Senators defenseman Fredrik Claesson, a fifth-round selection (126th overall) in the 2011 NHL Draft, made his League debut (12:20 TOI).
* Alain Vigneault (NYR) coached his 1,008th career game to surpass Jacques Demers (1,007) and move into sole possession of 21st place on the NHL’s all-time list among head coaches.

LOOSE PUCKS

ICYMI: Flyers captain Claude Giroux scored off a face-off . . . Penguins captain Sidney Crosby recorded 1-1—2. He has 6-11—17 over his last 17 games after totaling 2-7—9 in his first 18 contests of the season . . . Sharks forward Logan Couture picked up two assists in his first appearance since Dec. 9 . . . Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov collected two assists to extend his point streak to a career-high seven games (2-9—11) . . . Sharks forward Joe Thornton posted 1-1—2 to extend his point streak to seven games (3-7—10) . . . Maple Leafs forward James van Riemsdyk registered one assist to extend his point streak to five games (3-4—7) . . . The Department of Player Safety suspended Bruins forward Brad Marchand for three games for clipping Senators defenseman Mark Borowiecki.

SNEAK PEEK AT THURSDAY’S ACTION

All Times Eastern
NY Islanders @ Buffalo, 6:00 p.m., MSG+, MSG-B, BELL TV
Pittsburgh @ Detroit, 6:00 p.m., SN, ROOT, FS-D
Washington @ Carolina, 6:00 p.m., CSN-DC, FS-CR
Minnesota @ St. Louis, 8:00 p.m., FS-N, FS-MW
Chicago @ Colorado, 8:00 p.m., CSN-CH, ALT
Nashville @ Dallas, 8:30 p.m., FS-TN, FS-SW
Los Angeles @ Calgary, 9:00 p.m., NHLN-US, SN360, SN1, FS-W
Anaheim @ Edmonton, 9:00 p.m., KCOP-13, SNW
Winnipeg @ Arizona, 9:00 p.m., TSN3, FS-A+

2015 CALENDAR YEAR LEADERS

The NHL closes 2015 with a nine-game schedule. A look at the top team and individual performances of the calendar year thus far (courtesy of the Elias Sports Bureau):

POINTS PERCENTAGE
1. Washington Capitals (55-21-6, 116 points): .707
2. New York Rangers (54-24-7, 115 points): .676
3. St. Louis Blues (52-24-8, 112 points): .667
4. Dallas Stars (51-25-8, 110 points): .655
5. Minnesota Wild (48-24-10, 106 points): .646

GOALS
1. Alex Ovechkin (80 GP): 56
2. Jamie Benn (84 GP): 47
3. Steven Stamkos (81 GP): 39
4. Joe Pavelski (80 GP): 38
5. Max Pacioretty (82 GP): 38

ASSISTS
1. Erik Karlsson (84 GP): 59
2. Jamie Benn (84 GP): 58
3. Nicklas Backstrom (79 GP): 56
4. Henrik Sedin (83 GP): 55
5. P.K. Subban (84 GP): 55

POINTS
1. Jamie Benn (84 GP): 47-58—105
2. Alex Ovechkin (80 GP): 56-28—84
3. Daniel Sedin (85 GP): 28-54—82
4. Erik Karlsson (84 GP): 23-59—82
5. John Tavares (79 GP): 37-44—81
6. Tyler Seguin (73 GP): 33-48—81

POINTS PER GAME (Minimum: 60 GP)
1. Jamie Benn (105 PTS in 84 GP): 1.25
2. Patrick Kane (77 PTS in 62 GP): 1.24
3. Tyler Seguin (81 PTS in 73 GP): 1.11
4. Alex Ovechkin (84 PTS in 80 GP): 1.05
5. John Tavares (81 PTS in 79 GP): 1.03

POWER-PLAY GOALS
1. Alex Ovechkin (80 GP): 25
2. Justin Faulk (82 GP): 17
3. Steven Stamkos (81 GP): 16
4. Jamie Benn (84 GP): 16
5. Joe Pavelski (80 GP): 15

SHORTHANDED GOALS
1. Jean-Gabriel Pageau (82 GP): 6
2. Brad Marchand (76 GP): 5
3. Blake Wheeler (77 GP): 4
4. Max Pacioretty (82 GP): 4
5. Jamie Benn (84 GP): 4

GAME-WINNING GOALS
1. Max Pacioretty (82 GP): 12
2. John Tavares (79 GP): 10
3. Alex Ovechkin (80 GP): 10
4. Jonathan Toews (82 GP): 10
5. Joe Pavelski (80 GP): 9

SHOTS ON GOAL
1. Alex Ovechkin (80 GP): 394
2. Max Pacioretty (82 GP): 331
3. Brent Burns (80 GP): 296
4. Rick Nash (80 GP): 288
5. Radim Vrbata (82 GP): 285

PLUS/MINUS
1. Tyler Toffoli (74 GP): 31
2. Marc Methot (78 GP): 27
3. T.J. Oshie (79 GP): 27
4. Kevin Klein (58 GP): 26
5. Tobias Enstrom (74 GP): 26

WINS
1. Braden Holtby (72 GP): 49
2. Devan Dubnyk (68 GP): 42
3. Jonathan Quick (71 GP): 41
4. Ben Bishop (65 GP): 37
5. Corey Crawford (66 GP): 37

GOALS-AGAINST AVERAGE (Minimum: 25 GP)
1. Carey Price (48 GP): 1.85
2. Andrew Hammond (31 GP): 1.93
3. Jake Allen (47 GP): 1.96
4. Devan Dubnyk (68 GP): 2.04
5. Braden Holtby (72 GP): 2.04

SAVE PERCENTAGE (Minimum: 25 GP)
1. Carey Price (48 GP): .937
2. Andrew Hammond (31 GP): .936
3. Cory Schneider (65 GP): .930
4. Braden Holtby (72 GP): .929
5. Devan Dubnyk (68 GP): .928

SHUTOUTS
1. Carey Price (48 GP): 9
2. Devan Dubnyk (68 GP): 9
3. Braden Holtby (72 GP): 8
4. Jake Allen (47 GP): 7
t-5. Five Goaltenders: 6

SHOTS AGAINST
1. Braden Holtby (72 GP): 2,038
2. Corey Crawford (66 GP): 1,992
3. Tuukka Rask (66 GP): 1,933
4. Mike Smith (61 GP): 1,913
5. Semyon Varlamov (63 GP): 1,885

MINUTES PLAYED
1. Braden Holtby (72 GP): 4,234
2. Jonathan Quick (71 GP): 4,117
3. Devan Dubnyk (68 GP): 3,975
4. Tuukka Rask (66 GP): 3,862
5. Corey Crawford (66 GP): 3,857

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