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PHT Morning Skate: Penguins’ improvements for Game 5; U.S. tops Canada at Worlds

Kathryn Tappen, Anson Carter and Colby Armstrong dive into the latest power rankings for the top unrestricted free agents of the 2021 offseason, highlighted by Alex Ovechkin, Dougie Hamilton and more.

Welcome to the PHT Morning Skate, a collection of links from the NHL and around the hockey world. Have a link you want to submit for the PHT Morning Skate? Email us at phtblog@nbcsports.

• Where are the areas of improvement for the Penguins heading into a pivotal Game 5 against the Islanders? [Pensburgh]

• The U.S. men topped Canada 5-1 at the IIHF World Championship in Latvia. The Americans are now 1-0-0-1 (W-OTW-OTL-L) in group play and face Kazakhstan Tuesday in their third of seven prelim games. [USA Hockey]

• In the battle of coaches, Peter DeBoer has schooled Dean Evason. [Zone Coverage]

• “The Blues have to look forward; they can’t continue to say ‘well, we did it before, so...’ You don’t get to do it again automatically just because you’ve punched your Stanley Cup card. Anything is always possible; the Blues could’ve come back to win the next four games. They didn’t, but they could have. But they didn’t.” [A to Z Sports Nashville]

• Brad Marchand, 5-on-5 play, and blowing leads are just some of the reasons why then Capitals are exiting in the First Round again. [NBC Sports Washington]

[NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2021 First Round schedule, TV info]

• Lightning head coach Jon Cooper was no fan of some of the ugliness that happened during Game 4: “There’s nothing wrong with the message setting and tone setting. That’s part of the game. That’s why we love it. … But let’s do it in the parameters of the game, and then there’s guys with stripes on that control that. But if it’s not controlled, stuff like this happens and you have superstars lying on the ice hurt. It just can be frustrating.” [Tampa Bay Times]

• The Maple Leafs welcome rough stuff from the Canadiens. That could end up giving Toronto more power play opportunities. [TSN]

• Why Charlie McAvoy has been the Bruins’ most important player in the First Round. [NBC Sports Boston]

• A look at the evolution of Oilers defenseman Darnell Nurse. [Sportsnet]


Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy