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NHL Morning Skate – Jan. 31, 2024

* The Blue Jackets and Sharks each skated to shutout victories during a two-game Tuesday and did so with the help of a 44-game rookie and a 1,267-game veteran, respectively.

* The NHL announced that Mathew Barzal will replace injured Jack Hughes in the 2024 NHL All-Star Skills presented by DraftKings Sportsbook, while teammate Jesper Bratt will replace him on the player roster for 2024 NHL All-Star Weekend. Hughes will still be in Toronto to co-captain Team Hughes alongside his brother, Quinn Hughes.

* The NHL will reveal which players are slated to compete in each of the first six events of 2024 NHL All-Star Skills presented by DraftKings Sportsbook during the first intermission of tonight’s Ottawa-Detroit game on Sportsnet.


Elvis Merzlikins (21 saves) and Mackenzie Blackwood (32 saves) each posted shutouts, but Blue Jackets rookie Dmitri Voronkov and Sharks veteran Marc-Edouard Vlasic proved to be the difference makers with the game-winning goal for their respective clubs.

* Voronkov’s 12th goal of the season helped Merzlikins register his 12th outing with a save percentage of greater than .900 according to NHL EDGE – three more than he did in 2022-23 (9 GP in 2022-23) – and tied teammate Adam Fantilli (12) for the third-most goals by a rookie this season. Columbus rookies have now tallied 25 goals through 50 games in 2023-24, four more than the next closest team (CHI: 21).

* Vlasic, one of the longest-tenured players in Sharks history and one of only two players in franchise history to appear in at least 1,200 career games, scored for the second time in as many contests to tally his 81st career goal and 13th career game winner.


All-Star festivities Thursday will feature ‘3 events in 1’
Jesper Bratt to replace Devils teammate Jack Hughes on 2024 NHL All-Star Weekend roster
Jack Hughes won’t be in action All-Star Weekend, will remain co-captain
Alex DeBrincat continues to defy expectations with 500th NHL game, 2nd All-Star appearance
NHL on ESPN Friday Night delivers strong viewership
Women in Hockey: Kendall Coyne Schofield

The final game day ahead of 2024 NHL All-Star Weekend features a doubleheader on Sportsnet, which will begin with a battle between the Senators and Red Wings as the hosts look to continue their push towards their first postseason appearance since 2015-16. Meanwhile on TNT, Max and TVA Sports, the Kings and Predators will also duel for playoff positioning as they represent two of six teams separated by five points in the Western Conference Wild Card race.

* Detroit enters Wednesday occupying the second Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference thanks to a 7-2-1 record through its past 10 games. The Red Wings (26-18-5, 57 points) have leapfrogged four teams since their 10-game hot streak began on Jan. 7 and can overtake the Maple Leafs (25-14-8, 58 points) for the first Wild Card position with a win against the Senators.

* Captain Dylan Larkin has been a key part of his club’s recent success, skating into tonight’s contest on an 11-game point streak and 10-game home point streak, with the latter just one shy of the longest run of his career (11 GP in 2021-22). Larkin has collected 9-6—15 (12 GP) in January, with only Elias Pettersson (10 in 10 GP) and Auston Matthews (10 in 10 GP) netting more goals since Jan. 7.

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