NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 20, 2016

Therrien, Subban downplay talk of a rift, talk of the Islanders eyeing an out-clause with Barclays Center and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines. Check out the scores and highlights from Friday’s games at NHL.com.  MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens coach Michel Therrien and defenseman PK Subban denied speculation of a rift between them after Therrien’s comment […]

Subban tells critics to look at his numbers: ‘That’ll shut ’em up’

P.K. Subban would prefer to let his numbers do the talking.

The Montreal Canadiens defenseman was his usual dominant self Friday, collecting two assists in his club's 3-2 shootout victory over the Philadelphia Flyers.

Related: Canadiens halt 3-game skid with shootout victory

But after receiving blame from head coach Michel Therrien for the club's 3-2 loss to the Colorado Avalanche 48 hours earlier, the former Norris Trophy winner said his production should pre-empt criticism.

Subban sits fourth among all blue-liners with 46 points this season.

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Hurricanes in tricky spot with Jeff Skinner

The Carolina Hurricanes pulled out a 5-2 victory against the San Jose Sharks Friday thanks in large part to a two-goal performance from Jeff Skinner.

His big night gives the club reason to celebrate, but behind the scenes, it adds to a conundrum.

At 23 years of age, following a couple of roller-coaster seasons, Skinner's future with the Hurricanes appears hazy.

Since a remarkable rookie campaign in 2010-11 that saw Skinner pile up 31 goals and 63 points, the Hurricanes have been waiting for him to duplicate that production.

Outside of 33 goals in 2013-14, Skinner has failed to show the same offensive firepower.

Year Goals Points Points per Game
2010-11 31 63 0.77
2011-12 20 44 0.69
2012-13 12 24 0.57
2013-14 33 54 0.76
2014-15 18 31 0.4
2015-16 21 34 0.57

However, with 21 goals through 59 games this season, the former Calder Trophy winner has already eclipsed his goal and point totals from one year ago, and is on pace to finish just shy of the 30-goal mark.

The Hurricanes currently find themselves just outside the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference, a place very few envisioned them in entering the season.

The team is supposed to be in a rebuild, and heading toward the trade deadline, Skinner may be a good bargaining chip for the Hurricanes as teams look to bolster their clubs with goal-scorers.

The situation is tricky, however, as Skinner is just 23 and under contract through the 2018-19 season with a cap hit of $6 million.

That cap hit could scare off potential trade partners, while the possibility of seeing Skinner return to his former self must remain in the minds of Carolina's management.

A deal could provide the club with draft picks or prospects, but Skinner could turn out to be exactly the kind of player they're searching for.

General manager Ron Francis isn't likely to make a rash decision, but with the possibility of having either a stud or dud on his hands in the same player, no choice appears to be the easy one.

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Devils’ playoff hopes fading as scoring woes continue

The NHL's lowest-scoring team was shut out for the sixth time this season Friday, as the New Jersey Devils lost a costly division game 1-0 to the New York Islanders.

Related: Islanders' Halak shuts out Devils to start 7-game road trip

A win would have brought the Devils into a tie for third in the Metropolitan Division, but they instead remain a point behind the Pittsburgh Penguins - who have three games in hand on New Jersey - for the final Eastern Conference wild-card position.

"It seems like everyone's winning around us," forward Travis Zajac said, per NJ.com. "We've got to find a way to get points. We have a chance to get back at it tomorrow going into a tough building. We've played well against good teams."

Despite another stellar performance from goalie Cory Schneider, who allowed just one goal for the third time in his last four starts, the Devils' inability to score continues to haunt them; they have not scored four goals in a game since Jan. 21.

The road won't get easier for the Devils, as they'll look to avoid a third consecutive divisional loss Saturday against the league-best Washington Capitals, who they've failed to beat in their two previous meetings this season.

"It's tough. We have to bounce back after this and put a string together and get ourselves right back in the race," forward Reid Boucher added. "I think we'll bounce back."

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