11:02 p.m.: It appears the Penguins weren’t as aggressive for Grabner as we thought.
Trade call between NYR and NJD — first one ever, correct? — is happening shortly. NJ sends its own 2018 2nd-round pick and Igor Rykov to NYR for Michael Grabner.
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) February 23, 2018
Grabner has 31 points this season (25g, 6a) including seven empty net goals. Grabner has elite speed and rediscovered his goalscoring touch last season with the Rangers. Grabner had 27 goals last season after scoring just 29 goals for the Toronto Maple Leafs and New York Islanders in the previous three seasons combined.
12:30 p.m.: Phil Kessel almost got away without speaking to reporters but finally did, given that his sister Amanda and Team USA beat Canada late Wednesday night to claim the gold medal at the Olympics. Kessel said he was happy for his sister and proud of her, especially after she has had gaps in her career because of concussions. Kessel stayed up to watch the whole game and spoke to his sister before and afterward. Amanda was one of the U.S. players to score in the shootout Wednesday night. Asked if he liked the idea of the gold medal game being decided in a shootout, Kessel said, “I mean, I liked it last night…” He added that in general, for such an important game he would like to see overtime extended until someone wins but that the shootout setup has been in place many years in the Olympics and he doesn’t expect it to change.
12:20 p.m.: Mike Sullivan said the team’s improvement in back-to-back games — as the Penguins will have Friday and Saturday at Carolina and Florida — has mirrored the club’s overall improvement. “It’s obviously about the team’s overall play,” he said. “We’ve performed better, and so we’ve gotten better results.” He added that the proper mindset and team leadership have helped account for the overall improvement, something he’s said a few times. Here are some back-to-back numbers: Overall the Penguins are 6-7-1 the first night, 8-4-2 the second night, 14-11-3 both nights. Since Dec. 1, those numbers are 4-3-0 the first night, 6-1-0 the second night and 10-4-0 combined. Since Jan. 1, they are 3-2-0 the first night, 4-1-0 the second night, 7-3-0 combined.
12:15 p.m.: Patric Hornqvist went to see a doctor right after practice and was not available to talk to reporters. Coach Mike Sullivan seemed optimistic about Hornqvist. “All signs are looking positive at this point,” Sullivan said. “He looked good in the practice. He felt good in the practice.” The only other injured player, Tom Kuhnhackl, skated on his own for the second day in a row, Sullivan said, adding that Kuhnhackl will travel with the team and could participate in the game-day skate Friday morning in Carolina.
11:25 a.m.: Patric Hornqvist was a full participant in line rushes, skating with Evgeni Malkin and Carl Hagelin in a normal second-line setup. The other lines: Simon-Crosby-Rust Guentzel-Sheahan-Kessel Aston-Reese-Rowney-Sheary/Reaves. Pairings: Dumoulin-Letang Maatta-Schultz Cole-Oleksiak Hunwick-Ruhwedel
11:15 a.m.: Fifteen minutes into practice, Patric Hornqvist ditched the white non-contact jersey for a regular black one. He is Patric Hornqvist, after all.
— Shelly Anderson
11:10 a.m.: The Penguins have the black curtains up, meaning practice in Cranberry is not open to the public. But there is some sort of event where invited guests are filling the stands:
11:05 a.m.: Well, this is big.
Today’s #Pens practice is underway! Patric Hornqvist is on the ice with his teammates in a non-contact jersey.
— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) February 22, 2018
8:55 a.m.: The trades have begun. Yesterday, the Washington Capitals acquired Jakub Jerabek from the Montreal Canadiens for a fifth-round pick. Also, the Arizona Coyotes snared goaltender Darcy Kuemper from the Kings for Tobias Rieder and backup goalie Scott Wedgewood.
The Coyotes are picking up 15% of Rieder’s $2.25 million salary. Rieder has 19 points this season (8g, 11a). The Coyotes immediately signed Kuemper to a two-year, $3.7 million deal.
There are whispers in Winnipeg, the Jets are big game hunting in New York, but perhaps the prey doesn’t want to come to the ‘Peg. –Dan Kingerski
USA! USA! The Team USA women ended a 20-year gold medal drought by beating Canada in a shootout, early this morning, 3-2.
Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson used a stunning shootout move. The Canadians had won four straight Olympic gold medals.
— NBC Olympics (@NBCOlympics) February 22, 2018
Last night, the Vegas Golden Knights set a record for most points in an inaugural season (84). They beat the Calgary Flames, 7-3. And, you don’t make Marc-Andre Fleury mad.
Don’t make 🌸 mad pic.twitter.com/OBgPykXA83
— Golden Knights Realm (@TheVegasRealm) February 22, 2018