What would a team give for a 40-goal scorer? It seems we’re about to find out as a couple or few big names appear headed for the NHL trade block. The Pittsburgh Penguins fought their darker impulses and escaped with a 4-3 win over the Minnesota Wild Monday, but not until they blew a 3-0 lead. The team had a few candid conversations after their embarrassing loss to Toronto on Saturday. Also in the Daily, the Ottawa Senators acquiesced to the deafening roar to fire their coach, replacing him with a former Penguins assistant. Could the Chicago Blackhawks give Phil Kessel a shot?
It seems we’re entering a new phase or era of Penguins coverage. For years, the running joke amongst Penguins scribes has been don’t bother writing after a loss; no one is going to read it–fans only read when they win. The numbers bore that out to an alarming degree (though I’ve always done my best work explaining losses).
However, the paradigm has recently inverted with a bloodthirsty vengeance, the likes of which would make Philadelphia fans wince. A win is boring. A loss? Now that’s a chance to rip the team, call for Evgeni Malkin to be traded, Mike Sullivan to be fired, anyone else who failed to deliver should be burned in effigy, and there should be a total rebuild.
To paraphrase Billy Joel, darlin’, I don’t know why you go to extremes. Try to enjoy the ride. You will miss it when it is gone, even this difficult final chapter.
Full coverage from the barn.
Pittsburgh Hockey Now: The Flower didn’t start Monday. He watched from the bench as 17,000 fans chanted for him. He tried not to smile as the chants rained after the first three Penguins goals. Monday morning, Fleury waxed nostalgic for the good old days with his buddies and realized that might have been his last time playing in Pittsburgh. Time has gone by quickly for Marc-Andre Fleury.
If you need the down-and-dirty, nitty-gritty details of the win–here’s the Penguins recap.
The Penguins did enough to win, and that’s an important point. Let’s break down the win, the good, the (once again) inexplicably bad, and the player report card in the Penguins’ grades.
PHN video: The formerly five-minute postgame. What did the win really mean for the Penguins?
And I was interested in coach Mike Sullivan’s response to my question about the conversations since the Toronto meltdown. I suppose Sullivan didn’t say anything surprising, but I think we’re all curious about who got a good scolding or had their job threatened. Also, Valtteri Puustinen is enjopyable. And Alex Nedeljkovic is funny. Go inside the Penguins locker room.
NHL Trade Talk, News & National Hockey Now
Sportsnet: Elias Lindholm and Elvis Merzlins joining the NHL trade rumors? Elliotte Friedman definitely thinks Lindholm will be there if he isn’t already, and Merzlikins is a good goalie on a last-place team going nowhere. The latest NHL rumor roundup.
Colorado Hockey Now: The chattering class inside the NHL is looking at the Avalanche. They dealt Tomas Tatar for a song. Could they make the big play for Lindholm on the NHL trade market?
Chicago Hockey Now: Hey, Chicago has some pretty darned good hot dogs. Could the Chicago Blackhawks, who are having a rough go, reach out for help and sign … wait for it … Phil Kessel??
TSN: Fans wanted D.J. Smith gone in the worst way. The Senators have struggled and not kept pace in the Eastern Conference, resting behind the Penguins. They made a coaching change Monday and named former Penguins assistant coach (and Senators’ all-time winningest coach) Jacques Martin the interim boss.
The Senators’ flop is one thing keeping the Penguins in the race. If Ottawa were ahead of them, that would be five teams between the Penguins and the playoffs.
Detroit Hockey Now: A Penguins playoff competitor has been good this season but is getting shaky. The coach says the Detroit Red Wings are fragile.
Montreal Hockey Now: Damned Americans. Get this–Cole Caufield made the mistake of admitting he doesn’t like poutine?! What are the Montreal Canadiens coming to?
Poutine is a glorious concoction. It’s no donair, but it’s pretty darned good. At least he didn’t admit he hates Molson.
If anyone wants to send me a Christmas present, I’ll happily take a donair and a Propeller Prime Lager. Please and thanks.