It was not planned, but the headline is surely vintage Pittsburgh Penguins circa 2017. From Marc-Andre Fleury standing on his head in the third period, Sidney Crosby offering one of the most blunt assessments of a call I’ve heard him make in years, to the Vancouver Canucks being interested in Phil Kessel, the news has a real Penguins flavor. The New Jersey Devils may have a lead on a goaltender via the NHL trade market, and Sportsnet dropped their top 30 trade candidates, including Fleury and Jake Guentzel.
The long review last night was clearly a matter of the human element. The referees missed the puck hitting the netting, but they’re not oblivious. Several Penguins raised their arms simultaneously. Perhaps even the Minnesota Wild knew it. I mean, you can tell by the cat that ate the canary smiles and lack of arguing.
The refs took over seven minutes on the replay trying to find what they knew to be true. In a sense, they were giving the Penguins the benefit of the doubt. It was quite clear after three angles, at least the ones we saw here in St. Paul, that it couldn’t be overturned. It was a clear case of what’s true and what you can prove being different.
The Daily is short today. I’m getting a few hours of sleep before making the ever-so-fun drive from the twin cities to Winnipeg. I just can’t believe I’m headed to Winnipeg, and I forgot my bathing suit. But I know you’re always asking about Phil Kessel.
Pittsburgh Hockey Now: It was a Flower show, and the Penguins lost in Minnesota 3-2. Get Dave Molinari’s Penguins recap.
Minnesota did a very nice job. Fans even cheered Sidney Crosby’s tribute. You can watch the Fleury tribute video here.
The report card. No forecheck until the third period. No neutral zone traffic until the third period. If you want to know what really happened — check out the analysis and the Penguins’ grades.
“Every player saw it.” A controversial call decided the game. Sidney Crosby was angry and didn’t hide it. Coach Mike Sullivan took the refs to task for missing it. I think the Crosby video is worth the price of admission — With the raw video (literally and figuratively), go inside the Penguins’ locker room.
The Penguins have the “big stack.” That’s a poker term, and the Penguins can still buy others and even make the trade deadline a little quieter. Here’s how the Penguins can bully their way into the playoffs and affect the NHL trade deadline.
PHN+: It really was like old times Friday, as Fleury made great saves to preserve the win. The Penguins honored “Flower” privately on Friday, and signs point to Fleury retiring.
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I didn’t realize we wrote that many stories on Friday! You never get shortchanged at PHN…
NHL Rumors, News & National Hockey Now
Sportsnet: There are multiple reports that the Vancouver Canucks are kicking tires on Phil Kessel. What to make of the Kessel to Canucks chatter.
Also from Sportsnet, their Top 30 trade candidates board includes some spiffy charts and graphs, too.
New Jersey Hockey Now: Jacob Markstrom, come on down? There are a few layers here, including what the Calgary Flames want, but this would have a huge impact on the Eastern Conference playoff race. Connecting Markstrom to the New Jersey Devils.
If the Devils get Markstrom, the Penguins are in trouble. I don’t think they can beat New Jersey to the finish line if New Jersey has a highly capable puck-stopper.
Philly Hockey Now: Sam Carchidi goes through Bryz Lite and the playoff chances for the Philadelphia Flyers.
Detroit Hockey Now: The goalie situation changed dramatically once, and it could change again for the Detroit Red Wings.