LAS VEGAS — The Pittsburgh Penguins got a little playoff help from the Chicago Blackhawks Friday. The team should be well rested for their game against the Vegas Golden Knights on Saturday night after several days since their last game, some team bonding in Vegas, and a good sweat at practice Friday. Marc-Andre Fleury is not yet on the NHL trade block, but that won’t stop the chatter about where he could land. The Philadelphia Flyers have warned fans to brace for more trades. And the Vancouver Canucks signed president of hockey operations Jim Rutherford to a three-year extension.
I’m a wild man. A Friday night in Vegas turned into an early-bird dinner with a friend in Vegas media (early-bird steaks are half off. Yes, please). We wanted to watch the Blackhawks vs. Islanders, so I bought a Starbucks latte with whipped cream in order to sit in the sportsbook. And I was “home” at 9 p.m.
One note that made me laugh: Like Pittsburgh, Las Vegas is a small town and everybody hears the gossip. VGK fans and media have chuckled this year as the Vegas flu is back in full force. More teams are coming in two days before the game, and residents keep track of where the boys blow off steam (and how much they blow off). I won’t tell tales out of school on which players have been busted for enjoying the city too much, but the Metro Division isn’t unscathed.
Pittsburgh Hockey Now: Oddsmakers took coach Mike Sullivan off the hot seat but elevated others as the new favorites to get the ax. The latest odds have the Penguins coach as a longshot.
Penguins practice was absent Erik Karlsson and Jansen Harkins’s hair. We’ve got the exclusive scoop on the lost mullet, and Sullivan was beaming over his new granddaughter after Penguins practice.
NHL Trade Talk, News, & National Hockey Now
Colorado Hockey Now: Friday, Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet connected Marc-Andre Fleury to the Avalanche. At the same time, our Evan Rawal made the case. Fleury is the guy for the Colorado Avalanche.
However, Fleury exited the Minnesota Wild game against the Florida Panthers after a net-front collision in the first period. Fleury finished the period but did not start the second. He was deemed out with an upper-body injury.
32 Thoughts: The Jake Guentzel trade rumors will not go quietly into the good night. They will not go without a fight, especially because the Vancouver Canucks are a perfect and interested suitor. Friedman goes back into the Guentzel stuff, as well as Fleury and more.
Philly Hockey Now: Coach John Tortorella sounded the warning bell for more deals, “You can’t fall in love.” Some players are going to be upset near the deadline because the Flyers are also cognizant of where they are in the rebuild, and it will guide more Flyers trades.
Chicago Hockey Now: Unfortunately for the Penguins, Chicago allowed a pair of third period goals by the New York Islanders to force overtime. Fortunately for the Penguins, the Islanders couldn’t finish the comeback, and here’s how the Chicago Blackhawks won in overtime.
The Penguins have “fallen” to the bottom of the gaggle of wild-card pursuers because the NHL schedule makers forgot the Penguins, who played only one game this week. The Penguins are three back of the wild card with three games in hand. Absolutely silly scheduling.
New Jersey Hockey Now: The goalie hunt took a surprise turn this week. Nashville Predators GM Barry Trotz will listen to offers on Juuse Saros. Jame Nichols connects the dots for the New Jersey Devils.
Sportsnet Vancouver: The Canucks locked down Jim Rutherford for three more years, but all focus is on the present, and the Canucks are becoming a powerful team.
Before I leave this little town, I may very well leave with a betting slip that contains Rick Tocchet’s team to win the big prize. The Winnipeg Jets are a surprising long shot, too.
NHL.com: The Capitals splashed the cash on potential RFA Aliaksei Protas, giving him a five-year deal.
The Capitals have done a nice job of finding prospects despite trading away a lot of their draft picks, too. The Capitals only got one Stanley Cup, but they kept a few more picks, and not enough is made about how well they’ve done with limited draft capital.
Boston Hockey Now: The Milan Lucic domestic violence case goes to trial on Feb. 16. Here’s the latest on the Boston Bruins forward.
Montreal Hockey Now: The rebuild is showing signs of life, but like all rebuilds, it’s been inconsistent. The Montreal Canadiens are taking the next steps.