Dave Molinari went one direction in the Pittsburgh Penguins locker room, I went the other, and we met at Rickard Rakell. The Penguins stumbling could open the door to very significant questions, and Dave wanted to know how the start had changed the team’s outlook and optimism. The first Stanley Cup champ to start 6–0-0 in a long, long time has problems on its top line. Jason Zucker suffered a significant injury, the scrappy Montreal Canadiens helped the Penguins by thumping the Buffalo Sabres, and a cool story on all of the new fancy stats from the NHL portal on the Colorado Avalanche.
Today is a fun day. Penguins’ morning skate means a coffee at Brother Andre’s (it’s in the basement of the church beside PPG Paints Arena), and I always look forward to that. The place has a great mission to “provide employment opportunities for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), ” and it’s just a good spot to grab a coffee (instead of the national chains). If you’re in the arena area, you should stop by.
Today is also the day I planned to set aside a few minutes to examine the Penguins’ schedule and book my January Vegas trip. I haven’t taken more than a day off in almost five years. I think Dan may take a couple of days to reacquaint myself with the food scene and the desert highway leading to Area 51.
The last time I went north toward Area 51, I was buzzed by fighter jets and followed by white SUVs. I was dehydrated with what I’m pretty sure would be considered heat exhaustion (the next step is heat stroke) while racing against the symptoms by going as fast as that rented Harley would go to get back to civilization. It was awesome. I’ll definitely take you along for the ride this time. Yes, we probably have different definitions of fun.
Just a reminder, this is the Daily Links. Click on the hyperlink to read the original story. That keeps the professional industry going (and without the professional side, the amateur side won’t exist either).
To the hockey…
Pittsburgh Hockey Now: No changes to the lines and only one tweak to the power play? Penguins practice update.
Win now, or feel the heat. It’s too early for proclamations, but the bad start leads to some uncomfortable questions in my Penguins analysis.
PHN+: How has the rocky start changed the rosy optimism in the Penguins locker room?
Snap Counts: The team made an unexpected change to the Steelers offense.
A former NFL QB is the latest to rip Matt Canada and the Steelers offense.
You may have noticed Aaron Donald didn’t disrupt the offense as much as we expected. Here’s how the Steelers’ offensive line did it.
Pittsburgh Baseball Now:
WHAT THE?! A former Pirates pitcher is charged with murder. Get this bit of shocking Pirates news.
The countdown with full analysis and exposition of the kids in the system. Up to No. 20, Lonnie White Jr. has tons of promise but mounting injuries. Here’s our continuing coverage of the Pirates prospects.
NHL News & National Hockey Now:
Burn City Sports: Logan Cooley’s Coyote’s linemate and former Penguins winger, Jason Zucker, suffered a lower-body injury and is out week to week.
That’s a shame for Zucker and Cooley. Hopefully, Arizona has someone to step in beside Cooley, and the Pittsburgh kid can keep his hot start going. And hopefully, this isn’t the start of more injuries for Zucker.
Montreal Hockey Now: Any Sabres loss is good news for the Penguins. Those scrappy Habs took it to Buffalo as Brendan Gallagher showed up, and Jake Allen is resurgent. The Montreal Canadiens win.
Philly Hockey Now: You’ll never admit it, but I think some of you are jealous of the Flyers’ tear-it-down, start over, get as many prospects as possible, and rebuild. Sam Carchidi has been holding the fort in Philly for a few weeks while Chuck Bausman recovers from a lower-body injury, and Sam writes about the quick and vast improvement in the Flyers prospects.
Matvei Michkov. The kid looked like he was 90 pounds at the draft, but he’s going to be a player … if he can escape from Russia.
Boston Hockey Now: Jake DeBrusk was a scratch in the Bruins last game. He missed a team meeting by oversleeping, but the Boston Bruins winger made no excuses.
Colorado Hockey Now: Keeping eyes on a Stanley Cup contender (and a Nova Scotia boy), some interesting stats from the new NHL player hub for the Colorado Avalanche.
San Jose Hockey Now: Our buddy Sheng Peng reports the Sharks are embarrassed. They’re pretty bad this season (again), but Filip Forsberg bowled Sharks goalie MacKenzie Blackwood with a few minutes to go in the game, but … no one responded. The coach and leaders apologized and took their San Jose Sharks to task.
The Athletic ($): The Columbus Blue Jackets have too many defensemen. They don’t want all of them, and even some young guys are on the NHL trade block.
Life is good for the perfect 6-0-0 VGK, but Ivan Barbashev is stumbling out of the gate, and Jack Eichel is shooting the puck as if he’ll never see the puck again. Coach Bruce Cassidy expects more from the Vegas Golden Knights’ top line.