The Pittsburgh Penguins continue to stack wins after beating the Columbus Blue Jackets in an entertaining affair. The Philadelphia Flyers are essentially left for dead. The Canadian media is on the Edmonton Oilers’ free fall and potential changes with a tribal drumbeat. The stories pile on the mess every day, including asking the earnest question if Connor McDavid could ask for a trade.
It seems like this season is six months old already, and yet the NHL trade deadline is still two months away (March 21). Perhaps the cessation of the constant barrage of COVID news will lift a weight from everyone’s back, though more than 3500 Americans died from COVID on Friday, which is just staggering and infuriating to me.
Pittsburgh Hockey Now: Penguins goalie Casey DeSmith lasted only 20 minutes in his first start since Jan. 5. He was activated from COVID protocol on Thursday–a move Mike Sullivan admitted was rushed. Despite pulling him after the first period on Friday night, Sullivan seemed to absolve and defend Casey DeSmith.
PHN+: Crosby got the hat trick. The Penguins played three different styles in three periods. We broke it down, laid out the positives, the tough love message Sullivan sent to Kasperi Kapanen (again), and dished the Pittsburgh Penguins report card.
Since Crosby netted the hatty, we also published a 50% off PHN+ coupon code: HATTRICK.
NHL News & National Hockey Now:
Sportsnet: All eyes are on Dave Tippet, Mikko Koskinen and GM Ken Holland. The pressure is acute. And the Edmonton Oilers have no place to hide.
TSN: Here’s the home run ball. Could McDavid or Leon Draisaitl get frustrated enough to ask out? TNT analyst Anson Carter’s answer included, “definitely…”
Philly: The Flyers are the other team in the NHL being left for dead. They’ve lost 10 in a row and now are missing two important pieces–Joel Farabee and Kevin Hayes for weeks. More bad news for the Philadelphia Flyers.
NYI: The Islanders have been on the way up for a few weeks, but they’re sooooooo far behind. Can they catch up? On Friday night, Scott Mayfield provided the turning point in a win for the New York Islanders.
Detroit: After hanging in there for the first half of the season, it’s coming undone. Another loss and another blown lead for the Detroit Red Wings.
Vancouver: Yes, Florida won, but goalie Spencer Martin got back to the NHL for the first time since 2017, and he was spectacular. A feel-good for the Vancouver Canucks.
San Jose: It’s a mixed bag in San Jose. They’re in a playoff spot, but no one seems to be that thrilled. As Sheng Peng writes, bad offense is leading to bad defense for the third-place San Jose Sharks.
NYI Hockey Now is completing a tribute piece to Islanders’ great Clark Gillies, who died Friday at 67. PHN will post it here shortly.