Dan’s Daily: Penguins Face Old Problem, Coyotes Debacle Worsens
The Pittsburgh Penguins face an old foe and a colossal challenge Thursday that could end their legitimate playoff hopes. Greetings from the lovely Motel 6 and Celebrity retreat in Wilkes-Barre. We took advantage of the trip back from Newark Wednesday and detoured to a WBS Penguins game to put eyes on top Penguins prospect Owen Pickering and the WBS Penguins. We got an eye full.
Also in the Daily, the Calgary Flames seized their opportunity by beating the Winnipeg Jets to make the Western wild card a dramatic fight to the finish. Toronto is calling Zach Aston-Reese “a beast,” and the Arizona Coyotes debacle is only worsening.
I rather like Wilkes-Barre. For about $18, I got a drink and a massive roast beef sandwich at the arena. It had cheese and a dollop of horseradish. It was known as the “Roast Beast.”
We got a good look at the Penguins’ 2022 first-round pick. Unfortunately, the WBS Penguins are in shambles. More on that in the PHN+ story.
Penguins notebook: An old friend, Marc-Andre Fleury, could put the dagger in the Penguins’ playoff drive.
The locker room from Newark was sullen. Coach Mike Sullivan said the deflated team couldn’t dwell on it but conceded that the Penguins’ power play looks stagnant.
Fresh after his arrival from Finland, 2020 second-round pick goalie Joel Blomqvist signed his ELC.
PHN+: I think you’ll want to read this story because it’s important on several levels to the future of the Pittsburgh Penguins. We covered the WBS Penguins Wednesday, now including the org’s 2022 first-round pick. It became a full account of the rough state of the Penguins’ minor league team and 19-year-old defenseman, Owen Pickering, getting a rude introduction to pro hockey.
There was one player who stood out Wednesday, even during the crap storm, in a good way. I hope you’ll check it out.
NHL News & National Hockey Now:
Calgary Hockey Now: Calgary tied the Winnipeg Jets at 89 points for the final Western Conference wild card. It was a head-to-head battle, and the Calgary Flames won a dramatic playoff-style game.
Sportsnet: Why Zach Aston-Reese is playing like “a beast” for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Good on Zach. Go for it, kid.
The Arizona Coyotes debacle. They are now suing Phoenix for $2.3 billion because the city changed its mind and is opposing the new arena in Tempe. What a mess.
I don’t have time or patience to follow that nightmare in Arizona. ENOUGH! MOVE TO HOUSTON ALREADY. It’s not working. It hasn’t worked. It hasn’t worked in a long time. It probably will never work again. You can’t make a city give a damn, and you can’t keep shoehorning a team into a bad arrangement, and you can’t hold the rest of the league hostage while you try to save face for allowing a popular team to move as part of a forced southern expansion to grow the game. The team has hemorrhaged hundreds of millions over its existence, dragging down the salary cap and providing the Pacific Division a perennial doormat, but at least the Eastern Conference teams get a nice road trip and two points in January.
They’re playing in a college arena of a mid-major type program. They’re existing with paltry facilities and a city that knows they exist but genuinely, and I mean absolutely, does not care. Whew. MOVE!
Montreal Hockey Now: The Canadiens have a first-round pick late in the first, too. It looks like they’re wheeling and dealing for immediate help. Montreal Canadiens trade talk.
Philly Hockey Now: The NHL draft lottery looms large in Philly. A center sure would help. Here’s where the Philadelphia Flyers stand.
Florida Hockey Now: They’re smelling playoffs in Florida (and smelling something else in Pittsburgh). The Florida Panthers are closing in.
Colorado Hockey Now: Gotta see it — Nathan MacKinnon hit 100 points when he scored the game-winner.
Vegas Hockey Now: The bankruptcy case of Robin Lehner is getting contentious. He’s being accused of fraud. Here’s the latest on the Vegas Golden Knights goalie.
RMNB: And … the Pittsburgh Penguins rival is done. The Washington Capitals were officially eliminated from playoff contention.