The Pittsburgh Penguins were without their head coach at practice Wednesday, but it was for a good reason. Coach Mike Sullivan flew to Boston to welcome his first grandchild. As for the team, the Penguins are on the verge of entering the playoff seeds for the first time in months, and Dave Molinari makes some recommendations on how they can make the NHL postseason. Elsewhere in the Daily, the pressure on the Toronto Maple Leafs and coach Sheldon Keefe is getting intense. The NHL trade market is reportedly soft for Elvis Merzlikins, so could the New Jersey Devils capitalize? And Jesse Puljujarvi is rounding into form with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, posting two points and some nifty plays Wednesday night.
If you follow me on Twitter, er, X, you know my day in Las Vegas took a good turn. We started with a burger at In-N-Out before I did some work. Pending a team’s cooperation, the Hockey Now Network is going to expand in a big way. Things kept getting better as I visited a friend off the strip, and the bartender comped my happy hour tab. I finally got to Battista’s Hole in the Wall Italian restaurant, and it was great — $27 gets you three courses and a free carafe of house wine. Highly recommended.
And, when someone asks if you want to meet Wayne Newton, you say yes. Through bleary eyes, I saw his new lounge act. It was heavy on nostalgic videos and one-liners, but he let it rip a few times. I was struck by how hard he’s still working to build this new little show (I can identify). Bear in mind, by this point below, I’ve been up for nearly 24 hours, didn’t plan on attending a show … and I’m the least photogenic human on the planet.
Pittsburgh Hockey Now: Radim Zohorna cleared waivers, and the team recalled Ryan Shea. Chad Ruhwedel skated at practice, but Mike Sullivan did not. Sullivan was in Boston to meet his first grandchild. Here’s all of the important Penguins news.
So, how can the Penguins continue this push for a playoff spot? Dave Molinari laid out what the Penguins must do.
WBS Penguins: Jesse Puljujarvi scored a goal and set up another with a nice toe-drag move. The WBS Penguins lost, but Puljujarvi is warming up.
Steelers Now: I found this interesting–and honest. Diontae Johnson and Mason Rudolph are close. Johnson hopes Rudolph returns and wins the Steelers quarterback job.
NHL Trade Talk, News, & National Hockey Now
New Jersey Hockey Now: Reportedly, the market is soft for Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Elvis Merzlikins. Does that mean the New Jersey Devils can snag him?
Sportsnet: Some former players speak — what does it feel like when your goalie lets you down?
Daily Faceoff: The Toronto Maple Leafs are dropping in the standings, can’t hold leads, and the pressure cooker is getting intense for all involved. It was time for a team meeting yesterday.
TSN: Ouch. Keefe admitted he doesn’t know who to trust in key moments.
Detroit Hockey Now: Here they come. Walking down the street. They’re getting the funniest looks from everyone they beat. After a win Wednesday, that’s three in a row and third place for the Detroit Red Wings.
For those who got it, yep, I just dropped a 55-year-old pop culture reference.
Philly Hockey Now (+): PHN+ subscribers have full access to the network. Mid-season grades are in, and Jon Bailey dishes the player grades in Philly. The biggest surprise team in the league is, by far, the Philadelphia Flyers.