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Dan’s Daily: Ovechkin Politics Problem, Kris Letang Better

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Pittsburgh Penguins, NHL trade, Evgeni Malkin, Alex Ovechkin

To everyone who celebrates, Merry Christmas! There are fewer hockey stories this morning without any action on the ice, but we’ve got a good few to share. Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin passed Gordie Howe to become the second-greatest goal scorer of all-time, yet his climb tests our ability to separate politics from sports. Dave Molinari noted that Pittsburgh Penguins d-man Kris Letang has been a different player — a better player — since returning from a stroke. Bruins’ winger David Pastrnak had some fun chirping his linemates over recent goals. The Philly Flyers have had a rough go this season, and now Carter Hart might be out, and some good news, Capitals defenseman John Carlson was discharged from the hospital.

For all of my Steelers friends who went to the game last night, that must have been a memory. To brave that ridiculous cold, that trudging game, and the frustrating Steelers offense, but to get the reward at the end must have made an indelible mark.

I’ll have some thoughts on WPXI’s Final Word tonight at 11:30 p.m. (or after football).

Also, this week, PHN will launch a Season of Giving. I’ll publish the full details on how to participate, but I’m greatly looking forward to the opportunity to give back. We began on Thursday. For those who saw the Plum High School Make-a-Wish telethon, PHN presented the organization with a $2,000 check (I wish I had one of those giant checks!), and it raised over $57,000. We’ll be matching your donations to several great charities — details forthcoming.

Pittsburgh Penguins / Steelers, Pirates

Pittsburgh Hockey Now: Letang’s new dimension. Drew O’Connor’s mistake earned him plenty of bench time. Dave Molinari gives the good and bad of the current Pittsburgh Penguins’ lineup.

Vote! We had an initial technical error, but all is fixed (No, it wasn’t a stolen election). Which Penguins have surprised, disappointed, MVPs, most likely to be traded, your favorite new guy, most likely to turn it around — all of the fun stuff. The PHN Penguins fan vote.

Steelers Now:

“He was supposed to be here,” the Steelers’ emotional Franco Harris jersey retirement.

The Steelers found a way. They pulled out the 13-10 win, as Kenny Pickett led the game-winning drive. Steelers win.

Alan Saunders: And this is why Pickett was the first-round pick. That was big-time, Kenny Pickett.

There are far too many stories to link, but more Franco Harris tributes and game coverage at SteelersNow.com.

NHL News, National Hockey Now:

Boston Hockey Now: David Pastrnak is a character. He has the “Evgeni Malkin charm,” where you just don’t know what he will say next. He had some fun busting on his linemates — the Boston Bruins locker room.

Sportsnet: Alex Ovechkin’s goal chase is testing our ability to separate politics and sports.

Washington: It was scary. There was plenty of blood on the ice. A slap shot hit John Carlson in the face, and he was taken to the hospital on Thursday. He will be out indefinitely, but thankfully, the d-man was discharged from the hospital. The full Washington Capitals story.

Philly: Give the Flyers credit. They battle. Despite a patchwork lineup, they get after it. But now Carter Hart might be out for a while. What’s next for the Philadelphia Flyers?

Detroit: I guess this is a great compliment, not a little British backhanded compliment. Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper says he sees some of the Lightning in Derek Lalonde and the Detroit Red Wings.

NYI: The Islanders were near the top in the Metro before the Rangers, Hurricanes, and Penguins went nuts with long winning streaks and more winning streaks. The holiday break is coming at the right time because injuries are beating up the New York Islanders.

San Jose: Where are the top prospects? Fans are getting impatient, especially as the top prospects are playing well at the AHL level. Why isn’t William Eklund (drafted 7th overall, 2021) in the San Jose Sharks lineup?

Pittsburgh Hockey Now Editor-in-Chief, formerly 93.7 The Fan, Sportsnet Hockey Tonight, NHL Home Ice. Catch Dan tweeting @theDanKingerski and the official @pghhockeynow account.