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Dan’s Daily: Penguins Playoff Spot Gets Tight, O’Connor Surging



Pittsburgh Penguins, Drew O'Connor

The Pittsburgh Penguins’ playoff race is again tight. It is the week after the NHL trade deadline, which means about half of the casual fans again stop paying attention until the playoffs. We’ll shift the Daily’s focus to the Penguins playoff push, primary coverage of the teams chasing them, and the fun stories you’ll want to read. Jonathan Quick is setting up to haunt the LA Kings, the Tampa Bay Lightning code red, Ryan O’Reilly suffered a concerning hand injury, and 32 Thoughts dove into some of the NHL trade deadline deals there were not made.

When you work at night, 6 a.m. flights are the devil’s work. It’s one thing not to sleep much — I surely don’t — but the travel takes a toll. I remember getting home around noon, turning on the TV after I unpacked, and the next thing I knew, it was 5 o’clock. But since I worked the WPXI’s Final Word last night, my consecutive days’ work streak is intact going back to Easter Sunday 2019. That’s oddly important to me.

We had some good hockey talk on Final Word. I find it hard to convey as much info as I want. I guess I should start writing, eh? I’ll post the hockey segments later today.

Pittsburgh Penguins / Steelers, Pirates:

Pittsburgh Hockey Now: The Penguins’ win streak ended at four, but it was otherwise a good week for the team. Dave Molinari’s Penguins wrap.

PHN+: I won’t spoil the ending. — Ron Hextall’s biggest mistake as Penguins GM.

In case you missed it, Nick Bonino chatted with a few of us. He’s not outgoing, but we got a few smiles out of him. The last time we saw Bonino on this side of the hallway, he had a broken leg and a Stanley Cup. Now, as he said, “I’m fully bald.” Catch up with Nick Bonino.

And Drew O’Connor continues his strong play. The big man is pushing up on his ceiling. Mike Sullivan is noticing, too. Drew O’Connor rising.

Steelers Now:

There is mutual interest between Damontae Kazee and the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Here is something to watch — The Steelers had a few in-person talks with potential targets at the coming NFL draft.

Our boys were in Indianapolis. Nick Farabaugh breaks down the standouts from the NFL combine.

The football world’s fascination with workouts is insane to me. How fast does he run in shorts? How much can he bench? And many other questions more suited for a Tinder profile don’t interest me. But everyone else disagrees–so check our live coverage!

Pittsburgh Baseball Now:

It’s just spring training, but the Pirates win! The Pirates win!

PBN+: John Perrotto sunk his teeth into this one. How to develop two prospects for one job — more on the Pirates prospects.

There will be a lot of teams holding their breath during the WBC. And the Pittsburgh Pirates will be one.

NHL News, Penguins Playoff Race, & National Hockey Now:

WGRZ: GM Kevyn Adams thought the Sabres were soft. So he got Jordan Greenway and Riley Stillman. These Sabres are done getting bullied.

Buffalo is three points back with one game in hand.

NYI Hockey Now: The Islanders are ahead of the Penguins again but have played three more games. Stefen Rosner’s mailbag dives into the acquisition of Pierre Engvall and life without Mathew Barzal.

Washington Hockey Now: It was a wild deadline with a lot of selling and a little buying by GM Brian McClellan. Rasmus Sandin made a wild debut, including a sketchy first period as the Washington Capitals overwhelmed the Sharks 8-3.

Catch up on the chaotic week of the Penguins’ arch-rivals. I think McClellan did the right thing–his team might have made the playoffs, but they weren’t very good. Sammi Silber encapsulates the Capitals’ changes.

The Capitals are three points back with two more games played.

Florida Hockey Now: Sam Bennet and Sasha Barkov returned on Saturday night. Their impact was evident, and don’t count out the Florida Panthers.

The Panthers are three points behind the Penguins with two more games played.

Ottawa Sun: The Senators are charging behind a rookie goalie. Mads Sogaard was the NHL rookie of the month in February, and he’s reaching his goal as the Senators catch up.

Ottawa is just three points behind the Penguins.

Detroit Hockey Now: It’s over for the Red Wings. After 24 hours in a playoff spot, they crashed and burned. And it’s back to losing again for the Detroit Red Wings.

I’ll just say it (or write it), Steve Yzerman isn’t doing a great job. After six years of missing the playoffs and three years of Yzerman’s overhaul, Detroit should be further along.

Mental note to Penguins fans who shout, “rebuild!!” Six years can feel like an eternity, and they’re still not there. Will you stick around after the first two or three? Perhaps try to enjoy the success the Penguins are still fighting for because when it’s over, it can take a long, loooonnnngg time to recapture it. And you’ll probably never see a core like this again.

Rest of the League:

Vegas Hockey Now: Jonathan Quick shined as Vegas held off a furious push by the Montreal Canadiens. Quick is setting up to haunt his former LA Kings and do it with the rival Vegas Golden Knights.

Calgary Hockey Now: Flames fans have had enough. They booed the team off the ice after the latest loss. Hard times for the Calgary Flames.

32 Thoughts: The final NHL trade deadline stuff. Some of the deals that didn’t go down, such as Edmonton making a pitch for Timo Meier.