It is still a jumbled mess in the Eastern Conference playoff race, and the NHL trade winds are blowing through a couple of Metro Division teams. The Pittsburgh Penguins are benefitting from some bad luck and bad vibes from those Metro Teams hitting the trade market, as well as getting some help from a rookie. Also in the Daily, the Philadelphia Flyers are a hardworking bunch that keeps finding ways to win, Marc-Andre Fleury made 40 saves to rob the Boston Bruins and earn win No. 549, and Jacques Martin is trying to add more accountability in Ottawa.
A Penguins off day on Tuesday was supposed to be a writing marathon and some Christmas shopping. It instead turned into a slog of writing and sleep. Nope, I have not yet bought a single present for anyone. I haven’t even put up a tree.
The present idea I’m struggling with is my friend in voluntary gift exchange. What do you buy a well-grounded hippie? Last year, he got a cookware set (trust me, it fit). I’m totally stumped this year. I thought about sending him and his wife to the Wheeling Casino for a weekend, but then I have to ask when they’re available and wait for them to figure it out. That kind of ruins the gift-giving experience, eh? Help?
Pittsburgh Hockey Now: The Penguins are getting some help with the emergence of young Valtteri Puustinen, and can Kyle Dubas work his magic with one of the big names on the NHL trade block (say, Elias Lindholm) to transition to the next era of Penguins competitiveness?
The Penguins kept Vinnie Hinostroza around for a couple of extra days but have now reassigned him and defenseman Ryan Shea to the WBS Penguins.
Steelers Now: A ripping good column by Alan Saunders. George Pickens is walking, talking, and pouting his way out of the Steelers’ future.
Pittsburgh Baseball Now: Yes! It was a good match, and it should continue until the player is done — The Pittsburgh Pirates re-signed Andrew McCutchen.
NHL Trade Rumors, News & National Hockey Now
TSN Insiders: The Olympics are more important to Canadian journos than American fans, I think. But the Olympic discussions elevated with “the” big meeting. The Carolina Hurricanes are shopping, as are the New Jersey Devils, who have money to spend and needs to fill before the NHL trade deadline.
New Jersey Hockey Now: Our James Nichols writes that he believes GM Tom Fitzgerald has re-engaged the Ducks on goalie John Gibson.
Boston Hockey Now: Here’s the postgame aftermath — I, too, would have liked to have seen Marc-Andre Fleury play in Pittsburgh, but instead, he stole two points from the Boston Bruins.
Philly Hockey Now: The scrappy Flyers. Ryan Poehling. A good match, and Poehling went off Tuesday night, helping to beat the Devils in OT. The supposedly rebuilding Philadelphia Flyers keep winning.
Believe it or not, the Penguins are getting some help in the standings. Trying to figure out the games in hand for so many teams is pointless, but they trail the Devils and Capitals by three points. The Capitals have games in hand on both, but through all of the darkness, the Penguins are still in the playoff hunt.
Detroit Hockey Now: A couple of slumps ended for the Red Wings this week. Alex DeBrincat snapped a cold spell, and so did Jeff Petry, but the Detroit Red Wings are middling.
The Wings have fallen back to earth and are in the wild-card picture. Just another team to keep an eye on.
Also, we have some good news for National Hockey Now. It took a couple of extra weeks, but we’ve hired a Washington Hockey Now beat writer. That market is one of two that have bedeviled us because there just aren’t a lot of sports writers floating around and even fewer hockey peeps. I got the text last night, and the offer we made was accepted (wives and children have to be on board–this ain’t an easy life). So, we’ll have that announcement ASAP.