Connect with us


Dan’s Daily: SN Predicts Penguins’ Doom; Putin Blocks Russian Prospects



Pittsburgh Penguins, Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang

It isn’t much of a holiday break, but the NHL resumes Wednesday with 14 games on the calendar, including the Pittsburgh Penguins in their annual re-launch against the New York Islanders at UBS Arena. PHN laid out the Penguins playoff scenarios and the lines of demarcation when it’s time to cut bait. Sportsnet, however, had less than rosy predictions for the Penguins’ near future and summer plans. The Penguins’ prospects were quiet at the World Juniors, but Brayden Yager and Emil Pieniniemi were on the wrong end of the highlights. Lastly, authoritarian dictator Vlad Putin has decreed that Russian players, especially prospects, stay in Russia.

In my seemingly impossible task to stay in a convenient location for an Islanders trip, I’m staying in downtown Flushing. Home of the Mets, the U.S. Open, and a primary stop on the Long Island Rail system. It is quite a unique little suburb as it is almost exclusively Asian. It feels like another world–all of the signs are bi-lingual or in Mandarin.

But I allowed myself a little Christmas treat–an Aunt Annie’s soft pretzel at the discount mall across the street.

It brings back a fond memory. When my son was a baby (25 years ago), I ordered one as a snack because I had worked through dinner before meeting the fam for Christmas shopping. He was about six months old and didn’t yet have enough teeth to chew the pretzel, but he lunged for it and gummed the whole damned thing for an hour, happy as could be. No, I didn’t get a snack, but that chubby little face seemed pleased.

Pittsburgh Penguins

Pittsburgh Hockey Now: If the wise men followed the stars to the Penguins, they would bring three things to aid the team in the next 50 games. It’s not exactly gold, frankincense, or myrrh, but here are the gifts to salvage the Penguins’ season.

The Eastern Conference power rankings. The East is not as top-heavy or dominant as it has been in recent years. Are the Islanders better or worse than their second-place standing with a negative goal differential? Are the Lightning or Hurricanes better than their standings? Where do the Penguins rank?

I didn’t get much pushback on the Penguins slot, so I must have gotten it about right.

Where is the line for the Penguins and president of hockey operations/GM Kyle Dubas to pull the plug or go for it? Where is the line for the Penguins to be buyers or sellers at the NHL trade deadline?

Sportsnet: In their bold predictions for 2024, Sportsnet cast a dire outlook for the Penguins, including that dreaded conversation among the core players about sticking around or going on the NHL trade block. It is possible.

Only the most cynical or obstinately negative would have believed me if I had told you in August that the Penguins would be five points back, but the Flyers were in third place.

TSN: The WJC highlights. Neither Brayden Yager nor Emil Pieniniemi were on the scoresheet in Canada’s 5-2 win over Finland. In fact, it was Yager’s turnover that gave Finland a two-on-none, which changed the game when the Canadian goalie made the save. Pieniniemi was crushed behind the net, leading to a big Canadian goal. Here’s the story and highlights.

NHL Trade Talk, News & National Hockey Now:

Sportsnet: Fantasy hockey — Remember the first week of the season when the nattering naybombs of negativity were proven 100% correct as Tristan Jarry struggled and the Penguins should have signed Joonas Korpisalo? The fantasy hockey trend is to waive Korpisalo.

Montreal Hockey Now: Juraj Slafkovsky has been a wee bit maligned since being the first overall pick in the 2022 NHL Draft. The Canadiens surprised by passing up Shane Wright, but Slafkovsky wasn’t an immediate hit. However, things are changing, and the big kid is starting to produce on the Montreal Canadiens‘ top line.

Boston Hockey Now: The Bruins are still big-game hunting on the NHL trade market. They have Stanley Cup dreams but really could use a bit more talent. Is Chicago’s Tyler Johnson the answer for the Bruins?

Philly Hockey Now: I think it’s time for Russian players to speak up. The Russian “president” has decreed that young players, such as Matvei Michkov, stay in Russia. That’s bad news for the players and the Philadelphia Flyers.