Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby put on a clinic in Boston, and the hockey world took notice. Crosby’s Hart Trophy chatter picked up more steam. Even the Bruins shoveled some hefty praise toward No. 87. Bruins captain Brad Marchand also had a few shots for the flashy new superstars and soft NHL game. A few days after the Penguins’ playoff odds tumbled and they risked falling behind, the picture became muddled to the point of absolute mess Friday night. The New Jersey Devils won, and Brandon Smith laid a heavy hit on Connor Bedard that knocked the rookie out of the game. And Team USA had a golden time at the World Juniors.
This Penguins season is becoming more interesting by the day. The playoff picture is getting more crowded, not less, and if you demanded that I bet on the Penguins’ direction, I would have no confidence in my answer. The Penguins have a chance, but that’s all. They remain a dichotomy of players having a strong season, and overall weak team play.
Buffalo and Philadelphia. They need three points, including a win over Philadelphia.
But the Steelers playoff hopes are what you’re worried about today, eh?
Pittsburgh Hockey Now: I didn’t get to write a lot on Friday. The travel is taking a little toll on this guy, but we had a story no one else did. I thought Kris Letang’s comments on Sidney Crosby were worth building a story, but then Brad Marchand went on a rant about the game and how great Crosby is, “Not getting the credit he deserves.” Check it out — Coaches, teammates, and opponents heaped praise on Sidney Crosby.
And the NHL Network joined the parade.
“When voters for the Hart Trophy fill their ballots out, you get five names. I can’t think of five people more deserving right now than Sidney Crosby.” – @MikeKellyNHL
— NHL Network (@NHLNetwork) January 5, 2024
Here’s the pregame. Who might be in, who is out. Everything you need for the Ravens-Steelers game.
NHL News & National Hockey Now
Boston Hockey Now: More from Marchand, who said not to compare Bedard to Crosby yet, and the NHL is soft. Marchand held court in the Boston Bruins room.
NHL.com: The Carolina Hurricanes called up a prospect who arrived two hours before game time and then scored his first NHL goal. Carolina won their fifth in a row by thumping Washington to create the wild card chaos.
There are six teams within two points, seven if you add the Maple Leafs and expand to three points.
New Jersey Hockey Now: Part of that chaos is New Jersey, but that’s not the main story there. Reilly Smith’s brother Brendan laid a big hit on Connor Bedard, injuring the rookie phenom. It was a clean hit. Scrums ensued. You can see the hit here and the New Jersey Devils fallout.
TSN: Team USA was perfect. Canada was upset in the quarters, so we didn’t get much of a look at Penguins prospect Brayden Yager. Kalle Kangus didn’t score. And Emil Pieniniemi didn’t have a point in seven games as Finland finished fourth.
However, USA! USA! Here’s the gold medal fun.
Montreal Hockey Now: Canadiens prospect Lane Hutson was named the top defenseman of the tournament but also served some humble pie to a Swedish bully. In the waning seconds, someone tried to act stupid, and the 5-foot-10 offensive defenseman unleashed the fury. Remember that name, Lane Hutson.