TIOPS DAILY FIVE
*Rumblings, Musings, Opinions*
1. The NHL may introduce both 3-on-3 play during overtime and the availability of a coach’s challenge as early as next season. 3-on-3 will bring excitement to the game in OT, especially in Pittsburgh where you can put Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang on the ice together in a 3-on-3 scenario, and the NHL has been behind the times in not having a coach’s challenge.
The league, though, will continue to turn a blind eye to the increased obstruction going on in all games as they remain more fixated on players diving than anything else.
Complaining about obstruction seems to be a lost cause but an intriguing area to create more offense, especially more offensive chances, would be to expand the restricted area for goaltenders to behind the net which would lead to goaltenders being unable to stop the puck behind the net on dump-in’s.
So many more puck battles off the forecheck would be won which would lead to scoring chances and the ability to trap in the neutral zone might be lessened as defensemen won’t have the goaltender as a security blanket to stop hard wrap around’s and d-men might be forced to cheat towards the defensive zone.
2. RMU’s Andy Toole at just age 34 is going to be a fast rising coach and will eventually land with a bigger program like Mike Rice did, but there’s a huge difference between the two — Toole is not a total nut like Rice is and doesn’t coach like one by any means. The way he’s composed on the bench is the type of coach I’d want my kid to play for. Count me among the group who like Toole because he’s not a lunatic on the floor like so many other coaches are.
3. Some believe the sky is the limit for the Steelers offense in 2015 but what might hold that group back is Todd Haley’s desire to prove Dri Archer was worth a third round pick as Haley was the one who pushed for the Steelers to draft Archer when the team had Devonta Freeman higher on their board.
It will likely take the Steelers one more year to realize Archer isn’t going to pan out and for now Haley is in the excuse making business for him.
“Dri is a unique talent because he is probably the fastest guy on the field wherever we go,” Haley said in comments to Mark Kaboly of the Tribune-Review. “At the same time he is in a little bit of a difficult spot because we have a guy in Le’Veon who is capable and you really want on the field as much as possible. In a lot of places where you have running backs coming off the field, Le’Veon tends to get stronger as the games goes on. You hate to ever take him off the field. I am a big believer of putting your best 11 guys on the field as many snaps as you can. That put Dri in a little big of a difficult spot being a rookie coming from a little smaller school.”
4. Tony Sanchez is batting (10-19) .526/.571/.947 with 2 home runs and 7 RBIs and has become the talk of spring training for the Pirates. “There comes a point in time people decide it’s time to get after it,” Clint Hurdle said Wednesday of Sanchez. “Tony knows his challenges in the past have created opportunities for other people. Tony has worked extremely hard. He has battled.”
Good for Sanchez for coming in and having a strong spring but never read anything into spring training stats and that’s kind of how Hurdle put it yesterday when speaking to reporters.
“We have to keep everything in context, but you pull for guys who’ve had to battle,” Hurdle said. “Tony has a gifted skill set, and we’ll just see how it plays out.”
Sanchez who turns 27 in two months, is expected to start the season with the big club due to a hamstring injury to Chris Stewart but the Pirates lack of trust in him defensively will continue to make him a player who bounces between Triple-A and the Majors. His best chance will be a full-time position change but he’s still a player at age 26 who hit .235/.337/.422 in Triple-A last season.
5. Ottawa Senators goaltender Andrew Hammond
has started his career 11-0-1 for the surging Senators and Hammond’s fairy tale start has put former Penguin Patrick Lalime in the news
. Like Lalime, Hammond has emerged out of nowhere and is threatening Lalime’s NHL record (14-0-2) 16 game unbeaten streak he posted with the Penguins in 1997.
Who knows whether Hammond ends up becoming a long-term No. 1 goaltender but more so than not, goaltenders who come out of nowhere like Hammond end up like Lalime — fringe starters.