TIOPS MORNING BUZZ: THURSDAY EDITION
— The Toronto Maple Leafs whooped the Boston Bruins 6-1 last night and have won six of eight games going into Friday’s contest vs the Penguins. There might not be a more under-appreciated player in the league than Phil Kessel. Few guys come around who can score coming down the right side like he does.
Some Toronto reporters called it the Leafs most impressive game they’ve seen them play in years. The Penguins will likely be seeing a different team than they saw in the second game of the season. If the Leafs beat the Penguins, that city might be ready to plan a parade.
— The Penguins want to be a great puck possession team and you don’t need to be an advance stats guru to figure out they’re possessing the puck better with a stronger emphasis on zone entries. However, it remains to be seen if it’s for the better. Being a good puck possession team is important but the Penguins still need to be a team that is willing when they need to be to get the puck deep and be hard on the opposition.
— The Penguins handling of Scott Harrington is drawing some criticism from outsiders, including league executives I’ve spoken with. Early on it was understandable that the team wanted Harrington to be around the team when he was first called up but for a 21 year old defenseman, he missed valuable playing time in Wilkes Barre and not to mention ate up cap space for the Penguins when they had no plans to play him — At least the coaching staff didn’t.
— It’s been no secret that Nathan Horton’s career is likely over. Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch
has the details on the sad situation Horton is going through. If he gets the surgery, which he most likely will at somepoint, it will end his career.
— Pirates officials strongly believe newly acquired catcher Francisco Cervelli is an adequate No. 1 catcher if Russell Martin signs anywhere. In limited playing time he has flashed that ability. The problem is injuries have rarely given him the opportunity to show whether he can perform over the course of 110, 120 starts.
— GM Neal Huntington appeared on 937 The Fan this morning and was pressed about whether he thinks the Pirates payroll should be around $100 million. Huntington, as expected, wouldn’t divulge what the Pirates limit is and said the Pirates don’t reveal what they’re allowed to spend from ownership because it could give a “competitive edge” to other teams.
— The Pirates met with agent Alan Nero at the GM meetings who represents SP Jason Hammel, a source confirmed on Wednesday. Hard to say at this point if there will be a match but Hammel is among the primary four to five starting pitching targets, including Francisco Liriano and Edinson Volquez, that the Pirates are looking at.
— When Ben Roethlisberger
has a subpar game, It often highlights how fundamentally bad coached the Steelers are when it comes to personnel groupings and things like clock management. Ed Bouchette of the PG highlights
the confusion the Steelers offense had with personnel groupings vs the Jets.
— Mike Mitchell has not fit in well with the Steelers on the field or in the room and that was evident with Mike Tomlin going out of his way to call Mitchell out for his antics against the Jets and no players coming to his defense. If this was a player who was very respected in the room, Tomlin certainly goes about it in a different way when it comes to calling Mitchell out in public.