Expectations Game: Everything on the table for Big Ben, offense to deliver deep playoff run

 

Heavy Favorite Steelers The Miami Dolphins are coming to town in the cold (forecast calling for a wind chill of 4) to face Le’Veon Bell with the 30th ranked rush defense, a backup QB and an already depleted secondary (from the previous meeting vs Steelers) that could be without their top cornerback in Byron Maxwell who is fighting to play but has yet to practice this week. The Dolphins have allowed 985 yards in their past two games and have yet to beat a winning team on the road. There’s a reason everything screams a Steelers win despite the pummeling the Dolphins gave the Steelers two months ago that was dictated by the Dolphins ability to win both lines of scrimmage, the key area the Dolphins must win again and handily. The Steelers are the biggest favorite among the wildcard games, currently a -10 favorite vs the Dolphins. It won’tRead More »

NHL Source: Lots of smoke surrounding Penguins-Stars last month

 

Latest Penguins Buzz The Penguins entered the bye break believing that Matt Murray’s injury was very short-term. However, the million dollar question with the Penguins goaltending situation now is whether this little strong run from Marc Andre Fleury of late, named player of the week for 12/26 – 1/1, and another minor injury from Matt Murray has Penguins’ GM Jim Rutherford eventually going back to his initial plan A (before the season started) of keeping both goaltenders this season and let it settle out in the summer. It’s been no secret the Penguins in early December began signaling to teams they were open for business on Fleury but have been met with a limited market for now. Has things really changed in just a matter of days? “It’s getting awkward,”

Prospects Buzz: Jake Guentzel tearing up the AHL; Sundqvist/Expansion Draft Chatter

 

Prospects Buzz The Wilkes Barre/Scranton Penguins return to action Tuesday night vs Hartford and the month of December was all about Jake Guentzel tearing up the AHL. Named Rookie of the month for December, Guentzel posted 11 goals and six assists for 17 points in 10 games. Guentzel recorded multi-point games in six of the 10 contests, and had points in nine of 10 games. Guentzel enters tonight leading the AHL in goals (18) and points per game (1.31, among players who have appeared in 20 games). Former Penguin draft pick Kenny Agostino leads the AHL with 43 points. Over his last 17 games (12 AHL/5 NHL games), Guentzel has recorded 15 goals and 10 assists. Scouts felt in late November Guentzel was too good for the AHL and he continues to live up to that talk. Now the question is when do the Penguins make room for him in a full-timeRead More »

Latest Pens Buzz: Schultz’ Emergence a Game Changer for expansion draft & Latest Trade Chatter

 

Latest Penguins Buzz 1. A three year extension this week for Penguins’ head coach Mike Sullivan when he had a year and half left on his current contract was all about compensating him properly. The three year contract Sullivan signed last December had him among the bottom-10 lowest paid coaches in the game. Sullivan is believed to have received a significant raise that will pay him around $2 million per season, starting next season, sources say. With the debacle that Mike Johnston was, one of the comments that stood out from Jim Rutherford this week is that he’s come to realized that this is a difficult situation for a coach despite the top tier talent on the team. That’s what many have marveled about of the job Sullivan did last season in transforming the Penguins into such a dominant 200 ft team, while this season offensively so many players areRead More »

Pipe Dream or Possibility? NHL Insider touting Fleury – Trouba trade

 

Pipe Dream or Possibility? With the trade deadline just over two months away, the Marc Andre Fleury situation is starting to reach a critical stage. While the Penguins remain unsure whether a trade is even possible before the trade deadline as Fleury’s trade market is limited, league sources contend, Fleury being relegated to only starting against crap teams during the Penguins last stretch of games has Fleury more frustrated than ever with the situation, a source close to the situation says. A meeting is planned

Penguins-Blue Jackets Fallout: CBJ are Legit, Derrick Pouliot = AHL caliber defender

 

The Columbus Blue Jackets extending their winning streak to 11 games with a 7-1 win over the Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins, are the buzz of the NHL and rightfully so. In what was seen as a statement game to some, the Blue Jackets answered the bell with a thumping of the Penguins and this is no question a legit team in the east. The Penguins saw first hand as the Blue Jackets come at you with four scoring lines, a quick mobile D and have a Vezina trophy winner in goal. The Blue Jackets forward group lacks that No. 1 franchise center that you need to win in the post-season but this is a group of forwards that likely has the best combination of skill/speed/toughness in the East and built in a way like the Boston Bruins of the past that gave skilled Penguin team problems. The Blue JacketsRead More »

Pirates pushing McCutchen trade hard again, targeting Quintana in separate deal

 

Big Splash to come from Pirates? The Pirates ultimate plan this off-season was to trade Andrew McCutchen and his $14 million a year salary for a prospect heavy return that would have the Pirates putting that money into the starting rotation, via trade and free agency. Today the Pirates resigned Ivan Nova to a three year, $26 million contract, which averages out to $8.6 million per season. The Pirates top trade target, White Sox ace Jose Quintana is scheduled to make $6 million in 2017. It’s still early enough in the off-season where the Pirates Plan A could still fall into place by spring training. Despite the face the Pirates have put on in the past two weeks in telling anyone who will listen that they expect Andrew McCutchen to be a Pirate in 2017, the Pirates desire is to still trade McCutchen before the season starts. The team rightRead More »

Latest Pirates Buzz: Hudson signing has Bucs trying to move a salary in pen

 

The Pittsburgh Pirates on Monday made their first signing of the off-season for the Major League roster in agreeing to terms on a 2 year, $11 million contract with 26 year old reliever Daniel Hudson. In 70 appearances this year, Hudson had a 5.22 ERA, 1.44 WHIP and has nine saves over the last two seasons to go with 37 holds. But, what the Pirates love about Hudson is an 8.77 K/9 with a fastball that averaged 95.7 mph. Neal Huntington is not a huge fan in putting dollars into the bullpen but what he values is cost certainty and pitchers who can bring the heat. The Pirates get that with the Hudson deal for 2017 and 2018. The Hudson contract now has the Pirates 40-man payroll projected at $94-$95 million for next season which is nearing the max where Bob Nutting allows Neal Huntington to have it for theRead More »

Latest Pens Buzz: Coaches making decision easier for management on Fehr, Fleury

 

Latest Penguins Buzz What was most telling from the Penguins 7-0 stomping Monday night of the lowly Arizona Coyotes wasn’t the final score, it was the personnel decisions prior to the game. If there was an opponent to start Marc Andre Fleury and try to boost his confidence, it was the Arizona Coyotes. If there was an opponent to get Eric Fehr back in the lineup to try to get his game going, it was the Arizona Coyotes. Fehr was scratched for a third straight game and Murray made his third straight start and fourth straight appearance. Tonight it will be status quo against the Boston Bruins. Murray will be in goal, eyeing his fifth straight win, while Fehr sits for the fourth straight game. Has Mike Sullivan finally reached the point where he’s going to start rolling with Murray as his No. 1 the rest of the way andRead More »