*Rumblings, musings & opinions*
1. Tampering Widespread: If a team is prepared to go hard after Mike Wallace and surrender a first round pick, agent Bus Cook should have a pretty good idea by the end of the weekend of which teams, if any, are serious about pursuing Wallace.
The NFL scouting combine is tampering central and it will be widespread this week like it always is. What Cook finds out this week might dictate negotiations with the Steelers. Wallace’s camp is believed to be seeking top-5 receiver money and are selling the 25 year old receiver as one of the most unique and dynamic receivers in the game who has yet to peak.
“I definitely think I need the money, ” Wallace told NFL SirusXM radio, while also saying he feels he’s “done his part for the team” and deserves to be paid.
Will a team bite?
Outside of Pittsburgh, there are some doubts around the league that a serious suitor is actually going to emerge, as this is an excellent group of free agent wide receivers and scouts have to see what others see in that Wallace is far from a complete receiver.
Pittsburgh wants to keep Wallace and will make an attempt to keep him at their own price, but if Wallace receives a big offer and bolts, the team won’t lose much sleep with another first rounder coming their way.
This is a management team who feels receivers are one of the easiest positions to replace, and the Steelers brass feels this upcoming draft is extremely deep at wide receiver. I had a team official tell me a few weeks ago, this draft sets up where the Steelers feel team’s will be finding gems at the wide receiver position in the middle rounds.
2. Rangers a favorable matchup for Pens? As things stand right now, who do the Penguins matchup worst with in the Eastern Conference when looking at potential playoff matchups this spring?
My Pre-Deadline top three worst matchups for the Penguins:
1. Boston
2. New Jersey
3. New York Rangers
The New York Rangers are the best team in the Eastern Conference with 81 points but Pittsburgh matches up farely well with them. The goaltending is close to a wash, the star power goes to Pittsburgh and the Rangers are a team that still struggles coming from behind and are not a factor on the power play. This order could change after the deadline and we’ll examine the worst and best matchups in the coming weeks.
3. Top-5 Power Play?: Pittsburgh quietly has the No. 6 ranked power play at 19.7%, big improvement over last years mark of 15.8%. Pittsburgh is looking for their first top-5 ranking since the 2007-2008 season when they ranked fourth in the NHL at 20.4%.
Looking back, that 2007-2008 team was loaded on the power play with Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby, Marian Hossa, Ryan Malone, Sergei Gonchar, Ryan Whitney and Petr Sykora. Some power play numbers from that group, excluding Marian Hossa who only played 12 regular season games with Penguins:
2007-2008 season (power play numbers)
Sergei Gonchar (8 goals – 38 assists – 46 points)
Evgeni Malkin (17 goals – 23 assists – 40 points)
Petr Sykora (15 goals – 12 assists – 27 points)
Sidney Crosby (6 goals – 21 assists – 27 points)
Ryan Whitney (7 goals – 15 assists – 22 points)
Ryan Malone (11 goals – 5 assists – 16 points)
4. Caps coach Hunter calls out Vokoun: The Washington Capitals are in free fall suffering a 5-2 loss last night to the Ottawa Senators, and they are just such a flawed team. At somepoint they have to break up the core of Alexander Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Mike Green and Alex Semin.
Ovechkin and Backstrom are going nowhere, nobody will give up significant assets for Semin and Mike Green is always hurt, so GM George McPhee is pretty handcuffed.
The Capitals are in 9th place in the East with 63 points and an intriguing story line from last night’s loss is Dale Hunter criticizing goaltender Tomas Vokoun who gave up 4 goals on 11 shots.
“They jumped on us. Tomas would like a few of them back,” Hunter said when first asked about the Capitals’ tendency to fall behind early in games. “He wasn’t as sharp as he should have been, and it’s in the back of our net.”
“We need some big stops early that’s part of the game and tonight we played a good, solid road game and we lose,” he said. “Goaltending is a big part of the game and we need good goaltending.”
To no surprise, the criticism towards Vokoun prompted a response from outspoken agent Allan Walsh who was on twitter last night bragging about Vokoun’s stats in his previous 12 starts, before his last two starts.
“I’m not going to comment directly on what someone may have said after a game,” Walsh told Carrera. “I will point out though that hockey’s great coaches throughout history never resorted to publicly singling out a particular player, blaming him for a loss. Where I come from, you win as a team and lose as a team. The oldest, most tired excuse in the book is to blame the goalie.”
5. Uncomfortably Close With Dan And Dan!: Great skit from the DVE morning show on Dan Bylsma and Dan Potash of FSN: