Daniel Sprong laces his skates up the same as everyone else, takes the morning skate, warms up. Sometimes he plays and sometimes he takes a seat in the press box. Sometimes he blows bubbles.
Sprong is on the bubble of the lineup. That much is obvious. But, with his team on the bubble of being a basement team (two points out of that position) or a playoff team (4 points out of the eighth spot), and desperately needing better play ... maybe he should play.
The theory behind Sprong sitting instead of working through his NHL growing pains was that the Penguins were actively attempting to trade him. Without a trade, without a productive second or third line, and with the fourth line only now starting to contribute, it's time for Sprong to get another extended shot.
I'm sure that Sprong isn't the first player to blow bubbles on the ice like a third baseman waiting for Yu Darvish to deliver his next pitch. But, this looked to me before the game like a player who knew he was going to sit and is bored in doing so.
This wasn't Ian Moran showing off for the camera while mic'd up and singing Enter Sandman. This is a talented scorer the Penguins clearly still value enough to hold for the right trade or to work back into the lineup ... blowing bubbles.
There's a scoring problem. Trade Sprong or play Sprong and let him work through his problems. But stop letting him blow bubbles before sitting in the press box with a cup full of pretzels.
DON'T SHAVE DECEMBER
December 1, 2018: Most of the players on the ice have shaved their November beards and 'staches, and Sidney Crosby is still growing the caterpillar — and with good reason.
Despite the loss in Denver, Crosby's hat trick kept him rolling on a post-injury point binge. And after another goal to kick off December, in another loss, Crosby has 10 points in six games since returning from injury and is on a goal per game pace.
Roll "No Shave November" right into "Don't Shave December" and keep the upper lip warm, Crosby.
On the opposite end of the spectrum: Bryan Rust shaved his mustache away, but the results stayed the same. But, not all hockey players are as superstitious as the Penguins' captain.
JUST DON'T RETALIATE
It's been pointed out multiple times on our live files this season that the NHL seems reluctant to call the initial penalty. Particularly when Evgeni Malkin is involved. This was proven again in the Penguins' loss to the Flyers, a game that had tempers tested from the start.
Dominik Simon, a potential Lady Byng finalist in waiting, was slashed in the leg before throwing a punch at Travis Konecny. Retaliator goes, instigator stays.
Patric Hornqvist returned to his rightful place of terrorizing the front of the net and being abused away from the puck. Instigator stays, multiple times, with no retaliation.
Malkin went to the box across from Dale Weise as they received matching unsportsmanlike conduct penalties for continuing a confrontation that should have stopped a dozen or so seconds earlier. Both go.
The most peculiar case can be seen just above as Malkin was nearly hog-tied to the Flyers' bench by multiple players. To his credit, there's no retaliation which also means — you guessed it — no penalty. Play continued in the Flyers' zone for several seconds with Malkin attached to the bench.
This scene prompted a frustrated fan behind me to yell, "There's a reason refs wear orange." And that was the only time the fans at PPG Paints Arena smiled in the third period.
MATT SUNDAY GALLERY
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