Frustrating Thursday night for the Penguins.  Down 3-0 in the third, and during a stoppage of play, things started to get out of hand. It got so bad that captain Sidney Crosby started throwing fists and getting into a scrum. On top of that, head coach Mike Sullivan was ejected. Then, Kris Letang with an obvious cross-check after play had stopped. The Pens lose 4-0 and Mike Sullivan, not in the best of moods. Here’s the question-and-answer with reporters:

(question)
“Mike can you describe what happened there at the end?”
(Sullivan)
“no.”
(question)
“or what led to your ejection?”
(Sullivan)
“you know you’re gonna have nights where it goes your way you’re gonna have nights like tonight where it doesn’t go your way, and the most important thing is we respond the right way to those situations.”

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The Penguins beat the Rangers on Sunday, and the Pens had four goals from three different defensemen in the win. Kris Letang scored two of those goals, and he’s tied for first in the NHL in goals among defensemen, “that’s how we want to play we want guys to join the rush and support the attack we rely a lot on mobility out there.”

Matt Murray, out again. The Penguins goaltender is battling an upper-body injury that Mike Sullivan says is -not- a concussion. Today the Penguins recalled Tristan Jarry for their road trip to Florida. They’ll play the Florida Panthers Thursday night and Tampa Bay on Saturday.

Several Steelers are making the rounds during Super Bowl week in Atlanta, including JuJu Smith-Schuster, and JuJu is reiterating that he wants to see both Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell back with the Steelers, “Man that would be very hard, I mean you’re talking about two key players who have both impacts on offense with Ben and AB having that chemistry they built over the years, with Le’Veon in the backfield, those two guys are game changers I hope we keep both of those two guys.”

Super Bowl week is underway in Atlanta, and media day was actually media night. Front and center: Penn hills native and former Pitt star Aaron Donald. He’s a defensive superstar, and he knows the plan, to pressure and stop Tom Brady, “you got myself, you got Dante, you got Michael Brock, you got Sampson, you got Suh, that’s a lot of guys you have to worry about, so we’re gonna do our job getting after him. We got our secondary, they gonna lock things down, they gonna give us opportunities to get to him, we just gotta take him down when he holds the ball, don’t let him get comfortable, get him off the spot, and you know he’s a great quarterback, but you know you put pressure on him, just like anybody else, it will be tough day for him.”

There will be six Steelers players playing the Pro Bowl for the AFC on Sunday, and they’re all in Orlando getting ready for the game. As you might expect, they’re answering questions about Antonio Brown. Maurkice Pouncey was the most vocal this afternoon.
He says the alleged incident where a ball was thrown between Brown and Ben Roethlisberger at practice never happened, and just hopes it can all blow over, “Trust me I been in fights with guys at practice, you guys have seen it, you think I don’t like them anymore or I’ll never talk to them again? They’re my brothers, they’re my family, hell he took a couple hits at me. At the end of the day, you get past all that, it takes time. The stories you see right now, man, it’ll never get brought back up when everything gets right.”

The Penguins continue their road trip tomorrow night in Arizona, and Mike Sullivan was asked if he’s concerned with a drop-off in the recent results for his team, especially after the 5-2 loss to the San Jose Sharks:

“I wouldn’t suggest that we’ve had some pretty good games here as of late, I thought our game in Anaheim was terrific. We had the puck a lot of the night. You look at the L.A. game, we lose the L.A. game, that was disappointing, I thought we beat ourselves in the second period…we weren’t very good, and so that’s concerning.”

There was a significant announcement from a Pirates legend this morning. Pitcher-turned broadcaster Steve Blass says he’ll retire from the broadcast booth after the coming season. For Blass, this is the 60th year with the Bucs, and he says he lived out a dream, not only making it to the majors, but being on the mound for the final out of the 1971 World Series, “I’m excited about what’s ahead, but I will never forget all these 60 years being part of this organization, being part of this city, representing this city, representing the Pittsburgh Pirates, there’s no negatives.”

It appears that former Steelers offensive coordinator Bruce Arians will come out of retirement to take the head coaching job with the Tampa Bay Bucs. Arians retired from the Cardinals following the 2017 season. He’s been working as an analyst for CBS, but he’s the choice to lead the Bucs. They’re reportedly working out an agreement, even though Arians is technically under contract with Arizona through 2019. Meanwhile, current Steelers offensive line coach Mike Munchak is reportedly down to the final 2 for the head coaching job in Denver. Munchak is 58, and was previously the head coach in Tennessee for 3 seasons.

Steelers RB James Conner, who’s missed 2 games with a high ankle sprain, was back on the field today…sort of. Conner took two snaps without wearing a helmet. But officially, Conner was listed on the Wednesday injury report as “did not participate.” Still no way of knowing if he’ll play on Sunday. Here’s what Conner said about his status, “…these high ankle sprains, they’re deceiving, I walk around fine, I’m not limping around, you know, when I’m out there on the field, cutting and stuff, it’s just not ready yet, you know I want to go, but if I don’t feel like me, then I won’t be James Conner, so then i’m not going.” He doesn’t sound very optimistic, but we’ll see how things go on Thursday and into the weekend.
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