Wolski and Mueller fitting in with new teams

It’s always interesting when two players traded for each other face off against their former teams, but when it happens just days after that trade goes down I pay attention even more closely. Maybe it’s just the human drama behind trades that I’m fascinated with, the psyche behind going against ex-teammates you were just sitting next to on the bench. Do you hold up on the big hit, or do you put some extra oomph into it to show that you’ve moved on and this is your new team now? Does it feel good to score on your old team, almost like a jab at the team that that traded you away? Of course, some moves are made purely for business, while other can be a bit more personal so each situation is different. It’s still fascinating.

Which brings us to the Wojtek Wolski and Peter Mueller swap between the Avalanche and Coyotes. Both players were a bit of a headache on their respective teams, and new starts with a new team could be good for both the players and the teams themselves. The potential and talent level is comparable, so it will be interesting to see how each ultimately fares with their new team.


On Wednesday night, the same day he was traded for, Mueller scored a
goal for the Avalanche and impressed his teammates with his skill and
hard work. Thursday night, Colorado traveled to Phoenix to take on the
Coyotes in an arena where the fans are finally starting to come alive.
Mueller was booed everytime he touched the puck (I guess his
outspokenness didn’t sit well with fans), but it was Wolski who got big
welcome.

With 23 seconds remaining in regulation in a tie game, Wolski scored the
game winning goal with a nifty one-timer from the slot. I doubt Mueller
was given a big welcome by his former team, but Wolski made it a point
to stick around after the game to shake the hand of his former
teammates. But his immediate desire to become a leader on the Coyotes
that’s most impressive.

“I think we got a lot of chances, and I think it’s only gonna get
better each game,” Wolski said. “We’re all excited about playing with
each other.

“(Friday) we’re gonna address some (power play) stuff and try and
work on some plays, and I think that’s the biggest thing. When you know
where guys are going, it’s much easier.”

Comparing Wolski and Mueller for the rest of their careers with their
new teams isn’t very fair, but that’s just the nature of when two
similar players are exchanged. But for now, the two are already fitting
in with their new teams and have moved on from the trade that swapped
them.

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    Pens coach praises Murray: ‘He doesn’t get rattled’

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    Hot take: the Pittsburgh Penguins probably won’t deal with a goalie controversy going into Game 7.

    (Ugh, that’s a failed hot take … you can’t use “probably” in those things, right?)

    Matt Murray was fantastic at times during Game 6, much like his counterpart in the Tampa Bay Lightning’s net in a 5-2 win. Granted, there were some tense moments during the Bolts’ late-game push:

    Much has been made about experience, especially from those calling for Marc-Andre Fleury earlier in this series. It’s telling that the praise Murray draws sure sounds like what you’d expect from a “veteran.”

    “He has a calming influence,” Sullivan said. “He doesn’t get rattled. If he lets a goal in, he just continues to compete. That’s usually an attribute that usually takes years to acquire that, and to have it at such a young age is impressive.”

    Thanks in part to Murray’s efforts in Game 6, he’ll get a chance to prove his resolve in something new: a Game 7 in the Eastern Conference Final.

    Once again, his teammates seem pretty confident in this elimination situation.

    Lightning lament Game 6 effort, Cooper doesn’t blame disallowed goal

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    The Tampa Bay Lightning seemed to sleepwalk through the first two periods of Game 6, and waking up in the final frame wasn’t enough to edge the Pittsburgh Penguins.

    On the bright side, at least the Lightning aren’t in denial about that weak first 40 minutes.

    It seemed like everyone on the team more or less admitted as much in unison.

    Brian Boyle added that he felt like the Lightning tiptoed around this game. Jon Cooper often provides great quips, yet he was pretty matter-of-fact in this case.

    Many will linger on this disallowed goal for Jonathan Drouin, which would have provided a 1-0 lead for Tampa Bay in the first period.

    Let’s face it; that moment came pretty early in the game. To Tampa Bay’s credit, they’re not pinning the loss on that setback.

    Now they must set their sights on competing throughout Game 7 … and maybe earning some bounces of their own in the process.

    Read more about Game 6 here.

    Penguins force Game 7 after holding off Lightning rally

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    The Pittsburgh Penguins played with fire late in Game 6, but they also showed plenty of fire in beating the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-2.

    With that, this thrilling Eastern Conference Final will go the distance with Game 7 on Thursday.

    There are at least a few “What if?” scenarios to consider, especially for the Lightning.

    What if that offside goal counted?

    Jonathan Drouin played some fantastic hockey on Tuesday, yet his most memorable moment came via something that ultimately “didn’t happen.” An offside call on a goal review kept a 1-0 lead from happening for Tampa Bay:

    Instead, the Penguins poured it on during the first period and eventually went up 1-0. They then carried that momentum over through the second period, adding two more goals to go up 3-0 heading into the final frame.

    What if Tampa Bay played more like they did in the third period?

    The difference between the level of play in the first 40 minutes and the final frame were night-and-day.

    Now, you can make a chicken-and-the-egg argument here. Did the Penguins take their feet off the gas with that lead? Maybe Jon Cooper finally unleashed the hounds when the Lightning were facing a big deficit?

    Maybe it’s a combination of those factors; either way, the Bolts couldn’t come all the way back even after making it interesting. At one point the game was 3-2 before a Bryan Rust breakaway goal and an empty-netter put things out of reach.

    Both Matt Murray and Andrei Vasilevskiy faced plenty of tough chances and came through more often than not. We’ll see if there are any goal controversy rumblings, but each netminder came through at times tonight.

    ***

    Now the series shifts back to Pittsburgh for Game 7 with a Stanley Cup Final on the line. Excited and/or nervous yet?

    More: Great goals by Sidney Crosby and Phil Kessel.

    Sidney Crosby scores a superstar goal

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    With the Pittsburgh Penguins’ season on the line in Game 6, plenty of eyes are on big guns Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang and Phil Kessel.

    Those marquee names are really coming through so far as they’ve now built a 3-0 lead through two periods against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

    You likely already saw Kessel’s display of high-end hand-eye coordination (if not, check it here). Kris Letang scored his first goal of the series to make it 2-0 on a very tricky, well-placed shot.

    The highlight really might be Crosby’s tally, though. He left multiple Lightning players baffled and beat a very-much-game Andrei Vasilevskiy to beef that lead up 3-0.