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First Call: Is Antonio Brown leveraging Patriots opt outs? Penguins problems.


Wednesday’s “First Call” checks on Antonio Brown’s latest plea to get back into the NFL. Is he appealing to a former team once again?

We also talk about future plans for a Steelers draft choice and a former coach.

Plus, a look at how the Montreal Canadiens did in their warmup game after the Penguins lost to the Philadelphia Flyers.


One and done

The Penguins had their lone NHL hub exhibition game against the Philadelphia Flyers Tuesday. They lost 3-2 in overtime.

Just a few thoughts:

• Like in the regular season, the power play continues to be a mystery. Mike Sullivan is still struggling to best deploy all that talent in harmonious fashion. It went 0-3 on the night.

• The Flyers’ two regulation goals were the result of one stumbly defensive shift from Marcus Pettersson and one ghastly turnover from Evgeni Malkin.

It’s tough to pin either of those goals on Matt Murray.

Jeez! Do Malkin and Kris Letang get assists on that one?

• Early in relief, Tristan Jarry may have had to make a few more tough saves than Murray did, jumping right onto a power play. He also made a gem in overtime, before allowing Scott Laughton’s game winner. But I don’t see the need to have Jarry replace Murray as a result of this game.

• Malkin didn’t really wake up until the third period. But when he did, you saw some flashes of how well he could work with Jason Zucker as those two combined to knock in a goal that eventually forced overtime at 2-2.

The Penguins and Montreal Canadiens face off for Game 1 of their best-of-five series at 8 p.m. Saturday in Toronto.

Meanwhile, Montreal had a warmup game against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday, too. The Canadiens lost 4-2. Alexander Kerfoot scored twice for Toronto, including a shorthanded goal.

Canadiens goalie Carey Price had 19 saves on 23 shots.


Opportunistic A.B.

New England Patriots players are opting out of the 2020 pandemic season at a high rate.

Linebacker Dont’a Hightower and safety Patrick Chung are the biggest names. Those two defensive starters are three-time Super Bowl champions.

Running back Brandon Bolden, offensive tackle Marcus Cannon, fullback Danny Vitale and reserve offensive lineman Najee Toran, also have opted out.

However, combined with those defections and free agency losses, the Patriots now have $24 million in cap space, according to Boston Sports Journal cap guru Miguel Benzan.



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