PITTSBURGH (35-13-7) VS WINNIPEG (26-19-5)
THE PAINT CAN. PITTSBURGH, PA
7:00 PM EST ROOT SPORTS
Hello sports fans and welcome back to another exciting edition of “woo, western conference teams.” Earlier this year on the other blog I write for I was criticized by a Kings fan for having an “East Coast bias” and not truly knowing hockey, this was poured on me because I disagreed with his belief that Anze Kopitar is better than Evgeni Malkin… yet I’m the biased one. But seriously, Kopitar over Malkin?
I tell that story because it isn’t any bias towards the western conference that I or any of us here have, it’s just that you can’t really get fired up to watch the majority of the games against the West. You get more excited for a noon game against Carolina following a prostate exam than you do for 98% of western conference games.
Tonight the Pens have the Jets in town, a match up that over the last few years as resulted in a complete lack of defense. I assume this is the Jets strategy in general due to their lack of defense. The Penguins have had their own defensive woes this season for sure, but they are nothing compared to the lineup that the Jets have to ice every night. The Winnipeg defense then ends with their three door rotation of back-up goalies, because why settle for a starter if you can have 3 mediocre back-ups.
The real spotlight tonight will be on Calder Trophy nominee Patrik Laine. Of course there is another Calder Trophy hopeful in black and gold tonight in goal, but who’s counting. The truth is that even though Murray or Laine may when the popular vote with the fans, the main electors live in Toronto and will choose the other guy. Laine is having a great rookie season on a shitty team, currently sitting at 26 goals and 21 assists in 51 games played. Being just under a point per game on the Jets is good enough to be the mayor of Winnipeg. Personally I have liked Laine ever since he gave the infamous smile at the draft:
If that isn’t the best “it should’ve been me” face then I retire. I love how cocky Laine is, it’s what the NHL needs more of. Sidney Crosby is obviously great, but as it was discussed in our pensblog chat he has the personality of a cardboard cutout when it comes to interviews. Maybe it’s because I’m a millennial and I don’t care if people behave a “certain” way and aren’t good old fashioned Canadian boys. Regardless, having more personality in the league can’t be a bad thing. The NBA doesn’t crush the NHL in ratings because Lebron James is a stiff. They are cocky. They know they are good, and with the certain amount of that without the tipping point of arrogance it is fine. Even if they are arrogant, who are we to judge? I am so pissed at this Laine kid for saying he’s really good at hockey, while my ass sits here and types about how angry I am at this… we pay to watch the players play because they are doing what we can’t. We all love hockey, and if we could play that well then we would be. I honestly look forward to Laine’s future interviews with Pierre, and I look forward to Pierre saying “you were really flying out there” and Laine saying “No shit, I am fast.” It’s what the league needs.
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS:
Last game the Penguins opted to scratch Eric Fehr and replaced him with Rowney. I don’t know if they go that route two games in a row, though it wouldn’t surprise me if they are seeing how well they do without Fehr if they are throwing his name around the trade table. The rest of the lineup should be relatively similar to the previous game against Vancouver. The Jets lineup should be accurate, but to be 100% honest dailyfaceoff.com could’ve made up half of these names and I wouldn’t know the difference. Is that east coast bias? No, it is just a simple case of it’s fucking Winnipeg. Hellebuyck or Hutchinson will be in net since Pavelec is on IR, either way, it’s a back-up goalie so expect an amazing 54 save performance from Winnipeg tonight.
WHO TO WATCH:
FOR WINNIPEG: PATRIK LAINE
I know I already talked about him but honestly look at their roster, who else was I supposed to choose? Yeah they have Big Buff but let’s be real, if you’ve seen him play one shift you’ve seen them all. The Jets first line is the same way, a bunch of guys that I feel I should be condemned to hell for if I told you any of them were the person to watch. On the defensive side there is Trouba, who was linked to Pens trade rumors earlier this season but nothing made sense and obviously nothing happened. So just watch Laine, another bright star that will eventually be leading the NHL, but not as fast as he may think…
FOR PITTSBURGH: SIDNEY CROSBY
Thursday February 16th, 2017. Sidney Crosby records his 1000th career point. ROOT Sports shows some graphic they are all hyped for. NHL Twitter handle goes nuts. The game continues. We all realize that this was expected and we move on. Not taking anything away from Crosby or his accomplishments, it’s just the hype and build up of an event that was bound to happen is getting outrageous. Part of me wants him to linger at 999 for like 12 more games, but he is probably tired of answering questions about it so he will shove number 1000 down your throat early tonight and be done with it.
Tonight we get to witness Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Phil Kessel and Patrick Laine on the same shit of ice and it isn’t an All-Star game. What a time to be a hockey fan. It is unreal how much talent we are subjected to each and every night. Part of me hopes the coaches just let the teams go like they have in the past, because I would love to see this Penguins team open up full throttle against the Jets. It may be a case of the last goal wins, but either way, it should be fun!