Nothing like a good ole heated blood feud between teams from Western Canadian and the Eastern Conference to really breathe some life back into Rivalry Wednesday, eh?
Here’s the thing about the Jets: They’re your classic case of a schoolyard bully taking their anger out on the other kids who can read or didn’t move around a lot. They’ve never really had anyone tell them good job or that they care. The only way the know how to handle their problems is to fight and take penalties. Their father figure, Paul Maurice, clearly has his own anger issues. Their support circle is distancing themselves. It may be time to face the reality that the Jets were better off in Atlanta. At the very least, moving back to Atlanta could bring back fond memories of a time when things like the postseason were within reach. Just a thought.
So yeah, the buildup for this game was Winnipeg looking for some level revenge on Evgeni Malkin for his hit on Blake Wheeler earlier this season. First of all, Blake Wheeler apparently lives in a world where he is somehow above being hit. His teammates in Winnipeg — mostly guys who don’t really excel at much other than hitting people — haven’t clued him in yet that it’s something that can happen to you in the NHL. That’s disappointing since Wheeler is the captain and all. Really makes you wonder what is going on in that locker room.
Malkin, for his merit, took responsibility for the hit and said he let Wheeler beat him up out of respect. Cagey move by Malkin to bait Wheeler into tiring himself out by throwing punches. Wheeler looked gassed and wasn’t the same afterward, registering only two hits the rest of the game. Malkin, on the other hand, would pick up two goals and an assist. Wheeler could learn something from this, but this is a Winnipeg Jet we’re talking about.
Back to Paul Maurice and his handle on his team…
Which leads us to the first period…
The first period had five goals, two fights, 43 penalty minutes and an ejection. The Jets went into intermission up 3-2 on the scoreboard, but like their dignity, they would soon disappear and it would be the last we’d see of them in this contest. They spent much of the period doing the exact opposite of what Maurice wanted them to do.
All Pens. Winnipeg, the gold standard for cliched Canadian teams who still operate in a world where fighting is a useful function of hockey, spent most of their time trying to engage Evgeni Malkin into another fight rather than playing defense, especially here in the second, where the Pens scored four goals on three power plays. Sorrey.
Justin “New Money” Schultz got the ball rolling with the first goal of the period, bringing the score to 3-3.
It was all Pens from here. Malkin sealed the deal later in the period when he made it 5-3.
The game was all but wrapped up when Jake Guentzel scored his ninth goal of the season to put the Pens up 7-3. This would be a good time to mention the Penguins younger talent, which is basically a group of guys who have been coming out of nowhere (Wilkes-Barre) for the last year. If a person can be an exclamation point, that would be Guentzel. Guy is just in the right place at the right time, all the time. Side note: Daniel Sprong scored four goals and three assists last night, so yeah, more to look forward to on this front.
Jets would get a garbage goal late from some garbage player. Whatever.
HAT TRICK CITY
Bonino responded in a big way, notching a hat trick, with two coming on the power play.
Malkin, probably the last person you’d expect to do the Gordie Howe hat trick, was everywhere in this one.
TOM SESTITO IS BACK
In a minute and two seconds of ice-time, Sestito amassed 20 minutes in penalties. That’s amazing efficiency from Sestito, who only had 19 penalty minutes in his last five games coming into this one. Also, finding a way to be ejected after only playing 1:02 is a great sign of unselfishness by Sestito. It shows he’s a guy who is really putting his team first. Here’s a guy who knows he gives his team the best chance to win when he is nowhere near the ice surface. Love the awareness.
- Sullivan confirmed after the game that Letang’s injury is not related to a concussion or his heart. Everyone knows the key to Letang’s game is more heart than brains, but it’s still good to know that both are still functioning to the best of their abilities. Sullivan called it an “upper-body hockey injury”, which rules out at least 50% of all hockey related injuries.
- Patric Hornqvist, on the other hand, does have a concussion. He must pass all of his specialized impact tests before he can prove he is ready to return at his normal level, which is everything from a goalie punching him in the face to him being hit by a car.
- Pens now have 15 goals in their last three games. Their 3.45 goals per game this season is the highest in the Crosby/Malkin era.
- Five for five on the PK.
- Edmonton up next.