As the Pittsburgh Penguins ready for the Winnipeg Jets, one has to wonder what that game against the Flyers did for or to the Pens. I am here to say, the Penguins left the ice tired, but ticked off and that could spell DOOM for the Jets.
Coming out of this weekend, the biggest thing the Pens could have taken away from the games other than the points, is the overall health of the team after 3 games in 4 days. Crosby and Letang both came out of the game healthy, though tired. Especially Sid. Coming back from that much time off, and then playing 3 games in 4 days is a lot to ask. The comeback the Pens had to endure also could serve as a galvanizing point for the season. That is a game they should not have lost, and the only reason they did is because the Pens got tired…”sick and tired” you could say.
The Flyers are none for being a bit rough and dirty. That really came out in the 3rd period and unlike the first 2 periods, the Penguins were not going to take any more of it. Though, if they would have just stuck to their guns, we probably would not be talking about this right now. Malkin was off the ice for what seemed like the entire period along with Neal both serving time in the sin bin. As a team, they just can not bite on that stuff. The Flyers were able to get under their skin and draw the Pens into a game that had a way to much stuff going on after the whistle. The only good thing to take from it I think is that it now turns into a teaching tool for Bylsma. Not to mention something he can emphasize so that it does not turn into that one thing other teams pick up on and use against the Penguins.
The Winnipeg Jets come into tomorrow nights game in Pittsburgh within a couple of points from the 8th and final playoff spot held by the Washington Capitals. The Jets are 5-4 and 1 in their last 10 including a 4-3 loss in their last game against the Carolina Hurricane. The Jets are led by winger Blake Wheeler, Evander Kane and defenseman Dustin Byfuglien. Although they have struggled of late, this is a team that has to play like every game is a one game playoff. I think the proper term to use is “Desperate.” These are teams that if the Pens keep their focus, can probably beat down after a couple of periods and pull away from in the 3rd. If you let a desperate team hang around too long, the momentum becomes very difficult to overcome as you saw in the Philly game on Sunday.
The Penguins have not announced who will be in net tomorrow night, but don’t be surprised to see Thiessen. I keep saying this, eventually I will be right. Today the Pittsburgh Chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers nominated Matt Cooke for the 2012 Bill Masterson Award. It’s traditionally given “to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to Hockey.” I am pretty sure that is not an award prior to this year, he would have had any chance for. But times have changed, and so has his game.