Alexander Burmistrov, Dustin Byfuglien

Think-tank sees bright future for Jets

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Will the new Winnipeg Jets fare any better than the original franchise? The Conference Board of Canada, which is a think-tank based in Ottawa, believes it will.

As the Winnipeg Free Press reported, the group thinks the Jets’ situation will remain “rosy” from now until 2035. That’s due in part to Winnipeg being a growing city that the think-tank believes will reach a population of 1.1 million by 2035.

“You’d be like Calgary, Edmonton or Ottawa right now. You could easily carry the three franchises,” said Glen Hodgson, senior vice-president and chief economist with the conference board. He’s referring to the Canadian Football league Winnipeg Blue Bombers and the non-MLB affiliated Winnipeg Goldeyes’ baseball franchise in addition to the Jets.

“Each (Winnipeg) team needs to be aware of the market. The market is constrained now with just under 800,000 people, but it’s growing with good momentum (expected) over the next three to five years. The population is bigger and income levels have risen — the fundamentals are all aligning now for the Jets.”

Naturally, you need more than just a growing population and locals with disposable income to support a franchise. Fan loyalty counts for a lot, but that’s an area that the Jets have excelled so far. Not only has the MTS Centre already been sold out for at least the next two seasons, but the waiting list is 8,000 people long.

Another factor is the strength of the Canadian Dollar. The Canadian franchises have enjoyed a dollar that’s been at roughly par with the USD for a while but, as Hodgson pointed out, if the Canadian Dollar was ever to drop significantly, the smaller Canadian markets might be in trouble. It’s worth adding that as recently as 2002, the Canadian Loonie was worth a little more than 60 cents American.

“Then it’s a different story, we’d be back in the bad old days. There is a cost disadvantage to being in Canada and having a payroll in U.S. dollars but your revenue is largely in Canadian dollars,” Hodgson said.

So at the end of the day, nothing is truly certain, but with one season in the books, there are reasons to be optimistic about the future of the Jets.

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.

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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.