It’s their first season in the Western Conference’s Central Division. But the Winnipeg Jets may have found a team to share a rivalry with. That team also happens to sit atop the overall NHL regular season standings.
The two teams were in particularly bad moods on Monday. The Blues took a 3-1 victory over the Jets, fighting for a playoff position and sitting 11th in the West, but it was a line brawl that erupted at the end of the game that garnered most of the attention.
There’s a reinforced belief that rivalries in the NHL, or any professional sport league, begin during a playoff series. The Jets, since moving back to Winnipeg, have yet to make the post-season.
But Monday was a good start toward growing some animosity with a divisional opponent. The two teams combined for 69 body checks and 114 penalty minutes.
A large fight broke out in the corner to the right of Blues’ goalie Ryan Miller. It started after Dustin Byfuglien took a run at Blues’ defenseman Roman Polak. Just prior to that, Winnipeg had called a timeout with only 10 seconds remaining and down by a pair of goals with a faceoff in the offensive zone.
“I don’t view that as any big deal, just those things happen,” Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock told reporters afterward.
“I thought it was a very physical game. I thought their team, for back-to-back (games), played very hard. To me, they had a lot of players that played physical tonight.
“They’re looking at this as this is their chance to get back in the race and they’re probably pretty disappointed.”
The Buffalo Sabres have recalled forward Justin Bailey from AHL Rochester.
It’s the first time Bailey, a second-round pick in 2013, has ever been called up to the NHL. The 20-year-old joins the big club after piling up 11 points (5G, 6A) in his last eight games for the Americans.
Most Sabres fans will know that Bailey is from Buffalo (technically, Williamsville), the son of former Bills linebacker Carlton Bailey. (To learn more, click on this Buffalo News story from July.)
The Sabres play Thursday in Philadelphia, before hosting Montreal on Friday. Coach Dan Bylsma has not confirmed whether Bailey will make his NHL debut during this call-up.
To make room for Bailey on Buffalo’s roster, Zemgus Girgensons (lower body) was placed on injured reserve.
Thing have gone from bad to weird in Minnesota, where embattled Wild coach Mike Yeo was “disappointed” to see Zenon Konopka’s rabbit holding a sign that read, “YEO MUST GO.”
Hey, we told you things had gotten weird.
Konopka, a former Wild player, took to Twitter last night after Minnesota’s latest loss.
Here’s what Konopka tweeted:
And what did Yeo think about that?
“I really don’t care what he says,” he told the Star Tribune, apparently adding with a laugh, “I will say I was very disappointed to see Hoppy holding that sign.”
Now, according to the newspaper’s Michael Russo, “Konopka and Yeo had a lot of issues behind the scenes and that’s why [Konopka] ended up on waivers two Januarys ago.”
Still, that doesn’t change the fact that a lot of Wild fans agree with Hoppy, er, Konopka, and it doesn’t change the fact that the Wild could really, really use a win tomorrow at home to Washington.
Nice work from Artem Anisimov and Matt Niskanen this week, but Connor McDavid‘s tally is on a different level.
You can pretty much bank on McDavid being in Goals of the Year, too. Just saying.
Laurent Brossoit is getting another crack at the NHL.
On Wednesday, the Oilers announced they demoted Anders Nilsson — who, earlier this year, was carrying the starting gig in Edmonton — and recalled Brossoit from AHL Bakersfield.
Brossoit, 22, is an interesting story. Taken in the sixth round of the 2011 draft (164th overall), he’s really made strides over the last year. He made his big-league debut at the end of last season and performed extremely well, making 49 saves on 51 shots in a loss to San Jose.
This year, Brossoit was named an AHL All-Star. He’s posted a 14-8-3 record for the Condors thus far, with a 2.70 GAA and .921 save percentage.
As for Nilsson, his demotion comes after losing the starting gig to Cam Talbot. Nilsson has also struggled to find the good form shown in November, when he made 10 starts and posted a .915 save percentage.
In his last outing, the lanky Swede allowed three goals on 10 shots in an embarrassing 8-1 loss to the Isles.