Good thing Winnipeg hockey fans are still just happy to have the Jets back or they might be disappointed with the line-up the visiting Penguins will be icing tonight at the MTS Center. Pittsburgh will be without Evgeni Malkin (knee), Sidney Crosby (concussion), Brooks Orpik (abdomen) and Dustin Jeffrey (knee).
Fortunately for the Pens, James Neal is still healthy. The big left winger has five goals in six games, a “thank the lord” start after scoring just once in 20 games last season following a trade from Dallas.
“Like I keep saying, coming in with a fresh start, going through camp makes a big difference,” said Neal when asked how he’s managed to turn things around (apparently he’s been asked a few times already). “I had a good summer. I’m shooting the puck well, playing with some good players.”
As for the Jets, well, they’re…not good. Three games, three losses. Five goals scored, 18 against.
“If I look at the three games and the way they went . . . are we achieving to the level that I think we should be? The answer would be no, we are underachieving. We are way below the bar,” Winnipeg coach Claude Noel said Sunday. “Why is that? Why are you, an NHL player, playing like an American league player?”
Guaranteed Noel used that last line in the dressing room. “Why are you, an NHL player, playing like an American league player? BECAUSE THAT CAN BE ARRANGED.”