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.”