Player of the Night: Blake Wheeler
The second hat trick of Blake Wheeler’s sorely underrated career is also the fastest trio in the history of the Atlanta Thrashers/Winnipeg Jets. It’s fitting to mention the Thrashers, as it might be tough to believe that Wheeler actually suited up for that woebegotten rendition of the franchise.
Wheeler had been productive in his previous nine games with eight points, but only one of them came via a goal, until Sunday’s explosive stretch. In just 4:20 of time, the Jets scored four goals, and Wheeler scored three of them.
Consider the Wheeler entry as a companion piece to “factoid of the night,” as he helped set some franchise marks during a first period that served as a rude introduction for Casey DeSmith and a short showing from Matt Murray.
Highlight of the Night: Blake Wheeler, again
Really, it’s the third of Wheeler’s three tallies that is the best highlight, as he makes Kris Letang look like an ordinary defenseman (or a guy who’s still fighting back from injury issues?). Still, take a moment to soak in the impressiveness of his hat trick, as he showed some Pavelskian hand-eye coordination on some deflections, too:
(Can we make “Pavelskian” a thing?)
Factoid of the Night, not Wheeler division: After sitting out a month with wrist issues, Ryan Miller helped the Anaheim Ducks eke out a 4-3 shootout win against the Carolina Hurricanes on Sunday.
That included an impressive nine saves during overtime, but Miller also padded his shootout wins record, which might force us to consider shootouts “Miller Time.”
Scores and more
Added bonus: A Getty Images shot of Wheeler (still with the Jets) and Ryan Miller with the Buffalo Sabres, to remind you that Wheeler’s been at this a long time: