Where to watch/listen
|Time: 7:00 P.M. CDT|
|TV: TSN3, FS-N+|
|Radio: TSN1290, KFAN 100.3|
Nineteen games into the Pittsburgh Penguins 2018-2019 season, the team was sitting tied for the worst record in the Metropolitan Division with 18 points, and it was looking like the dominant Penguins team that has made the playoffs 12 years in a row might be in danger of breaking that streak.
At some point, goaltender Matt Murray had suffered a lower body injury, and didn’t play from November 17th to December 15th. Casey DeSmith stepped up, and filled in admirably in his stead. Things turned around for the Penguins. They went from a record of 7-8-4 to their current situation of 22-12-6 (15-4-2 since that game), and have won seven straight.
To put it mildly, they are playing dominant hockey.
The goaltenders have been playing well, with Murray bouncing back after a low start to the season. On the offensive side of things, Sidney Crosby continues to sip from the fountain of youth, as he leads the team in goals (19), assists (31) and points (50) in his 37 games of action.
The Penguins are also getting large contributions from Phil Kessel (46 points), Evgeni Malkin (42 points) and the recently re-signed Jake Guentzel (36 points, signed a six-year, $30-million contract on December 27th).
After a five game win streak propelled them to the top of the Central Divison, the Winnipeg Jets have been rather ho-hum as of late, going 3-3-0 in their last six contests, with their most recent effort a 4-3 win over the Edmonton Oilers.
Blake Wheeler and Mark Scheifele were recently named to the Central Division All-Star team, with Patrik Laine an option as a Last Man In.
Fortunately for the Jets, the Nashville Predators recently lost six straight, but have now won two in a row. Fellow division rivals the Dallas Stars are struggling to stay consistent, and the Colorado Avalanche are currently on a six game losing streak of their own. In fact, despite not playing their best lately, the Jets have the best record of any Central team in their last ten games each, allowing them to sit in top spot in the division with a two point gap and two games in hand over the second place Preds.
The matchup tonight will be a very good test for the Jets, going to face a team that beat them earlier this year, and playing terrific hockey.
Tale of the Tape
|Winnipeg Jets||Stats||San Jose Sharks|
|Winnipeg Jets||Stats||San Jose Sharks|
|3rd Central||Division||4th Pacific|
|5th West||Conference||8th West|
|Nikolaj Ehlers (11)||Goals||Evander Kane (12)|
|Patrik Laine, Mark Scheifele (14)||Assists||Logan Couture (20)|
|Scheifele (22)||Points||Couture (25)|
|Connor Hellebuyck (11)||Wins||Martin Jones (10)|
|Hellebuyck (2.42)||Goals Against Average||Jones (3.18)|
|Hellebuyck (.928)||Save Percentage||Aaron Dell (.897)|
|15.5 (24th)||Power Play %||19.5 (14th)|
|72.2 (29th)||Penalty Kill %||91.4 (1st)|
Pittsburgh Penguins Coverage: PensBurgh
In a brilliant power move, Sidney Crosby gave a Rangers fan who chirped him all during the Penguins’ 7-2 blowout win last night an autographed stick. https://t.co/PVdWNupK0b— PensBurgh (@Pensburgh) January 3, 2019
Last Jets Game:
Winnipeg Jets 4-3 Edmonton Oilers
Jets beating the Oilers? Just hook it to my veins.
Last Penguins Game:
Pittsburgh Penguins 7-2 New York Rangers
Crosby, Guentzel, Malkin, Dominik Simon and Kris Letang each had a goal and a helper, and Henrik Lundqvist allowed six goals on 18 shots.
Players to watch:
With Dustin Byfuglien on the shelf long term, and the Penguins offering strong offesnive depth, it will be on more than just the top pairing of Josh Morrissey and Jacob Trouba to shut things down. Tyler Myers and friends will have to step up. Myers’ ice time jumped by almost four minutes in the game against Edmonton, and more of the same can be expected tonight.
Five year, and 30-million is a big investment in a player. Jake Guentzel has seen the Pittsburgh Penguins invest a lot of faith in him, to go with all of that money. The 24-year-old is in the final year of his entry-level contract, and has benefited a lot...A LOT...from playing alongside Sidney Crosby. Now, I don’t want to call Guentzel a Chris Kunitz, but is he? I feel like almost anybody in the world would do well on Crosby’s wing. Sid is just that good.
How good is Guentzel on his own, and how will Guentzel’s numbers do when Crosby inevitably begins to decline? Will he continue his rise?
I look at Guentzel and am reminded a lot of Kyle Connor. A good player playing with great players. There’s nothing wrong with the contract, there’s nothing wrong with the player and the chemistry he has with Crosby. I just wonder how good he truly is, and whether we will get the chance to see him on his own.