Big opportunity ahead

- March 27th, 2013

PITTSBURGH — The Jets will play their second of a two-game road trip on Thursday night against the high-flying Penguins, who have only won 13 games in a row. The Jets have won 18 games overall.

Anyway, here are a few news and notes from a long day that started in Raleigh and ended in western Pennsylvania:

• The Jets players had the day off, but head coach Claude Noel met with the media at the team’s hotel in downtown Pittsburgh. Not much to report. Mark Stuart is “possible” for Thursday’s game, but it didn’t sound good.

• Noel was asked if he wants to keep this group together for its playoff run, trade deadline be damned. Said Noel: “We’re in a good place right now. We seem to have chemistry as a team, as a group. Those things throw a wrench in your group, and sometimes whether somebody goes or somebody comes in, there’s adjustments to be made and you just don’t know the reaction you’re going to get from your group. But I do understand the other side of it. There’s a comfort level you’d like to build on. We’d like to take some further steps. I’d have to sit down with Kevin (Cheveldayoff), and we’d have to discuss these things, and ultimately he’d make the decision that’s best for the hockey team.”

• If you’re a betting man or woman, put your cash on Al Montoya starting on Thursday night. That was the vibe Noel was giving off.

• I then checked out Penguins practice at Consol Energy Center. It was an optional workout, but Evgeni Malkin and newly acquired Douglas Murray were on the ice. There was no Marc-Andre Fleury, who got smashed into on Tuesday night against Montreal, but head coach Dan Bylsma said backup Tomas Vokoun was going to start no matter what.

• Pittsburgh’s 13-game winning streak is the fifth-longest in NHL history. The Penguins are 18-3 in their last 21.

• Former Jets winger Tanner Glass picked Pittsburgh over Winnipeg on the first day of free agency last year, and the fact the Penguins are basically the Stanley Cup favourite right now is why he made that decision. Said Glass: “I came here to win a Cup. One of the big draws with coming to Pittsburgh was it was an organization that was priming to win the Cup and it’s good that the management thinks that we have a good shot, to add a couple players like we have at the deadline here (Brenden Morrow and Douglas Murray). It’s kind of a shot in the arm to our group.”

• As I wrote about in Thursday’s paper, Pittsburgh has been a graveyard for the Jets and Atlanta Thrashers before them. Here’s the link to the story that highlights just how bad Winnipeg/Atlanta has played in Pittsburgh over the last six years.

Categories: Hockey

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