LOS ANGELES — The Pittsburgh Penguins thrived out west and survived a heavy LA Kings team for a perfect roadie. It was the first time they’ve swept the California trip since 1996-97. The Penguins also got good goaltending from Magnus Hellberg and good news on Tristan Jarry. The Edmonton Oilers are a tire fire that has a lot of lost looks and lost tempers, but no solutions. They lost to the San Jose Sharks on Thursday. There is a Metro Team that is a perfect match for the Oil on the NHL trade market, and some people need to worry less about being right and more about decency.
I suppose I’m going right at the over-the-top Jeff Carter hate on Twitter Thursday. Yep, he was going to be in the lineup. We’re not sure if coach Mike Sullivan would have put him in the lineup if it weren’t necessary, but it was a chance for him to play what likely was his final game in LA, where he spent 10 years and won two Stanley Cups.
I spoke with a former NHLer Thursday, who said of Carter’s potential inclusion in the lineup, “You have to.”
Lemme explain. Giving a player an emotional or sentimental moment picks up the entire locker room. It’s like a 4th grade pizza party. Everybody gets a little jazzed from it and shares in the moment. Look, everyone knows Carter is coming to the end. He might be discovering it now, but being scratched for a couple of games and watching the team win, but keeping a good attitude, is not easy.
The players notice those things. It helps the team. The Penguins’ fourth line was no better or worse for wear. And if you think Carter was the reason the Penguins were 3-6 before the trip, you’re being a wee bit overzealous with the issue. We all know the situation. It’s OK to go with it.
Pittsburgh Hockey Now: Tristan Jarry has swelling, but avoided the worst. Sullivan updated the Penguins’ No. 1 goalie’s injury status, as the Penguins also made corresponding moves to make salary-cap room for a backup goalie.
It was a necessity, but also respect for a team leader. I suspect even if it wasn’t necessary, Carter would have gotten a sweater Thursday night. And it wasn’t the wrong move for the Penguins’ lineup or Jeff Carter.
Bryan Rust scored one overtime-winner, but even he knew it was offside. He celebrated anyway, hoping to get away with one. Once it was overturned, he went right back at it and scored the real game-winner moments later. You can get Dave Molinari’s Penguins game recap.
Watch: The ever-popular, never rehearsed, scripted, or fluid, the 5-Minute Penguins postame.
The in-depth report card. From the LA Kings’ structure and the Penguins’ response to what should have been the Penguins’ structure. The player grades and the Penguins report card
NHL Trade Talk, News & National Hockey Now
SJ Hockey Now: Break up the Sharks. San Jose won its second consecutive game, 3-2, over Edmonton and, in the process, matched the Oilers’ victory total for the season.
Philly Hockey Now: Here’s how a Metro Division team can help out the freefalling Edmonton Oilers. Oh, things are bad and getting worse in Edmonton. They need to clear salary-cap space, and none other than the Philadelphia Flyers are peddling their wares on the NHL trade market.
Sportsnet: Heads were hanging low, chins were dragging, and the mood was dark. Guess who beat the Oilers on Thursday? The San Jose Sharks?! Mark Spector took them to the woodshed. The Oilers are broken, and everything should be on the table for the crumbling Oilers.
Montreal Hockey Now: The kids in Montreal are a scrappy bunch. They may not be in the playoff hunt by February, but they’re fun to watch. Cole Caufield scored the winner as former No. 1 overall pick Jarov Slafkovsky was benched. The Montreal Canadiens news.
Boston Hockey Now: Bruins center Charlie Coyle records his first career hat trick in Boston’s 5-2 victory against the New York Islanders, and it only took him 798 games.
Chicago Hockey Now: Connor Bedard didn’t quite need 798 games to put up his first four-point game in the NHL. Twelve proved to be the magic number, as Bedard had two goals and two assists in the Blackhawks’ 5-3 victory over Tampa Bay.
Sportsnet: Vancouver almost made a pretty, pretty big mistake at the draft. The Canucks almost passed on Elias Pettersson?!