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Jets Lose in Pittsburgh, Stupid Trade Talk Erupts Back Home

Ask most Jets fans if they really believed — in their hearts — that their favorite hockey team would beat the Pittsburgh Penguins in Pittsburgh, and they’d tell you, emphatically, “No.”

Heading into Sunday afternoon’s game, the Penguins had won 11 straight games at home. This wasn’t even going to be close.

The Penguins just had too much firepower.

The Penguins just had too much firepower.

But it was. The Jets even built a 2-0 lead after the first period and came back to lead 5-4 after 40 minutes. Granted, a mistake-and-a-half by everyone’s favorite target, Dustin Byfuglien, cost the Jets two goals, but in fairness, did anyone believe that if the Jets actually had a one-goal heading into the third period and were shutout in the third that they’d hang on to win?

“Pittsburgh is one of the most talented teams in the League,” the Jets’ Olli Jokinen told reporters after the game. “You can’t try to outscore them. You have to try to find a way to play good defense and make sure you get the puck on their goal line and on a few goals they made us look pretty bad. But we’re not the first team and we’re not the last team they do that to.”

Frankly, Sunday afternoon’s game was fun. After watching a Saturday game in Boston that was pretty much decided midway through the second period, Sunday’s game was in doubt right to the end. And you have to admit, Evander Kane showed a lot of people around the NHL that he can compete with anybody. On a day when Evgeni Malkin, James Neal, Sidney Crosby and Kris Letang were on display, Kane demonstrated pretty clearly that he’s an elite NHL player. When he wants to get it done, he’s pretty sensational.

Blake Wheeler. To Pittsburgh? Really?

Blake Wheeler. To Pittsburgh? Really?

Meanwhile, back home, some radio and TV outlets took seriously a blog rumour that Pittsburgh might have some interest in Evander Kane or Blake Wheeler. That is, on the surface, hogwash. To make matters worse, the morning show hosts who are part of the Jets local radio rightsholder TSN 1290, suggested on Monday morning that Blake Wheeler-to-Pittsburgh in exchange for teenaged defenseman Olli Maata would be a great deal. It would until you realize it’s just like radio hosts in Minneapolis saying, “Trading Dany Heatley to Winnipeg for that Jacob Trouba guy would be a good deal.”

Maata makes $900,000 a year while Wheeler is a $5.5 million cap hit and the Penguins are right up against the cap. I’m sure Pens assistant GM and capologist Jason Botterill is sitting in a meeting with all his charts, graphs and accounting spreadsheets  and telling his boss, Ray Shero, that trading Maata for Wheeler would be a good idea.

Frightening.

In the meantime, the Jets are now running out of games. After going 0-3-0 on the road trip, they are now 19-21-5 on the season — 43 points in 45 games. They are six back of eighth-place Phoenix, but while the Coyotes have lost two straight, they have four games in hand on the Jets.

The Jets have another big week at home: Tampa on Tuesday, Columbus on Saturday and Phoenix on Monday. Three wins are pretty much imperative.

This guy had better keep scoring.

This guy had better keep scoring.

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