Lovejoy bumps Despres from defensive lineup
Winnipeg Jets' Paul Postma sends Pittsburgh Penguins' Chris Kunitz flying in front of Jets goaltender Ondrej Pavelec during the first period.
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WINNIPEG, Manitoba -- It took a week for Ben Lovejoy to get a spot in the Penguins' lineup.
Probably seemed like a lot longer to him, though. Mostly because Lovejoy is convinced he could have been there sooner.
"I felt like I played really well in the weeklong training camp and in the Black and Gold [intra-squad scrimmage]," he said, before adding, "We're a good team, and it's competitive to get into the lineup."
Lovejoy, who bumped rookie defenseman Simon Despres into street clothes for the Jets game, never said anything, at least publicly, about sitting out the first three games.
"I try to be a good teammate, no matter what," he said. "The past week and a half, my job has been to be the best player in practice and to try to earn my spot in the lineup."
He finally got it a the expense of Despres, who had an up-and-down start.
Coach Dan Bylsma said Despres' lack of "consistency in his play, consistency in his defending and his demeanor on the ice" helped to cost him his spot.
"In each of the games, he's done some really good things, and he's also had some blips and inconsistencies in his play," Bylsma said. "He's had good periods and followed it up with puck decisions and execution that weren't as good."
In addition to Despres, the Penguins scratched defenseman Robert Bortuzzo and forward Dustin Jeffrey.
Bad reaction to celebration
Edmonton rookie Nail Yakupov's celebration after tying the score against Los Angeles with 4.7 seconds left in regulation Thursday night got a lot of attention in hockey circles, much of it negative.
Yakupov scored from the right side of the net, then turned and sprinted to the Kings' blue line, at which point he dropped to his knees and skidded all the way to the hash marks in the Oilers' end.
It was, in many way, reminiscent of then-Calgary forward Theo Fleury's reaction to scoring an overtime winner in the 1991 Stanley Cup playoffs.
"I don't want to take away anything from the kid," Penguins left winger Matt Cooke said. "He's excited, he's young, he's got great energy for the game.
"I think there's a time and a place ... in the past, that's been frowned upon. Guys did stuff like that when they reached huge milestones.
"There have been great celebrations. Just not in Game 4 of the regular season [for a goal] that tied a game."
Ill-suited for Ottawa
Backup goalie Tomas Vokoun made his second start in three games Friday night, but it wasn't because Bylsma was upset with Marc-Andre Fleury or because he was playing a hunch.
Rather, it was because Bylsma had looked into Vokoun's history against Ottawa, where the Penguins will play at 5:08 p.m. Sunday and concluded that he didn't want to use him there.
Vokoun has won just five of 17 lifetime decisions against the Senators.
"Tomas' record in Ottawa is not really one we want to experiment with," Bylsma said.
New way to send message
The most striking signage in the MTS Centre Friday night might not have been visible to most of the fans and people watching on TV.
Jets left winger Evander Kane, who apparently makes a habit of carving messages into his hair, broke out a new one, albeit one that was covered by his helmet during the game.
It featured the letters "YMCMB," which Kane identified as the clothing line of hip-hop artist Lil Wayne, across the back of his head along with a smaller "EK9," a reference to his initials and uniform number.
Familiar face in new place
Jets winger Alexei Ponikarovsky had a brief, utterly forgettable stint with the Penguins after the trade deadline in 2010, then went from Los Angeles to Carolina to New Jersey before joining Winnipeg as a free agent after last season.
Like most players moving from a non-traditional market to one in Canada, he has noticed the difference in the depth -- and often, passion -- of their respective fan bases.
"Canadian markets have always been like that," he said. "The fans here are people who love hockey and were waiting for hockey to return for a long time. After last season and all the lockout stuff, it makes them even more hungry now.
"It's a great atmosphere to play in, this building. Everybody lives and breathes hockey."
First Published January 26, 2013 12:00 am