Justin Schultz is a pretty cringeworthy topic around these parts, but I think we need to address the elephant in the room: Justin Schultz is actually playing some pretty good hockey for the Pittsburgh Penguins, and we should be happy for him.
In the first ever game of the 2016 Stanley Cup Finals, Justin Schultz contributed to a crucial goal by shooting the puck perfectly off of a Shark defender’s shin pads — in classic Schultz fashion — only to have the puck land perfectly on Rusts’ stick, who slapped it home making it 1-0 penguins. In all seriousness though, Justin jumped up in the odd-man rush nicely and created a scoring chance by doing what he’s been doing best, shooting the puck on net. Along with the assist, Schultz took advantage of the extra ice time he got from Trevor Daley’s injury by logging some important power play minutes. In total, he skated just under 18 minutes, the third most out of the Penguins defencemen.
Justin looked calm and relaxed on the blue line, something we’re not really used to seeing from him. It’s easy to continue to make fun of him as some Oiler fans may be angry with how he played with us, and jealous with how he’s succeeding elsewhere. But did we really expect anything different?
We can all agree that when Justin Schultz came to Edmonton, expectations were through the roof. This is understandable, as he was an all-star college player. The problem was that he was thrown on the team being forced to lift way more than he could handle. Not a lot of rookie NHL defencemen play on the top pairing. Schultz did though, and he suffered because of it. Things got so bad that he essentially got boo’d out of Edmonton. Schultz never got the opportunity to develop himself properly, but now he has.
I couldn’t be more thrilled when Schultz got traded. Mostly because I was sick of watching him set up the other team with one-timer opportunities in front of Talbot. But also,be cause I think Schultz deserves a second chance. He wasn’t getting that in Edmonton, and with the way things were going, it was unlikely that he would be getting it at all in the near future. This was a situation where it was mutually beneficial to cut ties with him.
But OF COURSE out of all the places to be traded, it’s Pittsburgh. A team where he could play sheltered defensive minutes behind a world class defenceman like Kris Letang. A team that’s been eyeing a second Stanley Cup for seven years. It’s pretty much a dream come true for Justin Schultz. All he’s doing now is playing his game. He has no pressure from anyone to put up points, and most importantly, nobody’s booing him during the pre-game player announcements. Although it’s easy to carry a grudge over to his new team, it’s nice to see him finally contributing and making a difference out there.
A few months ago Schultz was arguably the biggest defensive liability on our team next to Nikita Nikitin. But now he’s just three wins away from lifting the Stanley Cup above his head, something I feel would be hilarious, appropriate closure for Oiler fans.
North x NorthGretz Podcast
This week the boys are joined by the newest member of Oilersnation, Kyla the Intern! Chris recaps his tryout with the Edmonton Prospects baseball team, the gang talks about the resurrection of Justin Schultz, before diving into the season finale of 60 Days In, before jumping into another life affirming round of Ask The Idiots!
- Episode 21 – Down With The Sickness
- Episode 22 – A Very Podcast Birthday
- Episode 23 – Bonspiel Special
- Episode 24 – Farewell to Rexall
- Episode 25 – The Intern Games
- Episode 26 – Do You Know the Mullet Man
- Episode 27 – Chris’ Very Own Episode
- Episode 28 – Wasp Attack!
- Episode 29 – Bum Corn
- Episode 30 – Ball Water