PENS SHARE PREDICTIONS FOR THE BIG GAME

February 8, 2024 Nick Hart
by CONOR DOHERTY

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. — In February, every professional hockey team is assessing its strengths and weaknesses. To compete with the top contenders in the “Big Game,” teams can be active in the trade market. Clubs might bring in help on the power play or add size on its blue line. All of the evaluations are done with one goal in mind: winning.

How to Get Ready for the Big Game

However, players try to keep these maneuverings out of mind, because they really have no control if their front office decides to move them or bring in another player who might end up taking some of his minutes.

To keep their mind off things, the players in the Penguins’ locker room will have their eyes glued to the TV on Sunday as the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers battle for the Vince Lombardi Trophy in Super Bowl LVIII.

For Jagger Joshua, Jack Rathbone, Garret Sparks, and head coach J.D. Forrest, the 49ers look ready to win their first championship since 1995. Joshua, a Detroit native, is still sour after the NFC Championship game, but sees San Francisco as the more complete team. Rathbone decided to go “off the board” and doubled down by picking 49ers’ tight end George Kittle as the game’s MVP. Sparks foresees a big game from 49ers star running back, Christian McCaffery, who led the league in rushing yards (1,459) and finished second among backs in touchdowns (14).

Forrest is relying on his son’s, Max, pick.

For almost everyone else in the Penguins locker room, the Chiefs’ offense looks too powerful to stop, led by two-time league MVP Patrick Mahomes. Mahomes and Kelce have been virtually unstoppable in the playoffs since Mahomes’ playoff debut in 2019. Since 2019, Mahomes and Kelce are 14-3 in the playoffs and have won two Super Bowls, including last season’s thriller over the Philadelphia Eagles.

Then there is 24-year-old Finnish forward Valtteri Puustinen. Puustinen, unfamiliar with the NFL and easily influenced by teammates, was told by a teammate that the Lions would win their first-ever championship on Sunday. After it was explained to him that the Lions are not actually playing in the game, Puustinen opted to jump on the Chiefs bandwagon.

Jack St. Ivany, an avid football-watcher, originally selected Taylor Swift as his MVP prediction before switching to the locker room’s consensus opinion of Mahomes. Among others who agreed with St. Ivany’s stance that Mahomes would win Super Bowl MVP over the 49ers for the second time in four years were Taylor Fedun, Vinnie Hinostroza, Sam Poulin, Marc Johnstone, Alex Nylander, Magnus Hellberg, and Peter Abbandonato. Austin Rueschhoff predicted an MVP performance from Kelce, who will be playing in front of his brother, legendary Eagles’ center, Jason Kelce, among others.

Regardless of the outcome, Sunday night’s game promises to bring a little bit of everything, from shirtless appearances by Jason Kelce to Taylor Swift cameos. Time will tell if there is a method to the madness of Rathbone and Sparks, or if the star power of the Chiefs (and their fans) will be enough to win back-to-back super bowls.

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