Benny and the Jets
Sloppy. That’s the best word to describe the Winnipeg Jets’ play in a 5-3 loss to the Edmonton Oilers in the only meeting between the two teams this year. The first period was a parade of turnovers – mostly by the Jets, but some by the Oilers – that, miraculously, didn’t result in a goal.
The Jets looked better in the second period, and went to the dressing room after 40 minutes with a 2-1 lead. But the Oilers scored four unanswered goals in the third that sucked the life out of the building, and if there’s one team that relies heavily on home ice advantage these days, it’s the Jets. What makes it worse? It’s the first time the Oilers have won this year after trailing going into the third period.
Afternoon games always seem like a bit of a drag – the crowd’s never really fully engaged, teams often look sluggish, and the results aren’t often reflective of a team’s true potential.
While the MTS Centre crowd was relatively disengaged for parts of Saturday’s Winnipeg Jets game against the St. Louis Blues, it was still noisy when it needed to be noisy. Neither team came out looking overly sluggish either – and the 3-2 overtime loss to the Blues didn’t come completely out of left field.
It looked like Ondrej Pavelec was going to be tested often right from the outset of Thursday night’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning, as he sprawled to make a remarkable save on Martin St. Louis in the first minute. It brought flashbacks of Tuesday’s 5-4 overtime loss to the Philadelphia Flyers to mind – a game where Pavelec stopped 50 shots but was beaten in the final minute of overtime by Jaromir Jagr.
The Philadelphia Flyers are in town tonight to take on the Winnipeg Jets, who look to make it four wins in a row and a chance to claim top spot in the Southeast Division if they can scare up two points. The Jets have beaten the Flyers on all three occasions they’ve met, the wild 9-8 win being the definite, uh, highlight of the bunch.
Sunday’s performance 5-1 win over the Colorado Avalanche was admirable – the team played the body well, managed a pair of power play goals and survived a treacherous second period thanks to the goaltending of Ondrej Pavelec. Blake Wheeler had four points en route to earning the league’s second star of the week honours, an honour aided in no small part to the efforts of Bryan Little.
The Winnipeg Jets looked shaky at times, but in the end they had what they needed to beat the Bruins 4-2 at home, successfully winning back-to-back games for the first time this season. And it couldn’t have come at a more crucial time – with a stretch of games at home through February and just a couple points back from a playoff spot, it was do or die time for the Jets.
It took 65+ minutes of play to do it, but the Winnipeg Jets got a much-needed road win last night in Minnesota, downing the Wild 4-3 in a shootout in a game that saw a key player return to form. Evander Kane had seven shots, scored twice, added a helper and potted the shootout winner last night, and for the first time since being sidelined by a concussion in late 2011 was a truly dynamic presence on the ice.
In a 3-1 loss to the New York Islanders last night, the Winnipeg Jets were anchored by a toothless power play that managed two shots on three opportunities with the man advantage. Yes, “anchored” because this aspect of the Jets game kept the team from moving forward and essentially sank the team.
I know, teeth can’t have anchors - such is my frustrated state of mind after watching last night’s increasingly pathetic outing. I won’t even bother calling it an effort.
Tim Stapleton, Kyle Wellwood, and the Penguins’ Jordan Staal all drew back in to their respective lineups on Saturday afternoon, and each factored into the scoresheet. Having said that, it wasn’t hard to pick up a goal or assist in this game, as the Winnipeg Jets fell 8-5 to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Consol Energy Center.
Evgeni Malkin had five points as Ondrej Pavelec had one of his trademark stinker games – these types of performances by him are less frequent as of late but clearly still lurk in the shadows. Granted, he faced 39 shots, but he probably should have been pulled at the end of the second period at the latest, when the Jets were down 5-3.
After 40-some minutes of hockey, I was feeling like I had seen this Washington Capitals/Winnipeg Jets game before. This game appeared to be headed in the same direction as so many as of late this year – lackluster offense from the Jets, with Ondrej Pavelec’s goaltending keeping the game close before an inevitable loss. When the Capitals scored two quick goals, it seemed my suspicions were being confirmed – the Jets were going down on the road without a fight.
Then, with a 6-on-3 situation (a two-man advantage plus goaltender Ondrej Pavelec on the bench for the sixth attacker) and less than three minutes left in the game, Evander Kane scrambled forward and put the puck past a sprawling Tomas Vokoun. Still, I thought, too little too late
Finally back in their own barn, the Winnipeg Jets broke the Toronto Maple Leafs’ five-game winning streak with a hard-fought 2-1 win in a game that had many a momentum shift. At times the Leafs rolled into the Jets’ zone with ease, blowing past pinching/flat-footed defenders, while at other times the Jets handled Toronto’s finest with ease.
Phil Kessel started the scoring off by grabbing a nicely banked pass from Joffray Lupul, skating across the Jets’ defensive zone and blasting a wrister past Ondrej Pavelec for his 30th goal of the year. I don’t get a chance to watch Kessel all that much, but man did he look good out there.
About Benny and the Jets
Fifteen years ago, Ben's beloved Winnipeg Jets left town. He begrudgingly turned to the Montreal Canadiens for comfort and found none, and is now struggling to find a place in his heart for the Winnipeg Jets v2.0.
Ben is a Winnipeg-based freelance writer that writes a lot about wine and beer. Expect his son to be drafted into the NHL in 2025.