Benny and the Jets
Call it Stupor Bowl Sunday, Super Bore Sunday or whatever else you want, Sunday’s Winnipeg Jets-Montreal Canadiens afternoon game at the Bell Centre saw one team play sloppy hockey and the visitors play even worse. Coming off a 3-0 loss yesterday afternoon – also at the Bell Centre – the Montreal Canadiens turned around and shout out the Winnipeg Jets 3-0. The Habs scored once on the power play, once shorthanded and once at even strength.
The Jets came out and played a hard opening half of the first period, but quickly had their energy slip away as the game wore on. A late first-period goal by Max Pacioretty sent the Jets back to the dressing room down a goal, and they weren’t ever able to right the ship, so to speak.
The Winnipeg Jets leave Florida with two of a possible four points – not the ideal situation, especially considering the two points they picked up were in a 2-1 overtime win against Southeast Division rivals the Tampa Bay Lightning. Rather than significantly close the gap on the Florida Panthers (to whom they lost 2-1 in regulation on Friday night) and Washington Capitals – both in their division and both ahead of the Jets – Winnipeg only managed to cobble together enough to keep things close in the race for the final couple of playoff spots.
It’s tough to gain any momentum when your team can’t put the puck in the net, something the Jets have been struggling with as of late. Snipe Evander Kane continues to sit out with a concussion, although he had been ice cold in his last ten or so games in action. The team only has six goals in the last five games, a number that won’t win you many games (although, miraculously, the team won two of those five).
Despite that wild 9-8 Jets win early in the year, last night’s Winnipeg Jets/Philadelphia Flyers game got off to a somewhat predictably slow, cautious tilt – heck, there weren’t even any shots on net until over halfway through the first period, and only 13 in total (7-6 Jets). It was, after all, the first game for both teams since the All Star break, so both teams needed some time to find their groove/calilbrate, so to speak.
Oh yeah, I missed the All Star action because of my trip to California – I trust it was as completely riveting a game of hockey as one might imagine. I did genuinely miss hockey while I was away, but took some comfort in the fact that I wasn’t missing a game so much as a glorified skills camp. That and the fact that I was visiting some darn nice wineries every day helped numb the pain of missing hockey.
Last night’s 4-3 shootout loss to the Florida Panthers must have been a tough pill to swallow for the Winnipeg Jets, as their Southeast Division rivals managed to get both of a two possible points despite the Jets completely pouring it on from beginning to end. the Jets managed 44 shots on Scott Clemmensen, who stole this game for the Panthers with some help from a three-point game from Kris Versteeg.
Greetings from the balmy Southeast Division - here in Winnipeg it’s currently -25 Celsius, but feels more like -36 when you factor in the wind. Um, at least it’s sunny I guess.
The Winnipeg Jets and Ottawa Senators had very different records for 2012 going into last night’s game at Scotiabank Place - the former had won once (in overtime), while the latter had only lost once (also in overtime). Yet in last night’s 2-0 victory over the Sens, the Jets dominated in so many ways. Did the Sens figure playing the slumping Jets would be a cake walk? Were these Jets finally ready to play a full 60 minutes of hockey? Who knows - I guess the answer is probably a bit of both.
If hockey games were only two periods long, the Winnipeg Jets might very well be the toast of the league. But with no signs of any rules being amended to shorten games in the foreseeable future, the team will have to do something to learn to play hard for 60 minutes, to use a tired cliché. Up 1-0 heading into the third period, the Jets once again blew a lead in the final twenty minutes of the game, falling 2-1 to the New Jersey Devils at the MTS Centre yesterday afternoon.
I tried. I tried my best to keep my attention on the Winnipeg Jets/San Jose Sharks game last night. As per usual, I was taking notes on my laptop, and as per usual I had Twitter open on my laptop as well. Suddenly I see that Mike Cammalleri has been pulled from the Montreal Canadiens/Boston Bruins game; it occurs to me that the Habs/Bruins tilt is on TSN, so I flipped over to see what was going on. Then it was reported that Cammalleri had been sent to a Boston hotel in a taxi, then that he had been traded, and then the confirmation came that my favourite Hab was headed to the Calgary Flames.
I’ve mentioned before that when the Jets v1.0 left I became a full-time fan of the Montreal Canadiens. These days I’m as far from that as I’ve ever been; watching that team self-destruct this season has had me shaking my head and cringing repeatedly. I wonder whether I was in some period of self-loathing in the mid-90s when I turned to the Habs, or whether I was stupid, naïve, or just caught up in the fact that they were the last Canadian team to win the Stanley Cup. Regardless, I’m regretting having made that decision now. (To be honest, a part of me was sort of hoping Cammalleri was headed to Winnipeg, although I’m well aware the Jets could use size rather than speed.)
Before the puck even dropped at TD Banknorth Garden, things weren’t looking good for the Winnipeg Jets. They barely managed to beat a complacent Buffalo Sabres squad over the weekend in a 2-1 snoozefest and were trounced by both the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens the week before. And on Tuesday night they were facing the ridiculous might that is the Boston Bruins - defending Stanley Cup champs coming off a close loss to the team they beat in last year’s finals and having lost Brad Marchand for five games. Only one of the two teams in Tuesday’s game was truly hungry for a win.
What can you say about the Jets’ 2-1 victory over the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday night other than the tale the stats tell? Well, I guess if you were an actual reporter, could talk to players, get the vibe of the arena, etc., really you could say quite a lot. Hm. Well, I digress. Both the first and third periods were scoreless, then the Sabres went up midway through the second period on a Tyler Myers power play goal as Blake Wheeler sat in the sin bin. Wheeler, however, exacted revenge, tying the game with five seconds left in the second period on a 5-on-3 power play. Johnny Oduya rifled the puck over Jhonas Enroth’s shoulder less than a minute into overtime, and there you have it - the Jets move past their terrible play in the initial two games of this road trip and pick up two points.
After two consecutive drubbings - a 7-3 loss to the Montreal Canadiens followed by a 4-0 defeat to the Toronto Maple Leafs - the Winnipeg Jets head south of the border tonight to face the Buffalo Sabres, an equally middling team only three points behind the Jets in the standings. The Sabres are 3-6-1 in their last ten, and are coming off a 4-2 loss last night to the Carolina Hurricanes. As Lloyd says in Dumb and Dumber: “So you’re telling me there’s a chance!”
There’ll be some changes to the Jets lineup - centre Bryan Little draws back in after missing eight games with bruised foor, while Alexander Burmistrov will miss tonight’s tilt with a “mid-level” injury, which perhaps explains his less-than-torrid play as of late.
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.