Benny and the Jets
Only four Detroit Red Wings were kept off the score sheet last night in a 7-1 thrashing of the Winnipeg Jets. In contrast, every member of the Jets was a minus save for Tanner Glass and Jason Jaffray, with Zach Bogosian and Evander Kane “leading” the charge at -4 apiece. Ouch.
Bryan Little’s individual effort - win the faceoff in the neutral zone, bust in over the blue line and rifle the puck past Tuukka Rask - proved to be the game-winner, but it was Ondrej Pavelec that was the real difference-maker in the Jets’ stunning 2-1 win over the Boston Bruins. The Jets halted the Bruins from extending a streak in which they earned 29 of a possible 30 points in the last 15 games; while the loss won’t put the Bs out of playoff contention, the win should further bolster the morale of the Winnipeg squad that has now won three straight and has a pile of home games on tap this month.
The Jets picked up where they left off Thursday against the Phoenix Coyotes, beating the New Jersey Devils 4-2 and putting together consecutive wins that move them within one point of a playoff spot. In a game where the Jets put together another strong team effort, fans can only hope that the team is gelling the way their game play might indicate with just over a quarter of the season in the books.
In a markedly better effort than Tuesday’s loss to the Ottawa Senators, the Winnipeg Jets (current, not former) unleashed a great team effort against the Phoenix Coyotes, blanking the desert dogs 1-0 in front of a boisterous but confusing crowd (more on this later). This was the best team effort I’ve seen the Jets put together over sixty minutes. Ondrej Pavelec was in fine form, turning away all 33 shots in a performance that was in complete contrast to this mediocre outing on Tuesday. He made some absolutely clutch saves when he needed to, and even got had of the strangest bounces I’ve ever seen go his way. Check it out here.
The Jets lost their third straight on Tuesday night, falling 6-4 to the Ottawa Senators in a match that had a few modest highlights: two goals each by the Sens’ Milan Michalek and Zack Smith, a pair by the Jets’ red-hot Evander Kane, and an unbelievable 12 shots (and no goals) in one game by Dustin Byfuglien. In a month full of ugly lip hair, it was nice to see the familiar (yet graying) moustache of Senators coach/former Winnipeg Jet Paul MacLean back in town as well.
The Winnipeg Jets have played 23 games so far this year, all but eight of which have been on the road. They’re set to settle in at the MTS Centre for most of December, with 13 of 15 games at home throughout the month. As a long-time Montreal Canadiens fan, I’m pretty pumped to have scored a pair of tickets to the December 22 game against the Habs (I tried, to no avail, to get tickets to the home opener).
So while tonight’s game is against the middling Ottawa Senators - not a team I’m particularly fond of - it will hold a great deal of meaning for me. Tonight I’m heading to my first NHL regular season game in fifteen years. I’ve been hoping I’d get to a game sooner rather than later so I can write about the atmosphere surrounding (and experience of) seeing the Jets play here in Winnipeg, so expect my thoughts either later tonight or at some point tomorrow.
In a game that had few exciting moments, the Winnipeg Jets managed to get the upper hand on division rival Carolina Hurricanes, winning the game 3-1 to collect two crucial road points and move
to a .500 record
closer to a .500 record (9-9-4) [EDIT: thanks to PuckStopsHere for the catch on my momentary lapse of reason - this, of course, is NOT .500 hockey]. I feared the worst when the Jets took two penalties in the first five minutes of the game, but they managed to calm it down and play a level-headed, responsible game.
Hot on the heels of an admirable 4-3 overtime loss to the Washington Capitals, the Jets head to Raleigh to take on the equally streaky Carolina Hurricanes in an important Southeast division game that, many months down the line, could determine who’s in or who’s out when it comes to the playoffs. Although really, the chances of either team being in the mix for post-season dates is pretty slim.
The voracious Winnipeg crowd didn’t get to razz Ilya Bryzgalov between the pipes, but their team managed a far more important feat, beating the Philadelphia Flyers 6-4 to win their third straight in a game that was as complete as any they have played this season. Penalties continue to be a problem for the Jets - they took eight in the game, including three in the third period by Evander Kane. But the Flyers were undisciplined as well, taking eight of their own in the Saturday afternoon match. The Jets’ special teams were strong, netting three power play goals and a shorthanded beauty from Jim Slater, and allowed two goals against while killing their own penalties.
The humiliation of losing to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday night proved to be somewhat of a wake-up call for the Winnipeg Jets, as they came out strong and rarely let up throughout last night’s 5-2 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning. Five different Jets (Andrew Ladd, Evander Kane, Dustin Byfuglien, St. John’s call-up Mark Flood and Tim Stapleton) managed to beat the Tampa netminder - Dwayne Roloson on the first four and Mathieu Garon for the fifth - in a game that saw a concerted, solid team effort.
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.