Benny and the Jets
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.
Despite being a low scoring game, the Winnipeg Jets and Los Angeles Kings put together an exciting 61ish minutes of hockey, led for the most part by solid goaltending at both ends by the Jets’ Chris Mason and the Kings’ Jonathan Bernier. In the end, a scrappy goal from down low by Evander Kane just over a minute into the overtime period proved to be the difference, as the Jets picked up both possible points in a 1-0 win over the Kings in the two teams’ lone meeting of the year.
The Kings were playing their third game in four nights, so the longer the game went the better chance the Jets had of beating the Kings. Add in home ice advantage (a huge factor for the Jets – just look at their impressive home record and dismal road numbers) and the chances were good that the Jets would come out on top.
The Jets, well-rested since their last game on Friday against Pittsburgh, came into Denver and took it to the Colorado Avalanche, handing them a 4-1 loss that ended the Avs’ eight-game home winning streak. Much in the same way the Penguins came to town and had their way with the Jets on the second of back-to-back nights, the Jets didn’t see many daunting challenges from the Avalanche, who played in Minnesota the night before and then flew back to Denver after the game. Fatigued? Likely.
Regardless, Winnipeg will be abuzz with the fact that the Jets are currently in the eight playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, but should keep in mind that the playoffs begin in April - not December. Enjoy it, Jets fans, as there’s just as good a chance the team could be languishing on the outside looking in by this time next month, especially if their road record doesn’t improve.
When your two favourite teams are playing, who do you cheer for? I’ll have a chance to watch the Jets in person many more times over the years, but when the team moves to its new division/conference/whatever, we won’t be seeing any more of the Montreal Canadiens at the MTS Centre than we have this year. So, in theory, I should have been rooting for the lowly Habs in what will be their last visit here this season.
I just couldn’t do it. Maybe seeing the Habs in the state they’re in right now was a good thing - it became clearer than ever to me that this team has serious problems. While they managed a fair number of shots on Ondrej Pavelec, the ‘tender was equal to the task in the 4-0 Jets victory over the Habs. To his credit, Pavelec was pretty sharp, but the Habs just didn’t generate enough quality scoring chances. They looked completely lost.
I wear a lot of hats: copywriter, wine columnist, parent, hockey blogger, etc. (I need to wear at least one hat - I’m balding horribly.) Juggling all this stuff can be tough - obviously Daddy duty comes first - especially since I’m looking to have my two year-old boy drafted in the first round of the NHL 2027 draft (he’ll then proceed to win many Norris trophies). So while I did watch most of the Jets/Isles game, blogging about it just wasn’t in the cards.
The Winnipeg Jets beat the struggling Anaheim Ducks 5-3 on Saturday night in what was a predominately sloppy game. Jets fans, however, can be excused for not caring too much about their team’s caliber of play - on this night it was the return of Teemu Selanne that took centre stage. And the sold-out MTS Centre let him know many times that he still holds a special place in the hearts of this city’s hockey fans.
In a season already in turmoil - it was, after all, already known that the Jets would be moving - February 7, 1996 was one of the darker days of the original Winnipeg Jets. It was on that day that Chad Kilger, Oleg Tverdovsky and a third-round pick came to town from Anaheim in exchange for Marc Chouinard and the much-adored Finnish Flash - Teemu Selanne.
One of only three active players from the original Winnipeg Jets roster - the others being Shane Doan and Nikolai Khabibulin - Selanne is easily the most beloved player to ever don a Jets jersey (either version of the franchise). Dale Hawerchuk was one of my childhood heroes, and is probably my favourite player to have played for the original Jets, but Teemu is my favourite person to have played for the team. It just so happened he was also a freaking awesome hockey player.
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.