Benny and the Jets
by BMS on 11/25/11 at 06:35 PM ET
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.
Tonight’s game - the second of the Jets’ three-game road trip - comes at a time the Jets are starting to come into their own when it comes to an identity: a balanced team that can roll three solid lines fairly consistently, take a few too many penalties and give up a few too many odd-man rushes when the defensemen decide to pinch. That’s not exactly the formula to take your team into the playoffs, but there aren’t many that believe the Jets were destined to make the post-season in their inaugural year in Manitoba, are there? Really?
One thing the Jets seem to do well is score goals - it’s one of the few stats where they’re not dwelling near the bottom of the pack (they’re 9th). On the other side of the coin, they lead the league in the number of times they’ve been shorthanded, a clear indication that the on-ice discipline still needs some work.
There were some definite positives to take away to Wednesday’s loss to the Capitals, the main one being that the Jets managed to avoid repeated trips to the penalty box. The line of Nik Antropov, Andrew Ladd and Kyle Wellwood is rolling, and looked great in this game - especially in the first period, when they twice tied the game. I didn’t have high hopes when the Jets picked up Wellwood - nor, I’m sure, did many. To that extent, he’s done nothing short of annihilate those modest expectations - he has the second-most goals (7), is tied for the lead in assists (10) and has sole possession of the team’s point totals. With a goal and an assist in the 4-3 loss - and the assist was a beauty behind-the-back pass to Antropov - he was arguably the Jets’ best skater.
It didn’t help that the Caps’ big guns seemed to wake up Wednesday night - Alex Ovechkin came to life at times in Wednesday’s game, and the recently un-benched Alex Semin received a beauty of a pass from Ovie to start the game’s scoring. Nicklas Backstrom looked dangerous at times as well, banging away at Ondrej Pavelec to make the game 3-2, and Jason Chimera managed a pair of goals, including the overtime winner.
Both the Hurricanes and the Jets managed a single point on Wednesday in decent efforts, and both are tied with 20 points (although the Jets have two games in hand). The Jets need this one pretty badly, but if the parade to the penalty box picks up again, you can kiss their chances goodbye.
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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.