Benny and the Jets
by BMS on 12/02/11 at 05:25 PM ET
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.
Bryan Little scored the Jets’ only goal, had one of only two Winnipeg penalties, and overall was a force to be reckoned with throughout the game. Evander Kane had one of the two helpers on the goal, and continues to be a formidable presence on the ice, especially with his chip-and-chase play entering the offensive zone. His 12 goals is only four less than league leaders Phil Kessel and Steven Stamkos, yet he plays nearly four minutes per game less than either of them and has the least amount of average ice time of any of the leagues top 30 goal scorers.
I loved the reffing in this game - there were only five penalties called in the entire game (two against the Jets, three against the Coyotes), which resulted in a great flow to the play. It didn’t hurt that neither team took a pile of dumb penalties - in fact, the Jets really seemed to adapt to Phoenix’s organized, consistent play in a way that was sorely lacking against the Senators.
Now, about the confusing crowd. A large group of fans seemed hell-bent on booing Shane Doan every time he touched the puck. Yeah, they sometimes (and randomly) booed other Coyotes players too, but Doan was jeered loudly every time he was on the ice and/or touched the puck. I know that he expressed his desire to not leave Phoenix when it looked as though the Coyotes could come here, but what do people expect? He has lived there for fifteen years, raised kids there, become part of the community, etc. Somehow a vocal group of fans in attendance took that personally, I guess.
Then apparently during one of the TV timeouts the crowd decided to give Doan a standing ovation. He’s the last remaining player from the Winnipeg Jets v1.0 still with the same franchise, so I get that people get worked up about him one way or the other. You want to boo Chara or Pronger when they touch the puck, fine - their reputations precede them. You want to boo the entire Coyotes organization every time they touch the puck - go for it. But booing Doan was dumb - he never said anything bad about Winnipeg (to my knowledge), but rather expressed his commitment to hockey in Arizona. You know, the place he’s played and lived for fifteen years. As for his reputation, he’s consistently talked about as one of the most stand-up guys playing in the NHL today. Maybe giving him a standing ovation was dumb too, but that didn’t make it on to the televised broadcast which, thankfully, was only shown in Canada in the TSN Jets region (other than in Arizona, I guess - apologies to those watching there).
I liked Backhand Shelf’s take on the Doan booing/cheering - listen to Justin Bourne/Rob Pizzo’s podcast here (it’s in the first ten minutes).
Oh yeah, and I’m on The Twitter, if you’re so inclined: @bensigurdson
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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.