Benny and the Jets
by BMS on 12/16/11 at 02:38 PM ET
Tuesday’s game against the Minnesota Wild - a game the Jets won 2-1 - was a great example of how a low-scoring game can still be exciting to watch. Energized fans, a great transition game by both teams and some stellar goaltending made it hard to look away.
Last night’s 1-0 loss to the Washington Capitals falls on the other end of the spectrum when it comes to low-scoring games - the MTS Centre crowd wasn’t a factor and both teams seemed slightly listless all the way through. Confession - for a few minutes in the third period, I actually fell asleep while watching the game. I woke up when Alexander Ovechkin potted the game’s loan goal with less than two minutes to play - either that or I think maybe my snoring woke me up around that time. Regardless, I hit rewind on my PVR and got myself caught up on what I had missed while napping. It wasn’t much.
The Caps effectively neutralized Evander Kane for most of the game, and Bryan Little didn’t have many great chances either. In fact, most of the Jets’ best chances came courtesy of Blake Wheeler, who (like he often does) hit the gas and brought the puck in wide on many occasions. Eric Fehr saw his ice time increase, playing over 14 minutes and registering four shots on net. Tanner Glass and his linemates were frequently tasked with handling Ovechkin’s line, and did so pretty effectively. The big body of Nik Antropov and the quick skating of Alexander Burmistrov were certainly missed up front against a team with as many fast skaters as the Caps. Still no Antti Miettinen in the lineup, although apparently it’s possible he might draw in tomorrow against that other Finnish player. More on that in a bit.
Defensively, the Jets played a pretty solid game, and weren’t caught in too many odd-man situations throughout the game. Mark Stuart was great despite playing just under 15 minutes, and Johnny Oduya put in a pretty respectable effort as well. But the guy the Jets continue to lean on at the blue line is Zach Bogosian. While he registered just his first goal of the year against the Wild, he’s pretty much been put in charge of the Jets’ power play and was second only to Dustin Byfuglien in ice time for the Jets last night.
The Jets dominated for stretches of the first period, but Michal Neuvirth was equal to the task. He turned away all 26 of the Jets’ shots in a strong effort. The Capitals showed the most spark out of the gate to start the second period, and had many chances to jump out to the lead as a result. Mirroring Neuvirth’s effort, Ondrej Pavelec was also solid between the pipes, turning away 27 of 28 - it was just that one writst shot by Ovechkin late in the game where Pavelec couldn’t quite squeeze the puck hard enough to keep it out of the net. Last weekend’s drubbing in Detroit aside, Pavelec seems to have found his game again.
The Jets did well to stay out of the penalty box through most of the game; the first penalty called against them didn’t come until late in the second, when Johnny Oduya was called for a slash. In fact, the lack of penalties - six in total, with two against the Jets - says something about two things: how this game was reffed (fairly hands off, which is just fine) and the game’s overall intensity level.
The only time the crowd really seemed engaged in this game was whenever Ovechkin had the puck on his stick - last night he was chosen as recipient of the crowd’s seemingly random chorus of boos (on Tuesday, that honour went to the Minnesota Wild’s Dany Heatley). Ovechkin has never really done anything to rub Jets fans the wrong way, has he? I can’t remember anything in particular. Bryzgalov I get, Doan I can sort of understand, Heatley is a stretch (he hasn’t been a member of the Thrashers/Jets franchise since the 2003-2004 season), but Ovechkin? If Sidney Crosby is in the lineup next week when the Penguins come to town, would he be booed? I’d be shocked, but stranger things have happened.
Maybe the Jets players and fans were saving themselves for tomorrow night’s game, when the struggling Anaheim Ducks come to town for their lone visit. While it normally wouldn’t be much of a lauded event to see a bottom-swelling California come to town, it’s not normal that a guy like Teemu Selanne comes back to Winnipeg. Most people - myself included - couldn’t have imagined the Finnish Flash would ever lace up skates in Winnipeg again. It will surely be an emotional night for both Teemu - who still speaks highly of his time year nearly twenty years ago - and the 15,000+ who will surely cheer him every chance they get. Oh, and of course the rest of us Winnipeggers and ex-pats that will undoubtedly get a bit choked up when Selanne returns to the ice in Winnipeg.
I would be completely shocked - and, of course, ridiculously disappointed - if Teemu was greeted with boos tomorrow night. I just can’t see it happening - the guy is still absolutely revered and adored here. It’ll be special.
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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.