Benny and the Jets
by BMS on 02/06/12 at 11:15 AM ET
Call it Stupor Bowl Sunday, Super Bore Sunday or whatever else you want, Sunday’s Winnipeg Jets-Montreal Canadiens afternoon game at the Bell Centre saw one team play sloppy hockey and the visitors play even worse. Coming off a 3-0 loss yesterday afternoon – also at the Bell Centre – the Montreal Canadiens turned around and shout out the Winnipeg Jets 3-0. The Habs scored once on the power play, once shorthanded and once at even strength.
The Jets came out and played a hard opening half of the first period, but quickly had their energy slip away as the game wore on. A late first-period goal by Max Pacioretty sent the Jets back to the dressing room down a goal, and they weren’t ever able to right the ship, so to speak.
Dustin Byfuglien was back in his old form, which I wish was more of a compliment than it is. Buff got burned big time on a power play pinch that resulted in the Habs’ shorthanded goal by Alexei Emelin – according to CBC, the first shorthanded goal by a Habs d-man in four years. He also ended up in the box within the first five minutes of the game after he ran over Carey Price (although the Habs’ netminder embellished a bit). Take a bow, Dustin.
Byfuglien has great upside in his size, his puck-handling abilities and his speed. Before he missed all those games with an injury it seemed as though the rest of his game – the dangerous pinching, the undisciplined play, etc. – was being reeled in a bit, with positive results. Now there seems to have been a setback, a return to his old ways that makes him more of a liability than a threat.
Antti Miettinen – he that suffers from Scott Gomez Syndrome (no goals so far this year) – played an inspired game, easily his best, and was probably the best forward wearing a white jersey. He had a few pretty good chances and five shots in just under 12 minutes of play, and seems set to get the goal-scoring monkey off his back. Blake Wheeler and Bryan Little played well enough in their 20ish minutes each, while Andrew Ladd was a little more invisible than he has been in the past few. Wheeler and PK Subban dropped the gloves late in the second period in a scrap that seemed to me to be much ado about nothing – pointless and devoid of the inspiration it probably was meant to muster on the Jets’ bench.
A few other Jets played reasonably well - Zach Bogosian was easily the best defender, and Ondrej Pavelec played not horribly – while everyone else was completely ordinary (or worse). Carey Price turned away 23 shots in the game for the shutout, but a lot of those shots weren’t high-quality scoring chances.
So yeah, the Jets continue to struggle (or, in Sunday’s case, worse) to score on this road trip. The power play was terrible (although the Habs’ penalty killing is the best in the league) while the penalty kill was fair (the Habs’ power play, adversely, is the worst in the league).
Sure, sure, Evander Kane and Tim Stapleton remain sidelined, while Eric Fehr sat out against the Habs (Spencer Mahachek drew in and played decently, racking up four shots), but these guys haven’t shown much scoring prowess in the last dozen or so games – especially on the road. Plus the Habs have injury issues of their own, missing Andrei Markov and Brian Gionta, most notably, so it’s not like they’re playing with a completely healthy roster either.
Oh yeah, speaking of Scott Gomez, one of the most exciting aspects to today’s game was the fact that it was thought for some time that he might have scored his first goal in over a year. He endured many a sarcastic (I think) cheer every time he touched the puck, but he worked hard and had his chances. He had been parked in front of Pavelec on the power play when Tomas Plekanec put the puck on net. It redirected past the Jets’ netminder, and from a couple of angles looked as though Scott Gomez may have scored his first game of the season. I’ve never seen a goal take so long to be announced over an arena’s PA system – obviously they wanted to make sure they were calling the goal for the right guy, which in this case wasn’t Gomez.
The Jets come back home to face the Leafs on Tuesday before heading to Washington to play the Caps on Thursday and the Penguins on Saturday afternoon – far tougher opponents than the lowly Canadiens. They need to find the spark that gets pucks going in the net at some point soon – the loss to Montreal dropped Winnipeg’s chances of making the playoffs this year to a lowly 11.9 per cent, according to Sports Club Stats.
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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.