Benny and the Jets
by BMS on 10/11/11 at 07:20 PM ET
Jets Grounded, Not Ready for Takeoff, Flight Delay - use whatever airplane-related headline you want. It doesn’t take the sting out of the Jets’ loss against the Montreal Canadiens in their raucous home opener this past Sunday.
No, the team formerly known as the Thrashers aren’t expected to challenge for the Stanley Cup this year, but it doesn’t make the 5-1 drubbing the team took any easier to swallow. It didn’t take long for Mike Cammalleri to take the wind out of the Jets’ sails in the first period (before leaving the game after Yannick Weber skate cut his leg), and while things generally calmed down in the second, the final period was nothing short of a rout.
Nik Antropov managed to pot the Jets’ lone goal in the outing, which saw the Jets get precious few chances anywhere near the net. The Habs managed to keep the Jets to the perimeter, offering few legitimate chances throughout the 60 minutes. Montreal, meanwhile, took full advantage of a likely nervous home team, sparking numerous chances in close on Ondrej Pavelec and dominating the Jets in virtually every way.
Winnipeg’s power play was dismal, and the Habs took full advantage of the “free pizzas” (as head coach Claude Noel called them) served up in several cross-ice turnovers and miscues by the home team.
Regardless, the crowd took to its feet in the final minute of the game, sending the Jets back to their dressing room chased by the deafening roar of 15,000+ maniacal hockey fans. That’s to say nothing of the pre-game ceremonies, which got the crowd loud and extremely emotional before the puck was dropped.
The highlight of the afternoon was the honouring of the late Rick Rypien, the enforcer that spent his fair share of time with the Manitoba Moose before sticking with the Vancouver Canucks. With Rypien’s mother in attendance for the ceremonial puck drop, there weren’t too many dry eyes in the stands as the video tribute to Rypien aired on the scoreboard.
Despite the poor showing on the ice, the low point of the Habs-Jets game might have been the cringeworthy rendition of the national anthem by Jim Cuddy (of Blue Rodeo) and Chantal Kreviazuk. None of it mattered - the crowd was fully engaged in every aspect of the Jets’ home opener.
Thursday sees the Jets head to Chicago to take on the Blackhawks - no less an opponent than the Habs - before heading south for the Phoenix Coyotes’ home opener on Saturday. While there’s bound to be some attention on the Jets as they face the team led by Winnipeg-born Jonathan Toews, some time away from the fishbowl that is Winnipeg when it comes to all things Jets-related might do the team some good.
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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.