Kukla's Korner

Benny and the Jets

Jets face real firepower tonight

Tonight’s Winnipeg Jets game against the New York Rangers will see their toughest opponents to date visit the MTS Centre. It’ll be the first time some real firepower has entered the building, as Marian Gaborik and Brad Richards will undoubtedly press hard in an attempt to bounce back from their loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday night.

Yes, the Pittsburgh Penguins have played in the Jets’ building, but it was without Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Montreal’s Mike Cammalleri could be considered a sniper as well, but after scoring once in the MTS Centre he left with an injury. It could be argued that the Hurricanes’ Eric Staal and Jeff Skinner are as potent as Gaborik and Richards for the Rangers, but only Skinner showed any presence in the ‘Canes’ 5-3 loss to the Jets on Saturday. With the Hurricanes having arrived early Saturday morning following a loss to the St. Louis Blues, there could be no doubt that the team was going to be tired, listless and a bit sloppy. The Rangers will be rested and hungry for a win on the road (especially since they haven’t even played their home opener yet).

Speaking of Saturday’s game against the Carolina Hurricanes, the Jets managed to do well what they have been doing poorly for most of their “inaugural” season. Ben Maxwell and Bryan Little were red-hot in the faceoff circle, the Jets’ power play netted two goals, the penalty killers were aggressive and the passing coming out of the defensive zone was pretty darn clean. Alexander Burmistrov was the best player on the ice, absolutely dominating the puck when it was on his stick and getting the Jets on the board after a slow start with a shot from a very tough angle. He was surprisingly strong on the penalty kill, even as the lone forward on the couple of 5-3 chances the Hurricanes had in the third period.

Evander Kane got his first of the season after Nik Antropov won a battle behind the net and popped the puck out to his new linemate (Kane was moved to the line with Antropov and Burmistrov, with some decent results). Blake Wheeler is looking more dangerous with every game, as he often gets moving fast, breaks in down the boards and then cuts across to the net. Andrew Ladd put in a good effort, potting the Jets’ fourth goal on a seemingly harmless dump-in that started bouncing and was redirected past an ashamed Brian Boucher. Other than winning his fair share of draws, Bryan Little has been pretty quiet so far - he needs to get scoring if the Little-Wheeler-Ladd line is to be effective.

The Jets’ defensemen are still willing to jump up and into the play when needed, usually without getting caught (at least against the ‘Canes). Zach Bogosian and Tobias Enstrom played pretty well, while Dustin Byfuglien and Mark Stuart were solid as well. Byfuglien has yet to play a true impact role in a game this season - he seems content to quietly go about his business, even when the team could use a spark. That has to change.

Ondrej Pavelec wasn’t given much time between the pipes on Saturday, with Claude Noel yanking him after he gave up two goals on three shots. I thought it was a little premature, as there were guys pretty much on top of him on both goals. But replacement Chris Mason had some huge saves, especially in third period, as the Jets took a pile of penalties and relied on the goalie (and the goal posts) to keep them ahead.

Speaking of Claude Noel, he absolutely ripped into rookie Mark Scheifele on the bench during the first period. I’m not saying there’s a correlation, but I’m also not surprised that Scheifele was sent back to the OHL’s Barrie Colts yesterday. With his ice time continuing to dwindle (just over seven minutes on Saturday), few will argue that he should have stayed. And those few should have their heads examined. He needs ice time, a few extra pounds and some more mentoring from Colts coach/my childhood hockey hero Dale Hawerchuk.

Anyway, it’ll be interesting to see how the Jets do against a team with a couple of snipers. The Rangers will be desperate for a win, while the Jets will have their first set of consecutive games at home. If they can pick up where they left off on Saturday night, the vocal masses that fill the MTS Centre might be able to help the team squeak out a win.

Filed in: Winnipeg Jets, | Benny and the Jets | Permalink
  Tags: carolina+hurricanes, new+york+rangers, pittsburgh+penguins

Comments

pensfan29's avatar

The Rangers are tougher than the Penguins?! What?

Posted by pensfan29 on 10/24/11 at 01:30 PM ET

BMS's avatar

I didn’t say they were tougher - just that the Pens didn’t have Malkin or Crosby. So they didn’t have the firepower the Rangers will tonight.

Posted by BMS from Winnipeg on 10/24/11 at 01:32 PM ET

Avatar

I’m not sure the Rangers offer up much of an offensive threat. They average just 2 goals per game, and give up over 32 shots each game. Seems to me the Jets can easily win this game with some good offensive zone checking and cycling.

I would be more worried about the New York team that comes to town next week.

Posted by Red Winger from work on 10/24/11 at 02:31 PM ET

BMS's avatar

@Red Winger - good point.

Posted by BMS from Winnipeg on 10/24/11 at 02:47 PM ET

pensfan29's avatar

Neal and Staal alone have more goals than the entire Rangers team. And the Pens went how far last year without Sid and Malkin?! Come on

Posted by pensfan29 on 10/24/11 at 02:57 PM ET

BMS's avatar

I’m not saying Neal, Staal and other Pens haven’t stepped up, @pensfan29. I’m just saying the Rangers have pure points guys (at least on paper/based on previous performances) that the Jets haven’t had to face yet. Once either Neal or Staal put up multiple 30-40 goal seasons (like Gaborik) or 90+ point seasons (like Richards), I’m right with you. They’re both playing great, but you can’t tell me they’re in the same category as Malkin, Crosby, Richards or Gaborik.

Posted by BMS from Winnipeg on 10/24/11 at 03:01 PM ET

BMS's avatar

Hmm… actually now that I look at it, the Rangers have scored the fewest goals in the league… although they have played 1-2 games fewer than most.

Posted by BMS from Winnipeg on 10/24/11 at 04:06 PM ET

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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.

Send him an email at bmswpg@gmail.com and/or follow Ben on Twitter: @bensigurdson