Benny and the Jets
by BMS on 10/21/11 at 01:50 PM ET
Ontario’s official slogan is “Yours to Discover.” So what did the Winnipeg Jets discover in their back-to-back games against Ontario’s two teams?
While the standing ovation in Toronto was a nice enough touch and the teams’ start looked promising, there wasn’t enough consistency in the team’s effort throughout the game, which resulted in them blowing a 3-1 lead going into the third period. The Leafs were able to score two power play goals in the third, then take the Jets in the shootout. As for last night’s “effort” against the lowly Ottawa Senators, I’d say that was one of the most tedious, unenjoyable hockey games I’ve seen in some time (although Anne Murray apparently enjoyed herself).
There’s not much new to what the Jets are doing well and/or poorly right now - and there’s a lot more of the latter than there is the former. While it must have felt nice to finally get some production from the power play against the Leafs, the special teams were back to their old tricks against the Senators. The Jets seem to come out hot in games only to seemingly squander early leads and any edge or advantage they might have potentially gained.
The Jets’ defensemen certainly aren’t pulling their weight. The Johnny Oduya giveaway to Daniel Alfredsson in last night’s game (which resulted in a goal) pretty much sums up his liabilities, and reflects the inability of the team’s defensemen to break out of the defensive zone in anything resembling a productive manner. Tobias Enstrom is being leaned on quite heavily on the back end, logging 31+ and 29+ minutes against the Leafs and Sens respectively. Byfuglien logged 29 and 27 minutes respectively, and blasted his first goal of the year past an otherwise sharp Craig Anderson last night. He had two helpers against the Leafs, so there’s a glimmer of hope that he might actually come to life and regain last year’s form. Derek Meech wasn’t too bad in his first two games with the team, but Oduya is truly brutal.
As for the forwards, Alexander Burmistrov has looked great on the puck, and has had some success with Nik Antropov and Kyle Wellwood (although the lines started being juggled last night as things started to look grim for the Jets). While Mark Scheifele managed to score his first regular-season goal against the Leafs, I’d be shocked if he was still with the Jets next week. (Although hey, I was shocked when Jets coach Claude Noel pulled Ondrej Pavelec last night with five minutes left in the third period. The Jets were on a power play at the time, so Noel decided to yank Pavelec in an attempt to spark a last-minute comeback - to no avail. But I digress.) Andrew Ladd took a redirected puck to the face last night, but showed some character, coming back bloodied and stitched up. The Ladd-Little-Wheeler line seems to move in to the offensive zone with some promise before seemingly being content to take a shot from the high slot and losing subsequent puck battles. There’s size and speed among the three, and they need to get someone crashing the net and looking for rebounds.
Ondrej Pavelec has been busy between the pipes (often getting help from them), to nobody’s surprise, and he’s weathered the storm fairly well. Many have said that if the Jets are to succeed this year, Pavelec will have to play lights-out. He’s held up his end of the deal, but the Jets still can’t win games.
The big discovery in Ontario - the Jets couldn’t carry the momentum from the win against the Penguins into their two-game road trip and are still winless on the road. Jets fans are discovering there’s not much happening on the ice that’s substantially different from last year’s miserable Atlanta Thrashers. They’ll have to try and find their form back at the MTS Centre tomorrow against the Carolina Hurricanes. The home ice fan frenzy seemed to help against the Penguins - I guess we’ll discover if the Jets can harness that energy and grab two points.
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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.