Benny and the Jets
by BMS on 02/17/12 at 02:35 PM ET
It took 65+ minutes of play to do it, but the Winnipeg Jets got a much-needed road win last night in Minnesota, downing the Wild 4-3 in a shootout in a game that saw a key player return to form. Evander Kane had seven shots, scored twice, added a helper and potted the shootout winner last night, and for the first time since being sidelined by a concussion in late 2011 was a truly dynamic presence on the ice.
Kane got loose in front of the Wild net and got the Jets on the board with a great pass from Blake Wheeler, who played an equally spirited game in his home state last night. Kane then beat Niklas Backstrom in a foot race to a bouncing puck, pushing the rubber past the Wild goalie for the Jets’ second goal. After the Wild regained the lead, Alexander Burmistrov roofed an errant puck to tie the game with 17 minutes left in the third period.
Both teams went for long periods without a shot on net – each team had only two through the first period, and the Wild had none through the first half of the second period. Chris Mason was at his shakiest when he hadn’t seen any pucks for a while – the Wild scored on their first shot eight minutes into the first, and then again on the first of only three Minnesota shots in the second period.
This was a game between two teams that have had trouble finding the back of the net – perhaps as good a chance as any for a guy like Evander Kane to find his form. It didn’t hurt that the Xcel Energy Center had its fair share of Jets fans that had made the eight-hour drive down from Winnipeg to catch the game – given the difficulty of getting games to see the Jets at the MTS Centre, it’s hard to blame ‘em.
The Jets’ power play continues to suffer; teams seem to know to play aggressive on the man and Winnipeg won’t be able to even set anything up. Tim Stapleton was once again on the blue line for the power play, for reasons that continue to escape me. The Jets’ penalty kill, meanwhile, is just plain wimpy – there seems to be some sort of fear of attacking the player and getting caught out of position. As a result, the Jets just seem content to stand there and let the other team pass the puck around at will, hoping to either block a shot or allow their goalie a clear look at the shot so he can make the save. Not a good game plan.
Now four points out of a playoff spot, the Jets go again tonight back at the MTS Centre against the Boston Bruins – given that Winnipeg has yet to win the second of back-to-back games and are in tough against an opponent that brings a lot more grit and firepower than the Wild, things could get ugly.
Factor in that the game is televised nationally and Murphy’s Law tells you the Jets are going to get spanked. Hopefully I’m wrong on this one. Much could hang on whether Zach Bogosian is back in the lineup after not making the trip to Minnesota; he was suffering an upper-body injury following the game against the Islanders.
Oh, and for all your Winnipeg Jets trade deadline speculation, see the piece in today’s Winnipeg Free Press by Tim Campbell.
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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.