Benny and the Jets
by BMS on 02/21/12 at 03:48 PM ET
The Philadelphia Flyers are in town tonight to take on the Winnipeg Jets, who look to make it four wins in a row and a chance to claim top spot in the Southeast Division if they can scare up two points. The Jets have beaten the Flyers on all three occasions they’ve met, the wild 9-8 win being the definite, uh, highlight of the bunch.
Sunday’s performance 5-1 win over the Colorado Avalanche was admirable – the team played the body well, managed a pair of power play goals and survived a treacherous second period thanks to the goaltending of Ondrej Pavelec. Blake Wheeler had four points en route to earning the league’s second star of the week honours, an honour aided in no small part to the efforts of Bryan Little.
Evander Kane looks to have found his form again, with six points in his last three games. The Kane/Wellwood/Burmistrov line continues to provide a solid second wave of offense – in the Avalanche game I was particularly impressed with the play of Alexander Burmistrov. While he had a great game at even strength, it was on the penalty kill that he really shone. It’s nice to see his speed, puck-moving ability and desire to play the body finally pay dividends.
The Glass/Slater/Thorburn line did well to bring the grit and energy the Jets needed against the Avalanche, and will have their hands full against a gritty Flyers team tonight. On the fourth line, Nik Antropov played a great game against the Avalanche on Sunday, getting physically involved in charging the net and working the boards in a way that highlighted his size rather than his lack of speed.
Despite his -10 rating on the year, Dustin Byfuglien looks more self-conscious on the blue line than his previous freewheeling ways, and the Jets have also adapted to his occasional excursions deep into the opposing team’s zone. Zach Bogosian is once again out tonight, meaning Randy Jones will be back on the blue line for a third consecutive game. The sooner they can get Bogosian back in action and remove Tim Stapleton from the blue line on the power play, the better.
The Jets need to keep winning these key games at home, as the Washington Capitals and Florida Panthers are both struggling as of late but have games in hand. It’s the only chance they’ll have if they want to make the playoffs – aim for the top of the division (and home ice advantage, clearly key to the Jets), but settle for the eighth seed only if necessary.
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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.