Kukla's Korner

Benny and the Jets

No matter how you spell it, that stunk.

Winnepag - as they spelled it at Chicago’s United Center - came out strong last night against the Chicago Blackhawks, yet quickly blew a two-goal lead, losing 4-3. The Jets are now the only pointless team in the NHL; granted, the team’s wonky schedule means they’ve played three games less than the league-leading Pittsburgh Penguins, but in watching the team I’m not sure they would have earned a point had they played as many games as the Pens. Like it or not, Winnipeg, this is your team. It could be a long season.

I know it’s early to start dumping on the Jets, but what I’ve seen in the first two games hasn’t exactly impressed. Both the Habs and the Hawks were able to get deep into the Jets’ zone, easily connecting on cross-ice passes and shooting from almost anywhere. The Hawks forwards came with too much speed and passing prowess for the Jets’ defensemen to handle, resulting in many odd-man opportunities from a number of angles. And while Ondrej Pavelec came up with some big stops - especially in the latter stages of the game - he also let in some softies, often with a clear look at the shooter.

Jim Slater ain’t no Tomas Holmstrom, but he had the right idea heading to the front of the net, redirecting the puck twice for the Jets’ first two goals last night. Kyle Wellwood managed to barely sneak one into a gaping net from in close after a scramble around Ray Emery. Otherwise, a presence in front of the net is something that was sorely lacking the first two Jets games; the team has been largely kept to the perimeter, which isn’t working for them. Each of the team’s four goals scored since opening the regular season were scored from in close on deflections, rebounds, or by banging away for the puck, all of which the team will have to get going in a big way if they want to generate any sort of chances.

Yes, it’s only two games, but after October 24 the Jets are on the road until November 10 - a tough stretch for the team with arguably the wonkiest/most taxing travel/game schedule.

The Jets play the Phoenix Coyotes tomorrow night in a match that provides a few interesting talking points: new Jets versus old Jets, the “return” of Kyle Wellwood (after he tried out unsuccessfully for the ‘Yotes), and the planes full of Winnipeggers making the trek to Arizona to catch the teams in action should all make for some good theatre. Here’s hoping Coyotes fans show up and get loud.

Oh, and maybe United Center staff might want to check with Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews, Patrick Sharp or Duncan Keith (all born in Manitoba) on how to spell Winnipeg. Just a thought.

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Comments

Red Winger's avatar

Like it or not, Winnipeg, this is your team. It could be a long season.

I would hope Jets fans were ready for this some time ago. Your team is, basically, the Atlanta Thrashers, and they were not a good team.

Oh, and maybe United Center staff might want to check with Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews, Patrick Sharp or Duncan Keith (all born in Manitoba) on how to spell Winnipeg. Just a thought.

Whining about one letter will not ingratiate a Jets fan to the rest of the league. It reeks of small-market paranoia, and Winnipeg fans need to act like big-market fans if they want the respect they deserve.

Posted by Red Winger from Sault Ste Marie on 10/14/11 at 04:31 PM ET

Savage Henry's avatar

As an Atlanta resident and longtime Thrashers fan, this is pretty consistent with how they’ve always played.  Flashes of promise followed by horrible defense and giving up leads in all sorts of frustrating ways.

I think the Jets made a good start by dismissing the existing management and coaches, but old habits are hard to break.  Give them a couple of years and I expect them to be regular playoff contenders.

Posted by Savage Henry on 10/14/11 at 04:32 PM ET

Alanah McGinley's avatar

I think the Jets made a good start by dismissing the existing management and coaches, but old habits are hard to break.  Give them a couple of years and I expect them to be regular playoff contenders.

Posted by Savage Henry on 10/14/11 at 03:32 PM ET

I agree that the management changeover was a good move, and I think it will pay dividends for the Jets in the not-too-distant future.  Meanwhile, you’re just going to have endure some ‘growing pains’ for a while, Ben. smile

Posted by Alanah McGinley from British Columbia on 10/14/11 at 04:39 PM ET

Nicholas Lorenzi's avatar

I would hope Jets fans were ready for this some time ago. Your team is, basically, the Atlanta Thrashers, and they were not a good team.

It’ll only get worse when they are in the Western Conference. Here’s hoping the Jets at least stay a team for 10 years. I have a feeling they’ll surprise us in a few years time.

Posted by Nicholas Lorenzi on 10/14/11 at 04:39 PM ET

Red Winger's avatar

It’ll only get worse when they are in the Western Conference. Here’s hoping the Jets at least stay a team for 10 years. I have a feeling they’ll surprise us in a few years time.

The good thing about it all is they have time on their side. The city’s love affair with the return of the NHL will not fade quickly. Easily, they get a two-year-pass to iron a few things out before any real bitching and moaning will (should) occur.

I’m looking forward to watching games from Winnipeg this year. I just hope ‘Peg fans realize how ineffectual that Thrashers team was last year. That won’t change over night.

25th overall in the standings
20th GF
29th GA
27th PK
26th SAG
23rd FO

Posted by Red Winger from Sault Ste Marie on 10/14/11 at 06:06 PM ET

BMS's avatar

@Red Winger:

I would hope Jets fans were ready for this some time ago. Your team is, basically, the Atlanta Thrashers, and they were not a good team.

Not much in the way of surprises so far. They were bad last year and, not surprisingly, they’re no better now.

Whining about one letter will not ingratiate a Jets fan to the rest of the league. It reeks of small-market paranoia, and Winnipeg fans need to act like big-market fans if they want the respect they deserve.

Technically, it was two letters, but I digress. I’m not whining - it was just an observation (made by many here in Winnipeg, of course, and most with more venom than anything I could be bothered to muster up).

You’re assuming I’m a Jets fan, which I’m really not - at least not yet. I feel like more of an interested observer that is just glad the NHL is back. See here for more: http://www.toromagazine.com/sports/sports-extras/3996b54a-47ea-8644-85c7-e5ce998f6661/Winnipeg-Jets-Return/index.html

Posted by BMS from Winnipeg on 10/14/11 at 07:25 PM ET

Avatar

I’m not so sure they benefited from dumping the coaching staff and GM.  Typical loser organization always going back to square one.

Posted by 13 user names on 10/15/11 at 03:02 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