Benny and the Jets
by BMS on 02/28/12 at 02:28 PM ET
Sloppy. That’s the best word to describe the Winnipeg Jets’ play in a 5-3 loss to the Edmonton Oilers in the only meeting between the two teams this year. The first period was a parade of turnovers – mostly by the Jets, but some by the Oilers – that, miraculously, didn’t result in a goal.
The Jets looked better in the second period, and went to the dressing room after 40 minutes with a 2-1 lead. But the Oilers scored four unanswered goals in the third that sucked the life out of the building, and if there’s one team that relies heavily on home ice advantage these days, it’s the Jets. What makes it worse? It’s the first time the Oilers have won this year after trailing going into the third period.
Alexander Burmistrov was far and away the best Jet on the ice last night – he had a goal, an assist, and was engaged on the penalty kill and the power play when needed. His role on the penalty kill can’t be overstated – he was easily the best penalty killer (other than maybe Ondrej Pavelec) that was dressed in dark blue at the MTS Centre last night. Kyle Wellwood and Nik Antropov both scored for the Jets as well, but both have generally been underwhelming for the last dozen or so games.
In the first game of the post-Oduya era (more on that later), the Jets were guilty of a whack of neutral zone turnovers the now-departed Swedish defenseman was sometimes accused of – what Claude Noel amusingly called “free pizzas” early in the year. Well, Johnny O clearly left a pile of free pizza coupons in the dressing room, and the Jets delivered ‘em on time and piping hot.
The Oilers did well to shut down the Jets in the neutral zone, with three players typically engaging the Jets as soon as they hit their own blue line. The Oilers played tight man-on-man hockey in their own zone, meaning players like the big and speedy Blake Wheeler didn’t get many god looks at Oilers netminder Devan Dubnyk.
As someone that grew up watching the Oil thrash the Jets v1.0 on a regular basis, it was a bit of a tough one to swallow, and although the visiting team’s white, orange and blue jerseys were fairly prominent throughout the MTS Centre, most in attendance left with that familiar feeling of being fleeced by our western neighbours.
The only move the Jets made on yesterday’s trade deadline was sending Johnny Oduya to the Chicago Blackhawks for a second and third-round pick in 2013 – a more-than-decent return for a defenseman that will be a UFA come July 1. Well, in a non-trade move the Jets also nabbed d-man Grant Clitsome from the waiver wire; cut loose by the Columbus Blue Jackets, he should provide some defensive depth. Zach Bogosian appears to be set to return this week, so it’s unclear how the pairings will shake out with Clitsome in the mix and Oduya off to the other Windy City.
I didn’t expect the Jets to swing any big deals yesterday, and I don’t think Oduya’s departure was much of a surprise to anyone that follows the big network trade-breakers. Considering Oduya could have walked on July 1st for nothing, GM Kevin Cheveldayoff did well in getting two decent picks to use next year (or to move in a subsequent deal).
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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.