Benny and the Jets
by BMS on 11/04/11 at 12:35 PM ET
It’s a chilly, windy morning here in Winnipeg today, but Jets fans here are positively glowing and giddy after last night’s 3-0 victory over the New York Islanders in front of, well, a crowd. Or at least two-thirds of one. After seeing the masses packed into the MTS Centre for Jets home games, it’s still a bit of a shock to see so many empty seats (although it’s not shocking that a hockey team from Winnipeg wouldn’t be a huge draw on a Wednesday night in Long Island, I suppose).
It was all Evander Kane and Ondrej Pavelec, as the former potted a Gordie Howe hat trick - we’re still calling a goal, assist and fight in one game the Gordie Howe hat trick, right? - and the latter posted a 34-save shutout. “Ondrej the Giant” was a nice touch on the Jets’ website this morning, a welcome relief from any aviation-related metaphors.
The Jets have now picked up six of a possible eight points on this road trip, and have strung together their first consecutive wins. They definitely seem to be moving in the right direction, and having the Isles as their opponents last night couldn’t have been more timely. The Islanders have scored the least number of goals in the league (18, the only team not to have hit 20 yet), are still juggling three goalies (the Jets saw Rick DiPietro last night, who was mediocre at best), etc. So while Jets fans should celebrate their team that seems to be turning a corner (or at least peeking around it), nobody should be planning a parade yet.
(Although, were I to plan a parade through Winnipeg, I’d probably start at Polo Park - or even better, just north of Polo Park where the old Winnipeg Arena once stood - head down Portage Avenue to Memorial, hang a right up to the Legislature, hang a left down Broadway to Main Street, left on Main to Portage (where Hawerchuk emerged from a Brinks truck with a babe on each arm to sign his contract), then left on Portage back up to the MTS Centre. You know, if I were planning the parade.)
The defense, naturally, was questionable, as Brett Festerling and Mark Flood filled in for a depleted blue line that was missing Tobias Enstrom, Derek Meech, Ron Hainsey and Mark Stuart. Pavelec, however, was equal to the task, and the guys the Jets had out there made his job somewhat easier by getting in front of as many shots as they could. This didn’t come without a cost, however - Randy Jones went down in the third period after blocking a shot. It’ll be interesting to see if anyone else gets called up from the St. John’s IceCaps (yuck - still don’t like that name) to fill in if Jones can’t go tomorrow.
Evander Kane continues to look better and better on the ice - he seems to have found some confidence that was missing at the start of the season. In last night’s battle of top five 2009 first-round draft picks (John Tavares was first overall, Kane fourth), there was no comparison. Kane dominated.
Next up are the New Jersey Devils, another team struggling with offense as well as a questionable goaltending tandem. We’ll see if Marty Brodeur’s back in fine form by the time the team hits the ice against the Jets this Saturday. two
Oh, and have we officially crossed off all of the Jets’ firsts (shutout, string of road wins, empty net goal) now? ‘Cause I’d be a happy camper if I never had to hear about any more Jets firsts for a while.
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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.