Benny and the Jets
Every year my parents have a little dinner party type thing at their place on New Year’s Eve. It’s usually my brother and I, and a handful of their good friends - we stand around, have some drinks, then sit down to a massive dinner. This year was no exception, although there was one notable difference between this year and previous incarnations - instead of the Canada/USA world junior match-up on TV in the background, it was the Toronto Maple Leafs and Winnipeg Jets that provided the on-ice action for us hockey nuts to scrutinize.
Despite being a low scoring game, the Winnipeg Jets and Los Angeles Kings put together an exciting 61ish minutes of hockey, led for the most part by solid goaltending at both ends by the Jets’ Chris Mason and the Kings’ Jonathan Bernier. In the end, a scrappy goal from down low by Evander Kane just over a minute into the overtime period proved to be the difference, as the Jets picked up both possible points in a 1-0 win over the Kings in the two teams’ lone meeting of the year.
The Kings were playing their third game in four nights, so the longer the game went the better chance the Jets had of beating the Kings. Add in home ice advantage (a huge factor for the Jets – just look at their impressive home record and dismal road numbers) and the chances were good that the Jets would come out on top.
The Jets, well-rested since their last game on Friday against Pittsburgh, came into Denver and took it to the Colorado Avalanche, handing them a 4-1 loss that ended the Avs’ eight-game home winning streak. Much in the same way the Penguins came to town and had their way with the Jets on the second of back-to-back nights, the Jets didn’t see many daunting challenges from the Avalanche, who played in Minnesota the night before and then flew back to Denver after the game. Fatigued? Likely.
Regardless, Winnipeg will be abuzz with the fact that the Jets are currently in the eight playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, but should keep in mind that the playoffs begin in April - not December. Enjoy it, Jets fans, as there’s just as good a chance the team could be languishing on the outside looking in by this time next month, especially if their road record doesn’t improve.
When your two favourite teams are playing, who do you cheer for? I’ll have a chance to watch the Jets in person many more times over the years, but when the team moves to its new division/conference/whatever, we won’t be seeing any more of the Montreal Canadiens at the MTS Centre than we have this year. So, in theory, I should have been rooting for the lowly Habs in what will be their last visit here this season.
I just couldn’t do it. Maybe seeing the Habs in the state they’re in right now was a good thing - it became clearer than ever to me that this team has serious problems. While they managed a fair number of shots on Ondrej Pavelec, the ‘tender was equal to the task in the 4-0 Jets victory over the Habs. To his credit, Pavelec was pretty sharp, but the Habs just didn’t generate enough quality scoring chances. They looked completely lost.
I wear a lot of hats: copywriter, wine columnist, parent, hockey blogger, etc. (I need to wear at least one hat - I’m balding horribly.) Juggling all this stuff can be tough - obviously Daddy duty comes first - especially since I’m looking to have my two year-old boy drafted in the first round of the NHL 2027 draft (he’ll then proceed to win many Norris trophies). So while I did watch most of the Jets/Isles game, blogging about it just wasn’t in the cards.
The Winnipeg Jets beat the struggling Anaheim Ducks 5-3 on Saturday night in what was a predominately sloppy game. Jets fans, however, can be excused for not caring too much about their team’s caliber of play - on this night it was the return of Teemu Selanne that took centre stage. And the sold-out MTS Centre let him know many times that he still holds a special place in the hearts of this city’s hockey fans.
In a season already in turmoil - it was, after all, already known that the Jets would be moving - February 7, 1996 was one of the darker days of the original Winnipeg Jets. It was on that day that Chad Kilger, Oleg Tverdovsky and a third-round pick came to town from Anaheim in exchange for Marc Chouinard and the much-adored Finnish Flash - Teemu Selanne.
One of only three active players from the original Winnipeg Jets roster - the others being Shane Doan and Nikolai Khabibulin - Selanne is easily the most beloved player to ever don a Jets jersey (either version of the franchise). Dale Hawerchuk was one of my childhood heroes, and is probably my favourite player to have played for the original Jets, but Teemu is my favourite person to have played for the team. It just so happened he was also a freaking awesome hockey player.
Tuesday’s game against the Minnesota Wild - a game the Jets won 2-1 - was a great example of how a low-scoring game can still be exciting to watch. Energized fans, a great transition game by both teams and some stellar goaltending made it hard to look away.
Last night’s 1-0 loss to the Washington Capitals falls on the other end of the spectrum when it comes to low-scoring games - the MTS Centre crowd wasn’t a factor and both teams seemed slightly listless all the way through. Confession - for a few minutes in the third period, I actually fell asleep while watching the game. I woke up when Alexander Ovechkin potted the game’s loan goal with less than two minutes to play - either that or I think maybe my snoring woke me up around that time. Regardless, I hit rewind on my PVR and got myself caught up on what I had missed while napping. It wasn’t much.
Despite being down a few forwards due to injury, the Winnipeg Jets looked impressive against the league-leading Minnesota Wild Tuesday night, squeaking out a 2-1 win in a real thriller. Zach Bogosian scored his first goal to tie the game before Bryan Little extended his goal streak to four games off a savvy pass by Dustin Byfuglien to net the winner.
According to the usual suspects on Twitter, the Winnipeg Jets have claimed Finnish winger Antti Miettinen off re-entry waivers from the KHL. The Tampa Bay Lightning had signed him to a two-year, $3 million contract, but won’t get to see him in a Bolts jersey in the foreseeable future.
With Nik Antropov, Eric Fehr and Alexander Burmistrov out of the lineup tonight against the Minnesota Wild, the Jets will need all the healthy bodies they can get. He won’t be in the lineup tonight (obviously), so the Jets will likely be short up front. Ron Hainsey, however, is back tonight, meaning the defence will get some much-needed help.
I don’t know a ton about him, but he seems like a decent enough pick-up. Miettinen will be the most popular Finnish player in Winnipeg for exactly four days, when Teemu Selanne and the Anaheim Ducks visit the MTS Centre. Enjoy it while you can, bud.
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.