Benny and the Jets
by BMS on 12/04/11 at 06:07 PM ET
The Jets picked up where they left off Thursday against the Phoenix Coyotes, beating the New Jersey Devils 4-2 and putting together consecutive wins that move them within one point of a playoff spot. In a game where the Jets put together another strong team effort, fans can only hope that the team is gelling the way their game play might indicate with just over a quarter of the season in the books.
Despite not having two of their bigger bodies in the lineup - Nik Antropov and Eric Fehr are still on the mend - the Jets played a strong, well-rounded game similar to the one that helped them blank the Phoenix Coyotes on Thursday. Ondrej Pavelec looked sharp in nets - don’t be surprised to see Jets coaches turn to him again on Tuesday when the Boston Bruins come to town. Hopefully both Pavelec and the team are finding some rhythm, and can rise to the occasion for a third straight home win.
I could go on and on about Evander Kane - while he’s playing in a contract year (he’s a RFA), what we’re seeing now is the player so many predicted would eventually emerge and flourish. He was probably brought into the NHL with too little development in the minors, and had too much responsibility thrust on his shoulders too soon. Seems he’s ready now - he scored the first and last goal (the latter an empty netter), and continued to charge the net and fight in the corners for the puck with incredible presence.
Head coach Claude Noel said a lot of the right things following last night’s game - he sounds like a guy that’s successfully bringing a team together in a way that’s finally paying dividends on the ice. Any talk of Randy Carlyle landing in Winnipeg in some sort of advisor capacity or otherwise (ie. replacement coach) is crazy talk - the team is coming together under Noel, and are building momentum. Despite Carlyle’s history with the city (player with the Jets 1.0, coach of the Manitoba Moose, friend of Craig Heisinger), Jets management would be nuts to make that move.
The fans at the MTS Centre continued their flurry of boos last night, turning their attention from Shane Doan to Ilya Kovalchuk, the former Atlanta Thrasher who left for the Devils after Atlanta management couldn’t lock the Russian sniper into a contract. While their reason for booing him is just as senseless as boing Doan, Kovalchuk’s response was pretty darn funny. Speaking of Jets fans to NJ.com, Kovalchuk said “They should support me [...] Maybe I’m one of the reasons they moved here.” OK then. I can’t imagine the disparity in Atlanta’s ticket sales/revenue could was substantial enough between his time with the Thrashers and the time that he left that the team would still have been in Atlanta had he signed with the Thrashers. Despite the fact that he still holds many of the Jets/Thrashers scoring records, I hope he wasn’t holding his breath for a rousing ovation like Doan got during a TV timeout on Thursday - Winnipeggers have as little reason to cheer him as they do boo him.
In the realm of the confusing, I can’t imagine why Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal would suggest moving Dustin Byfuglien to the wing on even strength (scroll WAY down). While I like a lot of what he has to say in the piece about other matters hockey-related, suggesting the Jets would benefit from Byfuglien essentially getting less ice time and breaking up lines that are developing chemistry is nuts. Yeah, he’s a liability at times on defense, but with Tobias Enstrom set to return things on the blue line are bound to settle down. Byfuglien will likely see a bit less ice time every night, yet will still be a (very) big body on the blue line. I agree - jam him in front of the net and/or let him rip shots from the blue line on the power play (or both), but don’t move him to the wing at even strength - anyone griping about his contract now will only gripe louder once his minutes and production go way down (which I’m sure they would if he moved to the wing).
The Jets will need to carry the momentum of these past two games into Tuesday’s game against the Boston Bruins - no small task given the B’s ability to play fast, hard, and with an edge the Jets might just be lacking right now, especially if Fehr and Antropov stay out of the lineup. It will be up to guys like Dustin Byfuglien, Tanner Glass and Jason Jaffray - who dropped ‘em last night against Tim Sestito last night - to play the body and stand up to the Bruins without getting sucked into dumb penalties.
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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.