Benny and the Jets
by BMS on 03/19/12 at 01:23 AM ET
For 40 minutes, the Winnipeg Jets-Carolina Hurricanes game was a slightly loose and fairly unpredictable game. Then, like they have many times before this year, the Jets came out completely flat in the third period, gave up two goals and lost – in regulation, no less – 4-3. To say this was a must-win game for the Jets is akin to using one any hockey cliché – redundant and/or completely obvious.
With a regulation loss, the Jets remain tied with the Buffalo Sabres with 76 points, and two points back of the Washington Capitals. The Capitals lost against the Chicago Blackhawks, so a win by the Jets would have evened them in the points department. The loss means the Jets’ playoff chances just got much slimmer.
There were a lot of variables for the Jets in this game, of course – St. John’s IceCaps leading scorer Spencer Mahachek drew in for Eric Fehr, injured once again. Nik Antropov, who potted the first goal (and his third in as many games), left the game early in the second period with a lower body injury. Zach Bogosian drew back in as well after a lingering absence, sending Grant Clitsome to the press box while Randy Jones stayed in the lineup.
Clitsome need not worry about getting back into the lineup - Bogosian will likely miss at least a couple of games for launching himself into Andreas Nodl, earning him a five-minute penalty (which the Jets killed) and a game misconduct (as well as the inevitable follow up from NHL head office that will come). Bogosian had been playing well, logging nearly eight minutes of ice time in the first period. The hit was Kronwall-esque but there was clear separation between the player and the ice – it won’t go unpunished. Chalk it up to nerves or whatever in his first game back – while the check was a good idea, the execution was poor. EDIT: According to TSN’s Bob McKenzie, no supplementary discipline for Bogosian. Obviously I’m surprised - that’s not what I thought would happen, nor is it what I think should have happened.
Nik Antropov got his third goal in as many games before leaving the game early in the second period with a lower body injury. Antti Miettinen, he of 35 games and zero goals with the Jets, scored two (two!), including a nice give-and-go marker with an assist from Mahachek, his first point in the NHL. Mahachek also destroyed Patrick Dwyer in a scrap after Dwyer got his stick up in the face of Tobias Enstrom (not hard to do really… the guy’s tiny).
Also, nice adjustment of the Jets shirt behind the Canes bench, lady.
So while the coming and going of players can be blamed to a point for the loss, there’s also the nagging problem the Jets have had all season – the ability to come out and, to use another hockey cliché, play a full 60 minutes. Hurricanes coach Kirk Muller got his team to ratchet up the intensity for the third period in a way that left Claude Noel and his squad scrambling – at one point Miettinen was playing on the first line with Bryan Little and Andrew Ladd, a move which I initially thought was an error.
Noel mentioned in the post-game presser that his best players weren’t his best players - a beauty hockey quip if there ever was one. He’s right, though - the Little/Ladd/Wheeler line was good at times and forgettable at others (and on Andrew Ladd bobblehead night, no less), Evander Kane was fairly quiet, Dustin Byfuglien made some ghastly mistakes, etc. Ondrej Pavelec did what he could, facing more than a few odd-man rushes and point shots with traffic. But when the guy who hasn’t scored all year pots two and is moved to the top line, you know the big boys ain’t producing.
Here’s a number that indicates just how decisively the Hurricanes changed the tide of the game: the Jets won around three-quarters of face-offs in the first period and lost about three-quarters in the third. The shots tell a similar story – 12-7 Jets in the first period, 19-14 Canes in the third.
And yes, there was another embarrassing chant – this time directed at Eric Staal. Instead of also comparing Staal to Crosby, Jets fans went the route of taunting him with “Jordan’s better.” Well, Jets fans, you know what karma is, and in the game it was served up twice from the stick of Eric. Please, spare us fellow Winnipeggers the embarrassment of pulling out another chant like that. Let’s see – next gome game is March 26 against the Senators. I can see a “Heatley’s better” or “Chara’s Better” coming. But hey! The New York Rangers come to town two nights later, so you can always chant “Eric’s better” at Marc Staal, right?
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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.