Benny and the Jets
by BMS on 02/11/12 at 08:15 PM ET
Tim Stapleton, Kyle Wellwood, and the Penguins’ Jordan Staal all drew back in to their respective lineups on Saturday afternoon, and each factored into the scoresheet. Having said that, it wasn’t hard to pick up a goal or assist in this game, as the Winnipeg Jets fell 8-5 to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Consol Energy Center.
Evgeni Malkin had five points as Ondrej Pavelec had one of his trademark stinker games – these types of performances by him are less frequent as of late but clearly still lurk in the shadows. Granted, he faced 39 shots, but he probably should have been pulled at the end of the second period at the latest, when the Jets were down 5-3.
Of course, you can’t pin the entire loss on the goalie – in fact, if I had to hang this loss on one Jet alone, it would be Dustin Byfuglien. Sure, one of his pinching attempts resulted in his scoring a goal (his second in two games), but there were three or four other times he tried something similar and it resulted in a Penguins goal at the other end. No surprise, then, that Byfuglien was the worst on the Jets with a -3 despite getting a goal and an assist. It was honestly one of the worst games I’ve seen him play all season, and was certainly the worst since his return from injury. All star indeed.
Everyone else on the Jets was average at best – Bryan Little and Blake Wheeler once again did the team’s best work up front, getting some good chances in close on Marc-Andre Fleury. Evander Kane scored Thursday in Washington, but I think that was right place/right time as much as anything else, as at no point in the game against the Pens was he any sort of offensive threat. The aggressive scoring prowess of the first half is gone. The Miettinen/Burmistrov/Stapleton combination played well enough – Stapleton had a goal and an assist in his return, although for a second there it looked like it would be Antti Miettinen’s first goal of the season. Burmistrov will sometimes play the man, but at other times totally lets up on the gas pedal going into the corners a-la Kyle Wellwood.
As for the defence, I’ll just say nobody played as poorly as Byfuglien. I’m not sure how much that says about anything, but take it for what it is.
Whatever. What it boils down to is the Jets were severely outmatched by the Penguins, and were it not for a couple of fluky goals the score would have been even uglier for Winnipeg. Imagine if Sidney Crosby were back – the Jets would have been slaughtered. Pittsburgh was able to move the puck freely through the neutral zone, setting up odd-man rushes and getting below defenders seemingly at will.
Anybody claiming the Jets offense broke out of its offensive slump in this game needs to give their heads a shake. The team only mustered up 25 shots on net (to the Pens’ 39), and scored on five of them. To me that says weak goaltending more than it does offensive prowess. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Jets return to their low-scoring ways when they return to Winnipeg to play the New York Islanders on Tuesday.
The Southeast division-leading Florida Panthers beat the New Jersey Devils Saturday afternoon; any hope of the Winnipeg Jets making the playoffs are slowly slipping out of reach.
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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.