Benny and the Jets
by BMS on 12/18/11 at 11:35 AM ET
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.
Selanne picked up two assists on the night and finished a +1 - probably good enough to earn him his third star of the game. Realistically, only a complete blowout by the Jets would have prevented him from being honoured at game’s end, and he took his acknowledgements throughout the game in stride and with class.
The fans were at it loudly at the outset of the game - Teemu would get cheered every time he touched the puck, and his linemates would get loudly booed when he passed to them. It made for a strange dynamic in the first period; after that it was just the regular raucous mayhem that occurs during Jets games at the MTS Centre.
Selanne’s pre-game acknowledgement of the fans - and the deafening reaction of the fans to Teemu - certainly brought a tear to the eye of many a long-time hockey fan, especially Jets v.1.0 fans. True North Sports & Entertainment was in a bit of a bind on this one - after all, they own the new Jets, not the old ones - but managed to give fans enough of what they wanted to see tribute-wise to satisfy most. Of course, both before and after the game Selanne said all the right things, just as he always has - that the city holds a special place in his heart, that he’s so glad Winnipeg got an NHL team back, etc. That he was moved before the Jets played their last home game at the old Winnipeg Arena probably kept his sterling reputation untarnished/intact moreso than other players. Regardless, he’s just one of those guys that endears himself to absolutely everyone, and he didn’t hurt that reputation last night.
To the game… the Jets welcomed back injured players Tobias Enstrom, Nik Antropov and Alexander Burmistrov, all of whom had some impact on the ice at different points in the game (each also picked up a point). In light of Bryan Little’s exiting the game after having blocked a shot in the first period, this is certainly a plus. Zach Bogosian keeps getting better and better, and picked up a goal and two assists en route to picking up the first star of the game.
Despite going up 2-0 early in the first period, the Ducks were able to tie the game by the end of the first before Winnipeg opened up a bigger lead that the Ducks would never equal. Chris Mason was better than average in nets for the Jets, turning away 33 of 36 shots; at the other end of the rink, Dan Ellis didn’t look great, allowing five goals on 31 shots.
One odd stat was that Jim Slater took 30 faceoffs on the night, and only won ten of those. The next highest total was Burmistrov, who won five of eight. I’m not sure why the Jets leaned on Slater so heavily for faceoffs, but it didn’t exactly pay dividends. Chris Thorburn was especially brutal for the Jets tonight - he was in the penalty box for the Ducks’ third goal, then headed right back to the sin bin just over two minutes later.
The Jets now sit just one point back of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, with most of this month’s games being played on home ice. With a far better record at home than away, this might help lift the Jets into playoff contention going into the New Year.
To watch Elliotte Friedman’s pre-game chat with Selanne, click here (I can’t seem to find a way to embed the video).
Here’s Selanne’s entrance on to the ice at the MTS Centre:
Here’s a bit of the video montage of Selanne they showed during a TV timeout:
Finally, here’s the salute between Selanne and the Jets fans at the game’s end. Nice work by Hockey Night in Canada for cutting away as soon as the game was over:
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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.