WINNIPEG - No matter the score, it was a great night to be in the MTS Centre as Winnipeggers spent quality time with an old friend who has been away for 15 years.
For all the atmosphere, all the excitement and all the emotion, the Winnipeg Jets were not able to match up with a Montreal Canadiens team that simply looked much sharper.
The Jets, coming off a nine-day layoff since their last exhibition game, looked jittery, rusty, disorganized and, in some ways, spent.
They gave pucks away, lost races, came second in little battles and failed to bury chances against a great goaltender in Carey Price.
Conversely, the Habs put just about every good scoring chance past Ondrej Pavelec and looked very much like a team that already had a regular-season game under its belt.
I doubt very many fans went home unhappy — they sure didn’t sound angry as they gave the Jets a standing ovation for the final minute of a 5-1 loss — despite the lopsided score.
The Jets are back.
And they are going to have many better nights on the ice than this one.
That you can count on.
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Nik Antropov, with a great effort, became the answer to the trivia question, by scoring the first goal in the second history of the Jets. He may be a slow skater but you have to admit he’s got hands around the net … The precise moment that killed the Jets should have been the one that lifted them back into the game. A monster hit by Mark Stuart on Brian Gionta put the crowd in a frenzy. It looked clean, and didn’t result in a penalty. But instead of being a rallying point for the Jets, P.K. Subban took Stuart off with an off-setting minor and after Dustin Byfuglien took a questionable interference penalty, the Habs got a 4-on-3 power play goal by Yannick Weber that made it 3-1 and ended the Jets chances … The Jets outshot the Habs 31-22 but Price made it look easy on most occasions, especially when Winnipeg tried to go to his cat-like glove side … Pavelec had a lousy game, bottom line … Tough start for Jets defenceman Johnny Oduya, who got burned badly on the first two Montreal goals. He gave away a puck at the blue-line to Mike Cammalleri, who broke in and snapped a shot over Pavelec’s glove and then got outhustled by Tomas Plekanec for a second-period goal. It was a night to remember for so many people involved with the Jets, for so many reasons, but it was a night to forget, and quickly, for Oduya.
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Loved the picture of the Queen in Section 328, with banners reading “Long Live our Jets” and “God Save Our Jets.” There you go Don Cherry, the Queen was in the building after all … Didn’t sound like there were many boos for NHL commissioner Gary Bettman. Of course, he came onto the ice for the ceremonial faceoff with Mark Chipman, David Thomson, Craig Heisinger and Rick Rypien’s mother … Touching tribute to Rypien, who died at age 27 during the summer. Rypien wasn’t a Jet for long but he meant a lot to the organization … The crowd was so loud singing O Canada, it was hard to hear official singers Jim Cuddy and Chantal Kreviazuk.
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Hard to see many Canadiens jerseys in this pro-Jets crowd. There were a few, but not many. Certainly not like it was when the Habs came to the old arena … Rookie Mark Scheifele looks a bit over-matched physically but, overall, he held his own … Was it just me, or did the ice look bad? Tons of water on it after the flood and visible ruts from the as far away as the press box … Great play by Blake Wheeler to outrace two defencemen for a short-handed breakaway in the second period, which earned a penalty call against the Habs. Sure was close to being a penalty shot.
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The Jets announced this week that 70,000 people have registered for the random drawing program for a chance to buy individual tickets for games this season. There are about 600 tickets available for each game, which is a total of about 24,600 tickets for the entire season. Each person whose name is drawn can buy two tickets. That means about 12,300 people are going to be successful and 57,700 are going to be SOL … Our friend Denis Poissant from Le Journal de Montreal points out that MTS Centre doesn’t translate very well into French. MTS in français stands for Maladie Transmises Sexuellement. So the Jets play in the STD Centre? … Here’s an interesting stat for you. The last six teams that have re-located in the NHL have improved by an average of 11 points the next season. The Jets will need to do better than that. If they had 11 more points last season, they still would have missed the playoffs … True story: When I worked at Grapes Kenaston during college, there was a hostess there named Chantal. She used to claim she sang the anthems at Jets games and we teased her that we didn’t believe her. OK, Chantal, I believe you now … Big day for three of the four officials on the ice. Stonewall’s Rob Martell was one of the referees, while both linesmen — Ryan Galloway and Vaughan Roby — are from Winnipeg.