WINNIPEG - The results haven’t always been great but it would be hard to say the Winnipeg Jets are not an exciting hockey team.
The Jets have played well for the most part on their current road trip and have been competitive in each of their last five games.
They were rewarded in a big way with Monday’s gutsy 4-3 shootout win over the Florida Panthers.
The game featured end to end action, great scoring chances at both ends, a last-minute comeback and the first shootout win in the history of the Jets 2.0.
Evander Kane played like a star and Kyle Wellwood continued to prove he was a brilliant free agent pickup by Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff.
This Jets deserved to get at least a point in Tampa Bay Saturday and lost 1-0. They came close to coming up short again Monday, but showed resiliency, tied the score late and earned a big two points against a division rival.
It would be hard for Jets fans to not be encouraged by the start of this road trip. And for the 4-6-1 Jets, a team that probably should have a better record than it does to this point in the season, it was a real confidence booster.
Ondrej Pavelec came into the game with a 3-10 record and a .553 save percentage in shootouts. The Jets needed him to step up and he most certainly did … Why does Tim Stapleton keep getting shootout opportunities? Is it all those goals he’s scored so far this season? … Andrew Ladd scored the first shootout goal ever by the Jets and Wellwood followed it up with a slick move for the winner … As hard as the Jets try, they simply can’t kill penalties well enough when it counts. The Jets have been killed by power play goals time and time again this season and Monday night they nearly suffered yet another loss after taking a late penalty and giving up a goal to the Panthers … That’s twice in three games the Jets have blown third-period leads and then come back to win. Good sign of character … Kane is starting to become a force. He’s getting great chances by going hard to the net and he’s scoring some nice goals. His turnaround snapper that found the top shelf in the first period was a beauty and he showed great hand-eye co-ordination on the game-tying goal that was originally waved off but was confirmed by video review. Kane was the best player on the ice for the Jets.
Jack Skille’s hit on Toby Enstrom could easily have been called a blow to the head. Dustin Byfuglien had to step in and let Skille know his hit was unacceptable, even if the referees weren’t willing to make a call. Skille wasn’t willing to mess with Byfuglien, who got a double minor, but there’s no question Byfuglien did the right thing. It could have been costly, but the Jets got away with it … The captain, Andrew Ladd, stepped in and managed to engage Skille in the third as the Jets played without Enstrom, whose injury could be terrible news for the Jets.
Wellwood has been so consistent for the Jets. He’s strong in his own end and leading the team in goals. He absolutely deserves to be on the Jets top line, because he makes it better. Wellwood’s career high in goals is 18, which he achieved in 2008-09 with Vancouver. Right now he’s looking like he could get 30 with the Jets … Have to say I’m impressed with TSN Jets play by play man Dennis Beyak and colour man Brian Engblom. They are knowledgeable and professional game in and game out … Nice to see Dustin Byfuglien throwing his weight around a bit in the defensive zone. With a guy that size back there, forwards should be afraid to crash the Jets’ net … Byfuglien hasn’t produced much offensively. If he’s going to be a rover he’s going to have to do better than losing the puck on a two-on-one … So that’s what became of Jose Theodore.
Nice job by the Jets to get a win for coach Claude Noel on his 56th birthday. The coach has had an up-and-down start to the season, but he seems to have his team playing a little more consistently … Uh, Tim Stapleton. You might want to try shooting the puck from the slot instead of taking it behind the net. Just a thought … Was that Van Halen’s Jump they were playing on the organ in the half-empty arena in Sunrise, Fla.? Now that’s paying homage to the Jets of old … Pavelec looks like he has put the Philadelphia debacle behind him with back-to-back solid games … Kids under the age of 16 who wore a costume got into Monday night’s game got in free of charge and the Panthers still only drew 11,855 for a division rivalry game. Too bad so many of those kids dressed up as empty seats … The only way you could get into a Jets game in Winnipeg for free would be if you dressed as David Thomson, and you actually were David Thomson … The Jets got off to a great start, perhaps because the former Thrashers felt at home playing in front of such a crappy crowd … What an awful last two minutes of the first period by the Jets. It looked like a power play for the Panthers and with all the time and space, they were able score with 20 seconds left … the Jets were outshot 20-7 in the first so they were pretty lucky to leave with a 2-1 lead … Liked the headline on the blog of Miami Herald hockey writer George Richards Monday: Trick or Treat, here come the Atlanta Thrashers dressed up as Winnipeg Jets.
Bryan Little keeps getting plenty of ice time, even though he is squeezing his stick big time in the offensive zone. Noel must have faith in his top-line centre and Little has been showing some of the offensive skills he’s displayed in the past in the last couple of games. Little scored 31 goals in his first season, fell to 13 in his second and got just 18 last year. Right now the Jets would be happy if he got back to that number.