Jets win could be promising sign

Jets forward Chris Thorburn fights with Flyers forward Tom Sestito at the Wells Fargo Center in...

Jets forward Chris Thorburn fights with Flyers forward Tom Sestito at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Penn., Jan. 31, 2012. (TIM SHAFFER/Reuters)

KIRK PENTON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:08 AM ET

WINNIPEG - Chris Thorburn scored a goal, and Ondrej Pavelec was unbeatable in the shootout.

Maybe there is hope for the Winnipeg Jets after all.

The Jets played a superb game on Tuesday night in Philly, looking nothing like a team that just had six days off. They didn’t get a shot until after the midway mark of the first period, but after that they were dynamite for the most part.

The offence was cold, like it usually is, but Pavelec was excellent and the team defence was solid. It was the kind of game the Jets usually win on the road. It’s just so hard to do on a consistent basis.

But if you believe in omens, it was a promising start to the stretch drive.

WHERE'S THE BEEF?

If there’s one thing the Jets could use besides the return of Dustin Byfuglien and Evander Kane, is some more beef up front. They need to get more people in front of the net, and they need to get more pucks in that traffic … There were no shots in the first 10 minutes of the game — for either team. Maybe next year they should black out the opening period of everyone’s first game back after the all-star break … The Jets, however, didn’t look any different in the first period than they usually do. Something has to be done about this team’s opening 20 minutes, because it’s killing them. They have six goals in their last 17 first periods … Thorburn took a stupid penalty when he punched Scott Hartnell in the head, but how Hartnell didn’t get a penalty there is confusing. One or two shoves is fine, but he shoved Thorburn five times and should have received a roughing minor. However, Thorburn has to be the bigger man in that situation and not punch Hartnell. If you’re not scoring goals, you can’t be doing that … And then the Flyers scored. That made the penalty even worse … Then Thorburn went and TOTALLY redeemed himself when he scored his first goal of the season early in the second. He didn’t have to bank it in off someone’s rear end, either, which is usually how 59-game goal droughts come to an end. He went upstairs on Ilya Bryzgalov, and boy, did he ever look happy …

STUART'S NO DUMMY

Mark Stuart decided not to fight Jody Shelley. Smart move. There are some fighters Stuart should tangle with, and some he should not. Shelley probably falls in the latter group … Flyers forward Sean Couturier was picked one spot after Mark Scheifele in last year’s draft, and he has 10 goals and nine assists in 44 games. Not only that, but he’s plus-13. Then again, he did have three years of major junior experience while Scheifele had only one at the time of the draft, so the comparisons can’t truly begin for a few years yet … And to think, Braydon Coburn would be on Winnipeg’s blue-line today if the Thrashers hadn’t traded him to the Flyers for Alexei Zhitnik five years ago. In case you didn’t track Zhitnik’s career with a fine-toothed comb, the Flyers won that trade … Nik Antropov had the pass of the night when he went between a Flyer defenceman’s legs to hit the stick of Eric Fehr, who failed to bury the puck but needs to start doing that now that he’s getting top-six ice time … Blake Wheeler’s prime-time move these days is breaking down the left side, holding off the defenceman with his right arm and swinging towards the crease with his puck. It’s a great move, and it should result in goals more often than not. Even if Wheeler doesn’t score, there should be juicy rebounds in the resulting mass of humanity … Wheeler was once again Winnipeg’s top forward, with Bryan Little getting an honourable mention.

HOW ABOUT THORNBURN?

Loved the second intermission feature on the boob tube about each player’s favourite road city. That made up for the incorrect spelling of Thorburn when the goal scorer was interviewed a few minutes earlier … Not that I’ve ever made a spelling mistake or anything … Aaron Gagnon looks OK out there … Pavelec’s best save of the night, excluding the shootout, came in the third when he stoned Hartnell, who took a pass and broke in all alone … Andrew Ladd’s failure to score in that wide-open net with 58 seconds left in the third was just another example of this team’s inability to finish … Admit it. If you were aware of Pavelec’s 4-12 shootout record, you weren’t hopeful when the game went to the breakaway competition. Then, when he stopped all three shots he faced, you said stats are for losers … Next up is Tampa in sunny Florida on Thursday night, when the Jets will attempt to win back-to-back games for the first time in more than a month. Hey, it’s Groundhog Day. Maybe they’ll get a repeat performance.


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