February 1, 2012
Jets win could be promising sign
By KIRK PENTON, QMI Agency
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 didnít 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. Itís 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 thereís 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 Ö There were no shots in the first 10 minutes of the game ó for either team. Maybe next year they should black out the opening period of everyoneís first game back after the all-star break Ö The Jets, however, didnít look any different in the first period than they usually do. Something has to be done about this teamís opening 20 minutes, because itís killing them. They have six goals in their last 17 first periods Ö Thorburn took a stupid penalty when he punched Scott Hartnell in the head, but how Hartnell didnít 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 youíre not scoring goals, you canít be doing that Ö And then the Flyers scored. That made the penalty even worse Ö Then Thorburn went and TOTALLY redeemed himself when he scored his first goal of the season early in the second. He didnít have to bank it in off someoneís 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 Ö
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 Ö Flyers forward Sean Couturier was picked one spot after Mark Scheifele in last yearís draft, and he has 10 goals and nine assists in 44 games. Not only that, but heís 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 canít truly begin for a few years yet Ö And to think, Braydon Coburn would be on Winnipegís blue-line today if the Thrashers hadnít traded him to the Flyers for Alexei Zhitnik five years ago. In case you didnít track Zhitnikís career with a fine-toothed comb, the Flyers won that trade Ö Nik Antropov had the pass of the night when he went between a Flyer defencemanís legs to hit the stick of Eric Fehr, who failed to bury the puck but needs to start doing that now that heís getting top-six ice time Ö Blake Wheelerís 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. Itís a great move, and it should result in goals more often than not. Even if Wheeler doesnít score, there should be juicy rebounds in the resulting mass of humanity Ö Wheeler was once again Winnipegís top forward, with Bryan Little getting an honourable mention.
HOW ABOUT THORNBURN?
Loved the second intermission feature on the boob tube about each playerís favourite road city. That made up for the incorrect spelling of Thorburn when the goal scorer was interviewed a few minutes earlier Ö Not that Iíve ever made a spelling mistake or anything Ö Aaron Gagnon looks OK out there Ö Pavelecís 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 Ö Andrew Laddís failure to score in that wide-open net with 58 seconds left in the third was just another example of this teamís inability to finish Ö Admit it. If you were aware of Pavelecís 4-12 shootout record, you werenít hopeful when the game went to the breakaway competition. Then, when he stopped all three shots he faced, you said stats are for losers Ö 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, itís Groundhog Day. Maybe theyíll get a repeat performance.