I remember frequenting the JetsOwner website and message board as a teenager. At the time, I really wanted the fans in Winnipeg to get an NHL team again; the team seemed economically viable, and the people who I would talk to seemed very nice.
Many random booings and “True North!” anthem chantings later, and I want to take it all back. I’ll give Jets fans acknowledgment of their “passion”, but they’re also completely insufferable once the game starts. Like tonight’s game, when they took on the Leafs. Unfortunately for Toronto, it didn’t play out to their favour; while the score remained even until the home stretch, the Jets eventually were able to take off with a 4-2 defeat.
The Jets got on the board first, but not after imposing their offensive presence early in the opening period. This paid dividends when Dustin Byfuglien managed to find his way to the front of the net without obstruction; his close quarters shot snuck past James Reimer’s skate and into the back of the net. However, PA Parenteau was quick to respond. While Alexander Burmistrov sat in the box for latching onto Morgan Rielly, game-time-decision Tyler Bozak threw a wrist shot towards the net. Ondrej Pavelec rebounded it straight to Parenteau, who wasted no time in scoring his second of the season.
The restored tie lasted fewer than forty seconds, however, as the Jets found a way to repeat the same action. Mark Scheifele took quick advantage of Toby Enstrom’s shot and roofed his fifth goal of the year and the last tally of the period.
Things looked bad for a bit, but Toronto was once again able to tie the game. Mark Stuart preoccupied himself with a hit on Nazem Kadri, which gave Roman Polak an opportunity to rush in with the puck, eventually feeding Leo Komarov a foot-driven tap-in.
The game ultimately wasn’t meant to be, though. Winnipeg overwhelmed Toronto through the second half, throwing shots on net like a fire truck’s hose at a five-alarm blaze. Of all things, a failed powerplay opportunity was what came back to haunt the Leafs, as in the game’s dying minutes, Alex Burmistrov hopped out of the box, rushed the puck, drop passed to Blake Wheeler, and slid home a one-timer for the game winner. Bryan Little added an empty-netter in the closing seconds.
I feel that Dion Phaneuf deserves some credit for tonight’s game. While sheltered in terms of ice time, he played the toughest zone-based minutes of any Leafs defencemen, yet the team controlled play when he was present. As well, he grabbed an assist on Parenteau’s goal. This gives some credence to the theory that Phaneuf can be a pretty great player if properly utilized; it’s just a matter of this lasting for 82 games.
See You Next Time
The Leafs now move on to hosting the Detroit Red Wings. Mike Babcock’s first attempt at facing his old team didn’t go so great; a 4-0 loss at the Joe, but maybe he’ll have a bit more luck at home? Puck drop is at 7PM on Friday night.