Tempers Flare at MTS Centre

A visibly angry Winnipeg head coach came to greet the media after the miserable loss at home Tuesday night, and made it crystal clear he wasn’t going to comment on the officiating.

Winnipeg hockey fans sure did, though. They were spewing a froth so disdainful and thick that it could have been walked on. The raucous crowd left their seats as beer cans and food boxes left their hands, ice-bound. The focus of their ire? The refs, of course.

The entire game between the Jets and Sharks can be whittled down to little more than one play. Forget the Sharks’ shorthanded goal late in the first, care of Chris Tierney off of a Dustin Byfuglien giveaway in the neutral zone. Forget Thornton’s goal, the one that put the Sharks ahead, that came in the last minute of the first period. Tomas Hertl came streaking in and Hellebuyck made a nice stop on him, but Joe Thornton was there to tap home the rebound.

Yes, forget all of those plays, and others, too. Because the game came down to the Wheeler penalty. After Myers took an atrocious five-minute major and ten-minute misconduct for cross-checking with 7:05 left in the third, the Jets were facing the majority of the time remaining on the penalty kill. Just over a minute later, Blake Wheeler tripped goaltender Alex Stalock—who was caught outside the net—while tracking the puck behind the net. Down went Stalock, and Wheeler wrapped the puck around an empty net for what 15,000-plus fans thought was the tying goal.

Wheeler was called for tripping, the goal was disallowed, the fans nearly rioted, and garbage rained down from the rafters at MTS Centre and littered the ice.

After the game, Wheeler said that he’s man enough to admit if he slew footed the goalie, but according to him that wasn’t the case. Wheeler said he was after the puck, and he was turning tight around the net and Stalock was in a bad spot. He also said that he kept his left foot—the one that ended up tripping Stalock—in position and never moved it toward wandering goaltender.

From where I was sitting, contact appeared incidental. I’ve seen it plenty of times around the league where a goalie gets knocked down after he leaves the crease to play the puck as a defenseman. I’ve seen contact with the goalie not get called because the goalie was out of position. Why this time?

But, at the end of the night, it was Paul Maurice’s words that summed up the game. “We weren’t as good as we needed to be to beat that team. They were faster than we were, and it was apparent all the way through the game. We got down but we had some chances to tie the game. We were in a 2-1 game, so it’s not out of reach at any point. But they were faster than us.”

Indeed.

I just can’t figure out whether the Sharks were impressive, or the Jets were embarrassing themselves out there. This was a back-to-backer for the Sharks, and their third in four days—all of which they won—and they were quicker than a Jets team who’ve only played two in their last five days, and lost both.

It’s not like the Jets didn’t get their chances, though, because they did. But a team can’t expect to win a hockey game when they take 35 minutes worth of penalties, including the ten-minute misconduct to Tyler Myers. Even without the misconduct, there was more than an entire period’s worth of hockey the Jets played short handed.

Unacceptable.

The five-on-three at the end of the game proved too much for the Jets, and they couldn’t fight off the Shark attack. Joe Pavelski put the game away with a perfectly placed one-timer from Logan Couture that went short side over Hellebuyck’s blocker. The Sharks potted an empty netter, and the final score was 4-1.

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The Great Jersey Toss is Upon Us

…and the honeymoon is definitely behind

Entitlement is something that doesn’t exist in sports. The only title that matters is ‘champion,’ and one has to win it to deserve it.

I don’t know what exactly it is with Winnipeg sports fans—maybe we’re all a little jaded from the quarter century (and counting) Grey Cup drought that’s plagued the Bombers—that makes us think that we somehow deserve a winning team this very second. No one city of fans anywhere deserves anything.

Lately, people have been calling for a reform of the Jets’ upper ranks. They’re calling for blood on the social networks, and the blood they want is that of the GM and the owner and the very organization that brought the team here. Not even the players are safe…

And sometime I think, what the hell, the Twitter GMs are right…let’s give them a shot at running the team. What could go wrong with plans to trade Trouba, a third-year player with his peak seasons well ahead of him and much learning still on the way, straight up for Travis Hamonic, a sixth year player who in his first two seasons racked up over 170 PIMs? Last season, Hamonic found his way to the box for 85 minutes. This kind of player couldn’t possibly have repercussions for the Jets, right? But hey, the man want’s to play here, so clearly…

The armchair GMs would also bring in Steven Stampkos, bring back Lee Stempniak, lynch Andrew Ladd, and trade Dustin Byfuglien for, I don’t know, Drew Doughty. Sounds great to me. Hey Twitter, by the power vested in me, I hereby declare you hired.

While you’re at it, why don’t you guys sit down Mark Chipman and the rest of True North Sports and Entertainment and really show ‘em how to run a multi-million dollar business.

But in all seriousness, I really love the way people are trying to say that the ownership of this team is on the hook for a lousy performance in November (and that’s really what it all comes down to, that and a shitty power play), and that they are somehow ripping us all off. It’s totally true, too, and they all deserve a table saw to the jugular. Or maybe just a general strike, where no one buys tickets or merchandise anymore…yeah, that will show them. But the best way by far that we can show our ire with the organization is to continue the True North shout out during the anthem. But maybe we should all try and yell it louder and with more anger, that way, Chipman, sitting all the way up in the rafters, will feel a powerful vibration in his intestines every time and think, gee, these guys are really sending me a message here. Better make some phone calls and tell our boys to win some games.

At the conclusion of the season, the Jets’ championship drought will be at a dismal five seasons. But don’t seek the bomb shelter just yet. Intsead, consider the Calgary Flames who haven’t won the cup in 26 years. Or the New York Islanders, who last won the Stanley Cup in 1983. That’s a drought that, up to right now, has lasted 32 years. The Flyers last won the cup in 1975, which makes their drought currently sit at 40 years. And then there’s the Maple Leafs. The last time the Leafs won the cup was 1967, and it’s a date that’s been immortalized in music by the Tragically Hip. They’re on a drought of 48 years and counting (some have lived and died in that time), with no sign of a contending team on the horizon. Before 2010, the Blackhawks had gone 49 years without a Stanley Cup win.

The Jets have been a team (not including the first Jets) for a mere handful of seasons. Despite this, Jets fans are on the verge of a mass regurgitation of their precious jerseys, shirts and hats the likes of which would shame the renegade fans in Toronto. And it’s already begun with a tuque on the ice in Calgary after the Gaudreau hat trick. Perhaps before we all storm the gates and hang the Jets’ brass, lets all show our dissatisfaction with the entertainment that’s been presented to us by littering the ice surface with our prized colours.

I will acknowledge, however, that the Jets have seen better days. There current 32 points is the worst they’ve been at this point in the year since coming to Winnipeg. Even their last season in Atlanta was better by this date that year. On December 23rd last season, the Jets were 18-10-7, a healthy 43 points and right in the thick of it. This year, they’re a sad way away from being in the thick of anything besides the draft lottery race. By December 23rd in both the 13/14 and 11/12 seasons, the Jets had accumulated 37 points each, which would put them in third place in the wild card race just above the Avs.

All sarcasm aside though, ease up people. It’s just a game after all. Is our collective memory so short that we can’t remember the dark era of Winnipeg hockey? We’re not entitled to anything in the world of hockey just because we are Winnipeggers. We don’t deserve a Stanley Cup. One day though, if we’re patient, our team might develop into one that could win it.

Ten goals scored, Jets beat Jackets

It took an empty netter to put away the Blue Jackets.

With ten goals scored in this game, the final was 6-4 in favour of the Jets. Two of those goals, however, included back-to-back late third period goals by Cam Atkinson to bring the Jackets within one. But after Brian Little was able to find Blake Wheeler streaking at the blue line for the empty net strike, the Jets sealed their third win of December, and Hellebuyck’s fourth consecutive win as a rookie starter.

It wasn’t easy, though. The ref originally called Wheeler’s empty netter off to go upstairs on the suspicion of offside—a play that looked eerily similar to the game-winner against Washington last week.

But the play was ruled onside, and the goal stood.

Multiple Jets had big point-scoring nights, including Mattieu Perreault who scored once and had three assists for four points on the night. His line of Scheifele and Stafford produced nine points together. Stafford and Byfuglien each had a goal and three points.

The Jets got off to their best start in quite a few games, scoring twice in the first couple minutes. Scheifele got the first goal within the first minute after collecting his own rebound off a shot that went wide from the high slot. He was able to stuff it in between the post and McElhinney’s skate from in tight. Scheifele got a goal and an assist, and Little had a two-point night as well.

Then, a mere couple minutes later, Lowry tipped home his first of the year on a point shot from Byfuglien.

After Stuart and Campbell dropped the mitts—Campbell went after Stuart for a clean hit he laid on William Karlsson, earning him an instigator and a ten-minute misconduct—Byfuglien scored on the ensuing power play on a hard point-shot, something coach Paul Maurice was emphasizing in practice on Wednesday.

Late in the first, though, the Blue Jackets would net their first, and it took only five shots. Boone Jenner found himself in front of a loose puck in close on Hellebuyck and slid it five-hole to pull to make it 3-1 going into the intermission.

Despite being outshot in the second period 15-7, the Blue Jackets were able to find the back of the net again. And again their goal came late. With only 56 seconds remaining in the period, Scott Hartnell was able to put an ugly one behind Hellebuyck on the power play after Enstrom took the Jets’ fourth penalty of the game.

In the third period, a total of five goals were scored, including an empty netter by Blake Wheeler to seal the Jets’ victory. Stafford and Perreault both scored in the first half of the period to make it a three-goal game (5-2 Winnipeg). But Cam Atkinson knocked in two quick ones late in the frame, giving the Jackets some life. His second was scored with 1:44 remaining. That goal made it 5-4.

But less than a minute later, Wheeler found the empty net, and the Jets found their sixth win in their last ten games, and pull to one win above .500 this season.

The Jets currently sit in sixth place in the Central Division, five points ahead of the Avalanche, but three points behind the Wild.

The Jets’ next game is tomorrow in Chicago where they’ll get a chance to pull to within two points of the Blackhawks. Expect Hutchinson to start.

Special Episode 11 CrossOver SportsCast

Sean interviews former star athlete and current classmate Cliff Fewing (AKA Clint Fenwigs, find out how he got the name right here) on this special episode of CrossOver SportsCast.

This episode takes place post Jets vs. Canucks game, on the evening of Wednesday, November 18, at the Boston Pizza in downtown Winnipeg, and over the course of more than a couple pitchers of beer.

Rated PG 13 for coarse language. Listener discretion is advised.

 

CrossOver SportsCast Episode 10

In the tenth episode of CrossOver SportsCast, the boys talk hockey…surprisingly. They break down a Jets win that seemed to be a long time coming.

Also, they have a special guest on at the end of the episode, so make sure you tune in and stick around to find out who that is. Hint? It involves beer and a public place… What’s in this episode is just a teaser, however. If you want the full conversation (and I know you will), make sure to check back right here in the next couple days when Sean posts the full “special edition of CrossOver SportsCast.”

As for Sean and Jordan, they’ll still be around. This may be there final episode for about a month, but they plan on reviving CrossOver in the new year.

Thanks to all who have listened over the semester!

CrossOver SportsCast Episode 9

The Bombers are officially eliminated from the the 2015 Grey Cup playoffs, which Winnipeg is hosting. Sean called it last week.

This week, though, he’s struggling to talk.

The guys break down a couple Jets games, and talk about the big hit Byfulglien laid on Gallagher during the Habs game.

They even find some time to debate the finer points of Star Wars.

Check the 9th week of CrossOver SportsCast right here.

CrossOver SportsCast Episode 8

The guys throw some heat Evander Kane’s way after he appeared in the news once again.
This week, there’s a heavy Winnipeg Jets focus, as the guys discuss the team, specifically Blake Wheeler and his point streak.

Sean has officially called an end to the Bombers’ 2015 season after the loss to the Redblacks last week. But it’s not all dismal. There are some bright spots on the team despite their utter failure this year. Find out what that is in episode 8 of CrossOver SportsCast.

Also, they’ll talk to a world champion soccer player…well, not really, but close.

As always, comments, likes and dislikes are always welcome. They love subscribers too, so find them on iTunes or sperrun.wordpress.com.