Tonight the traveling circus known as the Winnipeg Jets 3.0 and legions of their fans square off in Phoenix. You may have heard of the Coyotes, aka Winnipeg Jets 2.0, who were a whisker away from coming home on two occasions. If you have never seen a game in Glendale you should plan a nice week long vacation there around the Coyotes schedule. Beautiful facility and a great town. There is nothing quite like walking up to a game in December or January wearing shorts and flip-flops. I don’t have the numbers of how many Jets fans will be there tonight but I would estimate at least 4,000. I personally know 4 people who will be there. Should be a great time!
It was interesting to hear many Jets fans cheering in the first period in Chicago on Wednesday night. I think that is going to be the norm for the Jets this year. Their fans are scattered all over North America.
As far as tonight’s game is concerned, this should be the night they get their first victory. Statistically I would bet that teams tend to win their home opener more than not (Willis can you confirm or deny?) so this is by no means a gimme. That being said the Jets will no doubt hear the cheers they get from thousands of fans that spent their own dough to get here. (You’re the best player coach ever Reggie Dunlop!) They are also facing the weakest team of the three they have played so far up to tonight.
All eyes will be on Shane Doan, one of the last remaining Jets from version 2.0. While he has softened his stance about Winnipeg returning now that he doesn’t have to move there, he ruffled a few feathers in Winnipeg in May and is not a revered as he once was. It is important to remember though he only played one season in Winnipeg, and Phoenix has been his home for 15. After this year there will be 20+ players with as much tenure in the city as he has. Doan has gotten off to a great start 3 goals and 5 points in the first 3 games. Phoenix comes into the game with a 1-1-1 record, good for a tie of 8th in the West.
On the Jets side of business, their first line needs to have a statement game. It’s been a slow start for every player not named Jim Slater. I have not seen anything confirm at this moment about a starting goalie but tonight would be a good time to give Chris Mason a start. I would think that Ondrej Pavelec would play Monday against Pittsburgh and you don’t want Mason going that long without a game. Winnipeg is winless in their first two contests and is the only team in the NHL with no points. Of course that means they are 30th in the NHL standings but have only played 2 games while several have played 4 and Pittsburgh and Carolina have already played 5.
Game is on CBC’s hockey night in Canada.
Prediction – 5-2 Winnipeg victory with an empty net goal.
Prediction #2 – Bombers never win in Edmonton but tonight the curse ends. 33-24 Bombers. Several people will be rummaging through the junk drawer trying to find a “AAA” battery because they burned out the remote. The Jets and the Bombers play at the same time tonight…hate that!
Prediction #3 – At least 200 people will talk about how much fun it was to go to Blue Bombers and Winnipeg Jets double headers back in the day. There was nothing better than sitting in Chi-Chi’s after the Blue dominated and watching CJOB do the post game show from there. Then you head over to the Arena and watch the pre game skate. That my friends in a little slice of heaven…
Dean has partied at Portage and Main (Bombers 1984,88,90) and cried (Jets rally 1995). He fondly remembers seeing Selanne's first goal, when Ellett scored in overtime, and not so fondly when they drafted Sergei Bautin. Is also a fan of the NFL Vikings and Raiders, the Toronto Blue Jays, the Oilers, and loves MMA. Participates in the best hockey pool ever and is addicted to Fantasy Football. He also has a weird fascination with the Bearcats. You can follow him on Twitter @bearcats_dean