Photo by the late Denis Brodeur
When Teemu made his return to Winnipeg December 17, 2011, it was his first time in front of a Jets crowd since Febuary 4th, 1996. It also seemed like it might be his last, as the aging veteran struggled through a lockout shortened schedule in 2012/13 while the Jets toiled away under the wonky reality of playing in the Southeast. The NHL robbed Winnipeg nostalgia mongers of a year of their livelihood, and if not for Selänne’s 43 year old season, the damages may have exceed dozens of dollars.
Thankfully for all involved, Jets fans get one more chance to chant ‘Teemu.’
Anaheim went to overtime in Minnesota last night, and so the Jets are handed another slight advantage in this early season contest. The team needs to collect on the two points available to them, but that doesn’t mean the fans can’t watch the real point of tonight’s game – #8 in white.
- Ladd – Little – Wheeler
- Kane – Scheifele – Setoguchi
- Tangradi – Jokinen – Frolik
- Wright – Slater – Thorburn
There’s something vaguely calming about writing the same lines out from one game to the next without wondering how it’s possible to set up a multitude of soft-minutes forwards for success in one lineup. Now we know – they just won’t set up those forwards for success. The first three lines will have a fighting chance, and we can hope the opposition also dresses a miserable 4th line so that our three-some of also-rans don’t look so out of place. Their families are watching. It’s the least the other team could do.
- Enstrom – Byfuglien
- Bogosian – Trouba
- Stuart / Clitsome – Postma
Okay, so Byfuglien looks as crazy as ever. But did you also know he has four points? And that Enstrom has 3? Together, this duo is picking up where 2011/12 left off, dominating possession and shot attempts, racking up points, and yes, even collecting three combined points on a 2-for-10 Jets powerplay (that’s 20%! Like a real team!).
Still, special teams continue to be a problem to start the new season, and the Penalty Kill is only 6-for-10 so far, while the powerplay is struggling with possession – by eye and math. Math tells us their 86% corsi% would have had them 23rd in the league last year and is down from 88.4% a year ago (you know, when they couldn’t hold the zone or score – not even for 58 millions dollars). It’s early, and we know Vincent is measuring success by zone time and shot attempts, so the team is likely aware of the problem.
The other problem the Jets have is that bottom pairing. Trouba and Bogosian are floating around 40% for shot attempts (corsi) for through two games, but against tough opposition and with Bogo on his off-side. Stuart and Postma, however, have been a sinkhole, and the team needs Clitsome to stabilize that pairing when he draws in.
Pavelec has been kinda okay… maybe… good? I feel dirty, like I just lied to my grandma.
- Penner – Getzlaf – Perry
- Silfverberg – Perreault – Selänne
- Cogliano – Koivu – Winnik
- Beleskey – Bonino – Palmieri
The Ducks are 1-1 so far on the year, dropping an ugly contest 6-1 to the up-start Avs and fumbling a 3-1 lead in the third to the Wild before escaping with a win in OT.
The Cogliano/Koivu/Winnik trio took Anaheim’s tough minutes last year and were a critical part of the Ducks’ success (along with some luck and their three stars). It’s a line that played better than the sum of its parts, and whether they can repeat their performance over 82 games is one of the most important questions facing the Ducks this season.
The next quesiton is who will score. They could really use a guy like Bobby Ryan. (Too soon? Too obvious?) Selänne rested against Minnesota, which is how Penner got back in the lineup. But he scored a goal, so the two-time Cup winner is back with his old pals for another game. His competition for that roster spot is Patrick Maroon. How far the mighty have fallen.
The Ducks have a total of 5 goals on the year and already Silfverberg, Bonino, and Perreault each have two points. Bonino is moving around the lineup, and scored his goal on the powerplay with Perry and Getzlaf, which makes sense because despite being 25 and a former 6th rounder, the Ducks still consider him a budding young player. Yeesh. Emerson Etem can’t return fast enough.
- Beauchemin – Fowler
- Allen – Vatanen
- Fistric – Lovejoy
The Ducks are shallow on the back-end, worse with Souray’s wrist surgery and Sbisa’s ankle sprain. The Beauchemin/Fowler pairing is a combined -6 through two games, but will have to continue to face the tough minutes as Allen struggled with sheltering last year and his partner has just 10 NHL games under his belt. Fistric and Lovejoy are both well on their ways to being journeymen, after underwhelming stints in Dallas and Edmonton, and Pittsbugh respectively.
A lot rides on the goaltending duo of Jonas Hiller and Viktor Fasth – but they won’t have much help.
Look for the Jets to expose their gaps early and often with their vertical offence. The Jets’ top line excels at exploding off the boards in the cycle, and their second line generates from the room that Kane leaves in his wake. Against a defence group with slow feet and slow brains, it should be a shooting gallery.
In the first game of the season, I said that predicitions made me uncomfortable because they’re too vague. They often feel like a game of Pin the Tail on the Donkey. So I’m making some really specific predictions this year. Occassionally we’ll look back for ‘I Told You So’ moments. We will never look back otherwise.
The Jets face another tired road team on the second night of a back-to-back. This one starts a fresh goalie, but an already injury-ravaged blue line and General Manager-ravaged forward group. That will be the reason fed to fans after the game for why the Jets come out with their third straight win. But in fact, it will be the Jets puck-moving, mobile defence group exposing Anaheim’s aggressive puck-pressure system and the Jets’ forwards making Anaheim’s defenders look more like extras from Theodore Tugboat than NHL athletes.
In sum, the Jets earn their first legitimate, undeniable, without-the-help-of-flukie-goals win. Final score is 5-2, with an empty netter by James Wright because he’s out there in the final minutes (albeit with a two goal lead). Somehow, this coaching mistake leads some in the media to expound upon his tight-game defensive ability and general trustworthiness. Other facepalm.
Monday we’ll be talking about Dustin Byfuglien’s canon of a powerplay goal and Evander Kane’s seemingly constant one-on-one’s in transition, not to mention his sick pull and release from just outside his left foot to just over Hiller’s left shoulder in the third. Wheeler gets his first point of the season in the first period when Andrew Ladd storms the front of the net and deflects in a puck, and the line as a whole looks more comfortable as the game wears on, owing as much to Anaheim’s fatigued and sagging defence as to their own improvement.
In a losing effort, Teemu pots a powerplay marker in the second. The MTS Centre gives him a standing ovation (again) and cheers loudly for the only player we like seeing score against us.
Selänne currently sits 15th in all-time scoring, just 37 points back of Stan Mikita and already 21 points ahead of 18th place Dale Hawerchuk. He sits just 25 goals shy of 700 – a lot to ask for a 43 year old, but another possibly landmark in his final campaign.
He scored 306 – a just over a fifth of his current total – in a Jets uniform, including his memorable 132 point rookie campaign. We here at Jets Nation choose not to remember the season he was out-scored by teammate John-Michael Liles, but instead celebrate his highlights: a 62 point season with Jokerit that earned him both the Kultainen Kypärä and the Kanada Malja; a Calder trophy and the record for most goals by a rookie; 10 seasons on pace for 40 or more goals; two 100+ point campaigns; and, of course, the 2007 Stanley Cup.
Maybe the most remarkable part of Teemu’s career is that he’s been so able to adapt. He adapted to dead-puck, clutch and grab hockey. He adjusted to his own speed diminishing. He made it work with new teams and new systems and new player technologies. And he did it over a 24 season professional career in which he even adapted to a new continent. He will be missed.
"Yeah!" Teemu. Yeah.
Anyone at the MTS Centre tonight – say goodbye to Teemu for me.