Saturday’s 2-1 loss to the New Jersey Devils proved costly for the Winnipeg Jets. Not only have they lost their fifth game in six tries, the injury bug hit again in a big way. Early in the second period, Winnipeg’s Blake Wheeler received a hard shot to the throat from Devils forward Petr Sykora and was taken to hospital. At this time all tests have come back negative (negative for what….who knows) but as a precautionary the Health Sciences Centre are keeping Wheeler for another 24 hours. I took a little more time to get this article posted because I wanted to wait and see what the word was on Wheeler. For now he will not accompany the team as the Jets head to Ottawa and it’s undecided if he will meet the team at a later date during their short road trip. Hopefully it’s not too serious. The Jets already are hit hard with the injury bug with Dustin Byfuglien and Zach Bogosian out. Wheeler has really improved his game in the last couple of months now leading the team in points. The “silver lining” if there is one on this was at least Wheeler managed to skate off the ice himself. Blake, I hope you are okay, get well soon.
Although he didn’t face as many shots as other games, Winnipeg’s goaltender Ondrej Pavelec did make some tremendous saves. One in particular was Pavelec’s save on New Jersey’s Henrik Tallinder as Pavelec was forced to sprawl across the net managing to get his right pad to stop Tallinder’s wrist shot. If there has been any bright spot in this “mini-slump” the Jets are in, it’s the consistent, solid play of Pavelec. Hopefully the rest of the team gets their act together and gives him support in the form of scoring more goals at the other end.
Home Grown Manitoban Talent
Winnipeg native and current New Jersey Devil Travis Zajac was unable to again play before family and friends due to an injury. Fellow Manitobans, Jets Eric Fehr and the Devils Bryce Salvador, were able to play before their home province. The reason why I brought this up is with the All Star Game coming up in Ottawa, I was trying to figure out an “all-time” Manitoba first line. This is my “all-time” First Team Manitoba All Star line up:
Bobby Clarke (Flin Flon, 1970-1984)
Andy Bathgate (Winnipeg, 1953-1971)
Butch Goring (St. Boniface, 1970-1985)
James Patrick (Winnipeg, 1984-2004)
Dallas Smith (Hamiota, 1960-1978)
Ed Belfour (Carman, 1989-2007)
Why Dallas Smith you ask on defense? I couldn’t ignore his career +355 plus/minus stat. There are so many names to choose from. There’s current NHL players in Chicago Jonathan Toews, Patrick Sharp and Duncan Keith, Los Angeles’ Dustin Penner, Toronto’s James Reimer and St. Louis’ Alex Steen. Here are a few honourable mentions to former players:
Bill Derlago F (Birtle, 1979-1987); Dean Evason F (Flin Flon, 1984-1996); Pat Fallon F(Foxwarren, 1992-2000); Dennis Hextall F (Poplar Point, 1969-1980); Ron Hextall G(Brandon, 1987-1999); Mike Keane F (Winnipeg, 1989-2004); Reggie Leach F (Riverton, 1971-1983); Grant Ledyard D (Winnipeg, 1985-2002); Ab McDonald F (Winnipeg, 1959-1972); Bill Mosienko F (Winnipeg, 1942-1955); Mike Ridley F (Winnipeg, 1986-1997); Blaine Stoughton F (Gilbert Plains, 1974-1984); Carey Wilson F (Winnipeg, 1984-1993); Ken Wregget G (Brandon, 1984-2000), Terry Sawchuk G (Winnipeg, 1950-1970); Bill Ranford G (Brandon, 1986-2000); Glen Hanlon G (Brandon, 1978-1991); and Turk Broda G (Brandon, 1937-1952)
That’s a pretty good list if you ask me. Not sure what’s in the water in Brandon, but it seems that’s Manitoba’s “hot spot” for producing goaltenders.
The Jets have another back-to-back set on the road starting on Monday night against the Ottawa Senators. The Senators lead the season series 2-0 with the most recent victory coming at the end of November with a 6-4 victory over the Jets.