Monday, October 10, 2011

Game 1 - Crash landing

Tonight was the night we've all been waiting for - the home opener. The Big Game. The fabled Return of the Jets.TNSE did a really great job of setting the stage - the crowd was raucous when the history clip brought up Hawerchuck, but exploded when Teemu appeared. It'll be interesting to see what happens when The Finnish Flash comes by. Also, how classy was it to let Rick Rypien's mom drop the puck? Just about anyone from Jets history could have been chosen, and TNSE chooses to honor a player who never even played in a Jets uniform.

As with most everything TNSE has done with the franchise, it was a classy, stand-up move.

Which brings us to game time. To say that the crowd was ready for this game is an understatement.

It would have been nice if the players were as ready as the fans. They played tight. It really showed up in the passing: passes were missed, made poorly, or worse, made when they shouldn't have. Captain Andrew Ladd said it best - they weren't making good decisions with the puck tonight. That's bang-on, and the Jets got spanked for those decisions. Turnovers led to Habs goals, and it put the visitors up early. The crowd got taken out of the game quickly, and only really got back into it early in the third when Nick Antropov scored the new franchises first goal, making it 2-1.

And that's when the refs took things back into their own hands. Dustin Byfuglien got called for interference soon after Antropov's goal. To say it was bad is being kind. It was a crap call, and not the first time Buff had been on the receiving end. If a player runs into you and falls down, you are not interfering with them. You're playing hockey. On the first call, Big Buff was chasing his man behind the net - someone steps in front of him, and it's #33 off to the sin bin. The second time was similar - player bounces off Byfuglien, and Byfuglien heads off.

It killed any momentum the Jets had, and the resulting PP goal took the crowd right back out of the game and put the game out of reach.

What could have been a really exciting finish was instead decided by poor officiating. Byfuglien didn't risk the fine by saying it, but it was written all over his face. He was pissed off about the calls, and rightly so.

While we're talking about #33, though - has anyone noticed that although he's eager to join (or lead) the rush, he's slow to get back? When you're playing D, you shouldn't be coasting back when the play goes the other way.

Other notes: Scheifele looked solid with Kane and Wellwood.  Wellwood was looking good, too, actually, chasing the puck down and maintaining possession well. Burmistrov also showed some real skill at playing keep-away when he had the puck. Pavelec looked... well, as much as you can't say all those goals were his fault.... you need your #1 goalie to steal some of those. That's the kind of thing that can turn around a game, or make the difference between golf and hockey in April. Mr. Oduya - repeat after me: "I will look where I'm passing."

It was a tough situation for the Jets to be in. The pressure here, tonight of all nights, was immense. I get that. Maybe Buff is right when he said that the road would help build some chemistry. It better. Right now, this team looked lost and woefully unprepared  for the season ahead.

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