The scoreboard read 5-1 for the visiting Montreal Canadiens over the hometown Winnipeg Jets when the final buzzer sounded, but even the unfavorable result couldn't put a damper on last night's game and what it means to the city of Winnipeg and its populace. The NHL officially returned the the River City last evening, as the first regular season game in over 15 years was played in front of 15,004 delirious fans who gave the team a standing ovation in the final minute in a game where they were getting thrashed. Despite the result, there are still a lot of very happy people in Winnipeg, the province of Manitoba, and no doubt the entire country of Canada. The only thing that would have made it better was a win. Stupid Montreal.
What an atmosphere in the MTS Centre last night. It was so loud. The crowd was roaring leading up to the anthem, and when the crowd helped belt out 'O Canada' I had goosebumps. The Rick Rypien tribute video was very well done, and the cheers elicited at the end of it were loud and proud. Even when Cammalleri scored to quiet us down, I think that the crowd did a great job of staying loud and keeping the "Go Jets Go!" chants going. The standing ovation at the end just went to show that this wasn't just a regular season home opener. This is the beginning of a new era here in Winnipeg, and despite the loss, it is now official. The Winnipeg Jets are back!
Montreal Canadiens 5 - Winnipeg Jets 1
3:05 MTL Michael Cammalleri (1) - Unassisted
4:41 MTL PPG - Yannick Weber (1) - Tomas Plekanec (1) & David Desharnais (1)
10:31 MTL Travis Moen (1) - Tomas Plekanec (2)
Thoughts on the Game:
- Here you go, Trivia Buffs. First Jets Goal - Nik Antropov. First Jets Penalty - Jim Slater.
- Despite what the final score says, I didn't think that the Jets played that bad. Every mistake they made ended up in their net, and that is obviously an area of concern, but when Antropov scored to make it 2-1 they were still in the game.
- How bad was the Byfuglien penalty call in the 3rd that led to the Weber goal? It certainly looked like a phantom penalty to us in the rink, and judging by the responses I saw on Twitter it must have looked just as bad on TV. At that point the game was 2-1 and the Jets were charging, but after the PP goal the game was all but over.
- Johnny Oduya was awful last night. He was a team-worst -3 on the evening, but was directly responsible for the first two goals Montreal scored. How bad did he look on the Plekanec goal on TV? It sure looked bad live in in person, and there were quite a few grumbles from the crowd about how bad he was.
- I can't really fault Pavelec for the result. His stat line looks pretty horrendous (5 goals on 22 shots), but three of the goals were absolute snipes (the Weber goal on the PP was a rocket), and both Plekanec and Moen came in alone due to defensive breakdowns. I won't pin the loss on the goalie, as his team made too many mistakes in front of him, but a save or two would have been nice.
- Tobias Enstrom led the team in ice-time with 25:23, followed by Zach Bogosian with 22:58 and Dustin Byfuglien with 21:26. The lowest amount of ice-time went to Jim Slater with 10:02, but the second least amount of time is worrisome to me. Evander Kane only played 10:34 last night, less then Chris Thorburn and Mark Scheifele. I hope that Kane is either nursing a minor injury, or just didn't get out on the ice due to circumstance (PP vs PK), as having our young star in the making stapled to the bench in game one is alarming.
- Speaking of Scheifele, he didn't play very well. Unlike the pre-season where he was the best player on the ice for a few games, he was barely noticeable yesterday and was routinely knocked off the puck by bigger d-men like P.K. Subban and Hal Gill. It is only game one of what I hope will be a long and productive career, but with a few more performances like this he will be back in Barrie very soon.
- I thought that the top line of Andrew Ladd, Bryan Little and Blake Wheeler played well enough. They generated some chances and showed some flashes, but just couldn't get one by Carey Price (who was excellent all game). The line of Antropov, Burmistrov and Brett MacLean looked pretty good too, and I'm curious to see how long it will take for MacLean to fit into this system. He was okay, and I hope for better things from that line.
- I really like the d-pairing of Bogosian and Mark Stuart. Bogosian looked very solid all night, and Stuart is a very steady partner. I have high hopes for Bogo this season, but perhaps I'm biased. I got my Bogosian Jets Jersey earlier in the day (authentic in the home blue) and it looks great!
- Up next is a visit to the Madhouse on Madison, as the Jets travel to Chicago to take on the Blackhawks on Thursday. A few days off followed by a two-game road trip will hopefully get the team a chance to work on some things in practice. I'm sure coach Noel already knows what he will want to work on.