Well, that was a fun season. I can't believe it's over already, but how awesome was it having the Jets back?
Despite losing 4-3 to the Tampa Bay Lightning in overtime this evening, the game still gave the 15,004 in the MTS Centre lots to cheer for. Sure, part of it was when Steven Stamkos scored his 60th of the season, which actually earned him a rare standing-O from the Winnipeg crowd. But it was mostly a Jets love-in as it's been all season, as the sold-out building took every chance to cheer on their squad like crazy for the final time in the 2011-12 season. Since the fans didn't want this season to end, Jim Slater did what he could to extend it as his goal with 53 seconds left meant overtime. And so what if Teddy Purcell finished off his hat-trick 1:08 into extra time? The result didn't matter. Tonight's game was simply a chance for the players and the fans to thank each other for an amazing season. Welcome back boys. We hope you enjoyed your season in Winnipeg and we already can't wait for next year.
The Winnipeg Jets 2.0 will now be repaired, cleaned up and put into storage for the summer after finishing their 82nd game of the season, as their 84 points (37-35-10 record) was only good enough for 11th spot in the Eastern Conference. The Jets ended up eight points out of the 8th and final playoff spot, and ten points out of 1st in the Southeast Division. If only we didn't suck so bad in the second half of back-to-backs...
On the positive side, the extra point for the Lightning means that both teams finished with 84 points, but due to the ROW tie-breaker the Lightning finish the season in 10th spot and the Jets 11th, moving the Jets up one spot in the NHL Entry Draft. At this moment in time, the Jets hold the 9th overall pick. At least we'll have that to look forward to...
Recap and game thoughts after The Jump.
1st Period: 17:49 TB Teddy Purcell 22 (Vincent Lecavalier)
2nd Period: 1:12 TB Teddy Purcell 23 (Vincent Levavalier, J.T. Brown) 8:53 WPG Nik Antropov 15 (Antti Miettinen, Evander Kane)
3rd Period: 3:29 TB Steven Stamkos 60 (Martin St. Louis, Brian Lee) 4:59 WPG Jim Slater 12 (Grant Clitsome, Tobias Enstrom) 19:07 WPG Jim Slater 13 (Blake Wheeler, Andrew Ladd)
Overtime: 1:08 TB Teddy Purcell 24 (Victor Hedman)
Shots: WPG 31 TB 25
3 Stars: 1) Teddy Purcell 2) Jim Slater 3) Steven Stamkos
Thoughts from the Tarmac:
- The Jets finished the year with a 23-13-5 record at the MTS Centre, but only a 14-22-5 record on the road. That road record is just awful, and this area will need to be addressed next season.
- So Steven Stamkos gets #60 in the MTS Centre. But you know what? It was awesome. I'm glad he scored tonight, as history occured in our barn. On top of that, the standing ovation that crowd gave him was uber-classy. Props to the fans.
- The Jets started poorly again, which Coach Noel must have been pleased with. 3 shots in the first period? Come on boys. That isn't the way to start games.
- But as per usual, the Jets came back with a vengeance. They outshot the Lightning 28-17 in the final two periods and overtime, and they also hit 3 or 4 posts. This team continued to try really hard. I like that.
- Jim Slater scored twice in the 3rd period, finished +2 with 4 shots and won 10 of 13 faceoffs. On top of that, he won The Staffmax Staffing & Recruiting Community Service Award earlier in the night. This is one UFA that I really want to come back. AC Slater is a beaut.
- Two other UFA's, Tanner Glass and Kyle Wellwood, sat up in the press-box with injuries. Will either of them be back next season? When I asked my magic 8-ball, it suggested that I "Ask Again Later". But when I asked again later, it said that "Signs Point To Yes". Good news on that front!
- Tim Stapleton, Chris Mason, Randy Jones and Mark Flood are the other UFA's. The RFA's are Evander Kane, Ondrej Pavelec, Eric Fehr and Spencer Machacek. And the St. John's Ice Caps have a bunch of RFA's as well, including Paul Postma and Arturs Kulda. Chevy will be busy this summer.
- Zach Bogosian played a team-high 26:45, and looked really solid again. I think that Bogo was our best defender all season, and that his injury was a major reason why we missed the playoffs. This guy is a beast.
- Mittens looked good again tonight. He finished +2, assisted on Antro's goal, and really played well in the final 15-20 games of the year. Once he got that first goal he never looked back. He's under contract next year, and I'm okay with that.
- The Jets foolishly finished with 6 points in their final five games. They finished 6 points up on the 15th place Habs. That is some pretty poor tanking...
- Despite missing the playoffs, this season was incredibly fun. Being able to sit in the MTS Centre and watch NHL hockey again was an unreal experience. The Jets finished about where I figured they would, but the fact that they played important hockey games late into March? Good stuff there.
- And with the 9th overall selection (unless they or someone below them win the Draft Lottery), the Winnipeg Jets proudly select...