Though fans of the Winnipeg Jets had images of trumpets and fanfare celebrating the NHL's return to relevancy, today's game devolved into more of a nightmare than anything worth lauding.
For the second time in as many years, the Jets were unable to treat their fans to an opening day victory in what turned out to be a very sloppy affair at the MTS Centre.
The day started well for the hometown team as Dustin Byfuglien ripped a powerplay slap shot past an unsuspecting Craig Anderson, giving the Jets an early 1-0 lead.
Byfuglien's goal would be the lone bright spot in an otherwise awkward game which saw the Ottawa Senators respond with four unanswered goals from Milan Michalek, Chris Neil, Erik Karlsson and Kyle Turris, on their way to a 4-1 win.
Missed passes and turnovers became Winnipeg's krypton as the Senators were able to capitalize on a multitude of mistakes while mounting their comeback.
The game as a whole was more reminiscent of a spit-squad exhibition game. Players from both sides doggedly worked their way up and down the ice for better parts of the second and third periods, clearly exhausted from their lack of action over the past four months. The packed house at the MTS Centre sat quietly for most of the afternoon, wondering if an actual game would finally break out.
Unfortunately, it didn't.
"There wasn't much speed in this game," said Jets' forward Blake Wheeler after the game. "They bottled us up pretty well and we bottled ourselves up a little bit too. It's tough to create scoring chances when you're trying to fight for the puck in the neutral zone all game".
For the Jets' it was Byfuglien along with his defensive cohort Tobias Enstrom who put forth strong performances, standing out as Winnipeg's best. Up front, the line of Nik Antropov, Alexei Ponikarovsky and Alexander Burmistrov appeared to be the most competent of Claude Noel's forward units. The trio did a good job controlling the puck through the cycle, though they weren't able to mount much of a sustained threat offensively.
As for Noel, he believed today's game wasn't indicative of what the 2013 Jets are capable of.
"I thought we didn't get a lot of 'A-games' from our players", Noel said after the game. "I don't think that you saw what we thought that we could see."
A big question leading into today's match-up was how the Jets planned on handling the ice-time of 2011 first round draft pick Mark Scheifele. While Scheifele's play didn't spark a jolt into the distressed crowd at the MTSC, he didn't look out of place on a line with Jim Slater and Chris Thorburn, totalling 11:48 in ice-time and two shots on goal.
As for his five game trial period, Scheifele is trying to put it out of mind and just let his play do the talking.
"It's about the team right now. I'm just focused on what's at task right now."