THAT HURTS

Jets on the brink of start­ing an­other sum­mer va­ca­tion af­ter lack­adaisi­cal loss to Flames

The Province - - SPORTS - PAUL FRIESEN pfriesen@postmedia.com @friesen­sun­media

It’s a pic­ture-perfect evening in early Au­gust, the out­doors beck­on­ing.

So what does a sports writer do on the first day back from va­ca­tion?

Get caught up on the Win­nipeg Jets’ chase of the COVID Cup, of course.

The Jets played their first “home” game of this pan­demic post-sea­son on Tues­day, but in­stead of a short drive down­town I only had to take a short walk down the home stairs.

Call it the View From The Rec Room. And no white noise to con­tend with, other than from the bet­ter half.

THE AN­THEM

Must say I’m sur­prised there haven’t been more dis­plays of sol­i­dar­ity with the Black Lives Mat­ter move­ment dur­ing the na­tional an­thems.

Any new-found pas­sion for the plight of African-Amer­i­cans seems to have all but evap­o­rated in the heat of play­off hockey.

Nary a Jet nor a Flame has deemed the big­gest stage of the sea­son as a place to make a state­ment. Too bad, IMO.

Don’t tell me protests dur­ing the Cana­dian an­them are mean­ing­less, ei­ther. It’s all about show­ing sup­port.

Win­nipeg­ger Ryan Reaves has been one of the few ex­cep­tions to the nar­row, let’s-just-fo­cus-on-the-game ap­proach that hockey types pre­fer.

Reaves and three other play­ers took a knee be­fore the Ve­gas-Dal­las game Mon­day, the first time an NHL player hasn’t been alone in making a pre-game state­ment against racial in­jus­tice in our so­ci­ety.

He was joined by team­mate and goalie Robin Lehner, as well as the Stars’ Tyler Seguin and Ja­son Dick­son.

Reaves, as tough as they come, punched his po­si­tion home with some suc­cinct post-game com­ments to re­porters.

His protest was, of course, not a swing at the Amer­i­can flag, but what has been go­ing on be­neath it for far too long.

“I have the ut­most re­spect for ev­ery­body that’s gone over and fought and died for the free­dom of this coun­try,” Reaves said. “But at the same time, those peo­ple go across seas, and they go to war, and fam­i­lies are torn apart in these wars for the free­dom of this coun­try, only to come back and find out this coun­try isn’t free for ev­ery­body.”

Lehner made his point equally well.

“It’s time to start do­ing some­thing,” he said. “Not just let this be a news cy­cle and for­get about it.”

Amen.

FIRST PE­RIOD

Not sure I’ve ever seen some­one stick­han­dle alone be­hind a net longer than the Flames’ Johnny Gau­dreau did be­hind the Jets goal on one early shift. He could have been called for de­lay of game ... Con­nor Helle­buyck mis­han­dles a rou­tine save and hands Sam Ben­nett a Grade-A chance on the re­bound, only to get his glove on it. An­other bob­ble by Helle­buyck be­fore the first pe­riod is half over. An omen? ... Nik Eh­lers goes what, two dozen play­off games with­out a goal, and now he gets his sec­ond in two games? Best part of Eh­lers’ goal: The stretch/bank pass from de­fence­man Dmitry Ku­likov from be­hind the Win­nipeg net. A close sec­ond:

Sport­snet talk­ing head Chris Cuth­bert’s de­scrip­tion of the pass as a Zach Col­laros long bomb. You can take the playby-play man out of foot­ball, but you can’t take foot­ball out of the play-by-play man ... Best way to give back the mo­men­tum from the game-open­ing goal? Take a need­less penalty and al­low a power-play goal. Take a bow, Mathieu Per­reault and the Jets penalty-killing unit ... The TV cam­eras catch Mark Scheifele watch­ing the game from on high, a sight that has to warm the hearts of Jets brass. Their No. 1 cen­tre ap­peared des­tined for surgery and some an­kle plas­ter af­ter be­ing on the busi­ness end of Matthew Tkachuk’s skate blade in Game 1. No word on when No. 55 might come back, but at least it ap­pears pos­si­ble ... Helle­buyck ends the first with a few big saves and the pe­riod ends tied, 1-1.

SEC­OND PE­RIOD

What’s Per­reault do­ing de­liv­er­ing a late shoul­der into the con­sid­er­able bulk of

Mi­lan Lu­cic? Let sleep­ing dogs lie, par­tic­u­larly big, nasty ones ... Josh Mor­ris­sey gets called for a slash that wouldn’t have knocked a mos­quito off bal­ance and the Jets PK unit al­lows Gau­dreau to waltz into Helle­buyck’s liv­ing room, un­de­terred. Mirac­u­lously, the puck stays out ... Down goes an­other Jet, as de­fence­man Tucker Pool­man uses his face to block a shot and leaves the ice over a trail of blood. As head coach

Paul Mau­rice has said, this team’s in­jury woes have been al­most laugh­able this sea­son. Pool­man’s grin will be a few stitches uglier af­ter that ... Uh-oh, Helle­buyck wan­ders be­hind his own net and gets tan­gled with de­fence­man

Neal Pionk, hand­ing the Flames a free­bie. About that omen ... Next shift the Sleep­ing Dog scores an ugly one. But wait, Mau­rice is chal­leng­ing it, claim­ing Dil­lon Dube was in­ter­fer­ing with his goalie. He was, but will they make the call, or de­ter­mine

Cody Eakin steered Dube into the crease? No goal is the call. Next thing Mau­rice needs to chal­lenge is his team’s con­scious­ness. Seems they’ve fallen asleep ... Cal­gary’s Sean Mon­a­han goes hard into the end boards, and

Jansen Harkins heads for the sin bin. One of the TV types tell us it was a “can-opener” move, with the stick be­tween the legs. Non­sense. It was a shove, noth­ing more ... Of course, that’s no ex­cuse for the Jets not to kill it off, which they can’t, and it’s 3-1 for the “vis­i­tors” from Al­berta ... Jets quickly get their own power play courtesy the Sleep­ing Dog, and it’s tit-for-tat,

An­drew Copp do­ing his best

Kyle Con­nor im­per­son­ation by walk­ing in front and lift­ing a nifty back­hand, top shelf. Didn’t know Copp had hands that quick ... Per­reault takes an awk­ward hit and leaves the game. No­body’s laugh­ing on the Win­nipeg bench ... The Jets leave Tkachuk alone in front for the Flames’ fourth goal and it’s 4-2 af­ter two. This would be a good time for Con­nor and Blake Wheeler to check in.

THIRD PE­RIOD

Pool­man re­turns with a jaw the size of a soc­cer ball, a gash that would make Stephen King shud­der and a cage to pro­tect it ... De­spite a strong Jets start, the Flames pro­tect their two-goal lead. Then they add to it, the Sleep­ing Dog get­ting one that counts ... Turn out the lights, this party’s over. And the Jets are one loss from go­ing home for a sec­ond sum­mer break.

— GETTY IMAGES

Cody Eakin checks on team­mate Tucker Pool­man as he lies on the ice af­ter be­ing hit in the face with a puck dur­ing Tues­day’s loss to the Cal­gary Flames.

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