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