Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Walk The Line

The Bee’s are back in town and face the hard working Jets tonight at the house that Chipman built. I’m thinking tonight’s game should be interesting not only because the Bruins are who they are, but also in measuring the Jets response. This Boston team reminds me of the Dallas Carter high school football team made famous in the movie Friday Night Lights. When the coach of their rival asked one of his shell shocked players what it was like out there, his reply was, “They’re big…. They’re fast….They’re dirty……..They’re big….”

They’re big, namely in the form of Milan Lucic who it seems lately has a penchant for running goalies and challenging the opposition to respond. Right or wrong it seemed to work in Buffalo with Lucic drilling Ryan Miller, while the dazed goalies teammates looked on like shrinking violets. Don’t get me wrong in everyday life if a tree like Lucic was angry with  me I’d be thankful that I can run faster scared than he can mad, but if you’re on the ice and you get paid to play, you have to respond.  Then there’s Zedano Chara, who of course feels it’s necessary to put habs players in the hospital, but watch out, he’s also got 18 points this season. Chara will make you pay in all sorts of ways.

They’re fast.  The Boston forwards will make you pay to play as well. Burgeron, Lucic, and Seguin make a formidable front end, that have been chewing up teams in the east with remarkable consistency since they woke up from their Stanley Cup hangover.  The top two lines also seem to be scoring by committee which makes things even tougher for opposition teams to contain.

They’re dirty. Two words: Brad Marchand. Now most of these Bee’s have a repertoire of “get under your skin” dirty plays that they like to roll out every so often, but Marchand seems to work in dirty tricks as a great sculptor would work in clay. The trouble is, the little bugger can also score while sticking you in the ribs, and why is it that the ref is always looking the other way?

They’re big. Tim Thomas has seemed like a giant in net. When he’s on, he’s almost unbeatable if he can see the puck, and don’t even try and run him. He’ll leap out of the crease and deliver a check, clearing his front porch without the aid of his massive defensemen. The key is to make sure he’s not on, get him off his game early, and there’s a chance to see daylight.

Now I know what you’re thinking reader; bcmike who’s side are you on anyway? I know I’ve spent half the blog building up Boston, but you gotta know what you’re up against. So what are the Jets to do when these bullies from bean town roll into town with their brass knuckles, tin foil and rolls of quarters? Simple; play Winnipeg Jets Hockey. The beaners don’t have a lock on hardnosed hockey and the Jets have been playing an in your face aggressive, blue collar style all season.

Attack, attack, attack. The Jets need to open it up and play fearlessly against the huge defenseman of Boston; Kane especially will have to amp up the hard charging physical edge in his play. And of course Buff will need to come up huge. If there’s one guy that can meet these monsters physically its Buff. He’ll need to come at them with reckless intensity and send a message quickly. And it will be all about messages tonight. The crowd will have to make it be known that this is their barn and Boston you are not welcome. The Jets will also have to walk a fine line between taking a bunch of dumb penalties and standing up to the shenanigans of the Bruins.

By far the biggest problem tonight won’t be the opposition, but how the Jets respond. The Bruins are the bully in the school yard and if they think they can walk all over you, they will. That’s when it’s time to chuck the knuckles. If Pavalec gets snow showered, shouldered or run, it’s time. If Marchand sucker punches Wellwood in the head, it’s time. If Lucic or Chara try and pull their tough guy BS, it’s time. And I don’t mean “Oh lets go on the next face off”, I mean whoever’s closest to the play drop em and go.

It’s only after the Jets show these guys that they “aint no band leader”, that they’ll be able to meet them eye to eye and play hockey. If the Jets can walk the line between standing up for themselves and their teammates, while pressing the attack and scoring goals, they can be successful.  Go after Thomas early, with sustained pressure. Keep the puck in the attacking zone and make the Bruins think about defending their net more than punching someone in the head. That will be the path to a much needed win.

If the Jets with the help of the faithful at the MTSC can pull off a win tonight, they'll officially be on a roll and closing in on eighth place. But most importantly they’ll show the Bruins that when it’s time, we’ll walk the line.

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