By: Derek "Brooksey" Brooks
The Winter Classic was nothing to celebrate as two American teams went head to head Dec 29 to prove that they can create an artificial rink outside in winter. There's clearly something missing when it's held in a baseball stadium and they have to protect the ice from rainfall. As a youngster who played recreational hockey at an outdoor rink, I can tell you there's a unique sound of skates on ice when it is -25 C. The puck hitting rotten boards when you miss the net echoes forever in that crisp dense air. Imagine a Go Jets Go! chant by 50,000 die hard hockey fans as the players rush up the ice, their breath creating puffs of steam. Now that would be something! While I watched some of the game it did evoke memories, but of an altogether different subject. Red Fisher's story above points out that last year's event more importantly marked a tipping point on the bigger story on concussions.
On a lighter note that same night the Jets were home the the LA Kings and enjoyed a dramatic overtime win. It was an encouraging display by the home team, as the Jets proved they could play a solid 2-way game going a perfect 5-5 on the penalty kill and denying a streaking LA team that had played a disciplined road game. The Jets continued their magic month on new year's eve by dispatching the Leafs in a very entertaining game to close out a record setting home stand. Red Fisher called the Jets this year's surprise team. 2011 was a year that will be etched in Jets fans memories as a year where dreams really can come true.
If 2011 was a dream come true, then 2012 has started out as nasty as a Tanner Glass fight. Winnipeg was in a playoff spot, feeling good and sleepy with leftover turkey in the tummy. We had reached the goal, to contend and be a part of the all important playoff club. Bring on Montreal.
But first, a little holiday treat. Let's have some fun watching the Scheif vs Telegin. If there is a rock solid team to bank on it's Team Canada. The team was pounding everyone. It's gold or bust. Here we go! Canada got embarassed in the first 2 periods but staged an epic rally that would be one of the greatest of all time - except they ran out of time. With 4 unanswered goals and intense pressure the clock ran down and Canada was out.
Then came a Montreal meltdown. Cunneyworth's guys must have been watching some Detriot game tapes because they knew where to press. Forecheckers were all over the D men in the Jets' zone, especially Enstrom who looked very small all night. The Habs were rewarded as Winnipeg coughed up the puck so much it was hard to watch. Pavelec was having his own troubles fighting through screens and reading the shots.
I got up Thursday morning and didn't want to look in the mirror. That game was a scary reminder of game 1 - the Jets looked spooked. OK, I said. No prob. I rationalized it. That's a "character building" game, I said. We'll prove it by winning a more important game against Toronto tonight and all will be back to normal in 6th place. Why did it have to be Kessel - I hate Kessel. His beady, too-close-together eyes in the close up after he scored the game's first and ultimately winning goal made me nauseous.
I tweeted "Looks like I'm going to bed frustrated again #marriedjetsfanproblems" But thankfully as I scanned twitter, I had a distraction pop up. The twitter crowd was saying that Makarov was writing his own miracle, a ridiculous shutout performance with 57 saves before finally going down to Sweden.