--I watched the "Winnipeg Jets Pregame" show on TSN, instead of "Hockey 360" on RDS, just for a change. It started with a back and forth between Sara Orlesky and former Hab Brian Engblom, focusing intensely on the Jets. Very well done, Sara Orlesky is camera-friendly, and a polished pro, speaking easily and expertly, but allowing her analyst to make his points.
I wasn't as enthused with Brian Engblom for one reason, being that he went for the lazy-man's comparison when trying to lionize Brendan Gallagher, saying that he reminded him of Brad Marchand. So facile. They're short, so they're similar. Coming up next, he'll explain why he thinks Tyler Myers is like Zdeno Chara.
--Asked by Sara Orlesky how his team would try to frustrate the Canadiens, Jets Head Coach Paul Maurice offered: "That's going to be a tough challenge, because that's almost their playbook. They don't give you a whole lot. They've got some good offensive skill in their lineup, they don't score an awful lot of goals, but they don't need to to win games. So they've got a real good defensive structure, they've had for years.
"Our challenge, we've tried to frustrate offensive players through hard work and 'tight gap', we have to make sure we don't allow this to happen to us today and stretch our game out because there will be a problem, they'll take great advantage of that."
Clear as mud?
--Pierre Houde talked about what a great gift it would be for Winnipeg hockey fans if the Jets could make the playoffs this spring. Dustin Tokarski did his part by wrapping up this game in colourfully patterned paper and putting a great big bow on it. He was in a generous mood, giving up rebounds, softies, squeakers, dribblers. Merry Christmas everyone!
--I wasn't crazy about Dustin's body language either. After every goal, he'd a give a little shrug and hands-up gestures. "How the heck am I supposed to block that, that shot was really hard!"
At least I hope that's what he was trying to impart, rather than that his teammates were largely to blame. Because that's not going to fly. Not when you let in 4 goals on 13 shots.
--In football, the rule of thumb for receivers is "You touch it, you catch it." Simple. If you can lay a hand on it, it's yours. No "The sun's in my eyes" or "The rain sure is making the ball slick" or "QB didn't hit me right in the numbers, I had to stretch out, so it's not my fault."
I'm going to apply the same standard to Dustin's performance, and say he came up short.
--It's too bad, because for the first two periods, the Canadiens looked clearly the superior team on the ice. They seemed too quick, too organized, too relentless for the Jets to contend with. At best, they tried to throw bodychecks on the smaller Canadiens, but that didn't seem like it would be enough.
--The Canadiens threw 31 shots at Ondrej Pavelec in the first two periods, and that should have been enough. The Jets goalie didn't make any miraculous saves, but he was solid, somewhat lucky on occasion. Impermeable, as opposed to diaphanous.
--I would have liked Nathan Beaulieu's big huge attempted bodycheck on Andrew Ladd at centre ice to land square, instead of whiffing. The Jets captain, as is his custom, threw his weight around, and 'finished' a few late-ish checks that were borderline. It would have been nice to give him a taste of his own medicine, administered trans-cutaneously through his sternum, while he had his head down.
--And this would have been a good game for Devante Smith-Pelly to assert himself a little more. That may have been a function of the "Canadiens Express" edits, but he was largely invisible, save for taking another penalty, which is troubling, since he came advertised as a player who hits but is disciplined, and doesn't take penalties.
Then again, maybe Devante is a victim of NHL officiating. When he was a Duck, it was all fair game, but now that he's in bleu-blanc-rouge, whistles must be blown.
--And Lars, you're famously a big strong guy, a great skater, you need to be the best Canadien out on the ice on a night like this. Step up. You can't just wait to face Anders Lindback again.
We lose, the Bruins pick up a point, Carolina and Phoenix both win while the Leafs continue to blow and sink further in the standings.
At least Tampa lost.