Why we’ve grossly underestimated the Anaheim Ducks

Matt Larkin
Ryan Kesler. (Photo by Marianne Helm/Getty Images)

We’re dealing in duck, not crow, but the former made us eat the latter Wednesday night.

The pesky, gritty Winnipeg Jets were supposed to give the Anaheim Ducks a serious run in the Pacific Division semifinal. Plenty of experts picked Winnipeg to win the series, and we had Anaheim winning in seven games. After all, the Jets were a bruising squad built to make any opponent’s life miserable. Beating them would mean paying a hefty physical price. The Ducks also had the makings of a paper tiger, having posted a measly plus-10 goal differential, lowest among all 16 playoff teams, despite owning the Western Conference’s best record. Their defense was young and capable of being overpowered. They were a “one-line team” after the Ryan Getzlaf/Corey Perry unit. They had shaky goaltending with John Gibson hurt and Frederik Andersen fresh off an inconsistent season.

Part of the series played out as expected. The Jets were a pain in the behind, bludgeoning the Ducks in the corners and staking third-period leads in three straight games to open the series. But that’s about all we got right. The Jets can feel good about their effort despite getting swept, but we grossly underestimated the sum of Anaheim’s parts.

Read more

The Ducks complete the sweep, but the Jets have a lot to be proud of and look forward to

Jared Clinton
MTS Centre crowd salutes the Winnipeg Jets. (Marianne Helm/Getty Images)

Entering the season, few would have even pictured the Winnipeg Jets in the post-season. That they played in the playoffs this year should be enough to have the team holding their heads high, but it will take a few days for the sting to come off of being swept by the Anaheim Ducks.

When the team finally reflects on the year that was, however, there will be many reasons to be proud of what they’ve accomplished. From defying the odds and fighting through a litany of injuries on the blueline to their strong push in the late stages of the regular season to lock up a wild-card spot, the Jets not only proved they can hang in the tough Central Division, but that they can be one of the more physical and dominating teams in the entire league.

And while they’ll have to wait at least another season for the franchise’s first ever playoff victory, the 2014-15 Winnipeg Jets were a team that opened a lot of eyes. Read more

Emerson Etem dances Jacob Trouba, scores highlight-reel goal

Jared Clinton
Emerson Etem (Norm Hall/Getty Images)

The story of the first-round series between the Jets and Ducks has been that as soon as Winnipeg gets a lead, it seems Anaheim comes right back and ties it up. None of the Ducks’ game-tying tallies through three games have been quite as nice as Emerson Etem‘s, though.

After Bryan Little gave Winnipeg a 1-0 lead, not even two minutes had passed when Etem came streaking back up ice with Jacob Trouba defending him. Trouba was attempting to force Etem to the outside, but when the Jets defenseman attempted to make a move at the puck, he was beaten by an outstanding deke by Etem who then shifted the puck to his backhand and sent a drifting backhander into the top corner: Read more

Even if the Jets won’t admit it – Dustin Byfuglien’s behavior is hurting them

Matt Larkin
Dustin Byfuglien. (Photo by Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images)

It was magical seeing towel-waving Jets fans pack the MTS Centre for Winnipeg’s first playoff game in 19 years Monday night. Still, it was a night to forget for the Jets, who blew their third straight third-period lead and lost to the Anaheim Ducks in overtime, falling behind 3-0 in the Pacific Division semifinal.

It was an especially nightmarish evening for Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien, who was on the ice for three of Anaheim’s five goals and sucker-punched Corey Perry after Perry scored in the second period, a-la Dale Hunter’s attack on Pierre Turgeon. Perry turned out to be fine, but it didn’t make Byfuglien’s actions any less selfish and dumb. The play was over.

So, over the past 22 days, we’ve seen the following acts from Dustin Byfuglien, arguably the Winnipeg Jets’ best, most important player:

Read more

Ducks and Jets playing the way playoff hockey was meant to be played

Ducks vs. Jets  (Photo by Lance Thomson/NHLI via Getty Images)

The biggest disappointment of the first round of the playoffs is that the Anaheim Ducks are just that much better than the Winnipeg Jets. It stinks, really, that this series might be over in four games and that we might experience only one more Winnipeg White-Out.

Because for this corner’s money, even with the series standing at 3-0 in favor of the Ducks, it has been by far the most entertaining of the playoffs so far. The Jets have had a lead for 79:31 through the first three games and the Ducks have been in front for only 11:21, which indicates that the Ducks are clearly coming as advertised as a third period team that has an uncanny ability to win one-goal games. The Jets are showing their collective lack of experience in crucial situations to be sure, but they’ve showed up. Man, have they showed up. Read more

Even in defeat, Jets faithful show why NHL should have never left Winnipeg

Jared Clinton
The 'Whiteout' was in full effect Monday in Winnipeg (Marianne Helm/Getty Images)

When Lee Stempniak scored the game-opening goal for the Winnipeg Jets, the crowd inside MTS Centre reached volumes of 124 decibels, according to Sportsnet. That’s as loud as sandblasting or a rock concert. Matter of fact, and as apropos as it may seem, it’s also nearly as loud as a jet engine.

But that’s been the storyline all along; as great as it may be to see the Jets in the post-season, it was Winnipeg’s chance to show everyone what kind of fanbase they are on a national stage. It was time to prove to those who believed the city wasn’t right for an NHL team they couldn’t have been more wrong. And from warm-ups, when the volume was over 100dB, until the game’s final whistle, the fans brought it.

“This has been a night that has been 19 years in the making,” commissioner Gary Bettman said. “You can feel the energy in the city. It’s palpable. What I find particularly interesting, as I’ve travelled the league the last week, the question I got most frequently was, ‘Going to Winnipeg Monday night?’ because everyone knows that this is going to be a special night.” Read more

Rickard Rakell silences MTS Centre crowd with OT winner, Ducks lead series 3-0

Jared Clinton
Rickard Rakell (Lance Thomson/Getty Images)

Through the first two games of the first-round series between Winnipeg and Anaheim, the Jets have gone into the third frame with the lead. Game 3 was much the same, but again, the Ducks clawed back in the third period to tie up the contest. However, Monday’s outing was the first of the series to go to extra time.

In overtime, it didn’t take long before Anaheim completed the comeback. Little more than five minutes into the extra frame, Rickard Rakell stripped Mark Scheifele of the puck behind the net where it was scooped up by Andrew Cogliano and sent back to Francois Beauchemin. Beauchemin, the crafty veteran blueliner, fired a low, hard shot toward Rakell, who deflected the puck between Winnipeg goaltender Ondrej Pavelec’s legs: Read more

Watch and listen to Winnipeg crowd explode after first post-season goal at home

Jared Clinton
Lee Stempniak (Jonathan Kozub/Getty Images)

The MTS Centre, the Winnipeg Jets’ home arena, is located four blocks from the city’s main intersection at Portage and Main. That said, there’s no doubt pedestrians passing through the heart of downtown Winnipeg heard the building erupt when Lee Stempniak scored the franchise’s first post-season home goal since the club relocated to Winnipeg.

In the first frame, the Jets broke away on an odd-man rush thanks to defenseman Jacob Trouba jumping into the play. Trouba made a beautiful toe-drag around an Anaheim defender before firing a wristshot on goal that Adam Lowry batted without looking back towards the goal. Stempniak, who was coming in from the left wing, was right there to bang the puck into the wide-open cage. And then, bedlam: Read more