May 26, 2020

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Dump & Chase

Rocky Mountain Low

At the time of this writing, Jay (a.k.a. Chase) was on a bar stool at an airport pub — closed because it was just 6 a.m. — in Denver lamenting the cancellation of his flight to Vegas.

He received no notice from Southwest, although a wiser man would have double-checked the flight status before climbing out of bed at 4:15 a.m.

Only six hours before his iPhone alarm went off, he had filed his game story chronicling a dreadful performance by the Winnipeg Jets that resulted in a 7-1 cakewalk for the Colorado Avalanche.

The Avs, battling for a post-season spot, carved up the Jets in just about every way possible, building a 2-0 lead after two periods and then shaming the visitors by scoring another five in the final frame.

After the game, Winnipeg captain Blake Wheeler said his team conceded at that point, teammate Adam Lowry went blue with his language in describing the effort and then a seething head coach Paul Maurice took on only three post-game questions, offered three short replies and walked away from the bright lights of the cameras.

Winnipeg fans can only hope this is rock-bottom for a squad with Stanley Cup aspirations.

So, it’s on to Vegas, the place that professes to love making dreams come true. The Jets just want a victory, preferably one earned on hard work alone. There’s been a startling shortage of that lately.

For now, dear readers, take a few deep breaths, calm the nerves and enjoy some fun and games with our latest rendition of D & C. 

PRE-GAME WARMUP

The pre-game warmup is all about getting loose, getting comfortable and feeling the puck a little bit. It's all based on routine, with pretty much every player on every team going through the same kind of drills.

Just don't tell to that Anthony Beauvillier and Mathew Barzal of the New York Islanders, who put on a bit of a dizzying display the other night in Calgary.

Meanwhile, Buffalo's Zach Bogosian got his competitive juices flowing earlier this week by trying to fight Kurtis Gabriel of the New Jersey Devils during the warmup.

This kind of thing used to be much more common in the NHL, with some examples of full-on brawls breaking out. But it's a rarity in this day and age.

 


 

With the Jets enjoying two straight days off earlier this week — remind us how that worked out for them — Mike (a.k.a. Dump) headed down to Bell MTS Place to take in some Manitoba Moose action.

To be honest, he was there as much for what was happening off the ice as he was on the ice, given the number of high-ranking Ottawa executives watching from the press box as trade talks between the Jets and Senators heated up.

But when he saw on the ice was pretty impressive, as well. Two huge crowds, with more than 13,600 fans combined in two exciting games against Milwaukee Sunday (Moose lost 6-5) and  Monday afternoon (they won 3-2).

That second game happened to fall on Superhero Day at the rink, and there were plenty of great costumes on display.

But perhaps the greatest feat of all was pulled off by the Moose marketing staff, who managed to make coach Pascal Vincent "disappear" in a video they put together.

We're sure there are some other coaches who wish they had this kind of superpower, especially when dealing with us media types when things go bad.

1ST PERIOD

There's no doubt the Jets are going through some tough times, especially when they hit the road. And, like everyone in the city who follows the team, we want to know who to blame.

Specifically, is Dump to blame? Or Chase?

To help figure out this all-important question, we crunched some numbers to figure out the team's win-loss record depending on which Free Press writer happens to be in the building. 

Mike hit the road in early October to kick off the new season, witnessing a win over St. Louis followed by a loss in Dallas. He was also there when the undisciplined Jets fell the next week in Nashville, then capped off a busy month by covering a hard-earned win in Detroit, followed by a tough-luck loss in Toronto.

Jay's first trip was a big one as he headed overseas to Finland, where the Jets won the opener of the Global Series to Florida, then lost the rematch one night later.

Back to Mike, who went on a four-game roadie in mid-November which included a win over Vancouver, a loss to Calgary, a loss to Minnesota and the memorable five-goal Patrik Laine game in a win over St. Louis.

Jay then got into a New York state of mind in early December as the Jets went a perfect three-for-three with wins over New Jersey, the Rangers and the Islanders. He also kept his personal hot streak going by having a press-box seat to an overtime win over Chicago later in the month.

Mike had the pre-Christmas trip to the West Coast which included a terrible loss to Los Angeles and two straight wins in San Jose and Vancouver. He then witnessed a pair of stinkers to kick off the New Year as the Jets were blanked in Pittsburgh, then edged in Minnesota.

Jay had the next four games, which were sandwiched around the All-Star break and bye week. An impressive win in Nashville and loss in Dallas to head into the break, then a loss in Philadelphia and shootout win in Boston out of the break.

Mike was back on the road in early February as the Jets stunk the joint out in a loss to Montreal, then fell two nights later to league-worst Ottawa. They managed to end the trip on a positive note with a win in Buffalo.

And now Jay is on the current trip, which began with the team's ugly 7-1 defeat Wednesday in Colorado.

So what's the running score?

The Jets are a woeful 7-10-0 when Mike's on the road so far this season, and a more impressive 7-4-0 when Jay is following them. Perhaps that's good news for the rest of this week, as Jay will oversee stops Friday night in Vegas and Sunday night in Arizona.

For what it's worth, Mike's remaining regular-season road games include Columbus, Tampa, Carolina, Washington, Chicago, Minnesota, Colorado and Arizona. 

Uh-oh.

Jay has one more western swing after this one, with games in Los Angeles, Anaheim and Vegas.

 


 

The Jets practice Thursday at T-Mobile Arena in Vegas was interrupted, briefly, by a fire alarm that began ringing inside the rink.

Turns out it was a false alarm, but given the team's play of late this seems like a perfect metaphor.

Meanwhile, the New York Islanders took things a step further earlier in the week when a promotional vehicle parked inside the spacious Barclays Center near ice level started beeping and honking incessantly while the actual game was going on.

 

2ND PERIOD

What a bunch of jerks!

That was the bottom-line from the bully pulpit last weekend of Don Cherry, who has no time whatsoever for the creative post-game celebrations the Carolina Hurricanes come up with every time they pull out a win on home ice.

 

 

We're big fans, and absolutely loved one of their latest ones in which they paid tribute to the recent start of baseball spring training.

 

 

 

The Hurricanes' social media staff have been on fire lately in taking shots at critics such as Cherry, who apparently don't believe fun belongs in a hockey rink. They've even gone so far as to begin marketing T-shirts — and Mike is definitely thinking about picking one up when he heads down to Raleigh in a couple weeks.

 


 

You know who's definitely not a jerk? Leafs rising-star Mitch Marner, who gave one young fan a very special Valentine’s Day gift.

The Vegas Golden Knights were hosting Toronto last Thursday and a pile of Leafs fans were crammed against the glass to get a closeup of their favourite players during the pre-game skate.

Marner spotted a young girl holding up a cute, home-made sign with the message: "Hey Mitch! Be My Valentine!" Not only did the high-flying forward flip her a puck, he motioned for her to pose for a selfie.

After the quick pic, Marner skated away and the overwhelmed youngster collapsed into her mom’s arms. At 21, Marner’s still just a kid himself, so he gets it. Good on him for taking a few moments to give someone a memory to last a lifetime.

 

 

3RD PERIOD

As journalists, we're big fans of coaches who offer up plenty of detailed information when it comes to player injuries. "Day-to-day, lower/upper body" has become a crutch for many, which truly tells you nothing.

And so, while on one hand we can't help but applaud Columbus bench boss John Tortorella for his candour earlier this week regarding Artemi Panarin, we also can't help but think perhaps he went a bit TOO far.

Torts, have you ever heard of TMI?

Just one question — would that be considered upper body, or lower? Or both?

Tortorella didn't stop there. He absolutely shredded another player, Anthony Duclair, when asked why the young power forward can't seem to find a groove with the Blue Jackets.

Most coaches would give you a safe, canned, cliché-filled answer. Not Torts.

 


 

We sometimes forget just how fast NHL hockey moves, especially when down at ice level. And that can be dangerous for those spectators who are closest to the action — including between-the-bench analysts like Pierre McGuire.

The veteran broadcaster got one heck of a reminder earlier this week as he narrowly — and we mean narrowly — avoided taking a puck to the head.

If that was us, we'd be rocking an old-school JOFA helmet the very next game. Neither of us can afford to lose any more brain cells.

Of course, not everyone has the "duck for cover" reaction that McGuire had, as we also discovered this week when an errant puck flew into the Toronto Maple Leafs bench.

While coaches and players covered their heads, there was a calm, cool John Tavares just sitting there like an absolute boss without a care in the world.

Naturally, this spawned plenty of funny online posts and memes, including our favourite right here.

OVERTIME

The hockey world was on edge earlier this week when San Jose's Joe Thornton scored his third goal of the game with plenty of time left on the clock.

We won't get into the graphic details here — a quick Google search will fill you in, we promise — but safe to say Thornton once made an epic promise about how he'd celebrate a four-goal game.

And with him on the cusp of a truly R-rated moment on ice, the Thornton watch was on.

 

Fortunately for everyone involved, Thornton didn't light the lamp again. History — and perhaps a public indecency arrest — will have to wait.

 


 

Unimaginably, some people on Twitter actually unleashed some jabs over this hockey fight gone right the other day. 

D & C hasn’t been able to identify where or when this actually occurred, but it definitely took some major planning and choreography to pull off this entertaining altercation. Some figure it was all part of a charity game somewhere, kind of a modern-day Shmockey Night (for all the old-timers out there).

Don Cherry probably didn’t find the humour in it, referred to the sashaying combatants as jerks. Whatevs. We loved it!
 

 

SHOOTOUT

It was supposed to be a banner night for Detroit rookie defenceman Dennis Cholowski, as fans in attendance at a recent game would walk away with a bobblehead in his likeness as part of a special team promotion.

There was just one little problem — the keepsake ended up being the only version of Cholowski that fans got to see that night.

Cholowski was a healthy scratch. He got off to a hot start in his first season, but his play had tailed off significantly of late. Coach Jeff Blashill decided the best thing to do was to sit him out.

Things actually went from bad to worse for Cholowski, who was given a one-way ticket down to Grand Rapids of the AHL just days later.

No doubt the kid has a bright future. But he's probably shaking his head a bit right now — and no, that has nothing to do with his bobblehead.

 


 

We love a good chirp session between hockey players. And they're usually even better when they involve teammates.

Brad Marchand and Torey Krug of the Boston Bruins had a brilliant back-and-forth this past week in which they appeared to each take great joy in reminding each other how small they are.

Marchand, who is listed at 5-9 and 181 pounds, took the first shot.

Back came Krug, who is listed at 5-9 and 186 pounds.

 

Well played, gentlemen!

 

Got a suggestion for a future edition of Dump & Chase? Let us know about it. mike.mcintyre@freepress.mb.ca and jason.bell@freepress.mb.ca

And follow Dump & Chase on Twitter. Mike is @mikemcintyrewpg, while Jason can be found @WFPJasonBell

Your weekly trip around the world of hockey.

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