Sloppy Play and All-Star Weekend Legs Sink Jets

It was not a great way to return from the All-Star break.

The Winnipeg Jets blew leads of 2-1 and 3-2 and fell 5-3 to the Penguins in Pittsburgh on Tuesday night. Normally, that wouldn’t be a big deal. This time, however, the Pens beat the Jets without the services of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.

Dustin Byfuglien couldnt beat Thomas Greiss Sloppy Play and All Star Weekend Legs Sink Jets

Dustin Byfuglien couldn’t beat the Pens’ Thomas Greiss.

Of course, the Penguins still had Kris Letang. Letang had five assists while David Perron had a goal and an assist as they led the Penguins on a night when both teams returned from a stretch of six days off.

“I don’t think our gap control was really good,” Jets coach Paul Maurice told nhl.com. “We didn’t have a whole lot of pressure on the puck. We ended up leaving a lot of shots in the middle off shots from the wing.”

Despite the loss, the Jets held on to fifth place in the West with 60 points. Winnipeg is now 26-15-8 on the season. The loss stopped a five-game winning streak for the Jets. Winnipeg is now 6-1-1 in their last eight.

However, it was not a particular good game for the Jets. In fact, the Jets were extremely sluggish in the first period and were outshot 9-5. Pittsburgh’s Nick Spaling scored the only goal.

However, in the second period, the Jets seemed to snap out of it. Chris Thorburn (he has three goals in the last five games) scored his fifth of the season as did Jacob Trouba (with a booming shot from the points) and the Jets suddenly had a 2-1 lead, but with 4.6 seconds to go in the period, the Jets got sloppy and Steve Downie scored his ninth of the year to tie the game for Pittsburgh.

In the third period, the Jets made it 3-2 at the 59 second mark as Adam Lowry, who had a goal and an assist, tallied his sixth of the season, but the Jets just didn’t have it on this night. David Perron tied if for the Pens at 4:23 on a power play, Brandon Sutter made it 4-3 at 7:52 on a power play and Patric Hornqvist made it 5-3 with an empty netter at 19:32.

Pittsburgh went two-for-three on the power play. The Jets didn’t have the man advantage once. That could be because the Jets weren’t engaged or because the officiating in the NHL is really odd on some nights.

The Jets were sloppy, sluggish and often behind the play. Pittsburgh outshot Winnipeg 30-22 and there was really nothing Ondrej Pavelec could do on any of the goals. Defensively, the Jets played one of their worst games of the season.

Adam Lowry 17 had a good night Sloppy Play and All Star Weekend Legs Sink Jets

Adam Lowry (17) had a good night with a goal and an assist.

“I think it was a little sloppy, especially in the first period,” Jets winger Adam Lowry told nhl.com. “There were some turnovers that weren’t very characteristic of our hockey club. We weren’t finishing all of our checks and we were allowing them to break out of the zone pretty cleanly. I think once the second period got going, we started to get our legs under us and we started to play better.

“But obviously, it wasn’t the way we wanted to play.”

Nor will it be the way they want to play on Thursday night when the Jets meet the Flyers in Philadelphia. Game time is 6 p.m. on TSN3.



History Tells Us Chevy Will Dance With the Ones He Brought

When the 2015 All-Star Game ended in Columbus on Sunday night, reality returned to the National Hockey League.

It’s the unofficial start of the mythical “Run to the Playoffs,” and for Winnipeg Jets fans, it will be a lot more interesting than the All-Star Game itself. At least one hopes.

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Dustin Byfuglien and Ondrej Pavelec: Winning is fun. (Photo by Jeff Miller)

The Jets enter the final 34 games of the season in great shape, especially for a team that hasn’t made the playoffs since it moved to Winnipeg in 2011. Winnipeg was 26-14-8 during the first 48 games of the season and was in fifth place in the Western Conference, four points up on sixth-place San Jose. Ninth-place Calgary trailed the Jets by seven points and had but one game in hand. With 34 games remaining, the Jets are in control of their own playoff destiny.

That’s all good.

However, the Jets had won a season-high, five-straight games before the break, were 6-0-1 in their last seven and were 7-2-1 in their last 10. Let’s hope this six-day break, just when the Jets were getting hot, doesn’t slow the team’s momentum.

The Jets have been playing very well and as a result there has been a lot less talk of making a trade heading into the playoff run. However, should the Jets become buyers at the Trade Deadline — and if they do become buyers — who is actually out there that could help this team? There hasn’t been much chatter.

Knowing Kevin Cheveldayoff’s history, it’s unlikely a trade is at the top of his to do list. He’d probably rather have all his current players perfectly healthy. Unless something falls in his lap, it’s very likely he’ll go to the wall with what he has already. His philosophy seems to be building from within and when opportunity presents, he’ll make a couple of offseason deals. It’s hard to argue with that approach.

However, just for fun, is there anyone out there who might be an interesting fit?  Here are 10 players who become unrestricted free agents this spring who could become good rentals if their teams aren’t serious about re-signing them. I have decided that the Jets are deep at defense and goaltending(?) and have listed only forwards who could add secondary scoring. What do you think?

10. Marty St. Louis, 40, RW, New York Rangers. 2014-15 cap hit: $5.625 million. Very interesting considering his age. Unlikely rental player, however.

9. Mike Ribeiro, 35, C, Nashville Predators. 2014-15 cap hit: $1 million. Price is right but there is no way Nashville trades him. They’ll probably re-sign him.

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Justin Williams

8. Justin Williams, 33, RW, Los Angeles Kings. 2014-15 cap hit: $3.65 million. Contract talks have broken off

7. Carl Soderberg, 29, C, Boston Bruins. 2014-15 cap hit: $1 million. Can’t imagine the Bruins won’t re-sign him.

6. Mats Zuccarello, 27, LW, New York Rangers. 2014-15 cap hit: $3.5 million. Asking for a long-term deal.

5. Matt Beleskey, 27, LW, Anaheim Ducks. 2014-15 cap hit: $1.35 million. Can’t see the Ducks letting him go.

4. Curtis Glencross, 32, C, Calgary Flames. 2014-15 cap hit: $2.5 million. He’s on IR as we speak. He has eight goals in 44 games.

3. Drew Stafford, 29, LW, Buffalo Sabres. 2014-15 cap hit: $4 million. He was a good player once, but now is a fourth-liner with seven goals in 42 games. Buffalo would love to unload him. Would anybody want him?

2. Jarret Stoll, 32, C, Los Angeles Kings. 2014-15 cap hit: $3.25 million. Earlier this month (Jan. 11) he won 14-of-18 faceoffs against the Jets. Doubt L.A. wants to part with him.

1. Antoine Vermette, 32, C, Arizona Coyotes. 2014-15 cap hit: $3.75 million. The Coyotes could clean house.

Mike Richards History Tells Us Chevy Will Dance With the Ones He Brought

Mike Richards

Now on waivers: Mike Richards, 30 on Feb. 11, C/LW, Los Angeles Kings. 2014-15 cap hit: $5.75 million. A lot of Jets fans would love to see the kid from Kenora play in Winnipeg. Won’t happen unless something happens with a 12-year contract that pays him $6 million next season. Oh yeah, and he has five goals in 47 games.

Please understand, I am not, in any way, suggesting the Jets make a move at the trade deadline. I am simply listing 10 forwards coming up on the July 1 UFA period who all have plenty of NHL experience and might make interesting rent-a-players over the final few weeks of the season.

Should the Jets cut a deal at the deadline to secure one? That depends. Right now, I wouldn’t mess with that locker room in any way. Where the Jets happen to be in early March, however, might dictate taking a chance.

The Jets play again on Tuesday night against the Penguins in Pittsburgh. Game time is 6 p.m. on TSN3.

If the Jets keep winning I can’t imagine Kevin Cheveldayoff, or any NHL general manager in the same position, making a deal. But then again, you never know what might become available leading up to Monday, March 2.

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Kevin Cheveldayoff, Jets GM



Jets Fans Hope Break Didn’t Slow the Streak

There are just some sporting events that should never be played. In fact, they probably shouldn’t even be considered.

I’m all for a mid-season NHL Convention in some pre-determined outpost somewhere in North America. No problem with that at all.

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The final handshakes, the best part of the game.

But to call what we just watched on an otherwise lazy Sunday afternoon a hockey game, just boggles the mind.

John Tavares of the New York Islanders scored four goals while Patrice Bergeron and Jonathan Toews each had a goal and four assists as they led Team Toews to a 17-12 victory over Team Foligno in the NHL “All-Star Game” in Columbus, Ohio on Sunday. It was a game that provided a record 29 goals and was played with the same intensity as a plate of broccoli.

Oh sure, Winnipeg Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien unveiled his brand new custom Winnipeg-made VH Footwear skates in the All-Star Game. That’s a good thing.

But considering he was the only Jets player in the game and he had an assist and was minus five, it didn’t really demonstrate the type of hockey player he is or the brilliant season he’s had. It was pond hockey at its worst.

Not surprisingly, there wasn’t one hit registered by either team in the entire game. As a hockey game, it was a joke.

asg123457 325 300x183 Jets Fans Hope Break Didnt Slow the StreakBut we now we get back to reality. Heading into the All-Star break the Winnipeg Jets, a team that hasn’t made the playoffs since it moved to Winnipeg in 2011, were 26-14-8 during the first 48 games of the season. The Jets were in fifth place in the Western Conference, four points up on sixth-place San Jose. Ninth-place Calgary trailed the Jets by seven points and had but one game in hand. With 34 games remaining, the Jets were in control of their own playoff destiny.

That’s all good.

However, the Jets had won a season-high, five-straight games, were 6-0-1 in their last seven and were 7-2-1 in their last 10. Let’s hope this break, just when the Jets were getting hot, doesn’t slow the team’s momentum. If the Jets are going to make the playoffs, they probably have to be a little better than .500 down the stretch. This team was smokin’ before the break. Jets fans can only hope their team is still smokin’ on the other side of the break. If not, another spring or disappointment could be ahead of them.

Some teams needed a break. The Jets were one of those teams that probably did not. At least, not right now.

The Jets play again on Tuesday night against the Penguins in Pittsburgh. The Jets are 14-5-5 on the road this season. Game time is 6 p.m. on TSN3. One can only hope that this team maintains its brilliance on the road and keeps its streak alive.

I would hate to think of the final 34 games of the 2014-15 season being as unexciting as that All-Star(?) Game.

 



Jets Blank Jackets, Head to All-Star Break on a Roll

The Winnipeg Jets are on a roll. Too bad that roll will be stalled by the 2015 NHL All-Star Game.

Wednesday night in front of another full house at MTS Centre, Michael Hutchinson made 29 saves as the Jets shut out the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-0. It was Hutchinson’s second career shutout and is first at home. He lowered his goals against average to 1.90 and improved to 14-4-2 on the season.

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Michael Hutchinson makes the save (Photo by Jeff Miller)

“(Michael) played unbelievable for us,” said Jets centre Bryan Little who picked up an assist on the Jets opening goal. “He’s won us a lot of hockey games and tonight he made some spectacular saves. Of course, we’re starting to expect that from him.”

It was the Jets final game before the All-Star break and one might forgive these guys if they’d rather not have the time off. The Jets are now in the midst of a season-high five-game winning streak and are 6-0-1 in their last seven games heading into the break. Frankly, there are a number of people in the organization who would love to have this team play again tomorrow – or even tonight.

Unfortunately, at least for those who want this streak to go on unabated, the Jets won’t play again until next Tuesday night in Pittsburgh. In the meantime, Dustin Byfuglien will head to Columbus to play in the All-Star Game while his teammates get four days away from the game.

Regardless, the local hockey heroes have stepped into the break looking like a team gearing up for a playoff run. With the win on Wednesday, the Jets improved to 26-14-8 and with 60 points, they are solidly in fifth place in the West. In fact, the Jets are just eight points out of first place in the NHL.

On Wednesday night, the Jets completely dominated the Blue Jackets. And during those moments when they didn’t dominate the Blue Jackets, their goalie did.

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Dustin Byfuglien headed to the All-Star Game (Photo by James Carey Lauder)

In the first period, Columbus got off to a good start and outshot Winnipeg 14-6, but the Jets scored the only two goals of the frame. Blake Wheeler, with his 13th of the year, gave the Jets a 1-0 lead at the 1:08 mark and then Evander Kane (10th) made it 2-0, with a weak goal, at 6:06.

In the second period, the Jets outshot Columbus 17-7 and took the game to the visitors. Jay Harrison scored his fourth of the season at 4:45 on a slapper from the point and then Chris Thorburn scored his fourth of the year on a big rebound.

Of course, at this point, the game had been decided.

“It wasn’t perfect,” Little added. “There was some parts of the game where we were a little loose. We certainly didn’t play a perfect game, but we got the win and it’s a big win for us heading into the break. We didn’t get off to a great start but we got better as the game went on, stayed focused and played hard right to the end.

“It’s a big advantage for a team to score the first goal. It really gets the crowd into the game. You don’t plan to score as early as we did, but it sure helps when you do. We had a lot of energy after that first goal.”

It certainly didn’t help the Blue Jackets when No. 1 goalie Sergei Bobrovsky was injured after he’d allowed three goals on the first 12 shots he’d faced. Curtis McElhinney replaced Bobrovsky and gave up the final goal of the game, but by then, it was over anyway.

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Chalk up Evander Kane’s 10th of the year (Photo by Tara Miller)

During the past seven games, the Jets have outscored the opposition 31-17. During the five-game winning streak, Winnipeg has outscored its opponents 22-8. It’s been a terrific run.

The Jets are now 12-9-3 at home this season and will now play four of their next five games on the road. Of course, the Jets are 14-5-5 on the road. No NHL team has more points on the road than the Jets.

The All-Star Game – Team Foligno vs. Team Toews — goes Sunday in Columbus at 4 p.m. CST. It will be telecast on CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada.



Underinflated Footballs? Puh-leeze!

In a game that ended 45-7, the media representing the losing team believes the winning team cheated because it “underinflated” the footballs.

Yeah, I know. Had the score been, say, 21-20, somebody might have been allowed to whine. But after the New England Patriots eviscerated the Indianapolis Colts by 38 points on Sunday, the biggest post-game story was “the Patriots deflated the footballs.”

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Tom Brady and an underinflated football.

Holy crap! That was it? We’re told that 11 of the 12 footballs used by the Patriots were underinflated by as much as two pounds per square inch. Freakin’ frightening.

Guess that’s why Colts linebacker D’Qwell Jackson picked off a Tom Brady pass in the second quarter. Brady was probably using a properly inflated ball and couldn’t throw it.

Of course, Jackson immediately notified team equipment officials, who notified Colts coach Chuck Pagano and Colts General Manager Ryan Grigson who contacted the NFL. And from the second quarter to the end of the game, the NFL evidently did nothing. Now, instead of giving the Patriots credit for demolishing up-and-coming star Andrew Luck and a good Indianapolis Colts football team, the world of talk radio and daily newspapers has decided to legitimize any suggestion that Bill Belichick and the Patriots cheated.

Again, 21-20, an issue. 45-7? C’mon, man.

It must have been the balls that resulted in Luck completing 12-of-33 passes. Yeah, that’s it. It was the footballs. His balls were properly inflated so that means he couldn’t throw them straight.

What a crock.

Andrew+Luck+St+Louis+Rams+v+Indianapolis+Colts+B CSROpvcxqx Underinflated Footballs? Puh leeze!

Andrew Luck and his over-inflated 12-for-33 football

The game balls that each team received “for preparation” according to the NFL, had to be approved by referee Walt Anderson two hours and 15 minutes before kickoff. When they are approved, they are returned to NFL’s ball attendant and no alteration is allowed.

The balls are required to be inflated between 12.5 and 13.5 pounds per square inch and weigh between 14 and 15 ounces. According to the NFL on Wednesday, some of the Patriots’ footballs were as much as two pounds per square inch underinflated.

Oh, those cheating Pats. Trouble is, the NFL still doesn’t know who underinflated the balls, where the balls were underinflated, how the balls were underinflated and who told who to do what.

The only sane people throughout this sordid exercise have been the members of the Indianapolis Colts.

Indianapolis Colts Dwayne Allen Fantasy Football Underinflated Footballs? Puh leeze!

Dwayne Allen gets it.

Dwayne Allen Tweeted: Not a story. They could have played with soap for balls and beat us. Simply the better team. We have to continue to build!

Pat McAfee laughed as hard as I did when he Tweeted: If New England was to be DQ’d… we’d be their replacements right? I should probably lay off these strawberry margs.

New England’s Vince Wilfork had a wonderful response when asked about the balls: “I don’t know anything about that. I don’t touch footballs. I tackle people.”

Frankly, I don’t think for a second that the Patriots cheated. I just think this is another hilariously sad story in an NFL season so full of sad stories that the league looks like the Keystone Cops. In fact, the NFL is proof that even morons can make big money if somehow, they’ve convinced the idiot masses that the product their selling is enticing.

In a year of felons, bad decisions, phony officiating, questionable outcomes and really dumb executives, Footballgate is gloomily appropriate.



Why Can’t the Jets and Bombers Find Common Ground? Fear?

The Heritage Classic at Investors Group Field, a National Hockey League outdoor game that was supposed to celebrate hockey in Winnipeg has been postponed for at least a year.

An inability to find an appropriate date seems to be at the heart of the dispute. Frightening, considering that winter in Manitoba lasts from November until late April.

Investors Group Field Why Cant the Jets and Bombers Find Common Ground? Fear?

Investors Group Field (Photo by Johnston Hall)

The National Hockey League had hoped to play the game in December of 2015, but the Winnipeg Football Club, did not want the game to be played until February of 2016. Surprising because in 2013, Miller told the Winnipeg media that he welcomed the Grey Cup and the Heritage Classic in the same calendar year.

The Football Club said that it didn’t want the game played a month after the 2015 Grey Cup game, suggesting the date was “too close.” Unfortunate in many ways, not the least of which is the fact the extra bleachers that are being erected for the Grey Cup could still be maintained in the stadium.

However, after Vancouver’s Grey Cup effort stumbled last November, the CFL now fears that the Winnipeg game, without the Bombers, might not sell out. The Bombers have missed the playoffs for the last three seasons and have not won a Grey Cup since 1990.

Yesterday afternoon, both sides in the dispute issued a statement:

The following statement was issued today on behalf of True North Sports & Entertainment Limited and the Winnipeg Football Club with regards to the National Hockey League’s Heritage Classic:

“True North Sports & Entertainment Limited and the Winnipeg Football Club, along with the National Hockey League, would like to formally announce that they were unable to finalize a date to hold the Heritage Classic at Investor’s Group Field during the 2015-16 NHL season. All parties are very hopeful that a date can be secured early in the 2016-17 NHL Season and will continue working toward that objective. The game will be an exciting celebration of hockey in our province and our city, one which both True North and the Bombers look forward to hosting at a time which works for all parties involved.”

heritage classic 01 Why Cant the Jets and Bombers Find Common Ground? Fear?

The 2011 Heritage Classic in Calgary.

In a city in which the football stadium was built almost entirely with taxpayers’ money, many Winnipeg sports fans couldn’t understand how a game of this magnitude could get bogged down in a dispute over dates when both sides knew more than a year ago that the NHL had approved a game for Winnipeg.

In fact, on Dec. 12, 2013, a spokesman for True North Sports and Entertainment confirmed that Investors Group Field would play host to one of the NHL’s premier events. Not now.

This inability to come together on a date when both sides had more than a year to study the concept is a black mark on the city and province.

@jtwpg Tweeted: The next time the Bombers and Jets release a joint statement it had better be to announce the sale of the football club to TNSE.



Jets Keep Rolling with Fourth Straight Win

It wasn’t a masterpiece, but it was a nice way to start a two-game homestand on national TV.

Ondrej Pavelec made 28 saves – plus all three in the shootout — and Bryan Little scored his 18th goal of the season in the first period and then scored the big goal in the shootout as the Winnipeg Jets beat the Arizona Coyotes 4-3 in front of another sold out crowd at MTS Centre.

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Ondrej Pavelec: First star. (Photo by Jeff Miller)

“We battled real hard, had a good lead, lost it, but got the big goal from Little in overtime, so it’s all good,” said the game’s first star, Ondrej Pavelec. “We just hung in there. We played hard. It was a good win.”

It should have been a regulation win, but obviously the Jets will take two more points. With the victory, the Jets fourth straight, it gave Winnipeg a 25-14-8 record on the season. The Jets moved into a virtual fourth place tie in the West with the Chicago Blackhawks. Both teams have 58 points but the Hawks have two games in hand.

It was, however, an interesting way for the Jets to win. Scary, but interesting. The Jets built a 3-1 lead in the third period on goals by Little (18th) Michael Frolik (10th) and Dustin Byfuglien (12th) but Lauri Korpikoski (at 13:21) and Tobias Rieder (at 16:10) scored late in the game to tie it.

“We got into a track meet at some of the points in that game,” said Mark Scheifele who assisted on Byfuglien’s goal, the one that gave the Jets that 3-1 lead in the third period. “Obviously we didn’t want to give away a two-goal lead, but we won it in the shootout so we’ll take it.

“I thought we had some jump at times, but we got standing still at times and they jumped on their chances. Still, we’re on a four-game winning streak and that’s huge. We showed we had some character tonight by coming back and getting the win in the shootout.”

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Bryan Little scores the Jets first goal. (Photo by Jeff Miller)

Obviously the Jets will take a win – a win that shouldn’t have been as difficult as they made it. Winnipeg dominated the game for the first two periods, outshooting the Coyotes 20-16 through 40 minutes, and at times controlling the offensive zone for minutes as a time.

However, after Winnipeg went ahead 3-1, the Coyotes started to play desperate hockey. It didn’t help that the Jets were content to let the game come to them. Arizona outshot Winnipeg 14-5 in the third period and scored those two late goals to tie it.

But after killing a late unsportsmanlike conduct penalty to Byfuglien (the work by linesmen Shandor Alphonso and Kiel Murchinson was shaky, at best) who took out his anger at a couple of bad line calls, on referee Brad Watson, the Jets dominated the overtime. Winnipeg outshot Arizona 5-1 in the five-minute extra frame, but were foiled by a couple of superb saves by Coyotes goaltender – and second star – Mike Smith.

However, in the shootout, Pavelec earned his first star status by shutting down Sam Gagner, Antoine Vermette and former Jet 1.0 Shane Doan to give Winnipeg the victory.

The best player for the Coyotes was Winnipeg’s own Michael Stone. The big defenseman assisted on Arizona’s second goal and logged 23 minutes and 16 seconds of icetime. He had a shot, a hit and two blocked shots and was a tower of strength on the blueline.

Arizona was one-for-four on the power play while the Jets were zero-for-three. Winnipeg outhit the Coyotes 37-28, but Arizona dominated the faceoff circle, securing 40 faceoffs to Winnipeg’s 27.

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Dustin Byfuglien and Ondrej Pavelec: Winning is fun. (Photo by Jeff Miller)

Still, the Jets were winners in the end and improved to 11-9-3 at home this season. The Jets are 6-3-1 in their last 10 and 5-0-1 in their last six.

Winnipeg will have a couple of days off and then face the Columbus Blue Jackets at MTS Centre on Wednesday night at 8 p.m. It will be the Jets final game before the all-star break.



The Conference Championships: NFL Picks

By The Coach and Dr. Football

The NFL’s credibility took another beating last week. Once again, the league’s officiating (and its rules) was brought into question and this time, it was brought into question all the way to the top.

Not only do the league’s officials make questionable calls, the league’s rules are pretty stupid. At least, that horrible complete pass rule is stupid.

otkwiml127 The Conference Championships: NFL Picks

That’s a catch.

We all know the story. We’ve all seen the video. Dallas QB Tony Romo hit Dez Bryant on a fourth down play at about the Green Bay Packers eight-yard line, held the ball, tucked it under his left arm, took three steps with possession and dove toward the end zone. As he hit the ground, diving towards the end zone, the ball hit the ground. However, Bryant had caught the ball, changed hands and tucked it, took three steps with possession and dove for a TD. The officials first called it a catch then overturned the call after replay. The officials said no catch and Green Bay had wrapped up a 26-21 victory.

For the second straight week in the playoffs, the league and its officials determined the outcome. Not the players.

That evening, the NFL’s head of officiating, Dean Blandino, covered for the league by saying it wasn’t a catch and referred disbelieving football fans to another terrible call, the Calvin Johnson touchdown that was called back after Johnston took two steps and set the ball down in the end zone.

Let’s say the NFL isn’t fixed. Let’s say the NFL isn’t mobbed up and the officials aren’t wagering on the game. Let’s just say what the immediate problem is: This is a very bad rule. The logic behind the rule is this: If a player catches a ball behind the defenders, runs 20 yards into the end zone and spikes the ball, it’s an incomplete pass. Think about it. Johnston had possession in the end zone, took two steps tried to lay the ball down in the end zone, watched it bounce away and the officials called an incomplete pass. It was no different than the Bryant catch. Referee Gene Steratore tried to explain the non-catch call, but all he did was tie himself up in knots. Of course, he’s the guy who made the Johnson call so what can we expect?

I have no love for the Dallas Cowboys, but the NFL has had a very bad year. I barely believe the outcome of these games anymore. First of all, the league has to change this terrible rule. If it doesn’t, then none of its catches make any sense. After that, it has to do something about its officiating. It just looks more and more crooked every game.

Last week, our team caught things pretty well despite (or because of) the officiating. Dr. Football went 2-2 (176-85-1) straight up and 3-1 (126-136) against the spread while The Coach went 3-1 (168-93-1) straight up and 1-3 (132-130) against the spread.

This week, the Doctor writes his rationalizations while The Coach once again gets serious and takes Dr. Football to task. Remember, this is for recreational use only. Please, no wagering (for your own financial safety).

Let’s look closely at the 2015 Championship Weekend:

Sunday Afternoon

Russell Wilson The Conference Championships: NFL Picks

Russell Wilson: Needs an outstanding game.

Green Bay Packers (13-4) at Seattle Seahawks (13-4) 
Line: Seahawks by 7.5.

Both teams were pushed hard last week in their wins, but the edge here is to the team at home that didn’t need help from the corrupt referees. This will be a close one as the Packers can put up big points on tough defenses. The Coach says: If you don’t know which way the officials will go, take the home team.

Dr. Football: Take the Seahawks to win but not cover.

The Coach: Take the Seahawks to win and cover.

Sunday Night

 The Conference Championships: NFL Picks

Tom Brady

Indianapolis Colts (13-5) at New England Patriots (13-4) 
Line: Patriots by 6.5.

New England had an easy time with the Colts back in November, but that was a long time ago. The Patriots cannot afford to get off to a slow start in this one as the Colts are a better squad then two months ago. Indianapolis win last week was really a Denver loss…they won’t be able to duplicate the magic. The Coach says: The NFL has a history of changing the rules for Tom Brady. Don’t be surprised if things look shady on occasion on Sunday.

Dr. Football: Take the Patriots to win and cover.

The Coach: Take the Patriots to win and cover.



Jets Avenge Cheap Shot Injury to Perreault with Win Over Hawks

The Winnipeg Jets got their revenge on the scoreboard last night.

Mathieu Perreault, the hottest goal scorer in the National Hockey League over the last three months, was injured by a cheap shot cross-check from Chicago Blackhawks punk Daniel Carcillo late in the second period. However, instead of fighting Carcillo and just making a big scene, the Jets scored three times in the third period and beat the Hawks 4-2.

Michael Hutchinson now 3 0 against Chicago this season Jets Avenge Cheap Shot Injury to Perreault with Win Over Hawks

Michael Hutchinson is now 3-0 against Chicago this season

Now that’s revenge.

It was a tremendous victory for the Jets who just went 4-0-1 during a stretch of five games in seven days. Four of those games were on the road and on this latest road swing, the Jets beat both Dallas and Chicago on  back-to-back nights.

Of course, beating the Blackhawks is becoming old hat for the Jets. It was the third time this season the Jets have beaten the Blackhawks and all three wins have come in Chicago – 1-0, 5-1 and now 4-2. On Friday night, Jets goaltender Michael Hutchinson made 31 saves and is now 3-0-0 against the Hawks this season.

Friday night’s game was a dandy.

The Jets and Hawks played almost two periods of superb, rough-and-tumble hockey (the two teams spent 36 minutes in the penalty box in the first period) and were tied at 1-1 late in the second when Carcillo came out of nowhere and cross-checked Perreault on his left bicep from behind. It was about as cheap as a cheap shot can get and it sent Perreault to the sidelines for the rest of the game. Losing Perreault, who leads the NHL in goals since Nov. 18 with 15, could have been costly for Winnipeg, but instead, the big line stepped up.

Brent Seabrook and Jim Slater have a little tussle in the first period Jets Avenge Cheap Shot Injury to Perreault with Win Over Hawks

Brent Seabrook and Jim Slater have a little tussle in the first period.

Instead of trying to fight the Hawks, the Jets revved up their offence and put the pressure on Chicago netminder Corey Crawford. In the end, Winnipeg outshot the Hawks 35-33 and outscored them 4-2. Winnipeg outscored Chicago 10-3 in three games in Chicago this season.

First star, Bryan Little scored his 17th of the season on the power play to give the Jets a 2-1 lead and then, 28 seconds later, Chris Thorburn scored his third of the year to put the Jets ahead 3-1.

After Teuvo Teravainen scored his first for Chicago at 12:43, the Jets hung tough and got an empty-netter from captain Andrew Ladd, also his 17th of the year, to put the game away.

The win – the Jets third straight — gave Winnipeg a 24-14-8 record on the season and moved the Jets to within two points of fourth-place St. Louis in the Western Conference. The Jets are now 14-5-5 on the road this season and that’s the best road record in the NHL.

The best player on the ice for the Hawks was Winnipeg’s own Jonathan Toews. The Hawks captain logged 18 minutes and 40 seconds of icetime, had an assist and was plus one.

Andrew Ladd had another solid game Jets Avenge Cheap Shot Injury to Perreault with Win Over Hawks

Andrew Ladd had another solid game and scored the empty netter.

However, this was a game the Jets deserved. After playing poorly but getting a great goaltending effort from Ondrej Pavelec on Thursday night, the Jets were firing on all cylinders on Friday. They made the occasional mistake, but for the most part, the Jets were solid at every position and solid on almost every shift. The Jets were one-for-three on the power play while the Hawks were zero-for-two.

Clearly, this Jets team can play with the best in the game. They’ll now return home to play on Sunday at 6 p.m. (CITY TV) against the Arizona Coyotes. Then on Wednesday night at 8 on Sportsnet 1, Winnipeg will play host to the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The Jets have a real chance to make some hay at home next week. If they play as well as they did Friday night in Chicago, they should be in a pretty nice spot heading back out onto the road.



Pavelec Magnificent as Jets Beat Stars in Dallas

Just when we all thought that maybe Michael Hutchinson was making a pitch to be the Winnipeg Jets No. 1 goaltender, Ondrej Pavelec threw a masterpiece at the Dallas Stars.

On Thursday night in Dallas, Pavelec made 45 saves, many of them spectacular, as he led the Jets to a thrilling 2-1 victory over the frustrated Stars. Pavelec stopped point-blank drives, screen shots from the point and clear-cut breakaways. He stopped everything the Stars threw at him – at least, all but one — and the Stars threw everything they had at the Jets net. It was one of the finest games in Pavelec’s career in Winnipeg.

Ondrej Pavelec was the difference Pavelec Magnificent as Jets Beat Stars in Dallas

Ondrej Pavelec was the difference.

In fact, it was a virtuoso performance by a guy that many thought might be losing his luster in Winnipeg. While Hutchinson has emerged as one of the top goalies in the NHL with a 12-4-2 record, a 2.00 goals against average and a .931 save percentage, Pavelec was scuffling along with a record of 10-10-6, a 2.52 GAA and a .909 save percentage. Clearly, Hutchinson was earning the No. 1 designation.

But Thursday night, Maurice stunned a few pundits by starting Pavelec instead of Hutchinson and Pavelec was nothing short of magnificent. This was a statement game.

Then again, in every other aspect, this game was all Dallas. The Stars outshot Winnipeg 22-6 in the second period, 16-5 in the third and 47-22 overall. The Stars fired an incredible 97 shots toward the Jets goal and the Jets blocked 27 of them while 23 missed the net entirely. Pavelec blocked the rest. Dallas had seven power plays to the Jets two and yet the Jets second goal – the winning goal – was scored shorthanded on a great second effort by Evander Kane.

The Jets opening goal was scored at the 3:53 mark of the first period by Michael Frolik.

Frankly, there was no way the Stars should have lost this one. Every Dallas line outplayed every one of the Jets lines. The Stars were better than the Jets from start to finish. At least, they were better than everyone except one guy: Ondrej Pavelec.

The Stars didn’t score until the 18:44 mark of the third period when Trevor Daley corralled a rebound and blasted it past Pavelec from 20 feet out. The rest of the time Pavelec was so good it was one of those games you had to see to believe.

Mathieu Perreault now has a five game scoring streak Pavelec Magnificent as Jets Beat Stars in Dallas

Mathieu Perreault now has a five game scoring streak.

Meanwhile, Mathieu Perreault assisted on Frolik’s goal and stretched his points-streak to five games. He has six goals and three assists in that stretch. Andrew Ladd’s seven-game points streak was stopped as the Stars kept the Jets big line off the scoresheet. Kane scored his third goal in as many games.

With the win, the Jets improved to 23-14-8 and with 54 points remained in fifth spot in the Western Conference no matter what San Jose did against Toronto (late) on the Coast. The Jets are now 13-5-5 on the road this season. That’s the best road record (31 points) in the NHL. The Jets are 3-0-1 in their last four games.

Winnipeg will continue its quick two-game road trip in Chicago on Friday night. Game time is 7:30 p.m. and it’s on TSN3.

No matter who plays goal on Friday, if he’s as good as Pavelec was on Thursday, he’ll be just about impossible to beat.