Bottoms Up is a weekly feature on Backhand Shelf that admits that sometimes the underdog doesn’t win; sometimes they just lose and lose and lose some more. On the plus side, being a loser worked out pretty well for Beck.
I could have sworn the biggest news from the cellar this week was going to be the Columbus Blue Jackets finally winning a game. Instead, the Winnipeg Jets and the Philadelphia Flyers got into the spirit of the World Series and put up a baseball score in their game on Thursday, with 17 goals being scored between the two teams.
There are two things that are shocking about this game: first of all, they came one goal short of doubling the score from the Seattle Seahawks’ loss to the Cleveland Browns. Yeah, that’s a football game that ended 6-3. The second shocking thing is that the Jets actually won the game and propelled themselves out of last place in the Eastern Conference. Yes, in a game with 17 goals, the Jets actually scored more than their opponents.
Yesterday, Bourne gave some insight into what it’s like not to score in such a high-scoring game, but what’s crazy is that only three players on the Jets didn’t get a single point. Yeah, there were 9 goals scored, but there are 18 skaters: it seems odd that the points were so evenly distributed, with 15 players recording at least one point. Only three players recorded 3 points, one of them being perennial fourth-liner (and all-around awesome guy) Tanner Glass. It was the first 3-point game of his career, tying him with Kyle Wellwood (who only recorded one point, a goal) for third in team scoring and putting him just 5 points away from his career high 11 points in 2009-10. In the ninth game of the season. Yeah, he’s probably going to set a new career high.
Here are some of the other oddball statistics from what is likely to be the oddest game of the season:
- Of the 17 goals, only 3 of them were scored on the powerplay. That’s right, there were 14 goals scored at even-strength during this game. The goalies were probably begging their teammates to take penalties.
- With 8 of the Jets goals being scored at even-strength, it is shocking to see that two Flyers finished plus-3 at the end of the game: Kimmo Timonen and Danny Briere. They also had 4 points each. I’m sure it’s just a coincidence.
- The Flyers out-shot the Jets 48 to 25. So, I guess the Jets won the goaltending battle?
- The ice time for the Jets three leading scorers, each with three points? Glass – 12:24, Antropov – 13:44, and Wheeler – 14:09. They each played at least five minutes less than Wayne Simmonds, who managed to avoid getting any points. They made incredibly good use of their time, unlike you, spending your time reading hockey blogs.
- Thanks for reading, by the way.
- Defenceman Matt Carle led the Flyers in ice time, with 23:16. He also had the lowest plus/minus on the team at minus-3. It’s a little bit likely that the Flyers miss Chris Pronger already.
- Only one player on the Jets played fewer than 10 minutes, Kenndal McArdle with 9:11. Has the Jets’ lack of forward depth somehow turned into a positive, allowing them to roll all four lines with abandon because, heck, why not? Sure, send out the fourth line. They’re no worse than our other three lines. Heck, with Glass on our fourth line it’s arguably better.
- Seriously, guys, Tanner Glass is tied for third in scoring on the Jets. That’s awesome.
As a Canucks fan, the best part about the Jets beating the Flyers is who they moved ahead of in the standings: the Boston Bruins. That’s right, the defending Stanley Cup Champions, who are all terrible people (except Tim Thomas; that guy’s all right), are currently in last place in the Eastern Conference. I’m going to ignore for the moment that the Canucks are second last in the Western Conference and soak in the schadenfreude for a little while.
The Bruins are 3-6-0 to start the season. To be fair, four of their six losses have been by just one goal. To be unfair, they’re playing some pretty terrible hockey. The Bruins powerplay is converting at an execrable 13.5%, which is somehow only 24th in the NHL. This was one of the Bruins’ few weak points last season and it nearly cost them in the first round of last year’s playoffs, when they failed to score a single goal on the powerplay against the Canadiens and barely squeaked out a victory in overtime of game 7. Winning a Stanley Cup can make a person overlook those deficiencies, of course, and Peter Chiarelli did nothing to address their powerplay in the off-season.
But hey, it turns out that Tyler Seguin is actually pretty good at hockey. Who knew? He’s the only Bruin scoring at a point-per-game pace to start the year. Just imagine what he’d look like with Nail Yakupov on his wing.
There’s not a chance that the Bruins will stay in the cellar for long, of course. They’re simply too good a team (dammit) to continue playing this poorly. Thomas and Rask are still giving the Bruins’ world-class goaltending; as soon as the rest of the team starts putting the puck in the net, they’ll be just fine.
Shocking news! The Blue Jackets are still last place in the NHL! Wait, that’s not shocking, that’s a logical inevitability.
The Blue Jackets did manage to win a game, however, at the same time that James Wisniewski returned from his eight-game suspension. So, things are looking up! Except for the fact that they lost their next game against the Buffalo Sabres, going 0-for-6 on the powerplay. The Blue Jackets are one of the few teams in the NHL with a worse powerplay than the Bruins at 9.8%.
The toughest loss came last Saturday, as it appeared that they had secured their first win of the season against the Ottawa Senators. Leading 3-2 with a minute-and-a-half remaining in the game and a powerplay that would essentially carry them through the rest of the game, the Blue Jackets came up with a novel way to shoot themselves in the foot.
Kris Russell had the puck in his own end, with the simple task of passing it up ice. Only problem is that his passing option on the right decided to go for a change and he doesn’t want to risk a too-many-men penalty by passing it to his replacement too early. So he passes it to his option on the left: unfortunately, he blatantly telegraphed it and Daniel Alfredsson intercepted it, carrying it in all alone. Russell had no choice but to take him down, taking the Blue Jackets off the powerplay.
At 4-on-4, with 36 seconds left, Jason Spezza tied the game. And then, to rub salt into the wound, the Senators didn’t even have the decency to let the game go to overtime so the Blue Jackets could at least pick up a point, as Milan Michalek scored the gamewinner with 5 seconds remaining. From 2 points to 0 points in 31 seconds.